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Exploring brush controls


Painter 12 Essential Training

with John Derry

Video: Exploring brush controls

The brush controls provide the user with an amazing depth of expressive control over Painter's brushes. Some users never venture into the brush controls, instead relying on the preset variance. Those who wish to refine the presets will go to the brush controls for fine-tuning. I am going to open up the brush controls, and one way to get to them is if we go to the Window menu and go down to Brush Control Panels. You can see that these are all the various panels that control the various brushes in Painter.
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  1. 1m 20s
    1. Introduction
    2. Using the exercise files
  2. 5m 5s
    1. Understanding what Painter 12 can do
      1m 45s
    2. Let's paint!
      3m 20s
  3. 11m 52s
    1. Starting Painter 12 for the first time
      4m 4s
    2. Creating, opening, and saving files
      4m 36s
    3. Working with templates
      3m 12s
  4. 30m 38s
    1. Painter's shiny new interface
      6m 43s
    2. Understanding the Tool palette and property bar
      4m 12s
    3. Using media selectors
      3m 43s
    4. Working with the Brush Selector
      7m 18s
    5. Configuring panels and palettes
      3m 41s
    6. Navigating Painter
      5m 1s
  5. 22m 41s
    1. Setting preferences
      6m 59s
    2. Arranging palettes
      1m 28s
    3. Creating custom palettes
      6m 30s
    4. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      3m 52s
    5. Understanding workspaces
      3m 52s
  6. 28m 38s
    1. Controlling color with the Color palette
      7m 12s
    2. Working with the Temporal Color palette
      3m 1s
    3. Mixing color with the Mixer palette
      11m 3s
    4. Working with color sets
      7m 22s
  7. 56m 32s
    1. Introduction to brushes in Painter 12
    2. Understanding brush size adjustment
      2m 46s
    3. Exploring brush controls
      17m 44s
    4. Using the Computed Circular palette and stroke attribute brushes
      4m 13s
    5. Painting with Real Watercolor brushes
      7m 34s
    6. Painting with Real Wet Oil brushes
      3m 20s
    7. Working with Impasto
      8m 11s
    8. Working with texture-aware media
      12m 3s
  8. 13m 38s
    1. Understanding Quick Clone
      3m 58s
    2. Working with the Clone Source panel
      7m 22s
    3. Tracing a clone's source using Tracing Paper
      2m 18s
  9. 22m 56s
    1. Understanding the Underpainting palette
      9m 25s
    2. Exploring the Auto-Painting and Smart Stroke palettes
      7m 26s
    3. Working with the Restoration palette
      6m 5s
  10. 22m 15s
    1. Working with the Rectangular Selection tool
      3m 25s
    2. Using the Lasso tool
      3m 26s
    3. Selecting items with the Polygon tool
      2m 39s
    4. Understanding the Magic Wand tool
      7m 55s
    5. The Channels palette
      4m 50s
  11. 29m 1s
    1. Understanding the flexibility of layers
      7m 25s
    2. Preserving transparency in layers
      5m 37s
    3. Picking up underlying color in layers
      5m 13s
    4. Using the Free Transform tool
      2m 52s
    5. Working with layer masks
      7m 54s
  12. 24m 3s
    1. Painting with symmetry
      9m 6s
    2. Understanding Smart Blur
      4m 43s
    3. Working with seamless patterns
      10m 14s
  13. 25m 10s
    1. Introduction to the Image Hose
      2m 13s
    2. Understanding Image Hose controls
      9m 58s
    3. Working with nozzle files
      12m 59s
  14. 14m 33s
    1. Using each application for its strengths
      5m 0s
    2. The PSD format: what's compatible and what's not
      5m 3s
    3. Color management compatibility
      4m 30s
  15. 7m 0s
    1. Your best friend: Undo
      1m 50s
    2. Painting on layers
      1m 55s
    3. Save often, save early
      3m 15s
  16. 9m 48s
    1. The panic button
      2m 13s
    2. Using the Shift key restart
      2m 1s
    3. Re-importing a workspace
      4m 4s
    4. Troubleshooting: My brush won't paint
      1m 30s
  17. 3m 21s
    1. Goodbye
      3m 21s

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Watch the Online Video Course Painter 12 Essential Training
5h 28m Beginner Feb 15, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Join John Derry, one of the original Corel Painter authors, as he shares the creative techniques that will get beginners up and running, and shows old hands the new features that can get a creative vision out of your head and on to your canvas. The course demonstrates how to create projects, use Painter brushes and painting styles, build templates, and work with layers and channels. John also shares pointers on setting up a Wacom tablet to interface with Painter.

