Alpha Channels and Watercolor with Corel Painter 12.1

Hello Friends,

I promised to do video tutorials about Alpha Channels several weeks ago.  I finally bit the bullet and produced 7 videos.  Before you start to watch, if you haven’t already watched the videos on selections, please do so.  An alpha channel is simply a storage device for selections, so you need to be familiar with selections to see the power of Alpha Channels.  I didn’t cover every thing about alpha channels; it would be impossible in 7 videos.  My class on Selections, Channels, and Layer Mask for Painter 11 has around 30 videos.  There is enough information to get you started with channels and how to use them with a watercolor painting.

At some point in the videos, I begin painting an iris.  I used one of my photographs as a reference and I cloned the image.  I received so many requests for more on cloning and channels.  There is a lot in this post; have fun.  The final image looks like this, but believe me when I tell you it didn’t look like this until the end.  I had a lot of fun painting it…well, it got a little tense at the end.  I show you everything and it was taking so long I felt I needed to speed up.  I thought I could do some stuff off camera and I did a little, but I forgot to turn off the recording. 

Watercolor Iris

Watercolor Iris done using Alpha Channels and Corel Painter 12.1

In the first video, I give you an introduction to alpha channels, which from now on I will refer to as channels.  A channel is a storage device for selections, so I explain how that works.

Video two demonstrates how to use the channel panel and its various functions.  This is where the power of channels begins to shine.

The third video I start getting the reference ready for cloning.  I took my original photo and changed it in different ways and then set each variation in the clone source panel. 

In the fourth video I actually begin painting.  About time, right?  I usually start with a sketch and the background.  In this case, I used the reference as a guide for the sketch.  It is a simple way to plot a map for your painting; even folks who can’t draw can do this.

And now for the fifth video.

“Good grief.  How many of these things did you say you did?  Nobody is going to watch them.” Kevin suddenly appeared and startled me with his jibe.

“Where have you been?  I haven’t seen you for weeks.”

“Oh Skip!  I love the new computer.  It is so roomy and I have lots of places I can go and hang out with my buds.  You may see me infrequently from now on.”

“Buds?  What buds?  Are they viruses like you?  Are they good viruses like you supposedly?  Have you infected my computer with your friends,” I wailed.  My voice sounded a bit too high-pitched.

“Never you mind about my friends.  They are my friends and they are here to stay!  See you later.”  And with that he was gone.  Oh my gosh, what now.

Okay, the fifth video I start painting the flower.

I have no idea what I did in the sixth video.  I know I thought I was close to the end, but no…there is another video after this one. 

In the seventh and final video, I finish the piece.  Aren’t you glad?  The image takes on a completely different look.  I like the finished product.

Well dear friends, that’s all for this post.  I hope you can find something useful.  As always, comments are welcome and if you have questions, I will try to answer them


PS: I just realized that I haven’t posted the brushes that I used.  It is very late and past my bedtime.  I promise to post them tomorrow.  See ya then!

Here they are:  Painter 12.1 watercolor Iris Demo brushes

Wow, this is so much easier than what we had to do before.  Everybody…upgrade to Painter 12.1 today!!!

37 responses to “Alpha Channels and Watercolor with Corel Painter 12.1

  1. Thank you Skip. Indeed these videos have been long awaited. I can’ wait to dive into them. Winifred

  2. Skip .. thank you so much for taking your valuable time and creating these videos. Have downloaded them and hope to march through them. I think I need to take that stand alone class that you have regarding selections and channels to help get a good grip on this technique .. which I truly love! … again, thanks so much Skip.

  3. Many thanks Skip for those very useful video. I will dive into them as soon as Karen’s Open session is over.


  4. Oh wow Skip, what a huge amount of work must have gone into making these and preparing the brushes,etc. Thank you so much. It looks like an exciting project..can’t wait to watch and learn !! Judi btw: got the headset….:-) goes under the hair behind..and falls down my neck…lol, but I guess I’ll get used to it….

    • Hey Judi,

      Good to hear from you. It did take a while to prepare this post, but it was fun and that’s what counts. I am so glad you got the headset. Don’t put it under your hair. Open it up big enough to go on top of your hair, then push the band together making it a bit tighter and it should hold. If you get used to it, I know you will love it.

  5. Cool Skip! For me this is a much appreciated set of tutorials, although I now feel overwhelmed by the possibilities offered by multi channels x multi clones x countless brushes= m(b)illions of possibilities. My brainram is already maxed out and now I am having to really stretch the grey matter to take it all in. I admire your technical skills, your sense of humour and your perseverance, not not mention your considerable painting ability. See you at a class sometime soon.

    • Thanks Wardie,
      I have to agree about being overwhelmed by the possibilities. Painter 12.1 is a very complex program with a lot of depth. Everyday I find something new.
      I’m looking forward to seeing you in another class.

  6. Thanks for the brushes too Skip … as soon as I send this message intend to open Painter and place them in MY FAVS and play! LOL! . thanks again….Hugs

    • You are welcome Charlie. A couple of them are new, but the rest can be found in other sets. Painter 12.1 makes it so easy to share the actual brushes I use for any painting, which makes it easy for the viewer to play along with their own image. I just realized that I should have posted the reference image…oh well, next time. Hugs, Skip

      • Skip .. the other day, I stumbled onto a “stand alone” program that you have and I think it was for watercolors in Painter??? .. for the life of me I cannot locate that class .. can you give me any direction here? Thanks Skip

        • Gosh Charlie…that doesn’t sound familiar. Did you find it on the blog or somewhere else? Knowing that would help me narrow the search. For instance there is a webinar about using Eastern Water brushes for Sumi-e style paintings that is on my blog, but it isn’t called Watercolors in Painter. Or, if you remember any part of the tutorial, that would help me narrow down the possibilities. Sorry, but no bells are ringing. 🙂

  7. Well you did it again-Some fun and brushes also.
    You sure make me think.

    I love this stuff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Are you going to do more watercolor class on other techniques (like the pen and ink with watercolor, Chinese art, landscapes and so on) ?


