ArtRage Lite 4 (macOS) and the Intuos Draw for non-digital painters Part 1

Depending on where you purchased your Intuos Draw, you're eligible for a bundled copy ArtRage Lite 4. A software key code for the free version of ArtRage Lite is printed on the box of the Intuos Draw. After inputting the key code on the Wacom registration site, users can download a free version of ArtRage Lite for Windows and macOS.

Note: The software key code on the box is different from the license key that activates ArtRage Lite during software installation. There are issues with using the software key code to get your activation key depending on your region. Key codes are set for a particular market only, so the key code included with the US product release can’t be used to get the product license key on the Asia support site, and vice-versa. For more details, refer to Unsolicited Review: Intuos Draw / CTL-490DB (Blue).

ArtRage Lite 4 is the trimmed down version of ArtRage 5, Ambient Design's full-featured painting software. The Wacom bundled ArtRage Lite 4 is technically two releases down the software ladder from ArtRage 5 as of this writing, and is missing several features, including composition tools, additional layer effects, and more brushes and filters. Since ArtRage Lite 4 is a value-add to products such as the Intuos Draw, you occasionally get a prompt or offer to upgrade to the full version, with the appropriate discount of course if you registered your Lite’s activation key.

ArtRage Lite 4 is a competent and polished application if you’re just getting started with digital painting. You’re free from confusing toolboxes and endless docks in ArtRage Lite and the learning curve is pretty easy to get over, particularly if you’re already accustomed to using a digitiser pen or already have a traditional media background.

Disclaimer: I’m not a digital painter, nor do I have any artistic talent whatsoever. I’m more accustomed to vector graphics and control nodes, and use CorelDraw for technical illustrations. I do, however, enjoy drawing quite a bit as a pastime and distraction. If you’re looking for a review focusing on digital painting, look elsewhere. All sketches in this article are by the author.

Apart from the floating dedicated tool windows, ArtRage Lite 4's default environment includes the tool wheel and color wheel.

Users who have experience using excellent painting software such as Gimp, Krita, or myPaint (all available on Linux), will be somewhat disappointed with the limited number of tools and options included with ArtRage Lite 4. However, anyone who has done any amount of digital art will tell you that the application you use will NOT make you a better digital artist or painter. Your choice of application helps you become comfortable with the medium and makes tasks easier, but it doesn't improve your drawing skills instantly (though it helps faking it easier). Paying for overpriced Adobe Photoshop monthly or buying a boxed set of Corel Painter will not make you a comic book artist, or professional painter.

ArtRage Lite 4 is great for sketching skeleton breakdowns for later painting or exporting to vector applications. The pen to screen fidelity is impressive compared with Android, iOS, and Windows tablets. Veteran digital artists will have no problems crafting artwork.

ArtRage Lite 4 is friendly and easy-to-use for anyone genuinely interested in digital painting. Although there are painting apps available for iOS, Android, and Windows 10 tablets, there’s a reason serious digital painters still prefer a desktop painting application and pen table/digitizer. 

If you're accustomed to using the Wacom desktop utility and the Express Keys on the pen tablet, you can set quick functions for use in ArtRage Lite 4, though you really don't need to considering how friendly the paint application is even for new users.
For technical users, the pen tablet fidelity of ArtRage Lite 4 and Wacom tablets is exceptional regardless if you’re running macOS or Windows 10. I had been previously using a Bamboo Pen and Touch for years with non-digital painting software, and even I quickly noticed the difference between using the more recent Intuos Draw (which is actually an entry-level product in Wacom’s product catalog). Back in 2010, impatient non-digital artists (like me) were left unimpressed with the output of using Wacom tablets with digital painting software, but it’s hard not to be impressed with today’s tracking technology.

The Intros Draw is an entry-level product with a "small" active area, but it works extremely well with macOS and ArtRage  Lite 4.
Note: One of the reasons why I purchased a Surface Pro 4 was to start re-learning digital illustration, thinking that the Surface Pen would assist in such an endeavour. However, (as illogical as it may sound) I immediately realised that using my old Bamboo Pen and Touch and the newer Intuos Draw provided a superior experience with painting and drawing software, and that tech has improved so much to assist unskilled users like me.


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