Search form

'Secrets of Corel Painter Experts': Dwayne Vance

In this excerpt, ride along with transportation designer Dwayne Vance as he shows us how he creates really cool cars.

Dwayne Vance

Dwayne Vance: About the Artist I graduated from Art Center College of Design with a BS degree in transportation design. I began my design career with Troy Lee Designs in Corona, California, as a designer of high-end motocross protective gear. I then became a senior designer for Mattel, Hot Wheels division. While at Hot Wheels, I designed and developed several cars and led teams for entire toy lines. I eventually returned to Troy Lee Designs. There, I continued to design cutting-edge motocross gear including the SE2 helmet and other protective equipment. I now have my own company, Future Elements — High Energy Art and Design. I also have my own line of prints based on hot rod and muscle car art.


Software: Painter, Photoshop, Illustrator, ArtRage, AlchemyHardware: Intel Core i7, Wacom Cintiq 21UX


Dwayne VanceFuture ElementsCalifornia, USAdwayne@futureelements.nethttp://www.futureelements.net

Artist's Statement

I love motion and speed. When you represent those well, they pull the viewer into your piece because they evoke an emotion.


I really feel that I got into design and art because of Star Wars. As a young kid, I was inspired to create things that didn’t exist; I could create a whole new world that had never been explored. Still to this day, I love to draw robots and spaceships. I love manmade vehicles and the mechanics behind them. I am enamored with World War II just because of the fact the vehicles were so raw back then — but they functioned, and humans figured out how to make them work well. Science fiction and historical vehicles inspire me, and I like to bring them together, just like Star Wars was done. Some of my other influences are graffiti, anime, cartoons, graphic design, and nature.

[Figure 15.1] Rough draft from reference photos.

TechniquesStep-by-Step Tutorial: Hot Rod Vignette

I am going to be showing how I create a monotone sketch of one of my hot rod designs. It looks great as a quick presentation sketch and can be created quickly. I use a method called vignetting. It is a technique that creates a focal point toward the front and fades it out in the back. What I do to achieve this effect is render the front area and leave it as a sketch toward the back. This gives it more of a hand-drawn look and a focal point that takes one’s eye from the front to back.

         1.          I start with some reference photos from car shows I have been to. In the photo in Figure 15.1, I am referencing a 1932 Ford, so I want to draw a ’32 Ford — three-window version. I start by sketching the wheels to get my proportions, and then I rough out the beginnings of my sketch.

[Figure 15.2] Focus on correct proportions.

         2.          Figure 15.2 shows the rough sketch with all my proportions right. I use it as an underlay to make a nice clean sketch.

[Figure 15.3] Create a clean sketch in a new layer.

         3.          In Figure 15.3, I fade the image back using the Opacity setting in the Layers palette. Then I create a new layer on top of the rough sketch to draw my clean drawing on.

[Figure 15.4] Use drafting templates to clean up line work.

         4.          I use a Wacom Cintiq to draw all my images so I can draw directly on the monitor. In Figure 15.4, I use my sweeps and French curves to clean up my lines on the car body. I do this by placing the templates directly on the monitor.

[Figure 15.5] Use ellipse guides to draw wheels.

         5.          In Figure 15.5, I lay in my cleaned up wheels. Just as in the step before, I use ellipse guides and place them directly on the monitor to clean up the wheels.

[Figure 15.6] Hand-draw marks on paper.

         6.          To give my digital drawing a hand-drawn look, I use a gray marker to draw several strokes on a piece of paper. Next, I scan and import the image into Painter. See Figure 15.6.

Create a small custom brush palette for yourself by dragging the brush you want onto the canvas. You can continue to add brushes to the custom palette after it has been created.

[Figure 15.7] Adjust color of scanned marker lines.

         7.          In Figure 15.7, I change the color of the scanned marker strokes by using Effect, Tonal Control, Adjust Colors. I can change this to any color I would like; for this sketch, I decide I want it in the brown tones.

[Figure 15.8] Scanned marks behind rough sketch.

         8.          I place my brown marker strokes behind the cleaned up sketch to give it some instant texture. I also remove the rough sketch from underneath the clean sketch by turning off the layer; this way I still have my original sketch for reference. See Figure 15.8.

[Figure 15.9] Add shadow underneath car.

         9.          In Figure 15.9, I lay in a ground shadow underneath the car. The brush I use for this is the Chalk Brush, with a custom setting for Square Chalk.

[Figure 15.10] Give form to the car body.

         10.          I move on to defining other parts of the car. In Figure 15.10, I fill in the areas of the car body to bring out the form. I am still using the Square Chalk Brush and an Eraser Brush to create the forms.

[Figure 15.11] Add metallic highlights with Glow Brush.

