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Corel Painter X : Graphic Techniques - Fine Art Printmaking

10/15/2011 4:42:46 PM
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A woodcut or wood block print is a labor-intensive technique that involves making several “plates,” each carved into the surface of the wood to generate a portion of the final image. Every plate must be inked by hand and carefully lined up, or registered, so that it is in the proper position for pressure to be applied manually or with a special press. The procedure is time-consuming, painstaking, and messy—did I mention you have to use sharp tools and could easily hurt yourself?

What a Relief!

You’ll stay clean and relatively safe using Painter’s Woodcut effect. Incidentally, woodcuts are considered relief prints because ink is applied to the uncut surface, while the incised lines and carved out areas of the block leave the paper unmarked. A good candidate for the woodcut look is an image with strong line definition or bold textures. Let’s find a source image in the Produce section of the Things > Food folder on the CD. I chose Asparagus.jpg, shown in Figure 1. Another good choice is Pineapple_pile.jpg.

Figure 1. What’s the plural of asparagus?

With your source image open, choose Effects > Surface Control > Woodcut and notice the array of settings available. Figure 2 shows the Woodcut dialog box. Notice that settings for Output Black and Output Color are separate, and you can turn off either one. We’ll take advantage of the independence of black from color in our preparation, so cancel the effect for now. Make a copy of the image (Select > All, then Edit > Copy) and use Edit > Paste in Place. Painter will automatically make a new layer for the copy. Now you can apply color effects to the canvas and black to the layer copy.

Figure 2. Woodcut settings.

Turn off visibility of the layer copy, and target (highlight) the canvas. Open the Woodcut effect again. If it’s the last effect you invoked (even if you cancelled it), it will be at the top of the Effects menu, so it’s easy to find again. Disable Output Black and move the color sliders around until you like what you see in the Preview window. Traditional woodcuts tend to have a limited number of colors, so I reduced the N Colors to 16. I also moved the Color Edge slider up to 25. This looked like the right amount of simplification of color shapes. You can enable Output Black and fiddle with those controls now to envision the final effects, but turn it off again before you click OK. Only the Color Output layer is shown in Figure 3. I accepted the default Auto Color, but imagine the fun you can have with an alternate color set.

Figure 3. Simplified color shapes.

Time to switch our attention to the layer copy. Make it visible and highlight it. Call up the Woodcut effect again. There’s a handy keyboard shortcut for the most recent effect: Cmd/Ctrl+/ (forward slash). Use Output Black this time, with Output Color disabled, and your best judgment about what settings produce a pleasing amount of black detail. I used a high setting for Black Edge and low values for the other variables. Click OK and you’ll get a black-and-white result. Do you recall how to make the white parts of the layer transparent so the canvas colors can show through? If you said Gel or Multiply composite method, you’re absolutely right! But check out Soft Light, too. It’s more subtle, and that’s not always a bad thing.

So one reason to have the effect on two separate layers is to play with composite methods. Here’s another: you can create the effect of imperfect alignment by shifting the layer a few pixels to the right or left and up or down. Figure 4 shows my finished woodcut with the layers just enough out of register to help create the illusion that this is a fine art print made the hard way.

Figure 4. Come up and see my woodcuts.

Faux Silkscreen

A silkscreen print, or serigraph, is created by squeezing ink through a fine mesh onto paper or t-shirts, fabric, whatever. An image is created because parts of the mesh screen are protected from the ink with some kind of resistant fluid, or resist. As with relief prints, several passes can be made using different screen designs and different colors. Photographic images can be transformed into silkscreen graphics, and these are most successful when the original images are simplified.

Well, Painter has a Serigraphy effect in the Surface Control group, right near the Woodcut effect. But we’re not gonna use it. We can get better control and more exciting options using another combination of effects to imitate a silkscreen print.

Make a copy of the shoe on another layer, as you did for the Woodcut exercise. We’ll use Effects > Surface Control > Apply Screen on the new layer. (It doesn’t matter if you start with the canvas image.) The Apply Screen dialog, shown in Figure 6, allows you to reduce the full range of tonality to just three flat colors—any three colors you want. You also get to determine the threshold for both color changes. Click on a swatch to pick a color, then experiment with both Threshold sliders. Choose settings that will enhance the snakeskin texture. Be sure to switch to Image Luminance in the Using field. My results, shown in Figure 7, include some accidental-looking bits of pink in the background. These are great, and don’t even think about eliminating them! They give a realistic, gritty quality to the image.

Figure 5. Open-toed elegance.

Figure 6. I hope they come in my size!

Figure 7. Pretty in pink.

This is already a bold graphic that could be used in a print ad or poster. But you still have another layer to play with. Choose Effects > Tonal Control > Posterize for the second copy, with four levels. Now comes the fun of exploring different composite methods. You might like several combinations, so be sure to save each one. Can you guess which composite method is used in Figure 8?

Figure 8. If the shoe fits…

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