Painter and Photoshop are both very good at what they do. Painter is really tuned to being a artist's studio, and if you think about it, the way painter is laid out, it's very much like an artist will do in a studio; they'll lay tools all around them and grab them as needed. Photoshop is very good at image editing and it has a metaphor that's somewhat like a darkroom. So each of them has particular strengths, and what you want to do as a user of both Photoshop and Painter, is use each of them to their main strengths.
I am going to go through and show you the workflow that I've evolved over the years. And sometimes I refer to it as a Photoshop sandwich with Painter in the middle, and you'll see shortly here what I mean. So the top piece of bread in my sandwich is Photoshop. You want to use Photoshop for things like image preparation. If you have to resize the image for an intended output, you want to do that in Photoshop; it has far better resizing algorithms and you'll get a better result than you are going to get in Painter.
If you're going to have some sort of border, sometimes, for example, I will add a little white outset to the edge of a photograph, so that when it goes into Painter, I can actually paint irregular edges along it. Or, for example, if you are going to ultimately send this finished painting to a service bureau, where they do what's called a gallery wrap, you've got to be able to extend the edges of that image to account for the image wrap. And generally, service bureaus will give you specific instructions about what to do, but you want to do that at the beginning, not the end, so that you're aware of that particular element that you have to add to it.
Secondly, you get into color and tonal adjustments or color correction. Again, Photoshop has a far better set of tools for doing that type of subtle refinement and you want to use Photoshop to its strength, so definitely do those in Photoshop. Finally, any image retouching or compositing of multiple elements, Photoshop is very good at that. And while we've talked about layers and selections in Painter, if you also use Photoshop, you're probably going to be more comfortable and get a more satisfying result by doing those kinds of activities in Photoshop.
That's the image preparation phase, that's the top of our sandwich. Now let's go to the middle of the sandwich. This is where the expressive interpretation happens. This is where your hand work, your expressive capabilities come into play. So Painter in terms of brushwork, it's the king. You want to use Painter's brushes and the strength of those brushes as a means for expressing yourself, whether it's from scratch or whether you're going to do it based on a photograph, but in either case, the brushes in Painter are where you are going to want to be working.
Secondly, Painter has a whole bunch of different techniques for applying and implying texture. And again, if you are going to do any border treatment like I was talking about, kind of adding unfinished irregular edges, this is where you would go ahead and do that. Finally, we get to the bottom of our sandwich and once again, we're back in Photoshop. Once you've saved your image in Painter, presumably as a PSD file, so you can get it back into Photoshop, you're going to do image finalization. This is where after painting; you are going to probably want to do some adjustments.
One thing I can tell you, when you paint in any painting application, when you start mixing brilliant colors together, they're going to dull down a little bit. And it's not unusual to finish a painting and then look at it and realize, it doesn't seem as brilliant as the colors I might've started with, because of intermixing colors you start to dull down the brilliance of those colors. You may very well in Photoshop find that you want to make some local tonal or color adjustments to bring the brilliance of that color back up.
And then finally, depending on what your format is going to be, you want to make sure that you convert it to a profile that is compatible with that form of output. If you're printing at home, for example, you most likely are going to have a printer and ink/paper profile that will optimize what's going to happen when that image gets to that device. So you want to make sure that the correct profile is associated with it, so you'll be able to control exactly how it looks upon output.
So this is the makings of a Photoshop sandwich with Painter in the middle. And I find this to be a very good workflow in terms of getting the highest quality results and ending up looking exactly like the way you had envisioned it from the start.
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