Using the new Divine Proportion tool
by Wes Pack
Corel® Painter™ X provides hope for those of us who may feel that we need some assistance in finding an artist’s eye for aesthetics and design. In addition to setting the standard for professional art software, Corel Painter includes easy-to-use features that focus on the fundamentals of art technique and theory. The new Divine Proportion composition tool is one of those features, and it is especially useful when determining the layout for a painting.
For years, it has been generally accepted that we appreciate paintings and designs that allow our eyes to flow around an image to take in its visual elements. By applying the principles of Divine Proportion, virtually anyone can compose a relatively balanced painting. With Corel Painter X, the new Divine Proportion tool allows you to start with optical guide lines that have been used for centuries to achieve some of the world's most famous painted compositions. Not being an accomplished artist myself, I decided to put this theory to the test.
I started with a blank canvas with an approximate size of 10 inches wide and 6.5 inches high. To turn on the Divine Proportion tool, I clicked Window menu > Show Divine Proportion, and then enabled the Enable Divine Proportion check box on the Divine Proportion palette. With the Divine Proportion palette, I can flip and rotate the grid to whatever composition flow I desire. Remember, the center area of the Divine Proportion spiral is where the main focal point or key element of your painting should be positioned. This is where the viewer's eye should first be drawn to and then flow outward to take in the rest of the painting.
With the grid in place, I can now roughly sketch in my composition. I've chosen a 2B Pencil from the Brush Selector bar, and a medium-to-light gray color tone from the Colors palette. Keep in mind that you can adjust the opacity of the guide lines if you need to better see your sketched lines. Also, I created this sketch from my head; using a reference photo for a subject would be easier. By following the horizontal and vertical grid areas, along with the focal view spiral, I found that I could quickly and easily sketch something with balance.
Next, I considered my light source and choose a color scheme to express the look and feel of the painting. I decided that this painting will have a rustic or golden glow caused by the setting sun after a hot summer day in the Tuscany hill country. I used the Layers palette to create a new painting layer. Then, for reference, I reduced the opacity of the sketch layer and positioned it on top of the painting layer.
After approximately an hour of brush swapping and painting, I end up with the following painting. Give it a try for yourself. The Divine Proportion tool will help you understand visual balance and flow.