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Corel Painter X : Basic Drawing - The Pear

4/25/2013 3:14:16 AM
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It’s a good example of a simple still life subject. It looks good enough to eat and draw (not necessarily in that order). There are other delicious images in the Produce section of the folder. All are ripe for the picking and painting.
Figure 1. A classic subject.

Size Matters

You may want to change the size of the pear image to fit your screen. That’s easy. Selecting Canvas > Resize brings up the Resize dialog box, shown in Figure 2. Before you enter the new height or width, be sure to uncheck the Constrain File Size box. If you don’t, the change in dimensions will be compensated with a change in resolution, and the image will be exactly the same size on screen!

Figure 2. Don’t constrain file size.


Take a good look at the pear. Ignore the bruises and scratches, and focus on the edges of the shape. It is made up of a series of curves. The easiest way to make a simple outline of this shape is to trace it, and the easiest way to set up Painter’s Tracing Paper function is to click File > Quick Clone. Painter automatically creates an exact copy of the image, names it Clone of pear.jpg, deletes the image to give you a blank canvas, and shows you the original pear at 50% opacity (see Figure 2.3). You’ll need to keep the original (Clone Source) open while you work on the clone. Figure 3 points out the icon that toggles tracing paper on or off (keyboard shortcut is Cmd/Ctrl+T), which you’ll need to do as your sketch develops.

Figure 3. Tracing Paper at 50% opacity.

Opacity Capacity

Painter X introduces changeable opacity for tracing paper. Just hold down the tracing paper icon to choose thicker or thinner paper. This is a handy feature for accommodating different stages in your drawing or different kinds of source images.

So, you just need to pick a brush variant and a color, and you’re ready to trace. I chose a rich brown, sampled from the shadow side of the pear source image. You don’t have to actually switch to the Eyedropper tool to pick a color from an open image—just hold down the Opt/Alt key and your brush cursor becomes an eyedropper. After you click on the color you want, release the modifier key and it’s a Brush tool again.

Use a Crayon, Pencil, or Colored Pencil variant for lines that show paper grain. My simple sketch in Figure 4 was done with Sharp Colored Pencil 7. I started with the stem, using heavy pressure and several strokes to add thickness. It took three curved strokes to draw the right side of the fruit, and then I overlapped a couple of strokes to emphasize weight at the bottom of the shape. A hint of the pear’s “cleavage” was made with very light pressure. Don’t forget to turn off Tracing Paper to see your drawing!

Figure 4. Pear-shaped sketch.

Dude! Where’s My Clone Source?

If you accidentally close the source image while you’re working, or if the relationship between the source and the clone is “broken” for any reason, reconnecting them is easy. Open the source image again and select File > Clone Source to designate it as the one you want for reference.

Tonal Drawing

This outline drawing looks flat. Examine the pear photo again, and this time notice the areas of light and shadow. We’ll do another drawing that emphasizes these light and dark shapes, so we can create the illusion of depth. A traditional way to render light and dark effectively involves working on medium gray or tinted paper. Paper color does a lot of the work, and all you have to do is add the lightest and darkest parts.

Save your outline drawing, if you wish, and use the Quick Clone command for a fresh canvas. Sample a medium to light orange color from the left side of the fruit, but not the brightest part. Choose Set Paper Color from the Canvas menu. Nothing happened yet, but when you choose Select > All (Cmd/Ctrl+A) and Delete/Backspace, your new color will fill the blank canvas. (Painter defines Paper Color as the color revealed by an Eraser. So, you just erased the whole image.)

This time I’m using a Conte stick for the outline, but I switched to white for the left edge, indicating the light source. Real French Conte sticks are firmer and creamier than chalk or charcoal, and Painter creates the illusion digitally quite well. Figure 5 was done with Tapered Conte 8. That white line implies volume, like an embossed shape raised a bit from the paper surface.

Figure 5. A hint of depth.

