Painting with RealBristle™ Brushes
By Cher Threinen-Pendarvis
The new RealBristle™ brushes in Corel® Painter™ X are extremely sensitive and natural to paint with. This new medium incorporates the performance of several kinds of conventional brushes, and the way that they apply paint. In the RealBristle category you will find soft brushes with longer bristles and stiffer brushes with shorter bristles, as well as round brushes, flat brushes, fan brushes, oily blenders and more! Also, the bristles of the RealBristle brushes bend and splay as you rotate your hand, allowing you to paint the most realistic strokes.
To paint Dawn Peace, a detail of which is shown above, I used several RealBristle brushes including the Real Flat Opaque, Real Oils Short, Real Flat and the Real Flat Blender. Dawn Peace was quickly painted on location and from memory, using loose, expressive strokes.
In this tip you'll learn a workflow for expressive painting, including the importance of Brush Tracking and using the Mixer palette. You'll also familiarize yourself with a variety of the new RealBristle brushes, so that you can paint an impressionistic sky.
1 Setting Brush Tracking
Before you begin to draw in Corel Painter, set up the Brush Tracking preferences so that you can customize how Corel Painter interprets the input of your stylus, including parameters such as pressure and speed. For Windows®, choose Edit > Preferences > Brush Tracking, or for Mac OS®, choose Corel Painter X > Preferences > Brush Tracking and make a representative brush stroke in the window. For instance, if you plan to use both light and heavy pressure, and to paint both slowly and quickly, try to make a brush stroke in the window that would include all of these factors.
The Brush Tracking dialog box.
2 Using the Mixer palette to build a color theme
Corel Painter X gives the you the experience of dipping your brush in your artist palette, then applying the paint to your image. If the Mixer palette is not visible, choose Window > Show Mixer. It's helpful to have both the Colors palette and the Mixer palette open. Choose a color in the Colors palette. (I chose a medium-blue gray.) Apply color with the Add Color tool (the brush icon, second from the left, at the bottom of the Mixer palette). You can blend between colors using the Mix Color tool (the palette knife). I mixed medium blues for the sky, and peach and various golds for the clouds.
The Colors and Mixer palettes.
3 Trying out the RealBristle brushes.
Create a new file. My file for trying out the brushes measures 500 x 500 pixels. From the Brush Selector bar, choose the RealBristle category. The illustration below shows the open variant list.
The RealBristle brushes are organized into several types, based on their performance and characteristics.
The Brush Selector bar, open to show the RealBristle variants.
In the Paper Selector (Toolbox), choose a coarse, natural texture. This is the paper that you'll use when trying out the brushes, and during the development of your study. (I chose Coarse Cotton Canvas paper.) To try out the brushes, you can work directly on the canvas, or you can paint on a layer. I worked directly on the canvas.
Let's begin with brushes that apply paint with various shapes and textures. Choose the Real Flat Opaque variant of the RealBristle category from the Brush Selector bar. This variant is good for laying in color quickly. The horizontal stroke and a circular stroke were painted using the Real Flat Opaque brush. Paint a slightly curved horizontal stroke, by applying medium pressure on your stylus, and then lighter pressure, while slightly rotating your hand. Now, paint a circular stroke using moderate pressure.
Brush strokes painted using the Real Flat Opaque brush.
Next, try out the Real Flat variant. This brush has a softer feel, and is also good for laying in base colors on your paintings. Using this brush, make several overlapping horizontal strokes, while varying the pressure. Next, choose the Real Oils Short variant. This brush is somewhat flat, has a stiffer feel, and is a little drier. It's quite good for moving existing paint. Using this brush, make angular strokes that overlap some existing paint, so that you can see how it interacts with paint on the canvas.
Brush strokes painted using the Real Flat and Real Oils Short brushes.
