Corel's ParticleShop is a plug-in that gives you a unique, painterly advantage in Adobe's Photoshop, Lightroom, Elements, or other Corel products. In essence, ParticleShop gives you access to some of the particle-painting technology already present in Corel's Painter, but right within your host application, and at a fraction of the price. Plus, there are many specialized brush packs available, too.
In 2015, I reviewed ParticleShop in its debut release. This updated release, however, adds more tech with dynamic speckles, a revamped core brush set, and even more exciting brush packs (additional purchase). If you have previously purchased ParticleShop, this update is free. Just click here to download and install.
Within Photoshop, the ParticleShop plug-in is accessed through Filter > Painter > ParticleShop. From within CorelDRAW, you can access it via the 'Launch' tab (only when you have an image imported to your document). Note, you should always work on a copy of your image so that you don't destroy the original if you need to start over. The nice thing is that you will get a dialog during launch to remind you of this. Also, once you are finished painting, you will also be asked if you want to merge brushstrokes with the source image, or save only the brushstrokes to a layer. Saving to a layer is also good if you want to try out some layer blending effects.
ParticleShop Welcome dialog, including brush pack previews
The interface hasn't changed in this release, it is still really sleek and simple to get to know. Along the left-hand side, you have the basics: Brush, Eraser, Blender, Eyedropper, and the Color Wheel, which you can even pin anywhere to your workspace. Along the top bar, you have an image reset feature, undo/redo arrows, and brush property controls. The brush properties that you have access to depend on the brush selected. Some properties could be: paper texture, particle count, color jitter, dynamic speckle size, etc. The full list of of these features and more can be seen on the ParticleShop FAQ page, here.
ParticleShop interface - showing pinned color wheel and Blend brushes
The core brush pack consists of 11 brushes, which is a bit of a sample of the many unique brushes available. While these are all good, you'll certainly be yearning for more. With the release of this update of ParticleShop, there are an additional 6 new brush packs that can be purchased, and these are: Expressive, Grunge, Impression, Creepers, Nature, and Blend. These additional brush packs brings the total available to 24, and you can see all of them here. Each brush pack consists of 15 unique brushes that fit well into their respective category.
Of the new brush packs, I especially liked the Impression and Blend brushes.
ParticleShop interface - showing tool bar on left, and brush properties bar along top
Working with ParticleShop is fun, and a great way to embellish your artwork or photography, even going as far as transforming photos into traditional-looking fine art pieces. If you've never worked with particle brushes, there is a bit of a learning curve, as it may at first seem like your brushstrokes are wildly out of control. A bit of play, and perhaps some happy accidents along the way is part of the creative fun of these brushes, though.
As a plug-in, I really like ParticleShop. It's great to have access to these unique brushes right within Photoshop, and the brushes are really fun. The effects you can add to your work in just a few brush strokes is incredible. The 11 starter brushes that come with it are great, but you'll be looking to add more to your arsenal to get the most out of ParticleShop.
If you have previously purchased ParticleShop, this update is free. Just click here to download and install.
ParticleShop is available for Mac and PC for the following host applications:
Adobe Photoshop CS5, CS6, or CC 2014+ Adobe Photoshop LightroomÂ® CS5, CS6, or CC 2014+ Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 and 14 CorelDRAWÂ® Graphics Suite X6+ CorelDRAWÂ® Technical Suite X7+ CorelÂ® PaintShopÂ® Pro X6+ CorelÂ® AfterShot 3 and Corel AfterShot Pro 3