         11.          In Figure 15.11, I add some highlights to the metal by using the F-X, Glow Brush. This brush is similar to color dodge: just keep laying color until it becomes brighter and gives a metallic look to the car body.

[Figure 15.12] Add details to the car.

         12.          In Figure 15.12, I start adding some details and finishing touches.

[Figure 15.13] “Runnin’ Flat,” final image.

         13.          I decide to add all the body cut lines using a lighter color and the F-X, Glow Brush again. Figure 15.13 shows the completed sketch with dust coming up from the wheels.

[Figure 15.14] Select Make Fractal Pattern.

Step-by-Step Tutorial: Custom Cloud Brush

In the next few steps, I show you how to create the Custom Cloud Brush I used to create the dust. You can add it to your Painter arsenal.

         1.          I begin by using the Pattern Selector menu in the Patterns palette (or use Ctrl/Cmd+9 to bring up the menu) and select Make Fractal Pattern. Then I decide which adjustments I prefer. See Figure 15.14.

[Figure 15.15] Select Effects, Tonal Control, Negative.

         2.          After I finish creating the fractal pattern, I click OK, and the pattern is created in a new window. Next, I select Effects, Tonal Control, Negative.This takes some of the black out of the fractal and makes a better brush. See Figure 15.15.

[Figure 15.16] Feather and Invert Fractal.

         3.          I use the Oval Selection tool and create a small circle in the middle of the fractal. Then I choose Select, Feather and set it to 50 pixels. See Figure 15.16. After that, I choose Select, Invert Selection, and click Backspace/Delete to delete the remaining fractal.

[Figure 15.17] Circular fractal pattern.

         4.          Figure 15.17 shows what I am left with after the previous steps.

[Figure 15.18] Select Capture Dab.

         5.          I go to the Sponges Brush palette and select Dense Sponge. Then I use the Rectangular Selection tool and select the fractal I just created. I go to the upper-right corner and select the black arrow next to the brush descriptions, and I click on Capture Dab. See Figure 15.18.

[Figure 15.19] Save Variant and name.

         6.          In Figure 15.19, I go back to the same black arrow in the upper-right corner and select Save Variant. I choose a name for my new brush. Then I go into the Sponges Brush palette and find the sponge brush that I just created. Now I am ready to use it.

[Figure 15.20] Change settings for different strokes.

         7.          Now I can use the new brush and create different brushes from it. In Figure 15.20, I use the Brush Controls palette to change different settings and create new brushstrokes. This is the outcome of the brush.

Just have fun with Painter and figure out the best way for you to use the software. I use many techniques and play around a lot to figure stuff out. Give yourself some time to play, and don’t worry about your art.

"Hurrin' Back."

InsightsThe Creative Process

I have several creative processes. My favorite type is the sketch. I love the raw, first part of a design process when I’m trying to figure out my composition or design. Then I love adding the color through markers, paint, or digital paint.

Favorite Features

My favorite feature in Painter is the fact that I can make stuff look hand drawn. It doesn’t have that digital look to it if I control the tools the right way. I probably use the pencils the most because I use Painter a lot for my initial sketch phase. I have created a variety of colored pencils, and they work great. I love that an image builds up color as I draw over the same lines. It really creates a colored-pencil look.

Customizable Tools

I don’t create many crazy custom brushes. I tend to stick with what Painter gives me. But I have created a few custom colored pencils that I use a lot.

“Snow Drift.”

Timesaving Tips

I do a lot of industrial design work, and I use a Wacom Cintiq tablet along with Painter. To save time, I use my traditional ellipse guides and sweeps (drafting templates) and place them right onto the monitor to sweep my lines.

Create separate palettes for yourself with your favorite brushes. When I am working, I only open the palettes as I need them so they don’t clutter my workspace. I give them separate names: sketch palette, paint palette, marker palette, and so on.

Finished Work

I display my finished work on gallery-wrapped canvases most of the time. At that point, I go back over my work with acrylic paint to put some texture back into it. I have also done a series of prints on different metals — from copper to aluminum. The printed works are displayed at different shows I attend and galleries throughout the world. The most important thing I consider when having work printed is using a company that knows how to produce high-quality gallery prints. A good company knows about the archival process — and that can make my prints last for 300 years plus. When I sell a high-end print, I want whoever buys it to feel she has purchased something special.

“Runnin’ Flat.”

Q&AWhen did you start using Painter?

I started using Painter during version 6, and I stuck with that version for a long time, possibly until Painter 9, and then I upgraded. Now I get to help with new versions of the program and give feedback to the developers.

What do you wish someone had told you when you started?

I wish someone had told me to start small. My advice to others is to just have fun and start with a few brushes; it’s not necessary to learn what every brush does. When I work traditionally, I have only a few tools: a pencil, an eraser, maybe a few marker pens... not much. I try to think the same way digitally. An artist doesn’t own every kind of medium, brush, paper, and canvas.

