Auto-Painting in Corel Painter Essentials 3, Part 2
A pencil and watercolor effect
By Dave Nagel
Here's a little story to show you that not all art works out the way you plan. This project actually started out as an attempt to work up a pure pencil sketch effect. But after trying things out for a couple days, I wasn't too happy with my progress. So I decided I might try something along the lines of a charcoal sketch with a wash. I was getting somewhere with that, but then our good friends at the electric company (Southern California Edison) decided to shut off the electricity in some 2,000 homes, business and schools in Irvine for "routine maintenance" for about four hours, and I lost everything. When the power was restored, I attempted to get back to where I had been, but it was gone. Fortunately though, in the process, I actually stumbled on something that was more appealing than anything I'd tried before.
What this process resembles, to me, is a technique in watercolor painting where you draw with a watercolor pencil, then paint over it with watercolors. Then you let that dry completely and paint very lightly over the whole thing with a thin watercolor wash. If you've never seen that before, it looks something like this.
If you clicked the image above to look at the full-size version, you'll have noticed a few nice things about this. You get some nice, watercolorish diffusion where you want it; you get some hard, sketchy pencil effects in the architectural regions of the image; and you have some nice canvas-like texture in the foliage down at the bottom of the image. I've found that this technique works especially well in scenes containing architecture with small details before a light-blue sky, but I've tried it on a variety of other photographic images, and it does pretty well in most situations where you have a light background and a detailed foreground.
Here's how the technique works.
In terms of procedure, much of this process will resemble our first installment in this tutorial series. If you've read that already, you should be familiar with the concepts involved. If not, it might help you to go back first and read that one. You can find it by clicking here.
To begin, open up your base image in Painter Essentials 3. (I, of course, am working with a photograph of the Acropolis.) Then choose File > Quick Clone. Toggle off the Tracing Paper feature (Canvas > Tracing Paper) so that you're looking at a blank, white canvas.
That's all the basic setup you need to do for this project.
Stage 1: Auto-Painting with Digital Watercolor
Now, for the first stage in the painting process, we'll be working with two different brushes in the Digital Watercolor category. To begin, select the brush called Wash Brush. We're going to use this one to cover up the canvas with splotchy color and just give us a good foundation for the final effect. First, we'll need to make a few modifications to the brush and assign settings in the Auto-Paint palette.
My base canvas image is about 870 pixels wide, and I'm setting my brush size to roughly 23 pixels in diameter. That's about 27 percent the width of the canvas. I'm also going to alter the base opacity of the brush to 2 percent. And, as will be the case with all of the brushes used in this project, I'm going to go intot he Color palette and click the Clone Color button down in the bottom right corner. This way, the brush will suck the color from my original image, rather than from the currently selected foreground color.
Next up: the Auto-Paint settings. Now, for some reason, all of the brushes I'm using in this project worked out well with a single set of values in the Auto-Painting palette. That simplifies things a lot! Here are the particulars for my Auto-paint settings.
Once that's set up, I'm just going to hit the Play button in the Auto-Painting palette and let it run until the canvas is more or less fully covered with color.
Then I'm going to apply my second Digital Watercolor brush, this time the one called Salt. For this brush, I'm setting the size to 8.5 pixels, which is about 9.7 percent the width of my canvas. And I'm going to set the opacity to 24 percent. (I'm also going to click the Clone Color button in the Color palette for good luck, but it won't have much of an impact on this particular brush.)
Now, leaving my Auto-Paint settings just as they were before, I'm going to hit the Play button in the Auto-Painting palette and let it run until the image looks diffused and patchy ... something like this.