Made With Mischief

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“Mischief” is a new digital painting software, and it comes to you from Sarah Frisken, Ron Perry, and 61 Solutions. You might be asking yourself what’s so special about this new program, since there’s already a plethora of other products that have been used by digital artists for a couple of decades now.

I downloaded the free trial of Mischief yesterday to see what all the buzz was about, and in that short time I’ve already fallen in love. This is the kind of program that artists like me have been waiting for, because it’s excellent for digital painting but your work retains infinite scalability. For anybody outside the art and design world, this has been the most frustrating part for artists working digitally. I’ll explain: when you paint in a program like Photoshop and try to scale your creation, the image will turn blurry. Mischief doesn’t have this problem, mainly because of its most interesting aspect – when you open up the software, you don’t set up any dimensions or resolution. Just start drawing, and worry about all that later.

It’s a surprisingly intuitive way to work, and I found it very refreshing. As a graphic designer, I spend a lot of time worrying about the dimensions and resolution of a project, and Mischief’s unique interface bypasses that. Basically, once you’re done drawing, you can either export the visible canvas as an image, or even select a specific area to export, then select the size and resolution of the image. You can take a small colored piece and scale it up to the size of an 18×24 poster with absolutely no loss in quality!

Most of Mischief’s easy learning curve is thanks to its lack of complexity. The interface is uncluttered, and there really aren’t that many buttons. There are a few basic brushes, a color wheel, some simple editing tools, and a layers panel. And that’s pretty much it. I thought the setup was somewhat sparse at first, but as I began to work with the program I realized that you really don’t need much else. It’s pure creativity, and I must say that the included brushes make drawing extremely easy, and it really is one of the best experiences I’ve had with working on a digital canvas.

Mischief's UI, and a demon lady.

Obviously, though, the program isn’t without its limits, and if you’re looking to use Mischief instead of Photoshop, you’ll probably run into some of them. This program is purely for painting expressively, and simply lacks the bells and whistles found in the adobe suite. Although that’s hardly a bad thing, since it makes Mischief an exceptionally well-focused product. It’s nothing less than perfect for its target audience, I personally think it’s the product we’ve all been waiting for.

So now you’re probably asking yourself how much this thing costs. After all, artists have been clamoring for a program like this for years, and the ones to develop it could charge any price and we’d probably pay it. Programs like Photoshop will usually retail for several hundred dollars, but Mischief can be yours for only 65 bucks. After I downloaded the free 15-day trial, I made the decision to buy it permanently in less than two hours.

First quick character sketch with Mischief.

So if you’re looking for something other than Photoshop for your digital work, then you should at least check out Mischief’s free trial. It isn’t every day that something as innovative as this comes along, and I’d love to see it go further in future versions.


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