View Full Version : Why does paint (Digital Watercolor) act differently on Canvas as to other Layers?

White Knight
09 September 2005, 09:06 AM
I'm pretty new to Painter and I've just noticed my 'Digital Watercolors' seems to behave somewhat different on the Canvas-layer than on other layers. For example, when I paint with red it looks more brownish on other layers than the canvas. Also when I paint on an already painted area with light preassure it turns almost white as opposed to the Canvas-layer where it just turns slightly brighter.

I've noticed that, for some reason, when I check 'Preserve Transparency' on the other layers it starts to behave "properly" (as with the Canvas-layer). But how do I get other layers to behave like the canvas-layer without turning on 'Preserve Transparency'?

I guess some of you must have experienced something like this too?

09 September 2005, 10:30 AM
Hi White,

Using red (R:255 G:0 B:0) and painting on both the Canvas and a Layer using the DWC's New Simple Water, Dry Brush, and Soft Broad Brush, I could see no difference in color between strokes painted on the Canvas and strokes painted on the Layer.

Since you don't say which DWC variants or exactly what red you're using, it's hard to do any testing to find out what's happening.

Some things I can point out are:

Digital Watercolor variants generally paint transparent strokes (the Dry Brush variant I used in my test above paints opaque strokes).

When Digital Watercolor is first painted on a Layer, the Layer is automatically changed to Composite Method Gel.

As long as the DWC brushtrokes are painted above a white Canvas, you won't see any difference between the Layer set to Default and the Layer set to Gel. Once there's color added below the Layer, you will see a difference because Composite Method Gel makes any color on the Layer transparent and that color darkens any color below it.

If you do have other color below the Layer with DWC brushstrokes on it, then change the Layer's Composite Method back to Default, you'll see white edges around the brushstrokes.

Any brush variant that has blending and smearing characteristics will paint with white edges or white at the beginning and ending of the brushstroke, unless the Layer is set to Composite Method Gel which makes any white on the Layer transparent.

Again, you don't say what brush variants you're using and what colors you're using when asking about painting over existing color (I suppose you mean that existing color is on the Layer) using light pressure with the resulting strokes being almost white. Without that information, it's hard to give you a useful answer. All I can guess is that you don't mean the existing color was on the Layer where you painted over it but, instead, it was on the Canvas or on another Layer below. In that case, the white you see may be due to a combination of things:

The Layer on which you painted was not set to Composite Method Gel.

You painted with a brush variant that has blending and smearing characteristics, so white was dragged over the existing color from transparent areas of the Layer on which you painted.

If that's the case, it would answer why checking the Preserve Transparency box helped to some degree. That kept the brushstrokes within the existing painted area of the Layer. Whether or not the Layer is set to Composite Method Gel, this can be expected to help to some degree, to prevent white from being dragged onto the existing color from transparent areas of the Layer.

Checking the Preserve Transparency box will not, however, prevent black from being dragged from transparent areas of the Layer onto the existing color when the brushstrokes are dry (i.e. dried Digital Watercolor paint). The better way to protect transparent areas of the Layer and to prevent black being dragged inside the selection from transparent areas of the Layer is to highlight the Layer in the Layers list, then right click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac) and choose Select Layer Transparency. Then make sure the Preserve Transparency box is unchecked.

Select Layer Transparency loads a selection around any painted areas of the Layer and you can then paint or blend all you want without dragging white onto the transparent areas or black in from transparent areas of the Layer (again, as long as the Preserve Transparency box is unchecked).

Yes, questions similar to yours, or related to the same things, come up a lot.

You are asking some intelligent questions and including enough detail to show you're trying to figure things out on your own, so next time remember to provide the exact names of the pertinent brush categories and brush variants, exact colors (RGB values) if color is an issue, Layer Composite Method names, any any other specifics related to your questions. It'll make it a whole lot easier to provide answers.


White Knight
09 September 2005, 01:30 PM
Whow Jinny, another impressive answer in spite of the lack of information.

Now I've posted a screenshot on

which I think illustrates my problem better.
The color is R:255 G:1 B:1 (just about pure red).

The brush used in the top two examples is 'New simple water'
and below is 'Dry brush'.

The settings for 'Layer 1' is Gel and Ignore.

The results I get from time to time seems a bit inconsistent... but then again I might be misssing some little setting here or there which makes the difference.

By the way... for some reason I don't seem to get the color-variation (of red turning brownish) any more...

09 September 2005, 04:05 PM
Hi again,

It's very hard to read the Property Bar settings you have in your screen shot but I think they are:

Size: 36.0
Opacity 40%
Grain 100%
Diffusion: 0%
Wet Fringe: 21%

I set up a Canvas and Layer the way you did, then painted with the Dry Brush and New Simple Water the same way using your Property Bar settings for the New Simple Water variant and the defaults for the Dry Brush variant.

