I'm a reluctant cartoonist. It's a gift I intend to spend more time cultivating, but I often let it slip down the "to do" list. One of my favorite tools for creating or tweaking cartoons on the Mac is Painter. Corel has released version 10 (or "X") which they are calling "the world's most powerful Natural-Media painting and illustration software." It's now Intel native (Universal Binary) and they say it offers "unparalleled performance." That got my attention.
As you might expect, I have several Macs available in the Bare Feats lab. I was curious about which one would be the best venue for doing cartooning with Painter. Does Painter X take advantage of multiple processors? Does it grab memory for caching like Photoshop? Does "unparalleled performance" mean it's faster than Adobe Photoshop CS3?
I decided to perform a simple test with Painter X. I would open a 300MB document and rotate it. I would mesaure how long it took to open the document, rotate it, undo the rotate, and re-rotate it. I would do the same test on three different high-end Macs. And I would perform the same actions on Photoshop CS3.
The Macs I chose in this shootout are an 8-core Mac Pro 3GHz (16GB of RAM), a 4-core G5 Power Mac 2.5GHz (8GB of RAM), and 2-core iMac 2.8GHz (4GB of RAM).
Foto = Adobe Photoshop CS3
Paint = Corel Painter X
8-core = Xeon/3GHz 8-core Mac Pro with 16GB of RAM
4-core G5 = G5/2.5GHz 4-core Power Mac with 8GB of RAM
iMac 2.8 = C2D/2.8GHz Aluminum iMac with 4GB of RAM
Well I won't be using the "last great" G5 Power Mac to run Painter. It came in a distant third.
And the 3GHz 8-core Mac Pro is obviously overkill for running Painter.
The new iMac 2.8GHz with only 2 cores was essentially as fast as the 8-core Mac Pro running our tests actions on both Photoshop and Painter. That's because Photoshop only uses two cores to rotate the image and Painter only uses one core.
Yes, after ten major revisions, Painter still doesn't know how to use multiple cores. So much for the "unparalleled performance" of "the world's most powerful Natural-Media painting and illustration software."
I wondered if Painter's slow rotate might be due to its inability to use real memory for caching. A quick check with Activity Monitor showed that Painter grabbed 1.5GB of real memory -- exactly the same amount grabbed by Photoshop CS3.
Even with the disappointing performance, Core Painter X is a great illustration application with unique features missing in Photoshop and other graphics apps. I recommend it as a complementary tool for graphic professionals. I certainly enjoy using it for my cartooning. A Free 30 Day Trial version of Painter is available for download.