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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.
In this chapter we are going to take a look at drawing from scratch and by that I mean starting from a blank screen or blank canvas. Now, for some people, that raises a bit of fear, the whole Tabula rasa. I'm afraid of nothing. I want to be able to have control and so it's a little fear that people feel like they are jumping into the deep end of the pool, when it's a blank canvas. But I'm here to tell you that's a wonderful space to flower your creativity and really start to take advantage of the expressive mark-making tools in Painter.
So, in this chapter, we are going to go through a bit of exercises. I'm going to show you some different concepts you can think about and this is by no means an exhaustive drawing lesson, but it's just to get you oriented and started down the path of thinking about a blank canvas as your friend. So, let's get started. In this video, we are just going to take a few minutes to think about how to get your hand warmed up before you draw. If you start without properly loosening up your hand, it's going to result in stiff unnatural strokes and just a few minutes of stroke exercises go along ways towards eliminating what I call this white knuckle syndrome, where you're just drawing with a very tightened up hand and looseness is the name of the game.
Even controlled precise drawing, still behind it there is a loose hand and that's what gives it the natural appearance. So, you want to have a properly loosened up hand and so we are going to do some calisthenics with our hand and I'll let you know, there is a file that's going to be in your exercise files that goes through the exercises I'm showing here. I'm not going to do all of them. I'm just going to pick a few out to show you basically kind of the orientation that these various exercises will do and then you can use my calisthenics file to go ahead and try some of these different things out.
And I have done them in such a fashion that they get increasingly more difficult, require more dexterity. So, if you have worked your way through these and get to the end then you have graduated from John's Hand Calisthenic school. And one other thing, there is also going to be a file in there called practice sheet. That's what I have opened here and it's just a layered file. On the Canvas layer, I have just put ruled lines here. So, you have kind of a guide, which you'll see, and the exercise file is a part of that. Then there is a layer and the idea here is you can go ahead and draw on the layer and not worry about destroying these lines.
So, this just gives you a place to try some of these things out. Now, one of the first things that I'll hear when I give classes is some people who say "I'm not creative at all, I don't understand this whole thing about expressive mark-making and I don't have a background in that, what am I going to do?" And I say, "well you know what?" "You do have a very unique style that you use all the time." Think about your signature. Your signature is a very unique set of hand motions that you have done thousands and thousands of times to the point that nobody, hopefully, can do it exactly like you can.
So, you've got this entirely unique mark in the world that no one else can do. So, the first thing I have students to do is just start practicing that and the pencil that I use in the Pencils category, I like the real 2B pencil because it really feels like a real 2B pencil. So, what I would say, and right now don't worry about these lines, I would just say you know, just start practicing your signature and just keep drawing it over and over again and let them overlap. You are not trying to be perfect about it. You are just drawing your signature over and over.
And if nothing else, what it's going to do is you are going to take a set of motions that you know by hand intimately and you are applying it to the tablet and pen and monitor in such a way that you are starting to get a real good control over eye-hand coordination. Because there are people who come to the cabinet for the first time and it is little bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. It takes a little bit of practice. So, there's going to be that little learning curve associated with actually getting used to the notion of drawing on a tablet and looking up on screen.
But it comes very quickly and don't be afraid of it but you can see what's happening here. I'm drawing my signature so many times now that it's quickly becoming a pattern. You know it's almost abstract. You start to lose the individual signatures in there and it has just become this very expressive set of lines, because you are totally expressing yourself through your signature; you just don't normally think of it that way. But the first exercise you can do to start warming up is just sit down and just draw your signature over and over and over like this.
And in fact, it's kind of fun because the more you do it, the more abstract it gets and it's like, wow! I should have a wallpaper made up like that, although it might drive you a little nuts. I'm going to go ahead and clear the canvas, Command+A or Ctrl+A and Backspace or Delete. And get back to my blank page here. So, now we can talk about some of the exercises that I like to have students do. The first one I'm going to do here is we are now going to start using these lines as kind of limiting factor. What I'm going to show here does not have to be perfect. You are just trying in general do this. And the first one I have them do is just start going up and down, up and down and almost like a seismograph. You are drawing up and down like this.
And I'm going to undo each time and hit my Delete key and you know what, I'm left handed, so I'm going to do this the way I do it, so it may look a little backwards to you. But all we want to do here is just practice kind of getting the rhythm and the strokes more or loss hitting close to the tops and the bottoms of the lines that we have set up each time. So, you are going to work on this for a while and when you get bored with this and you become an expert at it, the next one, I'm going to have you do is when we are going to start exercising a little bit of pressure and what we are going to do here is you are going to continue to do the same line but now, we are going to go very light pressure, then we are going to bring it back up to very hard pressure.
And then we go very light pressure, then we are going to bring it up to very hard pressure. So, what you are doing here is you are doing the stroke but now you are learning how to do two things at once, you are following the motion but then you are also using your hand pressure to control this modulation between darks and lights. So, that is yet another thing where you can start to learn how to modulate your hand pressure. Now, let's go to the next one and this one gets a little more interesting. Now, you are going to go from small to full-size, to small, to full-size, so now you are exercising kind of playing with how to control the change in scale of these wave motions.
Its almost like we are describing a earthquake down here in the Southern Californian area. After you have done a few of these, the next thing you are going to do is start to play around with changing the pressure again. So, now we are starting to introduce multiple things at once and in fact, you can see how this starts to get you to think about getting your pressure set up. So, you want to go through and keep practicing these. It's not like you have to get perfect at it, but the other thing is it's a great gauge of seeing how you are improving because if you keep doing these on a regular basis, you will slowly see how wow, I used to not be able to do that, but now I can do it really good.
So, your dexterity is improving as you go along. And then the last one, I'll show you here that's on the first page of the exercises is I kind of do a thing where I squiggle large and you don't need the lines through this and I'll just do a bunch of them like this, so I'm going from large to small and over and over and then I start nesting them in one another. So, now its small, and so after a while you can kind of start to build up a pattern where you are building this more or less diamond shape that you are drawing inside each row and so these are just exercises that are going to get you slowly but surely more dexterous as you go and there is three pages of them.
I'm not going to go any further here, because I don't want to scare you but the idea here is that you really want to exercise your hand because you know it's a terrible thing to let your hand be a couch potato. I really want you to take a few minutes of drawing time, doing exercises like this before you do any painting or drawing activity and it's going to help you improve your confidence, improve your dexterity and will improve your mental health as well. So, don't be afraid of doing a little bit of calisthenic work.
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