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In Painter 11 Essential Training, John Derry, one of the original Painter authors, demonstrates basic and advanced creative techniques that can get beginners up and running. He also shows old hands the new features that can get a creative vision out of the head and onto the canvas. John demonstrates how to establish an easy workflow in Painter by using a Wacom tablet, and he explains how to create, edit, and publish projects. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download the Painter/Photoshop Consistent Color Management PDF and the Brush Troubleshooting Checklist PDF from the Exercise Files tab.
With layer painting, we can build up an image through multiple layers. We have this ability to use each layer literally as a target for the imagery that's underneath of it. And if you think that through, essentially this is as if the canvas is the clone source. Before we had to create a clone to have a source document somewhere, generally underneath this image and then we use the destination document to funnel those colors through the brush onto the destination document.
Whereas here we are just literally picking up the color from this document specifically. So that we now have the ability to interact this brush directly with that underlying color. And that's exactly where this whole concept works, of treating the painting as if it were your Color palette. Now, the key thing about this to is, rather than having to sort of play the show game type thinking that you have to do with cloning, like that's the source image, and then I have got the destination image. It's all very straightforward here.
There is no show game going on. Other than the fact that you are painting on layers rather than the Canvas itself. But the way I typically start an image like this is I work from the background towards the foreground because what's in the foreground is going to be the most important element in the image. So to begin I'm going to start in the background. And I usually work from larger brushes to smaller brushes. That's a bit large. Let's take it down around 50 or so there.
And I'm going to go in here and I'm going to start use the fact that I'm now picking up that underlying color, remember we did this earlier, where color is now being applied to the layer. And you can see I'm really softening this out to where it's almost unrecognizable, but that's okay because we are going to go later on start to bring some of that imagery back. And this is the part that photographers just really have a hard time with. It's like I'm destroying all of that detail, but you have to do with the knowledge knowing that we always have that underlying image.
See when I turn that off and turn it back on, I still have all of that original imagery there. I'm just smearing it around on a layer at this point. Now I'm going to start to go to a smaller brush here. So in this case I'm using my Left Bracket to reduce the size. And we'll just go in here now you can see I'm blending this, as I go here. One thing you'll run into at some brushes is it will pull black from outside the image area into the image area, when then that happens, I just typically smear it back out and I tend to work with strokes going into or out of the canvas to avoid that issue.
Now this is all in the foreground, but once again I'm going to treat the purple flowers here as my stars. So these are kind of bit players at this point or standings, or extras. And as I'm getting closer though, I'm also starting to reduce my brush size, so I'm going to reduce down even a little bit more. I'm at 65% here I'm going to zoom up to 100% because as I get closer, I'm going to want to start to spend a little bit more time on this. I am not going to go through this image and try to finish it up to a high degree of polish.
I just wanted to show you these steps enough, so that you can see how the use of layering your painting can be highly useful. Another aspect of this that makes it very useful is by isolating these areas on separate layers, I may come back later on and realize, oh you know, I didn't like what I did in the background, but I have that layer to erase or start over on just that particular element without having everything on one layer, like traditional painting, Everything is happening on the single layer, and as a result you got to run into an issue where you don't have no recourse.
Now, I'm going to go back up here, I'm going to make this a little larger. I'm just going to smear this out. And again, this is very scary, if you are thinking in terms of traditional, non-layered painting, because it's like, he is destroying all of this detail, but we already know, I have got the layer underneath of it available to me, to bring back anything I want. That's the next step we are now going to talk about. We have this image, but I can start to bring detail backup and that's where this whole layer painting things becomes very interesting. I am going to create a new layer, but I'm going to shut this layer off temporarily.
Actually one more thing I'm going to do here is, let's get into this detail. So, I'm going to go through here and I'm using the somewhat smaller brush intentionally to make sure that some of the character of these purple clusters of flowers are being retained. I can still look at that and see the fact that those are these little towers of buds. Once again, I don't want to stroke in or I'll get that black. Okay, now here is where this next layer is going to make a difference. See I have left these on separate layer. So I have got just the close up flowers, and I have also got just the background area.
And just for some reason if I decide, I don't like one of these areas, the fact that they are built up on multiple layers, means I can get back very easily to areas that I want. Here is another little thing you can do. If you decide some area is more important, you can just grab the Eraser tool and you can see here now, how I'm just erasing through parts of that image. So here is another little safety net, if I get to somewhere and I realize that's not correct, I can now go back to my brush and rework it again.
