Review: SpeedyPainter boils painting down to its very basics
At a Glance
I came to free, tiny, SpeedyPainter not long after reviewing Corel Painter Lite. In my mind, a painting application had to have a wide selection of brushes and effects, multiple paper types, and pressure calibration options. At a mere 1.8MB, SpeedyPainter doesn't have any of these; you just get a blank canvas, and one brush. But you know what? It works, it's fun, and it's easy to learn.
SpeedyPainter offers the bare essentials of what makes a painting application possible. It's meant to work with pen tablets, so it plays well with stroke pressure. You can use pressure to control stroke size and opacity, and strokes taper off at the edge in a way that is both pretty and natural.
Just like recent versions of Corel Painter, SpeedyPainter features a HUD view that brings the color picker right to your pen, making it easy to change colors while working. Unlike Painter, though, you don't get to limit your possible choices with a palette of color swatches or a fancy natural color mixer: The radial selector has an endless variety of shades, and it's up to you to pick what works. To limit yourself to shades you've already used, you can use the eyedropper tool to sample off the canvas.
Rotating the canvas while working is easy, and so is flipping it. The two-faced icon for flipping the canvas made me think of Corel Painter's kaleidoscope feature that lets you paint with multiple planes of symmetry, but SpeedyPainter doesn't have this concept – but even mirroring the canvas is more than you can do with a real canvas. The interface is built mainly for working with pen-and-tablet input, and you can also quickly toggle it off so you're left with just the canvas. To separate background and subject, you can create multiple layers and quickly switch between them, or control their opacity and stacking to get just the look you want.
One feature that captured my imagination was the instant playback: Like deviantArt Muro, SpeedyPainter automatically captures your brush strokes while you work, making it easy to create a fast-painting film showing how exactly you created a given piece. YouTube is teeming with video demonstrations showing SpeedyPainter in use to create beautiful works of art, like this Iron Man video, compressing almost two hours of work down to two-and-a-half minutes. This is both educational and brilliant, because it means viral sharing is built right into the app.
SpeedyPainter feels lean, but not crippled in any way. If you have a pen tablet and just want to paint without getting bogged down in details or spending a dime, get it and start creating.
Note: The Download button on the Product Information page will download the software to your system.