Black Ink is a new, non-realistic GPU based painting application that, instead of imitating traditional tools, brings new inspirations to every artist. Forget about pen and paper or watercolor and discover a new, generative and truly computer based way to create.
User reviews:
Overall:
Very Positive (282 reviews) - 91% of the 282 user reviews for this software are positive.
Release Date: Feb 8, 2016

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Recent updates View all (12)

May 30

Thanks for your patience and support!



Hello,

We’d like to give a warm thank you to all of you for supporting Black Ink’s development and reassure you about our releases.

We had some negative comments recently and we’re very sorry about the next release taking that much time. We wanted to add a very ambitious and powerful feature to Black Ink and this was a colossal task. Please have a look here to see more about it!

We sometimes need to lay down important groundwork for future development. It may take some time on our side but it’s only to offer you more options and power. Once we’ve taken care of one of these huge tasks, we always take some time to release corrections and additions based on your feedbacks. The release after next one will be one of these and will come much faster.

Please be assured your patience will be well worth it!

One more word about pricing. Even though Black Ink is not listed as Early Access on Steam anymore, this is still how we work and that’s why we didn’t change the price yet. There are still a lot a features we want to add before calling Black Ink a final product and purchases made right now still represent a huge discount on the final price.

Thanks again for your patience and support!





Bleank team

12 comments Read more

December 30, 2015

Happy new year!



Hello,

In this holiday season we’d like to keep you updated on Black Ink’s progress.
We’re working on a whole new system that will make our brushes way more powerful. This new development will allow us to add texture, blur, smudge and many other effects to the brushes while maintaining Black Ink’s speed. Stay tuned for further informations!

In the meantime we hope you had a great christmas and we wish you a very happy new year!

Bleank team


Doodles made by Bleank Team during the Talent days exhibition in Lyon

15 comments Read more

About This Software

Black Ink is a new, non-realistic GPU based painting application that, instead of imitating traditional tools, brings new inspirations to every artist.

Forget about pen and paper or watercolor and discover a new, generative and truly computer based way to create. Black Ink’s non realistic tools makes creating original pictures fast and easy, whether you’re an experimented artist or never used a painting program before.

Black Ink gives you the freedom to modify your brushes in any way you want and no real life constraint is going to stop your imagination. You can create the perfect brush, or the most crazy one, and share it with other users for unlimited variations and effects.
Black Ink’s unique and simple node-based system allows to very easily assign behaviors to your brush as well as create limitless advanced setups.

And thanks to Black Ink’s GPU technology you can forget about the pixels and work on high definition documents. Don’t worry about the resolution anymore and just create a 4, 8 or even 10k picture and draw without slowing down on real, full bitmap documents.

Tutorials | Brush making | Tips and tricks

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Key Features
..................................................................................................................................................................................................

  • GPU rendering technology offering unprecedented speed with full bitmap high resolutions documents (4K, 10k and more)
  • Non-realistic brushes for generative computer based creation
  • Powerful node-based brush customization tool
  • Unique and intuitive user interface

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Upcoming Features
..................................................................................................................................................................................................

  • Tools upgrades:
    More layers options, transformation tools, search and filters in the Brush Manager, blurred shapes, canvas flipping, stroke modifier, new controllers nodes…
  • New features:
    Preferences, shortcut customizations, symmetry and duplicate tools, tile tools to loop strokes over the edges of the picture...
  • New brush types:
    Multi-splines, polygonal, multibrushes...
  • More details

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Black Ink is in early access
..................................................................................................................................................................................................

Why Early Access?

"In order to achieve this we chose to put Black Ink in the hands of the users as soon as possible to gather feedback, adapt our development to their needs and also help us finance the project while staying independent."


Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

"Black Ink will stay in early access as long as we feel something too important is missing.
This is an iterative development and no fixed date is set but we hope we can call it complete within the next two years."


How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

"Every feature in the full version will appear during the Early Access process as we develop them.
We are planning on adding more options to brush creation and even a way to mix them together, more drawing tools like symmetry and cloning, better management of layer number, more customization options like custom keyboard shortcuts, new presentation for some UI elements and other improvements asked by the community. We also aim at releasing on OSX.

You can see a detailed list of planned developments here"


What is the current state of the Early Access version?

"Black Ink is fully functional and each update is tested and stable. The ongoing development is all about adding features. A lot of people are already enjoying drawing with Black Ink (here) and are giving us feedback on what to add next to make it better."

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

"Black Ink’s price will raise as it becomes more complete and attain a full version value once it leaves early access.