Topics include:
  • Exploring the changes in the Painter 12 interface
  • Customizing brushes and selecting painting styles
  • Laying out the optimal workspace
  • Controlling color with the color palettes
  • Adjusting brush size and stroke attributes
  • Working with texture-aware media
  • Quick cloning with the Clone Source panel
  • Auto-Painting with the Underpainting, Smart Stroke, and Restoration palettes
  • Preserving transparency in layers
  • Creating layer masks
  • Painting with symmetry
  • Working with the Image Hose
  • Integrating Painter projects with Photoshop
  • Troubleshooting brushes and other issues
John Derry

Exploring brush controls

The brush controls provide the user with an amazing depth of expressive control over Painter's brushes. Some users never venture into the brush controls, instead relying on the preset variance. Those who wish to refine the presets will go to the brush controls for fine-tuning. I am going to open up the brush controls, and one way to get to them is if we go to the Window menu and go down to Brush Control Panels. You can see that these are all the various panels that control the various brushes in Painter.

And one of them has been assigned Ctrl+B. So just by clicking on this, it will, because this is in this palette, all of them will open up, and so I am going to close this back up, and I just want to show you this. If I hit Ctrl+B or Command+B, I can call the entire Brush Control Palette up. Unfortunately, Command+B or Ctrl+B will not close this palette for you, it must be done manually. So that's just a limitation of the way that palettes and panels work and in order to close it, you just need to manually hit the Close button at the top of that palette.

Having said that, let's go ahead and reopen it up, and previously in Painter there was a section called the Brush Designer, that's no longer here, that's another change in Painter 12. And so what you now have available is the Brush Control panel. It was always available before but there were just two ways to do it and now they have simplified things by removing it down to this one area. It can be a little scary to look at, because yes you are correct.

There are many, many various panels in here, each time I open one, you see a whole new set of controls and to alleviate your fear a little bit, one of the ways that Painter works is through the idea of a preset. And if you think of these controls, almost like a synthesizer, basically a music synthesizer is a whole set of adjustments made and then encapsulated into a name that the user can click on atop the keyboard to change it from say a concert grand piano to a honky-tonk piano, to an upright piano.

Each of those has a different adjustment in all of the controls on the synthesizer that enable a change in the way it sounds, and by wiring all of that to a single entity, the name on some little menu, the user doesn't have to play around with all of those controls, that's exactly how this works in Painter. So to illustrate this concept of a preset, I am going to open a couple of these up. And you don't even need to know really what's going on in them at this point, but you can see there are various settings in here.

Let's go select a different brush, for example the Dry Ink pen. I want you to watch over on the other side however and I will tell you right when I click it, okay I am going to click it right now. Did you see how things in here changed? That's because all of these settings were set by someone. Someone adjusted all of these and configured it into a dry ink pen. In fact, it happens to be the dry ink pen is one I set. So these were settings that I originally made years ago, into the preset called the Dry Ink pen, and every time you click on the dry ink pen, it retrieves all those settings that were originally made to create this particular brush.

If I go to a very different brush, say something like Chalk & Charcoal, and pick out Real Hard Chalk, once again those settings just changed. And now the character of how the brush is working is dramatically different based on the different settings in here. One way to think of this is, this is a big brush engine and all of these controls are configured to approximate very realistically a traditional medium. In this case, hard chalk, and you have literally hundreds of these presets available. And that's why I said at the outset, many people are totally happy just using these various presets and you never need to go any farther if you don't want to.

And if you're happy using just the presets, there's no need for you to ever open the Brush Controls palette, but if you do want to start to make some changes to brushes, it behooves you to start to learn more about how these controls work. And while it's not something you are going to learn in a day, in fact I've got a whole title based on controlling brushes. It's called Mastering Brushes in Painter 11, most of the information provided in that title is still germane today.

So you might want to check out that title if you want a really in-depth overview of everything that's going on in here. I'm just going to cover some basics so that you won't necessarily be afraid of this when it opens up, and let you understand how you can do some basic controls. One important one is the Dab Profile, and the dab is the mark that the brush makes when it comes in contact with the surface of the canvas. And in fact, many brushes being dab-based are actually controlled by how far apart or how closely spaced these individual dabs are.

In fact, if I go to the Spacing palette here, open it up as well, and I am going to just set spacing really high. You can already see up here in the preview, what's happening. When I draw with this now, I get a very different character, in fact some people may find a need to have a brush that paints with individual dots and an easy way to get to that is with the Spacing palette. However, what many of Painter's brush models do is they actually lower this so low, and we can watch in this preview to see what's happening as the spacing gets tighter and tighter and these overlap, you get the illusion of an individual brush stroke, when it's actually made up of a bunch of overlaying brushstrokes.

