Corel Painter Master - Michael Bast

Name: Michael Bast
Occupation/Profession: Illustrator
Employer: Self-employed
Location: Brookfield, IL
Hobbies: Music


His gallery is in your refrigerator and pantry. Odds are you have something he designed sitting on your kitchen counter right now. For being so "unknown", he is actually very well known in your daily life.

Illustrator Michael Bast has worked for over 20 years within the same group of clients. They just keep coming back. And although Michael himself would humbly downplay many of the rave reviews and superfluous praises he receives, they are genuine. As the representative at Celestial Seasonings said, "You think we're gushing—but it's all true." A reputation for excellence has made Michael a repeat illustrator for companies like Kraft, Pringles, Sara Lee, Post, and Proctor and Gamble, to name a few.

In explaining the difference in flavor vs. food art, Michael says, "With flavor art, I filter out the off message and enhance the on message part of an image. I accentuate the details of whatever I am illustrating to create a mood– whether it be color, surface, texture (i.e., wet, juicy, etc.) or lighting. Unlike photography, with illustration you have more control. A photograph is merely a representation of what is before you. You can play with lighting and focus, but you can't necessarily take out or even re-think what the inside of, let's say, a guava looks like."

Longevity is what distinguishes Michael above other illustrators in this already sparse field. There are only a few artists who have really made the jump to Michael's type of style. Dedicating a career to food art has given him plenty of time to mull over the idea of flavor and taste in regards to packaging.

Michael is keeping a style going that has long since been trivialized by the erosion of technology. For a quite some time it used to be the only way to achieve that look of tactile realism was through traditional tools—real paint, real canvas, etc. It's laborious and time consuming to translate taste and color with traditional tools. Michael was one of the first to cross into the digital realm and capture subtle nuances in imagery.

In short, his illustration style is taking the best of both scenarios. He is capturing the beauty of what traditional painting has always represented, in its finest form, and bringing that into a virtual workspace that allows for quick turn around time and revision. Thus equaling, decade's worth of very happy clients.

History with Painter

How long have you used Painter?
I first began using Painter in 1990.

Why did you choose Painter?
I chose it because it allows me to successfully capture the warmth, color and texture of natural media with the ease and versatility digital offers. It's been rewarding to learn and I am still, these many years later, exploring the many ways to utilize it. I also appreciate the fact that I can quickly make changes per client's request without compromising the "original expression."

Do you have any interesting/funny/noteworthy stories?
Here is one interesting way that Painter saved me lots of time on a project. A chain manufacturer had hired me to illustrate the inside of a coal mine. Normally, reproducing thousands of chunks of coal would take a considerable amount of time. Instead, I created 12 different pieces of coal, loaded them into the image hose and then sprayed them out in a variety of different sizes and positions to create an interesting mine wall. I also used the image hose to place thousands of blossoms on a tree in the illustration that won Best Illustration at the Mac Design Conference.

What are your top five favorite Painter features?

  1. Rotating Canvas: It allows me to draw with control in a position that is comfortable.
  2. Image Hose: It saves time when a certain part of the illustration requires repetition.
  3. Brushes: Watercolor, Opaque, Impasto and Airbrush give great effects, as they are true to actual brushes.
  4. Filters: Woodcut, Express Texture.
  5. Color Wheel and Color Sets: They help me to mix color quickly.

What are the Painter features that allow you to distinguish your art?
I am known for my use of color, light and texture to produce a stylized realism. Painter is a perfect complement to how I approach illustration. Its flexible tool set allows me to paint however I choose.

Is it possible to get the same results with other digital painting software?
I don't think anything comes close to what Painter has to offer.

How do you feel about Painter?
Truthfully, without Painter, I, as an artist, could not work digitally. The fact is, Painter is the reason I purchased a computer in the first place.