We will announce major price-changing updates in advance so everyone can get a chance to get it cheaper."


How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

We closely monitor our community activity for feedback, bug reports, feature suggestions and of course drawings! That’s how we keep Black Ink stable and usable.

Each feature development is evaluated according to what our users are asking and we are of course happy to publish the best drawings on our network.

We also have an ‘Alpha’ program that users can sign up to. This version is a work in progress of the next release, it contains the features we are working on and testers can help us make them as complete as possible and stabilize the release.

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP (SP3)
    • Processor: Single Core Processor at 1.6 Ghz
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Graphic card with support of pixel shader 3.0 and 512 Mo of VRAM
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Storage: 50 MB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7 SP1
    • Processor: Quad core processor
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Graphic card with pixel shader 3.0 support and with 1 GB of VRAM
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 50 MB available space
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated! Learn more
Overall:
Very Positive (282 reviews)
Recently Posted
:MLP: Hippo8o
( 49.5 hrs on record )
Posted: June 24
Nice and very simple to use. It's just that I struggle with my 3D stuff. So I try and I still use it. I think for how nice this utility is more artist should be using it.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Macgyver
( 76.1 hrs on record )
Posted: June 23
This is seriously a really fun program to get into. Learning the ropes before you jump on in can help. The shortcuts are so dang helpful. The support has been fantastic. For those who just want to play around, to those who are digital artists. Black ink has such an in depth brush preset functionality to make good ole photoshop look old hat.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Rei
( 61.1 hrs on record )
Posted: May 28
UPDATED

Most of the issues I've had with Black Ink will soon be resolved, so I have decided to update my review. Some of the issues I've had with Black Ink were: 7 months without update, no news about future updates, pricing, too limited number of layers.

Not knowing if the developer's will ever look to solve those issues, I did not recommend the product. But the developer's proved that they do care about this title, and have not abandoned it. Whenever I posted or asked something about Black Ink, a developer responded. It shows that the communities opinion matters. So I can happily recommend it again.

About the product:

Black Ink is, what I like to call, a wizard painting program. By that, I do not mean that you pain wizards, but that you file and combine different commands; generating diverse brushes, which you can then use to create digital paintings.

It is easy to use, but hard to master. Starting off, you will probably have little idea how to create brushes, but you will have a lot of presets available, with which you can start off painting. I recommend that you first learn to edit/tweak the preset brushes, before making your own.

These are the first two paintings I've made using Black Ink (so be gentle):
- http://imgur.com/BRDxd8n
- http://imgur.com/Rv0U3r5

I highly recommend Black Ink to anyone even thinking of starting digital painting. It takes very little to make impressive artwork with this program, and allows to make incredible artwork when you get used to it.

Obligatory pros&cons

Pros:
- Horizontal learning curve
- Powerful tools
- Countless brush possibilites
- Good developers
- Will receive large update soon
- Nice UI

Cons:
- Price might be too steep for some
- Inconsistent updates (hopefully resolved)
- The maximum amount of layers is 8 (my biggest issue)
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Rex MI
( 2.0 hrs on record )
Posted: May 18
Ignore the seemingly generous price point* of Black Ink, it's simply missing too many key features to be seriously considered as a competitive art application. I've rarely seen this software updated in 3 years of ownership so I'm not holding my breath that any missing features will be added.

Tablet functionality is pretty lacking with an Intuos 4. Beyond the basic pen functions, there's no real advanced functionality available. Forget about dynamic zoom or adjusting brush size on the fly.

Whilst a GPU accelerated art application soley focused on digital art is a novel idea, you'll be infinitely better served by the usual Photoshop, Corel Painter or even Manga Studio. From a professional standing, Black Ink just isn't powerful or robust enough to compete with these packages. I wouldn't even recommend it for a casual/hobbyist user.

*It's worth noting that when Black Ink first hit Steam in 2013, it was supposed to be ~£70, with the current price being an early-access special. At some point that original price was dropped.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
ZepperSupreme
( 16.9 hrs on record )
Pre-Release Review
Posted: May 12
so much fun
Helpful? Yes No Funny
julianammo
( 31.0 hrs on record )
Posted: May 10
Amazing art tool for hobbyists and professionals.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Vetron
( 122.1 hrs on record )
Posted: May 4
An impressive painting application that I find pretty useful for non-realistic concept drawings.