So spacing is very important with many of Painter's brush models, in that it's what provides the illusion of a continuous stroke, when in fact it's made up of variety of strokes. You can also change what the Dab Profile is. For example, if we go to a simpler brush, let's go to Airbrushes, and I am just going to use a Digital Airbrush, and I am going to do a Select All, Command+A or Ctrl+A, and hit the Delete or Backspace key. I want to show you how the Dab Profile can make of a huge impact on a brush.

Here I am painting, you can see how this brush has a nice dense center core in the stroke, but then it gets more and more transparent at the outer edge. Let's do a different profile here, and now you will see this one actually is even more extreme in that its density is right in the center and it tapers off. In fact, let me just grab a different brush here, the Scratchboard tool and illustrate for you. What's happening here is this ramp is going something like this and if you look at that particular profile I have chosen, that's exactly what that is, this one is going to give me a different profile, if we go back to the Airbrush and select the Medium Profile, now I get yet a different character to the way the rolloff of transparency is in that brush.

If I go to something like this, well I get a very different look indeed. And you can see here the density is at the top, so the outer edges of the density in the brush and everything else in between is transparent. So I get these little individual hula hoops of brush stroke. Something like this, the one pixel edge is going to give you very flat hard edged brush. So dabs are just a way to control the character of how the brush works, and this isn't going to work in every brush model. In some brush models you wouldn't even notice any change by changing this, but it is particularly important with respect to something like airbrushes.

So you want to be aware that dabs can affect how the brush looks on screen depending on which one of these profiles is used. Now let's also take a look at the General profile. This is another one that can be a little mysterious to people, and once again I am going to do a Command+A or Ctrl+A, and Backspace or Delete, clean off the screen. One of the key ways that controls Painter's brush character is in things like dab type. Once again you could see, there are many, many dab types here, and I'm not going to even try to explain any of this to you, other than to let you know that part of what makes Painter have so many possible media types all the way from pencils to watercolors depends on these various dab types, and same goes for methods.

Methods are ways that describe how the pixels are going to be laid down onto the canvas. And once again, you never even need to go in here if you don't want to. But if you want to start to change the character of a brush, like a cover brush is very much what it sounds like and it covers. So if I switch to different color here, you can see, I'm eventually covering that other color. If it's something like a Buildup brush, well, now you can see you get a very different character, it's transparent and it acts more like a gel type medium.

So in constructing brushes, someone who's doing this kind of activity will take advantage of all of these various possibilities to construct a brush that acts a certain way. In particular, the Buildup brush is used in things like markers, some of the simple watercolor models, all of them will use a buildup style brush because it mimics exactly the kind of thing that you see with respect to something like dyes, where you see now this cyan over yellow makes green. The cover brush is not going to act that way at all.

The General tab is really kind of the top level of how you set the behavior of the brush, and then as you go down through here you are going to find a lot of different specific attributes, like I was talking a little bit about the airbrush. For one, I can go to a airbrush that has a spray associated with it, if I do this in black, and because I'm using a Wacom tablet with a pen that has tilt and bearing. If I go straight up and down with my pen its going to spray straight down. If I start to tilt, you can see what's happening here.

Now I'm tilting the brush, and I can control things like the flow. So if I want to have less coming out, so not quite extreme enough here, we will turn it way down. See now, I'm not flowing out as much of the spray as I was before, or if I want to control the spread, you know how wide of the spray does this do? If I narrow this down, you see now I am going to get a much narrower spray. So my intent here isn't to teach to how to build all these brushes, it's just to show you quickly that of all these controls contribute to how presets are ultimately made.

I want to show you one more control. Now, this is actually new in Painter 12, it's Brush Calibration, and I am going to open this up and just so you won't be confused, because there are two places you can actually see something about brush calibration. Right here you have got Brush Tracking. This is a global spot where you can go in and make a brush stroke, and you just saw how those changed, it pulled my velocity and my pressure and it used that to kind of come up with a profile that matches the range of pressure and velocity in my stroke.

And once it has that, then in a universal sense, it understands how to apply that velocity stroke data in order to give me the best pressure response possible. Well, what they've done is gone a step further and with brush calibration, it's essentially the same thing, but you can now do it on a brush by brush basis, and that's because so many of these models that have been introduced in Painter over time, the one kind of universal answer for pressure for all brushes doesn't always work, and you will just find, oh, some brushes aren't working like I expected, and then you have got to go back in and kind of readjust the universal setting for pressure.

