What is the advantage of Corel Painter over Photoshop, or is PS just as “capable” a painting program?
There’s no “right” answer here, as you’ll find there are great paintings being created with both programs. Photographers tend to use Painter, and illustrators (especially younger ones right out of art school) tend to use Photoshop. The illustrators are probably just using the program they already know (Photoshop) and never get around to learning Painter, since they’re gotten comfortable with PS. Painter is a “natural media” program, in that it does a good job of mimicking the look and feel of traditional brushes and media. Watercolor brushes run and bleed in Painter, but not in PS. PS’s brushes are bitmaps that get repeated over and over, giving the illusion of a stroke. Painter has a very sophisticated “engine” that allows the stroke to interact with color already on the canvas, mixing colors as though they are still “wet.” PS can’t do that. The greatest advantage Painter has for photographers is the Clone function, which allows you to paint an image using color from a photograph. It automatically loads your brush with fleshtone, for example, when painting the face, since it’s “pulling” that color from the photograph. Hard to explain, easy to do. Given all that, if you pick up one of the annuals like Spectrum 15: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, you’ll see work of equal quality created with either program.
If I were to use PS, what brushes should I get, and how do I go about getting them?
Just Google “Photoshop brushes” and you’ll find a ton. Or check out my post on the subject here.
What are some basic tools needed to get started?
I would strongly recommend that you get yourself a good Wacom graphics tablet. As Helen Yancy says, “you can’t draw with a rock, folks.” My Intuos 2 tablet is still going strong after 5 years of daily use, so they do seem to be well made, although they are expensive. If you want to try Painter, check out Corel’s site for WACOM Tablet & Painter Essentials 4 combo deals . You don’t need a big tablet, really. A 6×8″ will do fine. I use mine with a 23″ widescreen monitor, and it works very well.
What tutorials or DVDs would you recommend?
The best Painter instructors that I know of are Helen Yancy, Jane Conner-Ziser, John Derry, Cher Threinen-Pendarvis, Marilyn Sholin, Jill Garl, and Jeremy Sutton. Each offers hands-on workshops and/or DVDs. Each has a different artistic style, so check them out to see which one has a style that resonates with yours. For Photoshop, try Brad Buttry or Trimoon (Steven LeQuier).
What is the best way to get started, without spending a lot?
Corel offers a limited-feature edition of Painter, called Painter Essentials. This is quite a bit cheaper than the full version. They also have a trial version for free download. If you have school-age children, you might want to look into academic versions of software. For instance, one of my favorites, Academic Superstore, has this great offer for a 6×8 Intuos tablet bundled with Painter Essentials. You don’t need to be a student to take advantage of academic software, you just have to support one! Nothing shady here (just read the requirements on their site). You fax them proof that your child attends K-12, or college, and you get the full version for much, much less.
For those who print for clients, do you always print on canvas wraps? What do you print on for a watercolor look?
Most of my photographer clients like the canvas wrap look. When I do watercolors, we print on archival watercolor paper, and then “float” the paper in a frame with a mat.
Is it possible to “retouch” a painting after printing to give some texture like a traditional oil/acrylic would? How do you go about doing something like that?
Absolutely. One of the folks on this forum, Anne Carter Hargrove, does this quite a bit. You can read more about her methods here. Also, you can check out the following books: Digital Art Studio: Techniques for Combining Inkjet Printing with Traditional Art Materials
and Digital Photo Art: Transform Your Images with Traditional & Contemporary Art Techniques.
What about copyright? Can I use other people’s work?
There’s a lot to cover here, I’ll just say that you can purchase royalty-free stock photographs and use them in your own derivative works. Stock photo sites list their terms, so check them out for more info. Here’s a list of 25 sites offering free royalty-free sites (the photos are free to download AND free to use). There’s a lot of controversy and debate in this area, and the laws continue to change. Also, be sure to look into how to protect your OWN rights to your images!
Got a question that’s not answered here? Chances are, if you’re wondering about it, other people are too! Please enter your question in the comments section, below, and I’ll respond as soon as I can. Thanks!
- A Collection of Great Photoshop Brushes to Download for Free
- Great Painting Tutorials for Painter and Photoshop
- Tutorial: Create a Watercolor Portrait with Corel Painter
- Resources: John Derry’s New Watercolor Brushes for Painter
- Resources: Adobe Unveils Photoshop CS5
- Getting a Digital Portrait Printed
- Tutorial: How to Use Photoshop Brushes in Corel Painter