Brushes are easy to play with and I found it works reliably for 8k resolution without noticeable slowdowns. I would question its current usage into further productivity beyond usage I’ve outlined at this moment in time, however the software appears to be in continued development so this may change. But for a creative painting tool its certainly recommended.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Easter Bunny
( 3.3 hrs on record )
Posted: May 3
Great program and a great concept that works very, very well. But stunted development since it's release onto steam.

Basically you can buy it, and it's cool, but you won't be able to do much with it because it's still pretty much an alpha product with a major lack of features. When updatest do come, they're usually adding very basic features that are a necessity for this to be called a full fledged application, and they are really well implemented too usually, but the rate of their implementation is slow and the version numbering speaks for itself. (0.249.2089; Who thought of that, wasn't 0.2.5 good enough?) I like the direction this program is going in, but the snailing pace of the developers... There have been no upates for 7 months at the moment of this writing, and it seems to be going to continue like this for a while.

They also promised linux and mac support long ago, it bugs me they haven't gone through with it yet. The earlier you do this kind of stuff in the development process the less of a hassle it becomes later down the line to maintain support for all these operating systems.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Sheep With Dreads
( 51.3 hrs on record )
Posted: April 29
While it is rather expensive and a bit hard to start out, it is definetly a great artwork software. It's very practical and straight-forward with its functions, and has great potential for a digital artist. It also supports WacomTablet software, which as a huge plus for those who are avid artists. My only problem though, is that it is limited to only 8 layers.

9.3/10
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Necromancy for your health
( 30.6 hrs on record )
Posted: April 27
Beautiful versatility... It takes some experimentation to get accustomed to the more interesting brushes, but the time is well worth it.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
61.1 hrs on record
Posted: May 28
UPDATED

Most of the issues I've had with Black Ink will soon be resolved, so I have decided to update my review. Some of the issues I've had with Black Ink were: 7 months without update, no news about future updates, pricing, too limited number of layers.

Not knowing if the developer's will ever look to solve those issues, I did not recommend the product. But the developer's proved that they do care about this title, and have not abandoned it. Whenever I posted or asked something about Black Ink, a developer responded. It shows that the communities opinion matters. So I can happily recommend it again.

About the product:

Black Ink is, what I like to call, a wizard painting program. By that, I do not mean that you pain wizards, but that you file and combine different commands; generating diverse brushes, which you can then use to create digital paintings.

It is easy to use, but hard to master. Starting off, you will probably have little idea how to create brushes, but you will have a lot of presets available, with which you can start off painting. I recommend that you first learn to edit/tweak the preset brushes, before making your own.

These are the first two paintings I've made using Black Ink (so be gentle):
- http://imgur.com/BRDxd8n
- http://imgur.com/Rv0U3r5

I highly recommend Black Ink to anyone even thinking of starting digital painting. It takes very little to make impressive artwork with this program, and allows to make incredible artwork when you get used to it.

Obligatory pros&cons

Pros:
- Horizontal learning curve
- Powerful tools
- Countless brush possibilites
- Good developers
- Will receive large update soon
- Nice UI

Cons:
- Price might be too steep for some
- Inconsistent updates (hopefully resolved)
- The maximum amount of layers is 8 (my biggest issue)
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
76.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 23
This is seriously a really fun program to get into. Learning the ropes before you jump on in can help. The shortcuts are so dang helpful. The support has been fantastic. For those who just want to play around, to those who are digital artists. Black ink has such an in depth brush preset functionality to make good ole photoshop look old hat.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
322 of 339 people (95%) found this review helpful
14 people found this review funny
Recommended
7.7 hrs on record
Pre-Release Review
Posted: November 26, 2013
Make, download, or use the provided brushes to make amazing speed-sensitive designs. People with no talent can make interesting paintings in seconds, while those with skill can produce amazing picasso-esq poitraits in minutes. You might want to conisder picking up a small graphics tablet for an input device, also.

Or you can be like me and just get high and drunk and doodle, and then when people ask what you do all day, instead of having to respond that you're always sitting on steam, you can proudly say "I, sir, am an artiste" as you laugh and twirl your mustache.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
92 of 95 people (97%) found this review helpful
9 people found this review funny
Recommended
10.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 3, 2015
Black Ink has become my favorite drawing/painting application and I do recommend it, but you should be aware of some of its limitations before you decide if it's right for you.

The first limitation is that it requires a powerful graphics card to operate. Don't expect to run this on your laptop, much less your Surface tablet. The lag will make it unusable and some brushes won't even render. If you're looking for something to take with you so you can paint under a tree by the lake, this isn't the program for you, unless toting a massive rig on a picnic is your thing.