    • Thanks GC, So glad you are having fun…me, too. I will do more classes; I’m kind of over loaded at the moment, but something will develop soon. I do this for fun, too. Skip

  8. Skip, me again……..Is the name of the brushes “Iris watercolor”..I don’t see that on my list. What name should I see ?? I upgraded to 12.1 and it seemed to work ok…just don’t see that name……??

    • Hi Judi,
      The brush category is called Watercolor Iris Tutorial. The download is available at the end of this post. When you download it and double click to install or use the menus, it will load into the library you currently have opened. So you need to look for the category in a library…don’t look for a library.
      Hope this helps,

  9. Hi Skip and once again thanks for posting your knowledge about Painter! (Have to say I haven’t watched all the videos yet!) But I was wondering what paper are you using? in the video and what resolution? I’ve downloaded the Paper Drips paperlibrary, but cant find any similar to the nice one you use in your video.
    Thanks again Skip!

    • Hi Kenneth,

      Good to hear from you. That paper is from Tim Shelbourne at The Artist Quarter. He had made some photos of watercolor paper and this one was Faebriano #5, I think. Anyway, he gave me a JPEG and I made a paper from the JPEG and also a pattern. I placed the pattern on the top layer of the image and reduced the opacity to get the right look and used the paper, too. That way I can get a double whammy with the textures. I hope to gather more in the future; you ought to try to make some, too. I think I’ll buy a sample book of papers, which will be just the right size to photograph and turn into papers and patterns.

      Take care,

    • It looks wonderful Kenneth. Watercolor paper from India bought ages ago sounds and looks intriguing. I love it.

      Thank you so much for including the link to see your try-out. Beside enjoying seeing the image, I have been wondering how I could include an image with the comments. Your solution is terrific.


      • Thanks Skip it was made very quickly Well, I guess that not so many people have there own websites to upload to.Hope you find a solution!
        perhaps you have some address I could send you some of my Indian handmade JPEG to?
        Could be interesting to see what you can do with it! 🙂

  10. These videos are great! Thanks.
    I have a problem with my selections, I receive a error ones I add to a selection I have black squares all over. Even when I save it correctly when I re-open the file and open the selection, the selection is not what I saved, it shows lines or squares all over. I get very frustrated I don’t know what to do.

    • Hi Lucia,

      You have asked this question before. I answered with the following, but you didn’t respond to my questions. I really need to know the following information in order to attempt to help:

      Hi Lucia,
      Let me ask a few questions and after you answer them, maybe I can think of something that could help.
      1. Have you up-dated Painter 12 by going to Corel’s web site and downloading and installing in order the following:
      SP-1 Patch
      Upgrade to Corel Painter 12.1
      Hot Patch for Painter 12.1
      2. When is the last time that you updated your video card driver?
      3. Please tell me your preference performance settings.
      You can find preferences by opening Painter and going to Edit > Preferences > Performance
      4. Please tell me the steps you use to save a selection and what file format are you using to save?

      To save your custom stuff, you have several options. One is to go to each panel and export the custom palettes or panels that you may have made. If you are running Corel Painter 12.1, you can export your custom brushes as a category or library if they are in libraries. All of this stuff can then be imported back into your new install of painter. It is a good idea to save all this stuff anyway.
      Easier to do, you can export your workspace to a file on your computer. It will have all the custom stuff included in the export. Then in your new install, you will import your workspace back into Painter. But before you uninstall…answer my questions and lets see if there is something that might help other than installing a fresh copy.

      Hope this helps,

  11. Hi Skip,
    I have the last update, painter 12.1.01250 and the hot patch fix
    My video card was updated a month ago and I just check for new updates and windows did not find any news.
    My preference on painter has change friday following instructions from painter support and help a little bit, instead to have the error on the first minute now is about 3 minutes,. On memory usage = 80%, multicore usage=6, scratch driver now is on partition of c:/, one of the problems when I call support was that I could not select c;/ for my scratch driver, the only selection where external hardrives, they ask me to do a partition on c:/ an now I can see the option of the new partition.

    About the selection, it happen when I use the magic wand, when I use lasso tool, and when I do channels and selection from channels.
    The odd thing is that I can see the selection fine, when I open the file again the selection is completely wrong, nothing to do with the selection I saved. I am saved it in rif.
    I already install everything yesterday night and the problem is the same, the files size that I have 380MB, the other is 46MB same problems.
    Other things I notice is taken a lot of time to open any file in painter between 45seconds to 1 minute the same for saving.
    Another thing, when I see the black squares all over I close everything including windows, next day sometimes the squares are not there, then I begin to work a little and square appear again, I do not save the file just closed, open the file again the squares again show up.
    When I change brushes take more time, when I send a canvas layer to watercolor layer it take time, this did not happen before the last update.

    I have a windows 7,64 bit, intel core i7, 2.67ghz, 1 tb, 12 gb ram system

    Thank you for your time.

  12. I think it is fixed now, Chris contact me and ask me to hold “shift” when I open painter and I have been playing with selections without any problems.
    I was getting so frustrating.
    Thank you for your help.

    • That’s great Lucia. Sorry I hadn’t thought of the shift start. I think of it as a last resort. I’m so glad it worked for you. Thanks to Chris, too.


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