So this is the part that which you are going to be dealing with here. It's kind of a push and pull between your painted rendition, and the original photograph that's underneath. You can push it into painting and then you can pull it back into photographic detail as much or as little as you want. Now we are going to create a third layer. And here is a little trick. This is the one that took me a while to figure this out myself. I want to start bringing back more detail into these flowers, and sure enough the detail is down here, but these two layers are in my way right now.
Well, we can do what I just did. If I turn these off I'm going start bringing that detail back on this layer, which is going to be above them. I mean I can even do it down here if I wanted right now. But I want to ultimately mix with the colors that are underneath, and it will still mix with these colors even when these layers are turned off. So I'm going to now go and get even maybe a little bit closer. I'm going to reduce my brush size down. There is no magic formula but I start to look at what these little blossom elements are and I'm making my brush roughly that size.
So I'm going in here now, and I'm just going to start to color these. If I turn this off temporarily, you can see what's happening. I'll kind of play like I know where they are and then I don't really, but you can see it's picking up just that color that it's finding. It's a little bit of show game I guess at this point because you don't really see a whole lot about what you are blending and yet as soon as I turn this on, you could see how all that details coming back through to that layer. So now it's just a matter of going in here, and smearing around picking, grabbing, pulling in the direction in this case kind of how the little florets are building up in here.
But you'll see, what we were doing now is we are replacing what was all to this photographic detail with the vocabulary of painting detail. An artist is not going to draw every single little petal, and highlight the stamen and pistil and all of those parts. They are just going to indicate, what's going on there. So I won't attempt to do the entire painting here, but I just want to get enough in this particular area, so that you can see how that detail is coming back now, but it's because we are using smaller brush strokes of color, which ones again are coming from the underlying imagery.
But it's coming through utilizing the characteristics of the brush strokes. Now if we back this out, I'm going to do Command+0 or Ctrl+0 to fit this in there. Now you can see how that detail is starting to come up whereas in the other areas, it's still very soft and it's also where you start to see, while there are areas in here that I'm confusing some of these soft areas with my brush strokes. So once again, you may need to do a little bit of push and pull to get back in here, and let's say I want to go to this layer now. Remember that we have painted this on this layer and I'm going to be dealing with one layer below.
So I can literally go in here and kind of just even paint up into and under the areas that I painted in because they are on top. So layer painting is in a way. It's this sort of another world where paint can exist on all different layers, and yet it still looks as if it's one flat image, and yet it's not. Now I'm going to take this one step further, and we are going to create another new layer. So now we have got our fourth layer here. I'm going turn these off temporarily and what I'm going to do is take advantage of the fact that I can pick up any color that's in here.
I'm just going to find one of the very bright sort of magentas that are here. So I have got it here and that's roughly in the category of these colors that's about is brilliant as it's gets, but look out far away it is from fully saturated. So I can go ahead and turn this up and turn these all back on now, and remember that this is my clutch right now, I'm not painting with color. If I turn this up I'm now going to paint with color again. So what I want to do here is just reduce my brush to a very small size and one of the things that I can do on my top layer is go in and just start to add a few highlights of color that we are missing and this is where I'm starting to apply some more of my own sensibility rather than relying on the photograph, and I might want to get a kind of nice light pink in some of these highlight areas.
So what you want to learn to do is not let the photograph tell you what to do. At this point, I'm starting to combine both photo painted imagery, and the fact that I can load this brush up with color. There are even some of these blue little florets and I'm going to crank this up, and maybe I want a little more blue. So I'm deciding, not so much it, but I'm just going to highlight and extenuate those blues that I happen on here. So painting on layers let's me pick up the underlying color from in this case a photograph, but it also let's me apply colors that weren't there.
So I start to have this very malleable world in which as much or as little of the photograph can come through. I have total control over when I want to access the colors directly from the photograph or I can decide when do I want to apply my own colors, and I can base them on the photograph or I can decide paint entirely different colors here, if I wanted to. But this whole notion of layer painting really gives you a very large safety net, in which you can try things out and it does take a little acclimating because as I mentioned, for a while, I was painting on layers, before I realized, well, I can shut off these two sort of large brush stroke layers and leave this layer on and start picking the original colors back up then, I can turn these back on.
I'll have actually dip my brush into the high detailed portion of the photograph only to have it appear on top of the more softer less defined areas and in doing so, you can totally build up your detail and then finally, I actually started applying some brush strokes that weren't even in the original image to be able to add further to the fine detail element of this image. So, that in a nutshell is non -destructive layer painting.
Basically the fundamentals I have laid out for you, are the set of guidelines to follow, and using these guidelines, you can incorporate layer painting as a major workflow in how you create your imagery and as we said, it can either be with underline photography or it can be painted by hand or in this case it can be both.
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