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Corel Painter X : The Great Outdoors - Just Add Watercolor, Bayside Scene

1/13/2013 11:10:23 AM
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1. Just Add Watercolor

When you finish the line drawing, you can eliminate the preliminary layers. A quick way is to hide the visibility of unwanted layers and use the Drop All command in the Layer menu. Now add a new layer for fresh color. Remember to choose Gel or Multiply for the composite method. The Digital Watercolor variant provided in the custom palette for this project is Pointed Simple Water. It is an ideal choice for applying blobs or streaks of color in as casual and imperfect a style as your line work. See Figure 1 for my effort. I added a second color layer so I could build up some tonality here and there. It turns out that the trick of making the Scratchboard Tool into an eraser works for this Watercolor variant as well. So, I was able to wipe out areas of color where they weren’t needed.

Figure 1. Spring has sprung.


You’ll need to drop the layers into the canvas to save your finished work in JPEG, TIFF, or other file formats. But keep the layered version in RIFF so you can explore some options, now or later. For example, try turning the opacity of the line layer way down for a more delicate effect. Or hide the line work altogether for a soft, nearly abstract color study. Consider creating a completely new line drawing using the color layer as inspiration. Figure 2 shows my color work with the line layer at 20% and hidden completely.

Figure 2. Primavera variable.

Pay Attention to Paper

The image with only color showing makes paper texture obvious. I happened to have the custom paper I made for an earlier project as the current texture. I didn’t notice it as I was working, and it’s too late to change now, unless I want to completely repaint the color layer. It looks okay, but if I had been paying attention, I would have chosen a more pleasing paper, such as French Watercolor. Many variants reveal paper texture even if they don’t have “grainy” in their name.

2. Bayside Scene

Figure 3 shows a pastel drawing with some ink line accents that I created last year in Painter IX. The photo source, called Tiburon_Pier.jpg, was taken in an upscale little town north of San Francisco and shows the city skyline in the distance. You’ll find it in the Places folder on the CD. Let’s recreate the drawing together. I expect this variation to be a bit different because I’m using a newer version of the software, and because I’m older and wiser. Also, according to some even older and wiser philosopher, “You can’t step into the same river twice.” I’m sure that applies to San Francisco Bay.

Figure 3. Dock of the bay.


There are several things we ought to do before we start to render this scene. That wide expanse of sky is not very interesting, so let’s minimize it. Use the Crop tool and your judgment about how much of the image should be eliminated. I decided to include a bit more of the water and pier structure on the right side this time.

I also want to work with more exciting colors for my new variation. You can enrich the muted tones of the photo by simply increasing saturation. In Painter X, use the Photo Enhance section of the Underpainting Palette and choose Intense Color. Notice that the Saturation slider has moved completely to the right for maximum effect. Users of earlier versions of Painter can accomplish exactly the same thing with Effects > Tonal Control > Adjust Colors. Drag the Saturation slider all the way to the right. Figure 4 shows the colorful result, as well as my suggestion for cropping.

Figure 4. Cropped and saturated.

Make a Quick Clone of the prepared photo. Unlike with last year’s version, I will be using Clone Color, taking color and value information from the source image, so we won’t need a color set. There is a custom palette for this project in the Palettes and Libs (libraries) folder on the CD, called Pastels and Chalk. (Import it with the Custom Palette Organizer.) It includes three sizes of drawing tools, a grainy blender, and two paper textures (Rough Charcoal Paper and Pebble Board). Figure 5 shows this custom palette. The drawing tools are arranged from left to right in decreasing size. The Square Chalk variant is about 14 pixels.

Figure 5. Pastels palette.

Custom Icons

The brush icon in a custom palette is the icon for the category. I chose a Chalk variant rather than another Pastel for the middle size, partly to avoid having three identical icons in a row. I’m pretty sure you can create new icons to avoid this kind of situation, but I didn’t want to bother.


Although we’ll be using dry media and achieve a very different look, the basic approach used in the trees painting at the beginning of this lesson still applies. That is, you’ll begin by reducing the image to simple shapes and add some detail at the end.

The larger the brush (or stick), the less detail that is possible. Choose Square Hard Pastel 25 and Rough Charcoal Paper from the custom palette, or just find them on your own. Turn tracing paper opacity to about 70% so you can see your work more easily. With Clone Color enabled in the Colors Palette, make some of the (mostly) horizontal and vertical shapes in the image. Leave plenty of white space, remembering that less is more, as in Figure 6.

Figure 6. Less is more, more or less.


At this stage, it’s pretty hard to tell what the subject of this drawing is, but a few more strokes will make things clearer. Continue adding (mostly) horizontal and vertical dabs, but use a smaller size this time. The Square Chalk, at about 14 pixels, is ideal for the next level of development. But wait just a moment. Suppose you add your medium detail on a new layer. Even better, how about having the first stage of the drawing on its own layer so it can be reduced in opacity while you work (letting you see the source photo more easily)?

Turning the canvas image into a layer is not a problem. Choose Select > All (Cmd/Ctrl+A), Edit > Cut (Cmd/Ctrl+X), followed by Edit > Paste in Place. This will make the canvas blank and create a new layer with the canvas contents in the correct position. Now make a new layer for the next stage. Reduce opacity of the “original” layer to about 50% and stroke in some windows, pier pilings, and other elements of similar size with the medium-sized chalk. Don’t forget to enable Clone Color.

Toggle tracing paper often so you can see your work. You might need to decrease opacity of the tracing paper for faint items like the pale blue city skyline. Ignore thin lines and tiny details—you’ve probably guessed we’ll put those on a separate layer. Switch to the Pebble Board paper when you add strokes for the water. Figure 7 shows the medium details added.

Figure 7. Getting clearer.

It’s time to add another layer for fine detail. Use the Pastel Pencil 3 to pick out a few thin lines here and there, such as flag poles and railings. Don’t use Clone Color for this layer, but do switch between black and white. Some details require removal of color. Actually, you’re not erasing, but painting opaque white over existing color or over other layers. Figure 8 has a close-up of a section with some fine detail added. I really like the patterns made by roof tiles.

Figure 8. Details, details!

I included a Blender variant in the Pastels and Chalk custom palette in anticipation of a need to soften some of the edges in the original layer. You’ve been saving each stage of the project (haven’t you?), so you have nothing to lose by experimenting with a bit of blending.

Grainy Blender 10 is a good choice for this kind of softening. You can get some very subtle effects, even when pressing fairly hard. The rough texture is an important feature of this piece, and too much smoothing could spoil the effect.

Decisions, Decisions!

Now comes the really hard part—deciding when you’re done! Add a little sky with your large Pastel variant, using a couple of shades of blue sampled from the artwork. Soften up some of those edges, too. Figure 9 has my finished artwork. But is it really finished?

Figure 9. Close enough!

Keep your layered versions for a while at least, making it easy to change things. Changes include more than adding or taking away painted strokes. For example, try switching the composite method of the medium detail layer to Gel or Multiply. All the marks made on that layer will appear darker because they are combined with the colors on the layer below. Did you reduce opacity of the first layer when you created the medium details? You might want to adjust that opacity for the final version, also, to lighten up the entire image.

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