Distorting an image with the Distortion brush

show more Distorting an image with the Distortion brush provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by John Derry as part of the Corel Painter 11: Mastering Brushes show less
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Distorting an image with the Distortion brush

The Distortion category and the brushes associated with it have its roots in media like a Polaroid film manipulation. You may remember back in the era of Polaroid film that while the film was still developing, you could actually press on the Dye layers as they were setting and manipulate the imagery around quite a bit. This is something that is very similar to what goes on in Distortion. But with digital media now, it's so malleable, there is just a whole range of image bending possibilities that you could have never done in the era of Polaroid film.

In this movie, we'll take a look at some of the painter distortion variants and I'll show you a technique that I use to jazz them up a bit. I'm going to go to the Distortion category, and I'm going to start with the Distorto brush. This is probably the archetypal distortion brush in Painter and basically what this does is when I drag it through an image, it's almost like taking a needle in a wet photograph and being able to move it around, and you get, as you can see, a very interesting visual result from what happens here.

I'm going to introduce you to one concept that sometimes throws people off. I'm going to undo here. And I want to show you that if I attempt to do this on a layer, nothing happens. In fact, I believe almost all, if not all, of the Distortion category is restricted, and I want you to understand this because people will sometimes try to do things on layers and get very frustrated when nothing seems to happen. The problem or, in this case, the issue is if we go to the General palette, this particular method is Drip.

And the way the Drip method works is it has to directly interact with the pixels in an image to work. And as such, when you attempt to do this on a layer, nothing happens. There are many brushes in Painter that are aware of what's going on underneath its layer, and it will work fine, but this is the exception to the rule. In fact, when we start looking at some of the other brushes, you'll find that many of them are composed of the method that's called Plug-in. These are a set of brushes that are basically defined in their subcategory, that do all kinds of interesting things.

But once again, these brushes only work on the actual pixels. So, trying to use brushes that use the Plug-in or the Liquid method in Painter on layers simply won't work. The one exception to that rule is if I take another pixel painting brush, and paint on a layer, well, I can certainly go in on this layer and if there are any pixels somewhere on it, if I then return to the Distortion Brushes and go in here with Distorto, well, I can move those pixels around, but you can see they have no interaction whatsoever with what's going on underneath of it.

But once you understand this, there are some interesting possibilities that can be done with this method as well. It's just that you must understand you have to directly interact with the pixels. Otherwise nothing happens. So, let's go ahead and get rid of our layer for now. And what I want to show you is we've been using the Stroke Testing palette that we've created as a way to test brushes out. But it actually can be called in this service as a creative tool. So, I'm going to go ahead and record a stroke here and I'm just going to do a little twirl.

And now I can go back to Playback Stroke. We'll go ahead and eliminate this so we can see the image. Well, every time I click this, you can see what's happening here. It's applying that brush stroke which is manipulating the actual pixels so that each time you do it you get a different composition of color within the stroke, but it's a very unique way to take an image and with very little effort, completely obliterate it from its original look to something very different, and with just a little bit of work here, already this is a very interesting abstract composition that most people looking at would not even be aware of that it started from a photograph.

You can actually go a step further and one of the things you can do when you've used up all of your Undos, one quick way to get back to the original is to just use the Revert command in the File menu, and this will just immediately bring it back to the state it is on the disc. Let me just try another stroke. I am just going to do a little bit smaller, so it affects the smaller area. We certainly could use Playback Stroke to individually place these, but there is another command associated with Record and Playback Stroke. That's up in the Brush Selector Bar, and you'll see that you have Record and Playback, which we've been using, but there is also one called Auto Playback.

When you click on this, this just randomly places that stroke throughout the image, and anytime you want to stop, just by clicking in the image, it'll stop it. But once again here's another interesting way to almost create your own filters. You basically have control over what brush you're using-- let's undo this or in this case, use Revert. But let's try another brush here and I'm going to select Turbulence. And I'll show you how this one is a little different.

It is almost like taking a blender and putting it into your image. And as long as I'm moving my brush around, it continues to twirl with multiple little blender blades parts of the image. So, you can see once again how this starts to take the original imagery and do a very interesting kind of distortion to it. Now, we can go a little farther and the Hurricane version of this is a much more aggressive version of the brush. But just like we did before, I could go to Auto Playback and now that that brush is current, it will apply this brush to it.

You can see here once again we are getting a very different look. So, by combining whatever Distortion brush you want along with the strokes that you make and then using Auto Playback, it gives you a very interesting way to create a filter of sorts you can apply over your image. And once again, the complexity within this, it hides what it originally was and yet the color nuances and all of the almost fractal like breakup of the image through the way that the hurricane brush applies itself and then doing it repeatedly by using Auto Playback, you get a pretty interesting textural result.

So, the thing that is important to understand here is that these brushes are very different in the kinds of operations they'll do, and you can choose to use them very selectively or you can do as I've shown you here, take advantage of Record Stroke and Playback Stroke and then its extension, the Auto Playback. In fact, if you wanted to, you could add that as another button on this particular palette. So you add a whole all set of controls to Record Playback and Auto Playback, any kind of stroke that you want to do particularly in relation to Distortion.

We've only scratched the surface of what is possible with the distorting tools. A bit of time investigating the Plug-in method as well as its subcategories is a gold mine waiting to be discovered. So, you might want to start with some of the existing variants within Distortion and then start playing around with what happens when you start changing the subcategories within the Plug-in methods to see what kind of results you'll get. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Distorting an image with the Distortion brush
Video duration: 7m 15s 4h 53m Intermediate


Distorting an image with the Distortion brush provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by John Derry as part of the Corel Painter 11: Mastering Brushes

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