Corel ParticleShop Review by Dee Marie

Corel ParticleShop
Review by Dee Marie
Corel ParticleShop Review by Dee Marie - Image
Image effects were created using ParticleShop and the Star Brush Set
Powered by Corel Painter, ParticleShop is a new Adobe Photoshop plug-in (that is also compatible with other Adobe and Corel programs) using the unique technology of Particle Brushes. ParticleShop comes with 11 basic brushes, which include one brush from each of the currently 11 available Brush Packs. This gives you an opportunity to try a specific brush out before deciding to purchase one of the exclusive Brush Packs.
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Corel ParticleShop, Starter Pack, Particle Brushes
Installing ParticleShop went very smooth. During the install, ParticleShop automatically locates all the programs on your computer that it is compatible with. A popup box then appears that allows you to accept (or reject) uploading ParticleShop to the plugin function of a specific program. Once you have installed ParticleShop, the additional Brush Sets automatically install into all the programs that your ParticleShop is installed in.
Getting Started
There are three steps to take before launching ParticleShop in Adobe Photoshop for the first time.
  • Step One: Make sure Adobe Photoshop “document windows” are tiled not floating [Windows/Arrange/Tile All Vertically]. Corel advises users to work in the default tabbed document view, to achieve the best workflow when using the ParticleShop plug-in in Adobe Photoshop.
  • Step Two: Create a duplicate layer of the content source, instead of working on the original image. This will allow you to utilize the nondestructive editing save feature. Also, if you wish to work on a multi-layered piece, combine the layers into a separate layer and then highlight that layer before launching ParticleShop.
  • Step Three: The ParticleShop plug-in launches in Adobe Photoshop from the Application Bar under Filter/Painter/ParticleShop. (in Corel applications, ParticleShop launches from Effects)

