Saturday, March 31, 2007

An "ah ha!" moment with Painter

I had a mental breakthrough in Painter this morning. I was just experimenting with brushes and irritated that the airbrush tilt is not working correctly when it occurred to me that the color seemed flat and uninteresting. At that moment I had an "ah ha!" and when into the brush controls and altered the color variability, as it sprays I made the brush vary the hue, saturation, and value. Above is an image sprayed from the Broad Wheel Airbrush 50 variant, note how it look like I've taken a green image and added noise. The cool thing is that I have control over how much it varies in hue, saturation, and/or color. If I just wanted to have the hue vary, I could do it subtlely or wildly. This is a great way to add a subtle texture and depth to digital painting while maintaining control in a somewhat natural way.

"Ah ha!" moments are what makes learning addictive. Especially when you've had a mental block for sometime, like I have with Painter. You can read about a technique, watch someone do it, but the thrill comes when it finally clicks while you're doing it. In fact, I'd say that is a good order of events for learning a complex tools like Painter, Flash, etc.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Painter is NOT Photoshop

I've used Photoshop since version 1.0, it is a great image editor and it is useful in image creation as well. I first tried Painter a dozen years ago, at that time Adobe had already won me over with how to edit bitmaps and vectors using Photoshop and Illustrator. Painter has some similarities to Photoshop, but the similarity between working with Photoshop ends quickly once you scratch past the surface of the tool. Just as drawing with vectors in Flash is very different from the feel and approach of drawing with vectors in Illustrator, manipulating pixels in Painter is very different from doing so in Photoshop. A good mantra when trying to get your head around Painter would be repeating "Painter is NOT Photoshop".

My desire to learn Painter never quite went away, so in September I bought Painter 9.5. I gave it another shot and felt that I was hitting the same Adobe-UI-induced mental block that I hit years earlier. Before I knew it, Painter X was released and I bought it.

After two false starts with Painter, I decided to get some instructor-led training from Painter expert John Derry. After watching John work, I feel like I finally have an idea where Painter is coming from.

Here are a few images I created at John Derry's Nashville Workshop: