Thursday, May 15, 2008

Painter's Digital Watercolors

In this tutorial, I am going to cover the basics of using Painter’s digital watercolor brushes using last week’s experiment. I have to say up front that if you are looking for watercolor inspiration then this is not the place. I find watercolors one of the hardest mediums to work in and probably my least favorite. But people who make the switch to digital painting usually like Painter’s watercolor brushes the best.

Digital watercolors do allow you to experiment in a way that allows more freedom than traditional watercolor medium. (Those of you that have worked in watercolors know how unforgiving it can be.) The digital medium works the same as the traditional medium so I am not going to go into any watercolor techniques.

First we start with a sketch. Watercolors are the only medium where I will start on a white piece of paper. I find this utterly terrifying because you cannot set a cool or warm mood with the color of your paper. But just like in traditional watercolor, the brightness of the paper becomes your base color.

There are two types of watercolor brushes in Painter. There are the regular old “watercolor brushes” that have been in Painter for ages and there are the “Digital Watercolor brushes”. The watercolor brushes are better for sweeping in washes of color in backgrounds, but you will need tons of memory to use these without grinding your machine to a halt. The digital watercolor brushes work much more efficiently. You can select one of the digital watercolor brushes from the brush menu by clicking on the small arrow next to the brush.

Next you want to choose a kind of digital watercolor brush and customize it to your needs. I prefer to start with the “Wash Brush.” The real magic in this brush is controlling the “Wet Fringe” and “Diffusion.” In this sample, the left doodle has a Wet Fringe of 100% with a 0 Diffusion. You can see that this creates a brush strokes that goes on wetter because you can really see the color accumulating on the stroke edges. On the right the Diffusion is kept at 0 and the Wet Fringe is 0. This creates a smoother almost marker feel. To me, it looks more like what you can get out of Photoshop which I personally think looks more "digital."

In this next example, the Wet Fringe is kept at 100% and the Diffusion is put at 20. This creates a very watery fluid brush which might not be the right brush for objects, but would look fabulous as a watery backgrounds.

Another interesting brush is the “Wet Eraser” under the same brush grouping. This brush allows you to easily correct your mistakes with literally a wet erase. Something that is difficult to do with traditional watercolors. (Note: the wet eraser only works on layers. Once you drop your layer down you will want to go back to the regular eraser.)

At this point, the painting just has some light washes. I like a little texture so I always go over my watercolor paintings with some pastels using different textured paper. And that is what you can see in the final.

Another tip: Use lots of layers with watercolors. You can create a new layer in the same way that you do in photoshop by clicking on the small right triangle and selecting “new layer.” If you paint each wash on a seperate layer then you can lower the opacity as you go to and slowly build color. I drop the layer once I get it looking how I want it. (You drop the layer by clicking on the arrow to the right and selecting “Drop.” The drop is the equivalent to the "merge down" command in Photoshop)

I will cover Painter's pastel brush in another tutorial. I also plan to cover painting with a watercolor brush in Photoshop. The steps are a little less intuitive, but it can be done. Let me know if there is something in particular that you would be interested in seeing.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Illustration Friday: Electricity

For a limited time only! Get your Dr. Horne's Electric Belt. (Batteries sold separately).

btw, I will have a new tutorial up next week. I dislocated my shoulder while wearing my new vibrating belt. Long posts are a bit tricky right now.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Illustration Friday: Seeds

With this week's topic, I had a childhood memory of how I used to always wonder where the seeds from a flower would plant themselves when you blew them into the wind. (I know...totally corny!) I am sure my neighbors could have done without me blowing weeds into their yard.

Here is a quick experimentation with Painter's digital watercolor brushes and Hard Pastel on Rice paper. I have not used Painter's watercolors in awhile and I had forgotten how wonderful the brushes are for showing fluid movement. (the seeds blowing out of the dandelion are the "Spatter Water" brush.) When I worked traditonally, I could never control my spatters and would always end up with a muddy mess.

If people like this experimentation then maybe I will do a tutorial next on painter's watercolor and pastels tools. Let me know if you are interested...