Painter X Essential Training
Illustration by Don Barnett

Creating woodcuts


Painter X Essential Training

with John Derry

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Video: Creating woodcuts

Long before there were cameras, one of the ways that imagery was conveyed through reproduction was through Woodcuts and Woodcut is an age-old technique that implies the use of tools to gauge out wood and leave only the raised portions that you want to print. Then when ink is applied to those raised portions and impressed against paper, an image results. One of the charming qualities about Woodcut is that it reduces reality to a very graphic effect.
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  1. 2m 9s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 18s
  2. 14m 32s
    1. Understanding what Painter X can do
      1m 55s
    2. Emulating natural media
      3m 37s
    3. Auto-painting
      2m 27s
    4. Painting from scratch
      1m 56s
    5. Painting from a photo
      2m 38s
    6. Using RealBristle brushes
      1m 59s
  3. 55m 54s
    1. Understanding the Painter interface
      2m 33s
    2. Using the Tool palette and the Property bar: Two sides of the same coin
      2m 42s
    3. Using art material selectors
      5m 56s
    4. The Color palette: Visual color selection
      2m 34s
    5. The Color Info palette: Precise color selection
      2m 20s
    6. Color sets: Choose 'n' use color
      1m 8s
    7. The Mixer palette: Traditional color mixing
      4m 55s
    8. The Brush Selector bar: An art store in a palette
      3m 7s
    9. Zooming in and out
      5m 26s
    10. Scrolling
      3m 5s
    11. Rotating an image
      5m 16s
    12. Full Screen mode
      2m 7s
    13. Keeping your palettes organized
      7m 5s
    14. Using workspaces
      7m 40s
  4. 23m 25s
    1. Creating a new image
      1m 35s
    2. Opening an image
      1m 32s
    3. Saving an image
      4m 57s
    4. Setting preferences
      1m 25s
    5. Defining cursor appearance and behavior
      5m 13s
    6. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      6m 1s
    7. File-saving preferences
      2m 42s
  5. 24m 27s
    1. What is a Wacom tablet?
      5m 40s
    2. Understanding the six axes of motion
      5m 54s
    3. Maximizing your tablet's pressure response
      5m 18s
    4. Customizing your Wacom tablet
      7m 35s
  6. 48m 7s
    1. Understanding brush categories and variants
      5m 4s
    2. Adjusting brush size
      4m 32s
    3. Managing brushes and paper texture
      6m 7s
    4. The Papers palette
      6m 23s
    5. Making basic brush adjustments
      10m 52s
    6. Custom palettes
      5m 51s
    7. The Tracker palette
      9m 18s
  7. 27m 35s
    1. Introducing the Brush Creator
      3m 58s
    2. The Randomizer
      5m 53s
    3. The Transposer
      8m 4s
    4. The Stroke Designer
      9m 40s
  8. 20m 37s
    1. Warming up: Exercises
      4m 11s
    2. Warming up: Calisthenics
      8m 4s
    3. Less is more: Too many brushes spoil the stew
      8m 22s
  9. 20m 43s
    1. Nozzle files
      4m 10s
    2. Creating a nozzle file
      9m 31s
    3. Controlling the Image Hose
      7m 2s
  10. 18m 30s
    1. Using compositional aids
      7m 29s
    2. The Layout Grid composition tool
      3m 36s
    3. Understanding the Divine Proportion tool
      3m 20s
    4. The Perspective Grid
      4m 5s
  11. 25m 15s
    1. The benefits of working with layers
      6m 9s
    2. Creating and deleting layers
      4m 54s
    3. Using the Preserve Transparency function
      5m 28s
    4. Using the Pick Up Underlying Color command
      8m 44s
  12. 32m 39s
    1. Cloning basics
      8m 24s
    2. Using Tracing Paper
      4m 15s
    3. In-document point-to-point cloning
      2m 17s
    4. The Underpainting palette
      4m 59s
    5. The Auto-Painting palette
      7m 22s
    6. The Restoration palette
      5m 22s
  13. 35m 50s
    1. Applying surface texture
      13m 22s
    2. Using the Match palette
      6m 16s
    3. Creating woodcuts
      6m 55s
    4. Creating custom tiled surfaces
      9m 17s
  14. 15m 26s
    1. Undo, undo, undo
      4m 7s
    2. Painting on layers
      6m 23s
    3. Save early, save often
      4m 56s
  15. 19m 48s
    1. Using each application for its strengths
      5m 7s
    2. The PSD format: What's compatible and what's not
      6m 20s
    3. Color management compatibility
      8m 21s
  16. 7m 30s
    1. Using the Shift key restart
      6m 3s
    2. My brush won't paint
      1m 27s
  17. 37s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Painter X Essential Training
6h 32m Beginner May 02, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Expressive brushes. This is instructor John Derry's two-word answer as to why Painter is such an effective tool. When used with a Wacom tablet, Painter can elevate digital mark-making to a form of creative self-expression. Combining the aesthetics of traditional media with the freedom to experiment, Painter X Essential Training not only delves into each tool, palette, material, and brush, it also speaks to the artistic concepts of simplicity, stroke, proportion, and perspective. Exercise files accompany the course.

Download John's instructions for alphabetizing your brushes and his troubleshooting checklist for brushes from the Exercise Files tab."