The second limitation is that the selection of brushes is very limited and not entirely satisfactory. While the software is certainly able to handle them, it contains no traditional brush/knife/spatula effects, giving you instead a number of flashy, but not very useful "computery" ones. Bleank's forums include a "brush exchange" where you can get another 20 or so brushes, but half of those are just experiments from people who are learning how to define brushes and most of the rest are interesting, but exaggerated effects of limited applicability. You might find about half a dozen actually useful brushes, including an impressive flame brush, a decent graphite pencil, and a nifty comic book hash shadow brush. The forums also contain a few tutorials on how to make your own brushes. How effective these will be depends as much on your own skills and background as on the tutorial itself. Making a custom brush is as much a technical endeavor as it is an artistic one.

The third limitation is that there are no geometric tools whatsoever: no lines, circles, arcs, rectangles, spline curves, etc. Their addition would make the program enormously more useful for certain types of illustrations, especially if they were given parametrizable "organic" effects (like random variations) in addition to being rendered with the current brush. Given how easy it is to do this (yes, I am a software developer and yes, I have written drafting programs in the past), it's difficult to justify their absence.

Also, keep in mind that you will need a drawing tablet and a pressure-sensitive stylus to get any decent results. Mice and track pads just won't cut it. This is true of all paint programs, but not everyone will think about it until they've tried and struggled with an inadequate input tool. I'm using it with a medium-sized Wacom Intuos Pro and it works great. You might consider upgrading to a stylus with tilt sensors because some brushes are tilt-sensitive and you'll get even better, richer results. Because Black Ink works best on large drawings, I recommend a large writing surface as well, though that's largely a matter of personal taste; I prefer to have room to move my arm rather than just my wrist.

But even with these limitations, what it does, it does very well. I am particularly in love with its layering feature. In addition to letting you stack backgrounds, foregrounds, and various intermediate slides, it's also great for experimenting on one layer without damaging parts that you want to keep. Which brings up the fact that Black Ink's undo feature works very well. This seems like a trivial observation, but I've used programs that make you want to throw the computer out the window either because they undo too much at once or they can't undo enough.

So I certainly recommend this program to anyone who wants a pleasant sketching/drawing/painting program, but I also recommend to Bleank to add more conventional brushes (and why not some more unconventional ones, too?) and a small panoply of geometric tools to make this a more complete and satisfying product.
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85 of 88 people (97%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
8.4 hrs on record
Pre-Release Review
Posted: July 31, 2015
Have only used this for half a dozen digital paintings, but there are two vital things about this program that you should know:

1) This is NOT designed to replicate traditional mediums. If you're looking for Corel Paint, you're in the wrong place. In fact, the more abstracted or impressionist you work, the brighter this program shines. This is because...

2) This program IS designed to take advantage of the DIGITAL apsect of digital painting. At its strongest, Black Ink uses algorithems to do what would otherwise be impractical with other drawing programs. To get the most out of this program, you MUST take advantage of that fact, otherwise you'll wind up frustrated.

Because of these two things, you must know that this program is not for every digital painting nor every digital painter. But if want to make non-realistic paintings that take advantage of the digital nature of digital painting, this is definietely the program to do it on.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
82 of 85 people (96%) found this review helpful
Recommended
60.9 hrs on record
Pre-Release Review
Posted: November 29, 2013
Black Ink is an... Intriguing tool.

I got this from a friend as main drawing software, since I can't afford the really shiny stuff like Photoshop and don't like getting out the old bottle of rum. Though it's really powerful, there are also some annoying drawbacks, mostly regarding the beta stage of the product.

First, the biggest and most annoying drawback: Bugs. There are times when you boot it up and try to draw with your tablet, it's completely out of calibration - something that isn't supposed to happen. The computer certainly detects the tip to be where it should be, but the program just paints a few mm to a few cm off to the left (or to the right, depending on its mood on that particular day). Besides that, Black Ink has the nasty habit of crashing from time to time, but as long as you save often that shouldn't be too much of an issue.

But, unfortunately, the topic of saving brings me to the most annoying beta-related downside: Corrupt savefiles. It happens, is really frustrating and I hope it gets solved soon. For now the way around it is simply to keep a lot of backups, but really, this needs fixing.

The last drawback isn't all that bad, but just a bit annoying: You can't zoom further than 100%. They're working on this, though, and I'm sure it'll get resolved soon.


Now, enough with the negatives! Positives!

