For those of you who are disabled, you know how discouraging it can be to get your paint out, set up your canvas and then feel too tired to actually paint. Some days it’s hard for me to sit at my easel or table long enough to get anything accomplished.
So to save time I decided to plan my paintings first on a program called Corel Painter. I got version X3 on eBay, and Santa gave me a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet for Christmas.
My library has subscriptions to Lynda.com that I can access online for free, so I watched Corel Painter tutorials to get a feel for the program. I was really excited about the possibilities, but realized I could best utilize it if I did the photo prep work in Photoshop. So I subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photoshop program rather than buying a new version (mine was very old!) for $10 a month which automatically updates. And since so many wonderful new features have been added I watched tutorials for that, too.
I started by picking a photo I wanted to work with and learned how to remove distractions in the background. This was from my daughter’s wedding…it was a very low resolution shot taken on an older digital camera, and there are other people in the background (like the pastor laughing!), so it was not something that could be blown up and hung on a wall.
Corel Painter has something called clone painting where you start with the photo on virtual tracing paper, then choose a brush to begin to “paint” the photo underneath. While you can duplicate it exactly with certain brushes, you can also do very interpretive work which was what I was after. In general, the larger the brush, the less detail, and you work your way from blocking in color and shapes to bringing out more detail by using smaller and smaller brushes.
I was pretty pleased with my first attempt. It’s one thing to watch tutorials, but it’s another to put them into practice and the best way to learn is jump in. The great thing about doing a digital painting (I call it a BrushUp) is that you can undo a mistake or totally change something without waiting for paint to dry or, as is often in the case of watercolor, having to start over.
If you just want to clone a picture and make it look more like a painting, there are a lot of apps and programs online that are free. One of the most popular is FotoSketcher. It’s fun to play with and I have used it many times to plan watercolor paintings.
However if you want to be able to change backgrounds, details, and even paint just like traditional media onto a virtual canvas, Painter is the way to go. We all have snapshots that are really great poses (the spontaneous photos always look more natural) but the background may be cluttered or just too distracting. Here’s an example of a snapshot taken of my granddaughter in a costume:
She looks adorable, but it would be even better if I could take her out of the kitchen and give her a dreamy setting:
So you can see the possibilities. There are many great tutorials on YouTube, also. I have hundreds of family photos, landscapes and animal photos that I’m anxious to “brush up.” Since I’m just getting started, I’ll post some of my before and after attempts. Maybe some day I’ll be proficient enough to start giving tips!