Topics include:
  • Understanding and customizing a Wacom tablet Creating brushes Painting with compositional aids Working with layers Cloning and using effects Using Painter and Photoshop effectively
Painter Wacom
John Derry

Creating woodcuts

Long before there were cameras, one of the ways that imagery was conveyed through reproduction was through Woodcuts and Woodcut is an age-old technique that implies the use of tools to gauge out wood and leave only the raised portions that you want to print. Then when ink is applied to those raised portions and impressed against paper, an image results. One of the charming qualities about Woodcut is that it reduces reality to a very graphic effect.

Generally, the line work in the image is in black and then additional blocks of wood are cut to add various colors in the different areas of the image that the artist wants that color to appear and it survives to this day and it's still a rich and thriving art form and Painter has a Woodcut tool that enables you to take an image and convert it into a Woodcut like appearance. So we are going to take a look at that and I am going to go over to my exercise files, here to chapter 12 and we are going to use the image old_and_new.

This image just happens to be when I shot, when I was doing some workshops in Australia. This is in Melbourne, and one of the things that struck me about this was the contrast of this older Victorian era architecture, which is very gingerbread like quality to it and then it's contrast again this is very modern, new, curtained wall style architecture which is all glass, and they have done a little bit of design in there. But just the two contrasting against one another was just very appealing to me, so I shot that and I am going to use that as the source for this image.

So to get into, turning this into a Woodcut, let's go the Effects menu and we are going to go to Surface Control and Woodcut and this brings up the Woodcut dialog and it just has a set of default settings that let's say OK, and just get a look of what it does on its own. Already that's very Woodcut, like you can see it's got the black that is being used to largely describe the lines in the image and then some color is being applied in the various areas.

One of the things that's notable about Woodcut is it tends to be a limited color medium, because you just can't keep making color upon color upon color. Although there is a technique called Reduction Woodcut, which I have seen where sometimes 40, 50, 60 colors will be used in it. So in the modern era, they have gotten a little more sophisticated about how many colors they may imply in a Woodcut. But it still always has this very graphic quality. Now I am going to use my Command or Ctrl+Z to undo and as we have been doing here, I am going to use the Ctrl or Command and the forward slash to invoke the last effect, which in this case is our Woodcut.

I will show you some of these controls that we can apply here. The first one we will look at is this Black Edge and you will see here that as I turn it down I am reducing the heaviness of the Black Edge. Now, you can get it all the way down where it will just pop to black, if it doesn't know what to do at the minimum level. So as soon as you start turning it up you will see, you can get more detail in it and the trick here is you don't want to make it so detailed that it belies it's a purely photographic origin.

So sometimes, I will put it somewhere in a less than full like this, where you are getting a lot of detail, I will just turn it down a little bit. Then Erosion Time, plays around with how quickly and you might see this a little bit more when we go out here. It starts to play around with how it simplifies all of these lines. You can see up here, it's not simplifying at all, whereas the more I take it here, it just tends to organically simplify all of the black detail.

The Erosion Edge also does the same thing, as you turn it up. It just grossly starts to simplify the image. I can tell you there are endless combinations in the slider, so you can play with them quite a bit and see many, many combinations that you may like and it is worthwhile. We move around the image to see what's happening as you go. Then finally you have the Heaviness slider, which as you turn it down, you will see, it just controls the overall heaviness of these other sliders combined.

So there is a lot of adjustability in here or what I call season to taste, you can season to taste all day long in this. Now, I am also going to show you this, because this is important up here too. You can output just the black, so see I can reduce this to a no color Woodcut, it's just the black. Sometimes it's helpful to turn this off and work with some of these controls, because you are seeing more clearly just what is actually happening in only the black level.

Then if we go the other way, you can turn off Black and see only what's happening in the color and while this is set for color only, I will show you here one of the things you can do is like you can do with the black. You can use this Color Edge and it simplifies the colors. You can see I can get it so simplified, it's not even recognizable anymore. But Woodcut art is not going to cut out every color plate so that it's mere photographic, they tend to simply things down.

So a bit of simplification is actually a good thing and then finally you can play around with the number of colors. You see as I turn this all the way up, it's almost going to appear like it's full color source photograph. I don't want to do that, I want to keep it down to somewhere in the range of the number of colors that say a reduction cut would do and 40 or so is probably around what's a believable number. So if you want to keep this within the believable range of Woodcut, don't crank these colors up to in hundreds, because no Woodcut has that many colors in it.

Let's turn back the Black back on and turn that on, and now there is my Woodcut image. So you can see here that there is again like many of the effects in Painter, there is a huge latitude in this season to taste capability and even this single image I can play with it for hours and create dozens of variations and end up with many, many different pleasing results. There is no one single result that is the best; it's the one that appeals to you.

So enjoy playing around with Woodcuts and you will see it's another little world in Painter that you can spend hours in having fun, turning your photographs or just even hand drawn artwork into Woodcuts.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Painter X Essential Training .

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Q: In the “Understanding brush categories and variants” movie, the author mentions that there is a video on alphabetizing your brushes, but I cannot find that video anywhere in Online Training Library.
A: Alphabetizing brushes was mentioned in the tutorial, but the movie was never added to the course.
To compensate for this oversight, we added a PDF file with the course materials that describes how to alphabetize brushes. The file,, is free for all subscription levels, and is available under the Exercise Files tab of the Painter X Essential Training course.
Additionally organizing brush categories (including alphabetizing) is covered in Painter 11: Mastering Brushes, in the chapter 9 movie “Customized Brush Library Organization: Pruning a Library.”
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