View Full Version : Photos into Paintings with Painter Essentials 3

10 October 2005, 10:47 PM
Turning Photos into Paintings with Corel Essentials 3

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Corel® Painter™ Essentials 3 (, a complete home art studio built on the power of Corel Painter IX. Painter Essentials 3 excels at converting digital photographs into paintings. Using the new Photo Painting Palettes, this conversion process is as simple as 1-2-3 and I'll show how. Let's get started!

I Love Paris in the Springtime

The photo I've chosen to run through Essentials 3 is one I took a few years ago while on business in Paris. If you've ever been there, then you're aware of the large number of street musicians that populate the City of Lights. While waiting for a train on the metro, I looked across the tracks and saw an accordionist playing for tips on one of the departing trains. As it slowly started its journey, I had the presence of mind to shoot a photo. I particularly enjoy the manner in which he was looking directly at me when I took the shot. Painting and Paris are inseparable, so I thought this would make an ideal subject for Essentials to transform into a painting.

The Underpainting Palette

Essentials utilizes the Photo Painting Palette to organize a three-step process for transforming a photo into a painted result. The palettes are organized into a easy-to-understand workflow. The topmost sub-palette is the Underpainting Palette. Like the traditional underpainting process, this palette is used to adjust and prepare an image for the application of brushwork.

The Style Pop-up is used to perform global corrections to an image. Options include Lighten, Darken, Lower Contrast, Increase Contrast, High Contrast, Color Shift, Color Change, Desaturate, Saturate, Intense Color, and Black & White. These corrective functions are applied as a full preview to the image. The user can use either the Reset or Apply buttons to decide which action they prefer. This is great for beginning digital enthusiasts as they can experiment without fear of messing up an image.

The Edge Effect Pop-up mimics the old darkroom technique of using a mask to soften the edges of a projected negative in an enlarger. It's a great effect for focusing attention on the subject of a photo. Essentials offers three variations: Rectangular, Circular, and Jagged. The width of the feathered edge is controlled with an Amount Slider.

My favorite control in Essentials is the Smart Blur control. This function simplifies an image by blurring low contrast areas while maintaining sharp edges. The result can approach the look of watercolor. Smart Blur epitomizes the notion of underpainting.

Here's an Essentials Inside Tip: You can Copy & Paste the photo from the canvas to a new layer and perform the various Underpainting activities on the layer copy. Why? This provides you with the ability to adjust the Layer Opacity, thereby giving you control over the strength of the effect on the underlying photo. When you're satisfied with the visual result, you can drop the layer.

Once you've made image adjustments to your liking, you'll need to clone your image. Conveniently, the Quick Clone button is located at the bottom of the Underpainting Palette.

The Auto-Painting Palette

The Auto-Painting Palette utilizes a concept that I often refer to as season-to-taste. This method of working is experimentive. With the ability to undo, the user is free to observe stroke behavior adjustments and refine the process through iteration. It's a great way to build up a painted image.

This palette is a laboratory filled with controls for adjusting the character of applied cloning strokes. The Stroke Pop-up contains a dozen-and-a-half pre-recorded strokes for use with the currently selected brush. With names like C-Curve, Scribble, Splat, Squiggle, and Swirly, you just know that you'll be playing the role of mad scientist in this brush lab! Positioned immediately below is a set of sliders used to control various aspects of the cloning stroke: Randomness, Pressure, Length, Rotation, and Brush Size are all user adjustable. These controls are a boon to new enthusiasts who have not yet invested in a Wacom tablet. Play and Stop buttons, located at the bottom of the palette, are used to control the cloning operation.

The Restoration Palette

Depending on the character of brushing, once a photo has been cloned much of the original fine detail is overwritten, leaving an overly-softened result. The Restoration Palette provides a pair of cloning brushes: The Soft Edged- and Hard Edged Cloners. These cloners enable the painting of selective source imagery into the cloned destination image. Its like wiping the paint off of the canvas to reveal the the original underlying photo. This is highly useful for adding focus to a subject, like a face. You can additionally set the Brush Opacity (Property Bar) for subtle introduction of detail.

The Essential Sandbox

I'm always encouraging Painter users to play with new techniques they learn (hopefully some of them have come from my installments!). If you have not yet made the Painter Plunge, then Corel Painter Essentials 3 is tailored for you. The software is now available from Corel Painter Essentials 3 website ( for a suggested retail price of $99USD (If you look around, you can get it for less). I hope that you'll give this newest addition to the Painter family a try.

Viva la Painter...Essentials 3!!! (

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