Did you have previous experience in traditional media?

Yes, my main background is in traditional art media. In school, I used a lot of pencils, markers, chalk, and occasionally gouache.

“Salt Flat Car.”

Do you integrate your work in Painter with traditional artists’ materials?

Yes, I do, and a lot of times I create pieces. I can work digitally and play with color palettes, compositions, and so on. Then I can have my image printed and go back over it with traditional materials. A lot of times I rough out a sketch in Painter, print it and go over it with pencil, scan it back in, and finish it digitally. Like I said before, Painter is just another tool for an artist.

Has Painter helped you define your own style?

Painter has really made me a quick designer. What used to take me three or four hours to draw by hand, I can do with Painter in about two hours.

How does Painter fit into your creative process and workflow?

Painter works great into my workflow because it works just like a real pencil, and I still love the look of a hand-drawn sketch. When I work digitally, I can work a lot faster, have an unlimited color palette with no major cleanup, and have an unlimited number of Undos. Some might argue that working digitally is cheating because of that fact, but the computer is just another tool in an artist’s palette.

What motivates you?

My main motivation for my work is a passion to create things that don’t exist or could not be created by a photograph. I still draw things that I would have thought of as a child, and it takes me into a new world or world with different technology.

“Belly Tanker.”

How has the Internet influenced your art-making process?

The Internet has really influenced my art because I can see so many different techniques that other artists use and then adapt them to my own style. I can constantly learn stuff, and mostly for free. Sometime I have to pay for the high-end stuff, but the cost really isn’t much when I am getting such a great education from it.

Which artists do you admire?

My favorite artist is God. He truly created an amazing universe to be inspired by. I also have a huge list of entertainment artists I like: Craig Mullins, Scott Robertson, and the guys at Steambot Studios. I also love classical painters, such as Édouard Manet, and others from the Impressionist period. I love to see brushstrokes.

What advice do you have for artists working with Painter?

If you’re just starting out with Painter, take some time and play with it. Get used to some of the functions and the different brushes. Don’t feel that you have to use every brush it offers — find how you would normally work, either by hand or digitally, and start with a small palette of brushes. When I started using Painter, I made a custom palette for myself that consisted of two pencils and an eraser. As I got comfortable with using that and incorporated it more and more into my workflow, I started expanding. One flaw in Painter is that it feels overwhelming at first when you realize there are so many brushes. So start with a few and just play. Don’t worry about making a masterpiece at first — you will grow after a while.

Links           *











Dwayne VanceEducation Art Center College of Design — BS in transportation design

Client List

Mattel — Hot Wheels, Batman, and entertainment divisions; Hasbro — Transformers and Star Wars division; Texaco; Oakley; Warner Bros; Mazda; Chumba Racing; Upper Deck; BlackStar Paintball; Arctic Cat Snowmobiles; Corel Painter; Jada Toys; Fly Racing; Troy Lee Designs; Flying Lizard Racing; EA Games; Activision; DC Comics; and a few others…

Awards and Career Highlights

Artwork displayed in Peterson Automobile Museum in the Hot Wheels Display. Have been published in several magazines and books, including Imagine FX; Corel Painter Official magazine; and Hot Wheels: 35 Years of Speed, Power, Performance, and Attitude.

“Future Muscle.”

“Fury of the Warhawk.”

“Mercy Striker.”

“Protector of the Faith.”

Daryl Wise has worked for the past 15 years as the owner/operator of StreetWise PR, a small public relations and marketing firm near the Silicon Valley. Some clients include or have included Macworld Expos, the artist Peter Max, HP, Ambient Design, Adesso, Pixelmator, GLUON, and e frontier. He was director of the Santa Cruz Digital Arts Festival for three years and is a member of Cabrillo College's Digital Arts Advisory Committee. He is the author of Secrets of Award-Winning Digital Artists, Secrets of Poser Experts, and Secrets of Painter Experts.

Linda Hellfritsch holds degrees in traditional art and graphic design. She is a fine artist, freelance commercial artist, Web designer and writer living in La Selva Beach, California. She has curated and hung both traditional and digital art exhibitions in San Jose, San Francisco, Monterey, San Clemente and Santa Cruz. Her areas of expertise include art, design, art history, and arts education. Linda works primarily with traditional mixed media although her work has required her to design and develop digital graphic arts products. This exposure to digitally produced art has awakened a curiosity and hunger to learn more about digital art tools. She has spent the past several years talking to digital artists, experiencing their work and learning their secrets. Linda's background in traditional fine art gives her a unique perspective as a traditional artist in a digital world. In her spare time, she works as a scenic painter and props builder at the new Crocker Theater in Aptos, California.