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'Digital Painting Fundamentals with Corel Painter 12': Welcome to Painter 12 - Part 1

In the first excerpt, Rhoda Draws introduces us to Corel Painter 12.

Buy a copy of Digital Painting Fundamentals with Corel Painter 12

[Figure 1.1] You’re welcome.

I made these scribbles with several of the brush variants available in Painter 12. In just a few minutes, you’ll actually be able to create digital scribbles as good as this! So, turn on your computer, plug in your Wacom tablet, launch your Painter program, and let’s get started.

For this chapter, you’ll use the following item from the website that supports this book: [*]         Custom palette: Painter 12 Sampler

[Figure 1.2] One good squiggle.

When you see the Welcome screen, shown in Figure 1.1, you can choose Create New Image, but first notice some other options. Brush Tracking, under the Set-up section, is an essential feature for adjusting your Wacom tablet to your touch. Click it now to get the panel shown in Figure 1.2. Make a typical stroke in the blank rectangle. The colorful squiggle gives Painter the pressure and speed data it needs to optimize the tablet for you. You can access Brush Tracking at any time in Painter’s Preferences.

[Figure 1.3] Choose size, resolution, color, and texture.

Okay, now you’re ready to create that new image. The New Image dialog box, shown in Figure 1.3, lets you enter height, width, and resolution for the image. In this book, you’ll use 72 ppi (pixels per inch) most of the time, so you’ll be able to see the whole Painter Canvas onscreen without scrolling and you can work faster. (Pixels and resolution are explained in Appendix A.) Canvas color is white unless you click the color swatch to change it. Basic Paper is the default surface texture, but that tiny triangle in the lower-right corner of the paper swatch lets you choose from several alternatives. If you want to use the same settings over again, click the plus sign and you’ll be able to save the current configuration as a new preset.

[Figure 1.4] The Brush tool is good to go.

[Figure 1.5] Jewelry sold separately.

Getting Acquainted with Painter

In addition to your canvas, the Painter workspace consists of several panels offering brushes and other art supplies as well as special features and commands. All panels are listed in the Window menu. You’ll see the vertical Toolbox on the left side of your screen. I used Painter’s Preferences > Interface to make the single column of tools into a double column. Make sure the Brush toolis selected, as shown in Figure 1.4. A tool or option is blue when active. If all you want to do is draw and paint, you can ignore most of the other choices in the Toolbox for quite a while.

So Many Choices

If you’re new to Painter, the sheer number of options, palettes, tools, and menus can seem overwhelming. There are ways to control the clutter and tell Painter how you like to work. I’ll introduce you to workspace management as you go, but it might take a while before you know what some of your preferences are.

Working with Painter you will have only one actual tool in your hand[md]the Wacom pen. Hold it as shown in Figure 1.5. Avoid touching the lever on the side of the pen’s barrel. (It has click functions that won’t be useful while you’re drawing). This model is the medium-sized Intuos 4. Pressure sensitivity enables you to control the width and/or opacity of your stroke by varying how hard you press the tip of the pen to the tablet as you work. Many of Painter’s natural media brushes also respond to the tilt of your Wacom pen.

[Figure 1.6] The Brush Selector shows the current category and variant.

[Figure 1.7] Acrylic Wet Brush is smeary.

The marks you make with your Wacom pen and Painter can imitate virtually any traditional art materials. You’ll choose your digital “brush” with the Brush Selector in the upper-left corner of the Painter workspace. It has two main sections, one for the colorful icons representing each of 29 categories and the other for the specific variantwithin the selected category. Below them is the Dab and Stroke Preview, showing a cross-section of the brush tip and a sample stroke made with black. Figure 1.6 shows that the Wet Brush variant of the Acrylics category is the current choice. Notice that the Wet Brush variant runs out of pigment rather quickly. What the Stroke Preview cannot show is how this brush behaves when strokes are overlapped. Figure 1.7 shows several Wet Brush strokes made with different colors. This brush also acts like a brush in the Blender category, smearing colors together. Go ahead, give it a try.

[Figure 1.8] Pick a color, any color.

[Figure 1.8] Pick a color, any color.

When Is a Brush Not a Brush?

When it’s a pencil, a pen, or a piece of chalk. Painter uses the term brush in a generic way to refer to everything used for drawing and painting on your digital canvas.

You can change the color of pigment using the Color panel shown in Figure 1.8. Click anywhere on the hue ring to choose a position on the color wheel, and then click inside the triangle for the exact Value (brightness) and Saturation (purity) you want. There are other panels for creating new colors and grouping them. See Appendix A for more info on managing color.

