SOME PROS AND CONS OF COREL PAINTER (AND WHY I STILL LOVE PHOTOSHOP)
This week I decided to mention a few things I personally like and don’t like about Corel Painter at this stage of my learning process, and basically, what I think it does better and worse than Photoshop. I have been starting to dive down into some of the more hidden features of Painter. (PRO) We all know the brushes are definitely better – there are so many ways you can change a brush in Painter. I have not even begun to explore how to use them properly, much less figure out what can be changed to get certain effects. I find I am going into Photoshop a lot to clean up parts of the painting. I understand Photoshop’s brush panel and I know which brushes to use for the final tweaking. So that is where I am at this week with my New Years Resolution.
The above image is a good example of how I can get to a certain point in Painter, but then end up in Photoshop. For one thing, I usually do some basic processing in Lightroom – then I have to take the Camera Raw image into Photoshop if for no other reason than to change it to an 8-bit image since (CON) Painter will not open up a 16-bit image. Then I save down the image and usually designate it for use in Painter in the rename.
Now the image is opened in Painter. Not sure what I would do without Corel Master Skip Allen‘s wonderful videos on YouTube and his website – there is so much information there if you need help. This time I followed his video called Advance Auto-Painting with Watercolor, which selectively applies effects using channel selections in this technique. I never thought I could do watercolor images, but he explains it so well that I may actually get comfortable with this artistic medium. After following this video tutorial, the gerbera image actually looked pretty good, but I decided to add some contrast in Photoshop. I really like the Curves Adjustment Layer and this does not seem as easy to do in Painter. (CON) Painter does have an Effects menu with various items listed that appear to be similar to Photoshop’s layer adjustments, but many of them have very different results when applied. They cannot be applied as easily as Photoshop’s Adjustment Layers. Therefore, I find myself going back into Photoshop to control the contrast that I am used to. (PRO & CON) This does not mean that Painter does not give some interesting results when manipulating, for example the Effects -> Tonal Contrast -> Color Correction which has a Curves option in the drop down under the curve, but it definitely gives different results than in Photoshop. I also added a Photoshop Selective Color Adjustment Layer where the Reds, Greens, Cyans, Magentas, and Neutrals were adjusted. Adjust Selected Colors in Painter seems similar – check out Skip’s Beyond Painting videos to learn about how this is different. On another layer WOW BT Watercolor Small brush was used to clean up edges and fill in – I am finding it is very handy for adding in some color to a missed place or smoothing out an ugly edge. This brush is in Davis One-Click Wow Preset Mini Sampler of brushes from Jack Davis, who allows you to download it from his Facebook page Freebies or directly by clicking here if you do not have Facebook. (He has lots of other goodies on his Facebook page so check it all out.) Added a watercolor frame created using my SJ WC Salt Brush at 60 pixels on a New Layer. The last step involved going into Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) ReStyle to check for a little better color combination. This time I got one (started with Butterfly Wings preset and set ReStyle Panel Opacity to 78%; Color Blend Mode; Color Style Hue to Fourth -0.62 and Fifth -0.33; Sat – no changes; Lum Primary -0.27, Third 0.52, Fourth -0.45, and Fifth 0.83; Texture Strength 1.00; Basic Panel Opacity 28%; Multiply Blend Mode; Color Temperature 0.56; No Tone changes; and Structure Detail -1.00 and Sharpness 0.44. Named preset SJ Very Soft Watercolor). Plug-ins can actually be added into Corel Painter – ReStyle is one of them – but I am just more comfortable adding them in using Photoshop. (CON) In Painter to create a stamped layer on top so the plug-in effects can be applied requires going through a lot of steps – another disadvantage.
******This yellow rose, a free image from stock.xchng y MEJones, was used to begin my painting. Skip’s Beyond Painting Tutorial videos were followed on this image. (PRO) Painter’s Stroke Attributes feature is really interesting and helped to get the effect in the rose petals especially. Skip talks about how to use this with Painter brushes – it is very similar to changing the Mode in the Options Bar in Photoshop. Now here is the big question – how often have you done this in Photoshop? Probably every so often when using the Burn Tool to adjust bright spots, but usually not to paint on an image. Most Photoshop gurus say don’t mess with this since it is easy to forget that you have changed the Blend Mode since it is a “sticky” setting and will mess up a different image when using the Brush Tool again. It is recommended to change the Blend Mode in the Layer Panel instead. The Stroke Attributes actually is a really nice feature in Painter and seems to be better than its Photoshop counterpart. For me the biggest problem seems to be that Stroke Attributes do not work on all brushes, only some and I do not understand how to tell when it will work. This appears to be another “quirk” Painter has and it takes some sorting through the brushes to figure out which ones work best. By watching the videos, you can learn a few of the brushes that do work with this feature.
(PRO) Painter also has a couple of extra Photoshop “blend modes” or what they call Composite Methods. One is Gel which acts like a transparent area or gel overlaid on top of your layer, and another is Colorize which affects just the color in an image. If layer is set to Gel and you want to take it into Photoshop, change the method to Multiply so it will copy since there is no Gel blend mode in Photoshop. Colorize comes into Photoshop as Color and looks bad – change to Lighten blend mode. The reason I bring up this information is that if you find brushes they works with, it can create some really nice effects on your images. You can switch between Composite Methods for your layers depending upon whether you want to darken an outline in the image, or add some really bright strokes in another part to smooth out or fill out an outline. Sample the color by ALT clicking on color in image (just like Photoshop) and painting. (CON) A layer mask can be added, just like in Photoshop, but not all brushes work on layer masks, unlike Photoshop. Need to watch Skip’s videos to get a handle on this, but the good news is that he does supply you with a pretty decent brush to use on a layer mask. The original background, splashes of color, and flower coloring were all done in Painter, and then I brought the image into Photoshop. On a New Layer, Jack Davis WOW Watercolor Small brush was used again to clean up some of my mistakes. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to increase contrast just a little. Next a different plug-in, Nik Analog Efex Pro, was added to get the vintage feel – the Nik plug-ins will also work with Painter. Lots of filter effects were used on the image, but not Film Type which can change the color of an image and I did not want that.
Skip says he actually prefers doing the things I am doing in Photoshop in Painter because he learned that program first and understands it better. I totally get that – I am not sure I will be able to do everything in Painter as well as he does. I seem to need my crutch using Photoshop. I hope Adobe is working on making the brush engine better in Photoshop so that many of the Painter brush effects can be achieved. The Mixer Brushes were a great start, but they do not have many ways to manipulate them or the range of strokes effects like Painter. When I look at my work in Painter, it does seem to be more realistic like I would expect a painting to be. So this is where I am at – a few steps forward but still a lot of things to learn. I hope I have not confused everyone, but I believe that if this program can be “tamed,” it will reap great benefits toward creating a unique style for anyone that wants a creative look in their images – but I will always love Photoshop!…..Digital Lady Syd