Now, try out the Real Round Bristle and the Real Round Bristle 19 variants. These versatile round brushes are useful for applying a good amount of paint, with minimal bleeding when applied over existing paint. The wavy horizontal stroke was painted with the Real Round Bristle brush, as was the small flesh colored stroke. The bottom blue-gray stroke was painted using the Real Round Bristle 19 brush.
Brush strokes painted using the Real Round Bristle and Real Round Bristle 19 brushes.
If you want to customize a RealBristle brush, the characteristics of the brushes can be adjusted using the RealBristle palette. To do this, choose Window > Brush Controls > Show RealBristle. You can then adjust any of the controls on the palette.
4 Painting an expressive sky.
For Dawn Peace, painted in the early morning, I was inspired by the nearly complementary colors-the light orange and peach clouds against a bright graduated blue sky. It was a fleeting moment, so I had to paint quickly. I sat in my car, and used my Wacom® tablet and laptop to rough out most of the painting. For this simple study in Painter, I used large brushes to block in the first colors. To begin your sky painting, open a new file that measures 1200 x 600 pixels. Choose File > New and enter the dimensions in the fields. Choose the Real Flat variant of the RealBristle category from the Brush Selector bar. This is a good brush for laying in color for the underpainting quickly. Begin painting the background areas using broad brush strokes. If you'd like to lay in paint and blend as you work, try the Real Oils Short variant.
Carefully observing my subject, and focusing on the composition, forms, and the natural light, I blocked in graduated hues for the sky.
The graduated colors blocked onto the sky.
Next, I loosely painted the darker shapes first, and then built up highlighted areas. I began to add varied peach and gold colors and a few deeper tones for the cloud forms. As I worked, I continued to use the Mixer pad as my paint palette and the two RealBristle brushes to apply the paint to the canvas. When the clouds were roughed in, I saved a new version of the image.
Painting medium and darker tones for the clouds.
Painting highlights on the cloud forms.
5 Modulating color and adding a few details.
When the basic color and tones are established, begin to layer strokes that will build more complex color areas. The direction of the brush strokes helps to establish the forms and to add dynamic energy to the image.
I blended color as I painted, using the Real Flat Blender variant. This brush is similar to a conventional oil brush with a small amount of wet oil paint. If you keep your brush pressed to the canvas, and brush back and forth over an area, you can build a smooth, blended transition between colors. If you pick up your brush and touch the canvas, you will apply a small amount of new color. Switching between the Real Flat Blender and the Real Flat variants, I painted, pulled, and blended colors, rendering the cloud forms using quick expressive strokes.
Now, zoom in to 100% and take a closer look at your brushwork. Which areas need refinement, and which areas do you want to keep loose? To add smaller highlights on the clouds, I reduced the size of the Real Flat brush to about 12 pixels. Finally, to add a few brighter color accents to them, I used a small version of the Real Flat Opaque Oils brush, keeping my strokes loose and expressive.
Painting the clouds.
The final cloud study.
All content and images © 2007 Cher Threinen-Pendarvis
About the author
An award-winning artist and author, Cher Threinen-Pendarvis has always worked with traditional art tools. A pioneer in digital art, Cher has created illustrations using the Macintosh computer for two decades. She has been widely recognized for her mastery of Painter, Photoshop, and the Wacom pressure-sensitive tablet, and has used these electronic tools since they were first released. Exercising her passion for Painter's artist tools, Cher has worked as a consultant and demo-artist for the developers of Corel Painter. Her artwork has been exhibited worldwide, her articles and art have been published in many books and periodicals, and she is a member of the San Diego Museum of Art Artist Guild. She has taught Painter and Photoshop workshops around the world, and is the principal of the consulting firm Cher Threinen Design.
Cher is the author of The Photoshop and Painter Artist Tablet Book, Creative Techniques in Digital Painting and all eight editions of The Painter Wow! Book. The upcoming Painter X Wow! Book is the latest edition of this highly-praised volume of techniques and inspiration.
To learn more about Cher, please visit her Web site at www.pendarvis-studios.com.