Let me start this section off with what I am sure is the biggest selling point: The brush editor. You can create or download countless brushes, taking parameters as speed, pressure and direction and using those definitions to change your brush or add something or whatnot. I don't know much about it, but it's still pretty damn cool and, if you're looking for this, it's a selling point.

And besides that this is just a really solid tool. It's responsive, there are nice tools to add saturation to colour instead of having to change the hue up constantly to shade, pretty brushes... Fun!

All in all, though the beta stage certainly brings its drawbacks, this is a solid tool. If you're interested so far, buy it!
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119 of 142 people (84%) found this review helpful
86 people found this review funny
Recommended
397.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 26, 2015
this is the 2nd most played game on my steam
this isn't even a game
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
56 of 57 people (98%) found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
Recommended
1,138.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 23, 2014
TLDR; An exciting platform capable of producing HUGE resolution paintings with highly customizable brushes. I have never used a painting application and been inspired BY the painting application itself before Black Ink.

To get a good impression of this product and its developers visit the Black ink forum: http://forum.bleank.com/viewforum.php?f=3

The following is based on my personal experience and user feedback I've read in the discussion boards.

Be aware that this software is:

- In development. Updates roll out on a regular basis, and u2 (developer) is highly responsive to suggestions and issues. Some tools you might depend on may not be included in the current version. For example, at the time of writing this review there is no smudge tool but it is slated for inclusion.

- Highly GPU intensive, but from what I can tell most dedicated gpus work fine. Check for compatibility. If you're not super familiar with computers or other painting applications, know that this is unusual. GPU vs CPU will mean that just because other painting applications work for you, it is not guaranteed that this one will. It did not work at all on my laptop, but works wonderfully on my desktop. Try the demo. Paint something HUGE. ;)

- Has node-based programmable brush controllers. Your typical sliders (color, size, opacity, etc.) are still there, but you can go under the hood to customize your brush by tying the behavior of various brush parameters to the input of your choosing. There is a lot of untapped potential here. If you're the experimental type or mathematically inclined, you have to check this out.

- Focuses on non-realistic painting, but CAN do realistic just fine. For either type, visit the brush section of the forum to see what the community has created.
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50 of 51 people (98%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 9, 2015
Using this program has been interesting. Here's a pseudo review and half feedback. This is after an hour run. I'm also using Windows 10 and if the developers are interested, I can give them an indepth overview of my system specs.

Cons:
> Checking the documentation in Help would just leave me in a google search and opens internet explorer. Despite the fact Chrome is my default browser setting. I also wish the documentation is offline as I want to turn off the internet when working and in order to focus. The documentation is also incomplete. Making me unable to fully appreciate the full features of this program as I trial and error throughout the entire time.

> It's also weird that the program doesn't start with the layer editor by default. And there's an 8 layer limit which threw me off. Since I'm used to making tons of sketches and making new layers instead of creating a new canvas. That made me sad. :(

> Shortcut keys are non-adjustable. And even looking at the settings stated in the documentary doesn't match up to the keys I'm seeing. Z = Zoom but it adjusts smoothing. Q is actually the zoom shortcut key. Among other things. I rely heavily on shortcut keys to have a faster workload so that tripped me up. There's also a time that when I go to Eraser (pressing E) and then erase and back to sketch (I am used to the B/N key) it will swap to the color of the canvas (in this case white). I'm unsure what causes this. I assumed it's because of primary/secondary color but I haven't seen any indication of this anywhere in the window. It also took me a while to find the color picker but once I found it, it makes sense. Speaking of which...

> The color picker, in all honest I wish was a wheel instead of the square layout because it's easier for me to pick colors to complement the one in the sketch. This is a con for me while it might not be for others. But in Photoshop or other graphic programs I use, I can either implement it as a plugin or it's there by default. I hope future iterations will also have it. Even if I have to pay an extra fee.

> Fill tool has fill canvas, alpha and its invert version. I haven't seen any option to manually fill specific parts of the layer only (For example, if I have a lineart where I want the top to be orange and the bottom to be be blue outlines like other art programs). I'm assuming it's not in.

Now that I have said all my gripes I will now spaz out as to why this program has so much promise and why I want to recommend it.

Pros:
> The UI feels soooo good to draw in. It's also so nice to navigate. It is unnatural at first but it's easily fixable. The UI is also dockable and adjustable so I can do whatever workspace I want in it.

> All Basic shape options are in. That's good!

