Black Ink Updated for Generative Painting

Amongst the flood of software and hardware announced this week as part of Adobe's 2014 release of Creative Cloud was Sketch, an iPad app that lets users draw with tools that mimic the look of pencil, an ink pen and markers. Doodling on a tablet is all well and good but really, we've had natural-media drawing programs around for decades. Is simply reproducing the look of traditional media really delivering on the promise of creating within a digital environment? I'll let you ponder that question in the fullness of time but meanwhile more innovative approaches to graphical creation are amongst us, many the work of small developers.

A case in point is Black Ink, from French design studio and developer Bleank. Launched in 2012, this unusual layer-based painting program has since received significant, if sporadic, updates and its most recent release maintains its beta status. Despite that, its fresh approach is worth a look if you're tired of painting programs that simply mimic real-world media. Critical to the success of such a program is fast response when drawing and Black Ink would seem to deliver thanks to a 64-bit GPU-based rendering engine that is designed to handle images up to 10K by 10K.

At the program's heart lies the ability to create unique custom brushes, thanks to a node-based system that provides access to the behavior of every brush parameter, such as pressure, speed or randomness, as well as other aspects of the program, such as gradients or image-based color, which allows brush color to be defined via an underlying image. Favorite colors can be saved, with brush and color histories also being retrievable. The latest version of the beta adds such functionality (shown below) as the ability to create rectangle and ellipse primitives, and a range of keyboard shortcuts.

Black Ink for Windows can be purchased for 44.95 euros on the Bleank site or on Valve's Steam. A trial version is also available for download.