It took me a while to get the white brushstroke on top of the red but I did get it after resetting my Brush Tracking using very hard pressure. That makes it easier to paint light brushstrokes because it would take a lot more pressure to make them full color.


What I realize after looking at your brush control settings on the Property Bar, is that I was using the New Simple Water variant at 9% Opacity. As soon as I upped it to 40% it was easy to get white over red... and the Paper texture showed in the strokes like yours did. Maybe if we reverse that for you, all you'll need to do is lower Opacity until you don't get white anymore. You'll still be able to paint red, just by going over the strokes to build up enough color, or applying just a little more pressure..

The settings for 'Layer 1' is Gel and Ignore.

Those two rectangular fields with drop down lists are named Composite Methods and Composite Depth.

Only the left one, where you saw Gel, applies to what we're discussion as it's one of the Composite Methods.

The field on the right side, Composite Depth, is only used with Impasto (meaning any brush variant that's set to use Impasto Depth or Depth and Color to paint thick brushstrokes). That drop down list of options is used to control how Impasto painting on an upper Layer interacts with Impasto painting on lower Layers and/or the Canvas.

The results I get from time to time seems a bit inconsistent... but then again I might be misssing some little setting here or there which makes the difference.

Digital Watercolor variants can be inconsistent in the way they paint but you may be able to get more control by resetting your Brush Tracking until it begins to feel better when you paint. When you find settings you like, write them down so you'll be able to reset your Brush Tracking for other purposes, then return to those setting again when you're using Digital Watercolor, for instance. Just paint a stroke on the scratch pad using your normal hand pressure and see if that helps. If not, go back and reset Brush Tracking again until you get the right settings for your way of working and the brush variants you're using.

Maybe that color variation was due to your RGB values being different, light in the room different, tired eyes, other colors around the brushstrokes that made them look different.... or maybe you have a poultergeist living in your house. ;)

whoooo.... knows?

It is a bit early to begin celebrating H. but I don't want to wait, so there!. ;)

White Knight
10 October 2005, 11:21 AM
Hey Jin
Your posts are both educational and entertaining to read... fit for magazine-publication! :)

Anyways I'm almost embarrassed to say that lowering the opacity like you said, actually did the trick.
All looks fine at the moment. We'll see if I run into something else along the way of my first Digital Watercolor-painting. :)

Loads and loads of thanks for now Jin! Really apriciate your posts!

10 October 2005, 05:06 PM

Thanks for your kind words! It's nice to hear you find my posts both helpful and entertaining. I'm not sure they are always helpful and am sure they're not always entertaining. ;)

Don't be embarrassed! Painter is often puzzling and had I not noticed your Opacity setting was different from mine, we'd still be stuck without a solution.

It's a good thing you posted the screen print, isn't it?

I still don't know why, technically speaking, lowering the Opacity did the trick. It seems backwards.

Guess I'm just used to trying a lot of things without knowing if or why they'll work... until something does work. Then, once in a while I do figure out why it worked, but as with this example, not always.

Thanks again.

10 October 2005, 04:02 PM
I'm pretty new to Painter and I've just noticed my 'Digital Watercolors' seems to behave somewhat different on the Canvas-layer than on other layers.

Yes. A layer is by default transparent, so the paint does not mix with anything else when you are applying it.

The canvas, however, is a solid color (white by default, but you can change that in the File->New dialog). So the paint mixes with white, which can produce different results.

Another tweak to Digital Watercolor is the layer merge mode. If you set it to Gel, you get nice, fading-out edges. But switch it back to "Normal" (or "Default") and :eek: ugly white edges!

01 January 2006, 03:51 PM
Ok I have two questions:

images of problem:

1. I use the Simple Water brush of the Digital watercolor brushes with:
- opacity:40% (expression box unchecked)
- grain, diffusion, wet fringe 0%
- resaturation 24%
- bleed 78% (expression=pressure)

I paint onto a layer (default) above the canvas layer. The less pressure I apply, the lighter the color gets until it's almost pure white. I don't think this is due to the white "fringes" that are produced when using a default layer. Do I have to use a gel layer then because my painting has many layers and I don't want the colors to get darker, or do I have to preserve the transparency of the layer. Are there other ways??

2. I tried the opacity method, but opacity is really wierd for me.

I have my opacity at 10% and I painted blue over brown (same layer (default) ), but I still see the brown and the blue did not get less opaque no matter how many times I went over the same spot.

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