This let's you set it on a case-by-case basis, and for that reason I don't even leave it in the Brush palette. I've gotten used putting it over here, next to my navigator, and that way I usually have the navigator open when I am working, but if I want to see or adjust a brush, I can go in here and I can say Enable Brush Calibration. What that's going to do is, now the settings I set in here will be local to that single preset. And I know from experience, one way you may want to just start off is, I always set pressure and power all the way up, and I will show you what the difference is.

A good way to show this off is to take the Scratchboard tool, and I will just paint with a little bit of white here. I am going to enable Brush Calibration, but I am going to turn this way down I want to show you what happens. I'm trying to get the lightest stroke I can get, and you can see it's not very thin when it should be much thinner than that. If I shoot these all the way up, just shoot Pressure Scale and Pressure Power all the way up, see how I now have a nice ability to get all the way down from the finest size to the thickest size that it happens to be set at. If I make it larger then I will still get that small brush all the way up to the large brush.

So what this is letting me do is now have that set for that specific brush. If this setting isn't right for you, you may need to play around with these a little bit, usually just kind of tweaking them back a little bit and trying again. See for my particular hand, already I'm losing the ability to get to the low end of the scale, so I just have found that pretty close, if not at the top, gives me the setting that I like. And because I've got Brush Calibration enabled now, that will stick for Scratchboard tool alone. And some other tool may have a different kind of pressure response necessary for it in order for that particular brush model to feel right and work properly with pressure, particularly my hand pressure, because everybody is slightly different and being able to have this individualized control on a brush per brush basis makes Painter just one step closer to being able to have every brush be exactly the way you want it, when you go and select it.

So brush calibration is a really important kind of control. Now the last thing, I want to show you is, I can get in here and let's say, I make some very different changes here, and I do, and l don't even know what I'm doing here I am just -- what does all this mean? I have no idea. Now my brush is completely unlike what I wanted it to be, and the reason I'm showing you this is you can never break Painter's brushes. If you get into a state where you were playing around with these controls, which I encourage you to do, one reason you can do that is because if you get to a state where it's like, I've lost what I was doing, all you have to do is go right here, this is the panic button. Just hit reset, and now this brush is set exactly as it was originally.

You have an escape hatch to get away from anything you may do in here, and hopefully that will encourage you to try these things out. You can try any of these sliders and see how it affects a brush, and if you don't like it just hit the reset button and you will be back to where you were. So there's no fear involved in playing with the brush controls as a whole. Anything you do can be undone with one click. On the other hand, if you do make a brush that you like, let me just clean the screen off again, Ctrl+A Command+A and Delete or Backspace.

Let's say I play around with this a bit and change the profile. Let's change it to this profile, there, just that alone, that's actually kind of an interesting brush. So if I like this, well, I can go up to the Brushes palette, and if I go to Save Variant, I can give it a new name. So I am going to call it the Circle Brush. And I can save it in a different location, I will just save it in the Photo Brushes just to put it somewhere else so you can see it's in another location and I will hit Save.

Now I want to show you something, if I draw with the Scratchboard tool right now it still has been adjusted to be what I'm now calling the Circle Pen. So in order to make sure, I get my Scratchboard tool back, I just need to go over to the Reset button, and now I've got the Scratchboard tool back, and if we open up the Brush selector and go to Photo Brushes, right there is my Circle Brush, and when I select it, I've now got a new variant. So you can create a new variant, anything you like and adjust, it can be saved as a new variant. You can save it into any category you want, you can even make a new category and save it in that.

But the idea here is that at some point, you'll probably want to grow beyond using the Preset brushes, and so I really want to encourage you to just spend time in the brush controls, always remembering that anything you do can simply be undone with the reset button, and when you start to get to where you understand what you're doing, you can start to create new variants and save them into the library. This is a very big subject and you'll be able to spend a lot of time just playing in the brush controls themselves.

So delve into it and hopefully you will come out the other end with some new brushes.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Painter 12 Essential Training .

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Q: When I double-click the John's Smart Brushes.brushcategory file as shown in the Chapter 8 movie "Understanding the Underpainting palette," the brushes do not install. Instead I get the message "There is no application set to open this document."
A: This is because your operating system does not recognize the .brushcategory file type.  This can be circumvented by selecting the file, right-clicking, and choosing "Open With…".

If Painter 12 is not in the list, use "Other…" to locate and select Painter 12.

The file will be read by Painter and the brush category will be installed.
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