Step 1: tile document windows / Step 2: duplicate working layer / Step 3: open ParticleShop
Upon launching ParticleShop for the first time, a popup warning screen will recommend that you create a duplicate copy of your source content. It further gives you the option of returning to your application (in this case, Photoshop), or if you wish, to continue launching ParticleShop. On the bottom of the screen there is an optional “show this at startup” uncheck box, so that the warning will no longer appear each time you open ParticleShop.
Also, once ParticleShop has launched for the first time, another popup screen will appear. This window offers you a preview of the additional Brush Packs, and the option to purchase any of the Brush Pack from inside of ParticleShop. This screen also features a “show this at opening” uncheck box. Note, that even though you uncheck the purchase window popup box, you can still purchase Brush Packs from inside ParticleShop, from the “More Brush” button located in the Brush Panel.
User Interface
ParticleShop has an extremely clean and intuitive User-Interface. Along the left side of the UI is the Tool Bar. On the top is the Property Bar, and along the right side are the Brush Panels. In the middle of the screen is the document window, which can be enlarged or reduced utilizing either the Magnifying Glass, or by manually entering a numeric percentage value (both features are located on the Property Bar).
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ParticleShop User Interface (UI)
1-Tool Bar / 2-Property Bar / 3-Brush Panel / 4-Purchase additional Brush Sets
5-Individual Brushes within a specific Brush Set / 6-Color Wheel Pin / 7-Glow button
8-Document Window / 9-Online Help and Check for Updates
Clicking the Brush Tool allows you to paint with the specific brush selected from one of the brushes within the specified Brush Packs located in the Brush Panel. When a Particle Brush is selected you can then adjust its behavior using the options in the Property Bar.
On the middle section of the Property Bar is a multitude of brush options. Within this section the first brush options are the same for all Particle Brushes (as well as the Eraser and Blender Tools): brush size, brush opacity, and brush pressure sensitivities. A variety of Particle Brushes have additional Property Bar options such as: grain, paper texture, weight, weight jitter, and value variability.
The Brushes
Unlike traditional Photoshop Brushes, according to Corel, “Particle Brushes are physics-inspired brushes … that emit particles from a central point, and in turn the particles draw a pattern of lines (paths) as they move across the canvas.” There are three types of Particle Brushes: Gravity, Spring, and Flow. Each of the Particle Brush types has a unique set of behaviors. Each behavior can then be manipulated further within the Property Bar’s brush options. Painting with Particle Brushes is more like painting with a magical wand, than painting with a traditional digital paintbrush. I am certain, if Harry Potter created digital artwork, he would have used Particle Brushes to do so.
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Examples of Particle Brushes in Action
If you are new to painting with Particle Brushes, there is a slight learning curve. At first try, Particle Brush painting can be a mixture of frustration and fun. Frustrating, because the brush will often get away from you, swirling in odd directions; feeling like it is more in control than you are. However, that is also the fun of painting with Particle Brushes; experimenting and going with the flow (or gravity, or spring).
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Image effects were created using ParticleShop and the Fur Brush Set
The creators of ParticleShop had new users in mind when they built in 32 Undo and Redo options. Along with a Reset button that erases all brush strokes; reverting the working image to its source content. Within the Priority Bar are a variety of options to change the brush size, opacity, as well as the brush pressure if you are working with a digital drawing pen.
One of my favorite features is the Pull-out Color Wheel (located on the Tool Bar). Although it can be pinned to the ParticleShop workspace, the pinned Color Wheel can still be moved about to optimize your screen’s real estate. Not only does the Color Wheel have the basic HSV (hue-saturation-value), the color picker (also located on the Tool Bar) incorporates unique colors from your artwork into the Color Wheel. There is also an optional Glow function that adds an extra touch of magic to your brushstrokes. Between the array of brushes, the brush options, and the Color Wheel features … the combination of brush strokes is nearly limitless.
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Image effects were created using ParticleShop and the Spaced Out Brush Set
The 11 Particle Brush, Starter Pack (Debris, Fabric, Fine Art, Flame, Fur, Hair, Light, Smoke, Space, Storm, and Superhero) that comes installed in ParticleShop, includes one brush from each of the available Brush Packs. Although this is an excellent way to test out the variety of Particle Brushes, I highly recommend purchasing additional Brush Packs to fully appreciate the diversity each unique Particle Brush provides.
The optional 11 additional Brush Packs include: Dust and Debris, Fabric Fantasy, Fine Art, Flame, Fur, Hair, Light it Up, Smoke and Steam, Spaced Out, Storm, and Superhero. Each Brush Pack contains 15 unique brushes. Unfortunately, there is no trial version of the Brush Packs (other than the sample brushes in the Starter Pack). Corel does offer examples of the individual brushstrokes along with a drawing created by each of the pack brushes (check out the link to the Brush Pack examples at the end of this review).
Eraser/Blender Tools
As with the brushes, both the Eraser and Blender Tools offer brush size, brush opacity, and pressure options (if you are using a digital drawing pen), all located on the Priority Bar. The Eraser Tool also offers Hard and Soft options
Special Note: While the Eraser Tool erases just the Particle Brushes, the Blender Tool applies the blend effect to not only the Particle Brushes but also to your source image. Obviously this will not make a difference in your final saved image if you us the “save only brushstroke” option. However, it is something to be cognizant of, especially if you save your brushstrokes with the “merge brushstrokes with source content” option (more on saving options in the next section).
Saving Your Work
When you are finished with your creation it is imperative to understand ParticleShop’s “save” options. The newest version of ParticleShop includes a nondestructive workflow layer. That is why it is so important to create a duplicate layer of your content source before you launch ParticleShop. When you save your image you are offered the options to “Merge brushstrokes with source content,” which saves the brushstrokes directly on your working image. The other option is the “Save only brushstrokes,” which saves all of the brushstrokes on a separate layer within Photoshop.
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The advantage of using the “Save only brushstrokes” is that you can further tweak your image once you have returned to Photoshop. You can also bring your original image back into ParticleShop and add additional strokes, and after once more saving only the brushstrokes to a new layer, you can continue to build on and further manipulate your original image.
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Image effects were created using ParticleShop and the Fantasy Fabric Brush Set/ with Save only brushstrokes
If you forget to create a duplicate layer of your source content before launching ParticleShop, and use the “merge brushstrokes with source content,” your working image will have the ParticleShop brushes embedded within your working image. However, if you forget to create a duplicate layer of your source content before launching ParticleShop, and chose “save only brushstrokes,” your source image will be replaced with the brushstrokes on a white background.
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1 “Save only brushstrokes” on duplicate layer / 2 “Merge with source” on duplicate layer
3 “Save only brushstrokes” without duplicating source content layer
In Conclusion
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed working with ParticleShop. This little plug-n, with its clean intuitive UI, stripped down Tool Bar, and multiple options Property Bar is more powerful than it initially appears. For first-time ParticleShop users, the only learning curve would be grasping the concept of painting with Particle Brush technology.
Although it took a few tries to get use to painting with the Particle Brushes. Mild frustration quickly morphed to fun, especially when working with the Fantasy Fabric Brush Set brushes, as the majority of them appear to “come alive” when first released. It became a quest to conquer the Particle Brush beasts. In the end it was Too Much Fun exploring the different effects that each brushstroke created.
Even though the basic starter set of brushes included with ParticleShop gives you an array of painting options, once you begin delving into the depths of ParticleShop you will want to invest in one (or all) of the Brush Sets to fully experience the power and beauty of ParticleShop.
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Hearts created using the Superhero/Cape Brush – Gold on cape created using Superhero/Fairy Brush
On my wish list for future features: I would like a “favorite’s button,” giving the opportunity to save favorite brushes, and/or favorite brush options within ParticleShop.
ParticleShop gives you the option to use a mouse, touch screen or digital drawing pen. I highly recommend working with a drawing tablet and pen, to take full advantage of the pressure sensitive brush modes.
When writing this review, my older Wacom Bamboo Tablet was compatible with Windows 8.1, but not with Windows 10, thus I used my Windows 7 OS computer, and Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 as the host application.
Tech Specs
Mac and Windows Compatiblity:
MAC: OS X 10.10, 10.9 (64-bit)
WINDOWS: Windows 7-10 (64-bit)
Intel Pentium 4
AMD Athlon 64 or AMD Opteron (Intel Core 2 Duo or higher recommended)
Host Applications for ParticleShop and *Brush Sets:
Adobe Photoshop CS5-CC
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CS5-CC
Adobe Photoshop Elements 13
CorelDRAW X7
Corel PaintShop® Pro X7+
*The optional Brush Packs will only work within the Corel ParticleShop plug-in, with the exception of Corel Painter 2015 and 2016, which will run the Brush Packs without ParticleShop.

All images are copyright and cannot be used in any manner without written permission

Dee Marie, awarding winning author and freelance journalist
Dee Marie is an awarding winning author and freelance journalist. She has previously served as Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief of an international printed CGI magazine. She invites you to visit her on Facebook, Twitter, and her Sons of Avalon website