[Figure 1.9] Categories and variants listed.

[Figure 1.10] Step up to the Bar.

Until you get familiar with what each category icon represents, you might find it helpful to see the names of the categories alongside a smaller icon. Use the pop-up menu in the upper-right corner of the Brush Selector to choose the list view from Category Display. This menu has several other options, such as hiding the Dab and Stroke Preview. Figure 1.9 shows the categories as a list, with Dab and Stroke Preview and Recent Brushes gone.

Department of Redundancy Department

It’s handy to be able to click on a brush you used a few minutes ago without having to search for it again in these long lists, but Recent Brushes also appear in the Property Bar at the top of your screen. The Property Bar shown in Figure 1.10 shows the default settings for a Pastel variant, along with several other handy choices that are useful when drawing and painting. The Property Bar shows options for whatever item in the Toolbox is active.

[Figure 1.11] Have a Dab and a Stroke.

Let’s Doodle

Now that you’ve got your canvas (and your feet) wet, switch to a few other categories and scribble a bit. You’ll try out some Pencils, Markers, and Pastels (pastels are like chalk, only softer and much more expensive). Choose Square Hard Pastel from the Pastels category. A close-up of the Dab and Stroke Preview is shown in Figure 1.11, along with the actual dab or footprint of the brush and two strokes. The strokes were made with different paper textures, showing how well this variant imitates the response to paper grain of traditional pastel sticks.

[Figure 1.12] Interface preferences.

[Figure 1.13] Pencils and markers and chalk, oh my!

Brush Ghosting

As your Wacom pen hovers over the canvas, you may want to see the “ghost” of the dab between strokes. There are a few other choices for the cursor, available in the Preferences > Interface panel shown in Figure 1.12. Enhanced Brush Ghost shows you the angle of your Wacom pen(as if you couldn’t tell) and can result in performance lags for some brushes.

The three small rectangles in Figure 1.13 show the colors I used to make additional strokes with Square Hard Pastel, then Thick n Thin Marker, and finally the Real 6B Soft Pencil. You might expect pastels and chalk to reveal the surface texture of the paper and digital dry media does not disappoint. Lighter pressure reveals more of the paper surface because heavy strokes tend to fill in the depressions. Painter uses the term grainy for this behavior. Chalk and pastels are opaque, so light colors can cover darker ones. By contrast, overlapping marker strokes build up, getting darker and denser. Painter uses the terms cover and buildup to describe these two basic methods for determining the behavior of a brush variant.

[Figure 1.14] Papers, please!

I Love the Pressure!

Make some strokes and squiggles with each of these variants, changing the pressure and speed of your pen. Did your strokes respond to pressure variations? Even more important, did the lines appear where you wanted them? Use the “Test Your Tablet” tip to confirm that your Wacom tablet is functioning properly. If pen strokes require more pressure than you’re comfortable with, or (on the other hand) if the pen seems too sensitive to pressure changes, recall that you can customize the tablet’s sensitivity within Painter by using Preferences > Brush Tracking.

Test Your Tablet

Make sure the tablet is mapped to your computer screen by doing the “two-point test.” Touch the point of your pen to any corner of the active area of the tablet and notice that your cursor shows up at the corresponding corner of your screen. That was one point. (If that didn’t work, you’re in trouble — see the Wacom tablet section in Appendix A.) Now lift the pen away from the tablet (don’t drag it!) and touch it to the opposite/diagonal corner. If the cursor shows up in the new position, you’re good to go. If not, see Appendix A.

To change from the default Basic Paper to a different type of surface, open the Paper Library near the bottom of the Toolbox, or choose the Papers panel from the Windows menu.Figure 1.14 shows the Papers panel with the current library of swatches. There are sliders to change size and other qualities of the paper grain.

Rhoda Draws, the artist formerly known as Rhoda Grossman, is the author of numerous books and video tutorials on the creative uses of Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop. She has taught basic drawing as well as digital painting and graphics techniques at several schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she has earned a reputation for lively and humorous presentations. Rhoda began using digital media in 1990 and uses pixel-based software for commercial illustration and cartooning, as well as fine art projects. She has successfully transferred traditional figure-drawing skills to the computer and brings her MacBook Pro and Wacom tablet along to life drawing workshops. As "Rhoda Draws A Crowd," she is a pioneer in using digital media for live caricature entertainment at trade shows and events. Visit her website at