Painter For Photographers

Corel Painter may not be as well known as Photoshop among photographers, but it offers some very exciting ways of working with photographs and producing artistic interpretations that just aren’t possible with any other program. Although Painter originally was designed for artists and painters for creating original artwork, it’s ideal for photographs and very compatible with Photoshop and other digital imaging programs. If you’d like to try the techniques here, you can download a 30-day trial of Painter 12 from the Corel website ( ). You can use your own photographs for the examples in this article, or you can download my original images.


For this example, we’re using my image "Woodland Stream." To get started, make a clone copy (File > Quick Clone), which creates a new empty document.

You’re probably familiar with the concept of cloning in other digital imaging programs, but instead of using it for making repairs, Painter uses this process to copy the original photograph so that when you start to paint, the original image will act as the source, but will be reinterpreted by your choice of a particular brush. It may sound a bit complicated, but in reality, the basic process is simple.

After making the clone copy, you need to select a brush. Choose the Smart Strokes brush category from the list on the left in the Brush Selector (hover your mouse over the icons to see the name) and the Sponge Dense variant from the list on the right. Change the brush size to 60 and the opacity to 82%.

Although I said that the new document created is empty, you’ll notice that there’s a light version of the original image visible—this is the Tracing Paper, which acts as a guide for painting. Turn this on or off by going to Canvas > Tracing Paper or by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/Cmd + T. Tracing Paper is only a guide and won’t show in the finished image.

To display the Auto-Painting control panel, go to Window > Auto-Painting Panels > Auto-Painting. Uncheck the Smart Stroke Painting option, then press the Play button at the bottom and watch the picture appear. You can stop it at any time by clicking the Stop button. Change the brush size to 30 and press Play again—the smaller brush reveals more detail. Now change the Brush variant to Chalk Soft and click Play again and see the different result.

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