Monday, April 29, 2013

Working with Corel Painter: Part 1

Today we're going to dive into a new program together: Corel Painter.  Regular readers know that I rarely have the most current version of software and that's true here, too.  I'm working with Corel Painter X and they are up to version 12 at the moment.  You can get a trial version of Corel Painter 12 at their website.

Corel Painter is not a cheap program, and a lot of professionals use it, especially CG painters.  There are tons of sites & books out there written by professionals.  This tutorial is not one of them! My husband grabbed this program for me on sale ages ago and I'm just now learning it.  A version of Painter is often bundled with Wacom tablets, too, so keep that in mind.

We're going to go through a brief introduction to Painter X today and dig in to actually coloring a doll next week.  If you have a drawing tablet/Wacom, plug it it and get ready to paint.

This is the opening screen of Corel Painter X.  I placed a grey square over my desktop so that the opening screen was more clear.  I'm running a Mac and this may look a little different on a PC.  I'm sure the day will come when I'll share my perspective on the Mac vs PC debate, just not today....

There are several options to choose from: Create a New Document, Open an Existing Document, Select Recent Document, Open from Template, and a link to what's new in Painter X.  These are the options on the first tap of the opening screen.  If you look at the right of the image there are five tabs with their own navigation.

The second tab is a gallery of Painter artists.
The third tab is  extra content, such as tutorials and tips.

The fourth tab is a setup menu where you can configure your program, such as adjusting the brush settings.

And finally, the fifth tab is a series of links to Corel Painter X online.

I'm only going to go through the first tab.  That's what pops up when you open the program.  We're going to create a new document.  Today we're just going to familiarize ourselves with the program.

When you open a new document, this is the screen you'll see.  This is the default size for Painter, in pixels.  It's set for a print resolution (300 dpi).  You can choose a paper color here as well.  We'll leave it white for now.  When I paint with oils, I like to use a toned canvas and sometimes I do that in virtual painting environments, too.  Feel free to play around with that as an option.

The majority of today's lesson is going to be an introduction to the work area.  We're going to go through each panel and palette.  I'm going to assume that most of you, like me, have had some passing familiarity with programs like Photoshop, but probably not much else.  When I started working digitally, I started with Adobe Elements and I really with someone had explained what I was looking at!  I like to start from zero whenever possible, and that's what we'll do today.

This image shows the default tools in Painter once the document is opened.  Some of these have additional options, such as the rectangular select tool.  I will use the brush tool primarily, and will follow up with additional tutorials as I master different tools.

To use the brush tool, we'll need some color.  Painter X has three default color options available upon opening: a color wheel at the top, a mixing palette in the center, and a swatches panel.  The mixing palette is a fantastic tool where you can blend and mix colors the way you would with traditional paints.  The painting swatches represent traditional paint colors and the name of each color can be displayed if desired.  So if I know I create skin tones with Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, and Titanium White in oil paints, I can do that here as well.

So let's choose a brush, mix some color, and apply it.  These are the skills we'll use to color a doll, so we'll try it here first.  There are several options on the mixing palette, (a recurring theme!) but we're going to work with the first one, the Dirty Brush option.

Let's take a basic mix, like blue and red make purple, and see what happens.  Choose your red paint and brush it in the mixing area.  Choose your blue and mix the two together.  And that's it.  The top image is pure red, the second is the red plus some of the darker blue, and the third is blue added to the modified red.  Play around with color mixing and see what you come up with.

Finally, we're going to look at the brush tool.  This will be the last tool that we tackle today.  There are approximately 900 brushes available in Painter, with endless variations.  I want to look at the Artist's Oil brush and how paint mixes on the paper.  The brush options are in the upper right corner.  The default is Crayon.

The image above shows just a few of the endless brushes available.  I chose the Artist's Oil brush specifically because it blends on the paper the way wet oils paints would blend on canvas.

Each brush has a bunch of variables that you can access from the top toolbar.  As you change tools the options show up in this toolbar, much as they do in Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.  You can choose to have a freehand brush or one that has just straight strokes.  You can adjust the size and opacity, too.  There are three variable that are new to me and I'll find out more about these: resaturation, bleed, and feature.  I'm going to leave these at the default settings for now.

This image shows three colors painted on a white paper with the Artist's Oil brush.  One unexpected thing I noticed is that the paint blends with the paper! So if your paper is white, your colors will be blended with white immediately.  And this is just one brush with default settings!

Corel Painter is a huge, robust program with amazing possibilities.  It is the leader in natural media programs and will take a while for anyone to master.  For our purposes, I plan on loading an outline of a paper doll and coloring it, much like we did in the ArtRage lesson.  I find this is a great way to experiment with the new tools in a program.

So next Monday we'll look at Corel Painter X a little bit more.  There will be a new doll on Friday! 

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