Little Triangles, Squares, and Circles

Most palettes have a popup menu of options, revealed when you click on the black triangle to the right of the palette name. The other black triangle, at the left edge, simply opens or closes the palette. You can hide a palette completely by clicking on the X on the right and hide a group of palettes by clicking the tiny circle at the upper left. You won’t need the Layers palette for this lesson, and you’ll probably never need the Channels palette, so make them go away now.

Serial Save

A great feature in versions IX and X is Iterative Save in the File menu. When you want to save stages in the development of an image, this command automatically numbers each version in order. File format must be RIFF, Painter’s default format. Use it for this project, and any project—you’ll thank me someday.

Take another close look at the pear and notice its texture, most apparent where the light shines obliquely but not directly on the fruit. To bring out that texture, we will use a strongly “grainy” variant, such as Pastels > Round Hard Pastels. First, choose a paper texture that imitates the pear’s skin. It’s not always easy to predict what a texture will look like just from the paper swatches, even when they are displayed as thumbnails. Figure 6 shows not only the swatches of the current Paper library but also sliders to control size, brightness, and contrast adjustments.

Figure 6. Show us your swatches!

Go ahead and test a few textures on a new canvas the same orange color as your pear drawing, using white with a Hard Pastel variant. The top row of Figure 7 shows three papers that won’t work for this project: Pebble Board, Hard Laid Paper, and Coarse Cotton Canvas. Any of the bottom three papers will do nicely. They are, from left to right, Italian Watercolor, Rough Charcoal, and Charcoal Paper. With slightly vertical striations, Charcoal Paper is just about perfect.

Figure 7. Papers, please!

Now that you have the outline, you don’t really need tracing paper anymore, so turn it off and use the “eyeball” method—just look at the source photo to guide your placement of highlights and shadows. Apply a few white strokes with a Hard Pastel variant in the light areas, pressing harder in the brightest spots. Sample the dark brown color from the outline to create the shadow areas. Try not to let white and brown strokes overlap or even touch each other, but rely on the paper color to express mid-tones. Only a few strokes are needed to bring out this voluptuous form. Refer to Figure 8 for guidance and encouragement.

Figure 8. Easy does it—let the paper show through.

Switch to the Conte stick to make a clean white edge where the light background meets the darkest part of the pear. Go back to Hard Pastel to add some white background on both sides of the pear, feathering out the edges with light pressure.

Figure 9 shows my completed drawing, with a few finishing touches. I added a small cast shadow under the pear. A couple of details on the stem were made with Charcoal > Sharp Charcoal Pencil 5, drawn in white and with the paper color. Finally, I gently removed some of the white outline on the lower left of the pear, allowing it to merge into the background. No need to switch to an Eraser variant for those last few strokes—use the other end of your Wacom pen!

Figure 9. A nice piece of fruit.

Are We There Yet?

How do you know when you’re finished with a drawing or painting? If you’ve spent more than 15 minutes on this one, you’re done! Trying to make your artwork perfect? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Crosshatch Contours

Take yet another close look at the pear. This time, concentrate on its rounded contours. We’ll work on white paper with black lines. Tone and form will be built up from overlapping strokes that follow the contours of the pear. This is another traditional method often used by cartoonists and graphic artists, especially for commercial black-and-white printing.

So, make another Quick Clone of the photo. Choose a thin pencil or pen that has little or no variation in thickness or opacity. I’m using the 2B Pencil. Sketch the stem and right edge of the pear quickly and begin to make a series of roughly parallel strokes that follow the curves of the fruit. Use strokes that vary in length and direction, building up the form. Your wrist will have to twist as you work.

Figure 10. Are we pear, yet?

Don’t Hurt Yourself

To keep from twisting your wrist too much, use Painter’s cool Rotate Page tool, available in all versions. It shares a space on the Toolbox with the Grabber hand, right next to the Magnifier. Figure 11 shows the tool active and the image tilted as desired. When you’re ready to return to normal orientation, double-click the Rotate Page tool.

Figure 11. Let’s do the twist!

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