It’s possible to combine the intuitiveness of painting with the convenience of digital art. We use Corel Painter 11  to create a striking and artistic portrait.

Corel Painter 11 aims to digitally recreate the experience of painting, making it a great place to start experimenting with digital art for fine artists, illustrators and anyone still working with pen and paint. The digital process is surprisingly intuitive and faithful to traditional painting techniques. Painter works the same way on a PC or Mac.

Painter offers an array of brushes and other art tools, techniques, textures and papers, allowing you to experiment creatively without the expense or mess of doing it traditionally. Here, we look at how to use its simple cloning tools and Smart Stroke features, enabling you to create digital paintings from photos with ease. For the more advanced user, photos can act as a starting point, a guide that you use as a foundation for a more painterly look.

Step 1. Browse your photos to get just the right image. Look for images with detail, good contrast and colour; also make sure your image is high-res. You may want to crop and resize the image to add emphasis, framing your subject to create a more considered portrait.

Corel Painter 11 step 1

Step 2. With any project it pays to be organised from the start. Create new folders for your source images and paintings and ensure you don’t overwrite files. Give your files relevant names that are easy to search for later on. If you have experimented with an effect or style, name your file accordingly.

Corel Painter 11 step 2

It’s possible to combine the intuitiveness of painting with the convenience of digital art. We use Corel Painter 11  to create a striking and artistic portrait.

Step 3. Painter’s Quick Clone function (found under File, Quick Clone) creates a clone of the source image. Tracing paper can be toggled on and off for cloning selective areas using the cloning tools, or for tracing an image using any brush. This is useful when you want to move beyond Smart Stroke Painting.

Corel Painter 11 step 3

Step 4. Now back to the image. Before we start Smart Stroke Painting, you can remove any unwanted areas – here we’ve removed the dog’s lead. This can be done using the eraser or brush, or by cutting and pasting one area to mask another. By using the tools within Corel Painter you can achieve subtle, professional-seeming results.

Corel Painter 11 step 4

Step 5. We want to make our image vibrant using Painter’s colour-tweaking tools. Go to Effects, Tonal Control, Adjust Color and, using the preview to check the effect, move the saturation slider up by around 20 or 30 percent to make the colours seem more punchy and attractive for cloning.

Corel Painter 11 step 5

Step 6. There’s some groundwork you need to do for Smart Stroke Painting. Go to Window, Underpainting and select Color Scheme. Several presets are available, including Impressionist, Modern and Watercolor. Each preset simulates a style, some more effectively than others. Choose Impressionist.

Corel Painter 11 step 6

It’s possible to combine the intuitiveness of painting with the convenience of digital art. We use Corel Painter 11  to create a striking and artistic portrait.

Step 7. The Underpainting Palette also offers Photo Enhance tools, including presets and sliders for adjusting brightness, hue, contrast, saturation, value and Smart Blur. We’ve selected Increase Contrast and bumped up the contrast. We then hit Apply – you can choose Reset to return to the photo’s original state.

Corel Painter 11 step 7

Step 8. You can also add an edge effect or border – to simulate a traditional canvas painting, for example. In the Underpainting palette, choose an edge from the Edge Effect menu. Adjust the Amount slider and click Apply. In the screenshot below we have chosen Rectangular at 14 percent.

Corel Painter 11 step 8

Step 9. Still in Underpainting, click Quick Clone. Creating a clone lets you preserve the work you have just done in Underpainting before you auto-paint your image using Smart Stroke. You can save your Photo Enhance settings for future use – remember to save them with a relevant name.

Corel Painter 11 step 9

Step 10. Smart Stroke offers automated painting for those in a hurry or just starting off with Corel Painter. Results are mixed, so it’s worth trying several variations on the same image. Smart Stroke evaluates the original photo image and applies directional strokes to create the painting.

Corel Painter 11 step 10

It’s possible to combine the intuitiveness of painting with the convenience of digital art. We use Corel Painter 11  to create a striking and artistic portrait.

Step 11. Smart Settings offer greater control than the Smart Stroke Painting function. You can change the size, length and pressure of brushstrokes. We’ve selected Smart Settings here as finer brush strokes on more detailed areas can be more attractive. Without Smart Settings enabled, brush sizes will remain constant.

Corel Painter 11 step 11

Step 12. On your Quick Clone photo with Underpainting, tick the boxes to enable Smart Stroke Painting and Smart Settings. Click the options to the left of the Brush Selector bar at the top of the window, choose a Smart Stroke brush or a Cloner brush and adjust the settings. We’ve chosen the Acrylics Dry Brush.

Corel Painter 11 step 12

Step 13. With the Clone Color stamp enabled, hit Play to start Smart Stroke painting. The Speed slider controls how fast it is; untick Tracing Paper for a better view. Hit Stop when you’re happy with the results; otherwise auto-painting stops at the end of the brushstroke cycle.

Corel Painter 11 step 13

Step 14. Once the Smart Stroke Painting process has run its course or reached a point you’re happy with, make some final tweaks. We’ve sharpened the image and used Brightness/Contrast controls to enhance our auto-painting. Finally, we’ve cleaned up the image slightly, removing black marks from the border.

Corel Painter 11 step 14