> The default brushes themselves are nice, especially when pen tips are all the types I like as well. I have no complaints. Especially when used with the Controller Editor. The ability to use gradient as a brush color is a super nice touch as well. The brush blending options (Normal, Multiply, Additive and Subtract) are a nice welcome. Now all I need is Color Dodge and my life is complete haha.

> The Controller Editor is unique and fun to use. It's almost like designed for a game engine, Adobe After Effects or Toon Boom's animation options that I'm super familiar with. I still have to create more brushes but so far I am liking it and I think it's easily one of the strengths of the program.

> The line options. Making background layouts in this program fits my workflow much better. Shift using a brush is great because it shows a wheel to show what angle you are in and helps me alot to be accurate. My space perception is horrible so this helps me a LOT. It also can be adjusted to detect pressure sensitivity or static. This is great.

> The Smoothing. I never liked using these because I am confident of with my strokes, but the way the smoothing actually helps me and doesn't feel intrusive is great. Especially the way it adjusts. It's like a better version of Flash curved line.

> The ability to put an image for referencing/tracing over sketches without having to add a new layer is GREAT. I love it. Thank you for that :)

Do I recommend this? Well it depends.

Personally, I don't see this working for any final work. I recommend it for experimental sketching or concepts. It's fun to use, great feel and has enough tools. However, compared to Photoshop especially it's blending layers, it might be lacking. Especially if you're the type to put in pictures and abuse its blending modes to get an idea for a compositional piece. The lack of documentation is very offputting but if you're used to tinkering other softwares, this isn't going to be hard to understand.

But yes, I do recommend it. I can't wait for future updates and a better documentation. I will adjust this review if an update happens.
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47 of 48 people (98%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
10.0 hrs on record
Posted: July 28, 2015
TL;DR:

Black Ink has limitations in its current state, but is a joy to use and feels like the future of digital painting programs.

The Full Review:

First off, let's talk about the lack of features. Here are some of the common complaints about Black Ink's feature set that I've seen on Steam and elsewhere:

  • Not enough good brushes out of the box
  • No fill tool
  • No blending brushes
  • Only 8 layers available
  • No masking

Are these valid? Absolutely, each is completely true. The team is working on some and some are way down the list of needed improvements, so we might never see them.

But for me, none of that matters.

Why? Because Black Ink is just a joy to use, even in its current, limited state. It feels like the future, like someone 10 years from now is sending back a digital painting package to give us a preview of what things are going to look like in their day.

Let's talk about some good and bad things about Black Ink.

Here is what I love about Black Ink:
  • I have never used a drawing package that felt so smooth. Everything from the brush strokes to the menus sliding in and out to moving the canvas around just feels cool.
  • The brushes that are available are perfect for concepting out designs. Just enough randomness in them to give you meaningful happy accidents.
  • It's FAST. 10k canvases with 5k brushes are just as smooth as 1k canvases with 20px brushes. I've never had a brush stroke lag, ever.
  • Tweaking the brushes is actually very intuitive once you understand the node based system.
  • It has the best shortcut system of any app I've used. I love that everything used for painting is on the left side of the keyboard, and that you don't have to click the drawing pen down to activate them. Once you are holding the key it is active. This makes the software feel smoother and faster.
  • Features are well thought out. I am the first to complain about the frequency of updates (and have in the past), I do wish they came more often. But what I love about the dev team is that when they implement a new feature, they make sure it is awesome before releasing it. Every new feature that has been added is well defined, well thought out and implemented in a way that makes you feel like it always belonged there.
  • The dev team is really responsive. Look in any thread in the discussions page here on Steam and you'll see responses from them. They are very aware of what is happening and what people want.

Ok, so from my description you probably think I have only praise for Black Ink. But there are certainly things that bother me.

Things I don't love about Black Ink:
  • As I mentioned above, updates are great when they come, but I wish they came more often. Three times a year just isn't enough when you are in early access in my opinion.
  • The color picker sucks. It takes 3 clicks to choose a color, most other programs have the color wheel right there. It's a one click operation to select a color. The lack of color palettes is something sorely missed as well.
  • I do wish there were more brushes that were just normal painting brushes. While I appreciate and really like the crazy experimental ones, it would be nice to have an airbrush, a textured paint brush, and a few other without having to shoe horn them in myself.
  • A fill tool would be nice (coming in the next release apparently)

Even with these flaws Black Ink remains one of my favorite drawing programs. Do yourself a favor and at least get the demo here on Steam. I think you'll find it to be one of your more satisfying painting software experiences.
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