Corel Painter X : Working with Layers - More Furniture

8/18/2012 4:26:41 PM
You’ll create a painting from a photo of the leather loveseat in Figure 1. It’s hard to believe the playful and colorful image at the beginning of this lesson started out as this understated classic. Layers will be used in several ways for this project, as well as cloning, smearing, scribbling, and—well, I don’t want to give away all the details.
Figure 1. Classic seating.

Scheming and Smearing

With a lively color palette in mind, let’s take advantage of the Color Scheme menu in the Underpainting Palette provided in Painter X. This time, use Impressionist Scheme for the dramatic effect in Figure 2. Also shown in Figure 2 is the color set made from the new image. I saved this color set as Loveseat.colors, and it’s available in the custom palettes and libraries folder on the CD. It can be useful to guide your color choices if you’re using an earlier version of Painter.

Figure 2. Colorful setting for seating.

Use File > Clone to make a copy of the image. Don’t use Quick Clone this time because we don’t want the copy deleted. Work on the clone copy with a smeary variant from the Blenders category to wipe out details and create a painterly background. Have some fun experimenting with several Blender brushes. Strokes made by some of them are slow on less powerful computers, even when Brush Ghosting is turned off in Preferences. If you’re in a hurry, use Grainy Water or a Pointed Stump. I used Pointed Stump 30, mostly, for the result in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Smudged, smeary, and blurred.

Can You Unsmear?

Did your smearing go too far? Recover some of the original detail where needed by using Cloners > Soft Cloner to paint back details to be smeared again.

A Clone Painting Layer

Make a new layer, leaving your smeary version protected on the canvas. For this stage, you’ll use Cloner variants or other brushes with Clone Color enabled to bring out the details impressionistically. There actually is an Impressionist Cloner you can use on this layer if you wish, but try some other brush styles as well.

I’m dying to try out the new RealBristle brushes in Painter X, so I’ll start with those. Turn Tracing Paper up to high opacity, around 70 percent, so you see just enough of the original photo to place highlights and shadows. Using Clone Color, paint in some strokes on the lightest and darkest areas, following the contour of shapes for the direction of your brush. Figure 4 shows the development of the painting after applying some strokes with the Real Tapered Flat and Real Flat Opaque variants. Figure 5 shows only the new layer, so you can see how relatively few strokes were needed.

Figure 4. Details emerging.

Figure 5. Canvas invisible.

You may want to see how the smeary version on the canvas looks without the new layer. Just toggle visibility of any layer (or the canvas itself) with the eyeball icons in the Layers Palette.

An Impasto Layer

Let’s add another layer for some thick paint strokes. The Impasto category offers a wide range of choices, and there are a few Impasto variants lurking in other categories for you to discover. You’ll try them on the new layer, leaving the previous layer and the canvas untouched. This time, I’ll pick colors from the custom color set, rather than use Clone Color. Work freely, with the confidence that anything you do can be undone, redone, or faded.

My Impasto layer, shown in Figure 6, was made with different sizes of the Thick Tapered Flat variant. The Layers Palette at this stage is also shown. I gave layers descriptive names (to replace the generic Layer 1, etc.) using Layer Attributes, available in the Layers popup menu or just by double-clicking a layer in the palette.

Figure 6. Thick paint.

Fading Fast

Don’t rush to undo a stroke you like just because it’s too bright or too opaque. Use Edit > Fade to tone it down by any percentage you choose. And since I’m already warning you, be sure to have your image displayed at 100 percent when working with Impasto effects. At lower magnification, you’ll see crazy moire patterns that really aren’t there.

Figure 7 shows my composite at this point. Before moving forward, there are some choices to consider:

  • Erase parts of a layer

  • Reduce a layer’s opacity

  • Change the composite method of a layer

  • Alter the Impasto depth effect

  • Add another layer

Figure 7. Not quite finished.

I ended up using all of those options before finishing up with the art work at the beginning of this lesson.

Out of Our Depth

The Impasto strokes are exciting, but they overpower the rest of the painting. Toggle depth on or off with the vaguely star-shaped icon on the right edge of the image window to see what your Impasto strokes look like when they are completely flat. How to achieve a reduction, but not elimination of paint depth? I reduced the opacity of the Impasto layer using the slider near the top of the Layers Palette. This resulted in less color but no change in the depth effect. Hmm, so it’s not going to be that easy. It’s important to know that for the Impasto category of brushes, color and depth are independent of each other. There are several Impasto variants for managing depth while leaving color alone. I chose the Depth Equalizer (sounds like something you’d need on a submarine) and gently stroked over some of the thick paint to make it a bit more subtle. Mission accomplished.

Everything’s Under Control

Next time you use an Impasto variant, try a few strokes with opacity adjusted in the Property Bar. Figure 8 shows a test of the Thick Tapered Flat variant at 100%, 50%, and 30% opacity, using about the same stylus pressure.

Figure 8. Testing your depth.

Notice the other controls on the Property Bar. They are context sensitive, changing to show options for the tool you currently have selected in the Toolbox and also changing to accommodate the specific brush category you’re using. Size and opacity don’t need to be explained, but some of the other controls are not so obvious. The Grain setting is available for variants that show paper texture. A lower setting produces a stronger texture. This seems counterintuitive until you understand that lower values reduce penetration into the grain, while higher values increase penetration. Complete penetration (100% Grain) is no texture at all!

Resat means resaturation and refers to the amount of color replenished in the stroke. Blender variants do not add color at all but only smear existing color, so they have a Resat setting of zero. Bleed refers to the amount of mixing with underlying color, so you can expect Blenders to have relatively high values for Bleed. Open a photo or any image and try changing one or more control variables to see how smeary strokes are affected by changes in Resat and Bleed. Or make a new blank canvas to check out changes to other kinds of brushes.

Default Lies Not in Our Stars…

All changes you make to a variant will remain until you deliberately restore the default settings, using the aptly named Restore Default Variant command in the Brush Selector Bar popup menu. If you tweak a bunch of controls and come up with a really great custom brush that you don’t want to lose, play it safe and use the Save Variant command, giving your special brush a unique name. It will take its place alphabetically in the current brush category.

Finishing Touches

Now I can admit that I had no clear idea where I was headed with this loveseat piece. So I’m not at all sure when it’s done. Actually, this is just the kind of adventure I enjoy—plunging into unknown territory with very little chance of physical injury!

The third and last layer, a quick line sketch made with the other layers’ visibility turned off to minimize distractions, was drawn with the Croquil 5 Pen in a dark blue-green from the color set. That layer stands alone in Figure 9.

Figure 9. Relyin’ on the line.

Those few lines, so casually drawn, tie the image together. It turned out not to be an impressionist painting as traditionally defined, and that’s okay. Before dropping all the layers, I switched the composite method for the line layer, with a couple of interesting variations competing for final honors. The two versions in Figure 10 show the Difference and Reverse Out methods for the line layer. Notice that Impasto depth is turned off.

Figure 10. Two runners up.

Here’s how to add a colorful border. Be sure the canvas is highlighted, not a layer. Selecting Canvas > Canvas Size gives you fields to enter the number of extra pixels you need in any direction. Enter the same number of pixels for top, bottom, left, and right to get an even border. Then find the color you want and use the Paint Bucket tool to fill the new pixels.

Show Us Your Edges

The Underpainting Palette in Painter X has a great group of features. In addition to the Color Scheme and Photo Enhance choices, it also provides vignette Edge Effects for fading out the edges of your photo source.

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