I Love Corel Painter Lite and Have Had So Much Fun Today

Hello Everyone,

Today, for laughs, I opened Corel Painter Lite, and I definitely had a blast.  There is so much about the program to like.  It is mean, lean and speedy.  It paints like a dream. Anyway, I wanted to practice some stuff I have learned lately.  And Corel Painter Lite was the obvious choice.  I love taking classes, both digital painting classes and traditional painting classes.

In the traditional painting classes I always ask if I can join the class but use Corel Painter instead of real paint and brushes.  Most folks don’t mind.  Anyway, for a long time my friend and mentor, Karen Bonaker,  has been preaching value drawings, which I have resisted doing.  And another mate and mentor, Tim Shelbourne, has shouted into my deaf ear, value drawings dear boy, value drawings.  Sigh, I’m not really hard of hearing, more like hard-headed.

Then I found a school while searching the web called Tucson Art Academy.  The school also has an online school presence with online classes for traditional artists.  I checked out their online courses and found several that looked appealing.  I decided to take a course called A Painterly Approach to Street Scenes and Architecture taught by Phil Starke.  I did enjoy the class, but the fates were against me…Phil talked about value sketches and value paintings a whole bunch, just like my buds do.  Surely there is a law against such torture.

Cornered by my friends and Phil, listening to them sing the praises of value drawings and value paintings, I had no other choice but to make value sketches.  Before I forget and feel the wrath of Tim, a proper British gentleman, in the Queen’s English he reminds me that the correct term is tone not value.  Tim will not listen to my comments about how Old English is exactly what it is, old.  That’s why software comes in American English now, you know.  Oh boy, I’m really asking for it now.

Anyway, I did take Phil’s class and I used Painter 12.2 SP1.  This morning when I opened Corel Painter Lite, I was just going to mess around.  But as I started playing, I realized that Corel Painter Lite is a great program to practice making value drawings and paintings.  And why not make a video of the process.

Some of the time, I work from my imagination, other times, I use a reference photograph.  Corel Painter Lite does not have a clone options, and I’ve heard a few folks say they really miss it.  So, I decided to work with a reference; I used a photograph I shot from our upstairs deck looking at the backyard with a utility building right in the middle.  Well, the class was about scenic streets and architecture; doesn’t the utility building count?

I am a fantastic photographer…my nose just grew 3 inches.  Here is the image that I decided to use.


Exciting picture of my backyard.

I have no idea why I took this picture.  I’m pretty sure I was checking out some button on my camera.  Obviously I need to salvage the photograph making it useful for a painting.  Did I go to Photoshop, or Corel Painter 12.2? Nope, I did it in Corel Painter Lite.  Doesn’t sound so lite anymore, does it?  I think we forget from time to time, that in Corel Painter or Corel Painter Lite, we are painting.  We do not need perfect photos.  I’ve seen some incredible paintings using poorly shot cell phone camera images as references.  So the first video is about how I tweaked the photo in Corel Painter Lite.  Enjoy.

OK…photo looks good.  What’s next?  I could start my value sketch from scratch.  But I wanted to make my value sketch in a way that I didn’t have to draw or block it freehand.  I think I have a good solution.  You will have to decide for yourself.  In my second video I prepare the canvas.

Now, let’s not forget that this whole exercise is about making a value sketch followed by a value painting followed by making the finished full color painting.  The last video for today does create a value sketch.  Oh, I forgot, one other important concept that my two pals and Phil harp about is simplification.  I’m not a simple person, well maybe I am, but my paintings tend to include everything seen plus the proverbial kitchen sink.  Value sketches are a great simplification tool.  Reducing an image to 3 or 4 values definitely simplifies the image.  So instead of working with details, I am working with large shapes that have a similar value.  Value sketches are stress free because they need not be perfect copies of the reference.  I can really let go of details with a value sketch.  The third video shows how I did it.

OMGosh, I heard what you are thinking.  My value sketch is the pits.  It isn’t, I promise.  It is FANTASTIC; just wait.

I mean that, you have to wait.  See, I have this idea that maybe some of you might like to paint along.  Download the Corel Painter Lite free trial.  Go on…do it…and paint along with a photograph of your choice.  I think you will love it.

Update: I discovered today that there isn’t a free trial download for Macs, only for PCs.  The Mac version is sold through the Apple Store, not through Corel.  Sorry, I should have checked more closely.



30 responses to “I Love Corel Painter Lite and Have Had So Much Fun Today

  1. Not only are you a superb artist and teacher, but a superb writer as well. Reading and savoring good writing is like great wine and cheese…a rare treat indeed.

    “Value” is the word we rug hookers or “mat” hookers (in Canada) use when selecting dyed wools for shading. Beautifully hooked flowers sport many “values” of a color–maybe up to 10. Dying wool can be a precise art and the array of “values” just magical when complete. Really good hookers (with wool in hand) can create some absolutely gorgeous work. Look up works by Pearl McGown and others to see. Sooo….”value” is a perfect word for what you want to convey…but we must remember that whilst we enjoy our freedom from kings….they left us their language to do whatever we Americans do with gifts…

    • Oh Deb, if I could write well I would be so happy. If I would write the blog post and wait a day or two my edits would be very different. I use “anyway” way too much. Thank you “anyway,” it is always nice to get a compliment.

      I think you would have a great time looking up the derivation of the words used by mat hookers. Why is it mat hookers in Canada and rug hookers elsewhere.

      Hand dyed yarns and other materials are magical indeed. I’m glad you told me to look up Pearl McGown. I’m not sure I was always looking at her work or the work of her admirers, but it is very beautiful.

      Many moons ago, I had a weaver friend, Helen, who hand-dyed all her yarns using only natural materials. Because I lived in the woods out in rural Mississippi, I was a good source for material. However, to develop strong colors required a lot of material. I was always intrigued by what colors came from what plants. Stuff like poke weed berries would give you red violets as expected, but could also give you shades of red orange. Other materials that grew like weeds on my property were sumac, coreopsis, sassafras, crab-apple, hickory, and many more items suitable for dyeing. Helen is gone now as is most of my memory of those interesting times.


  2. Skip. this is a wonderful post. I always enjoy reading what you have to say and teach. These videos are some of your best and I am looking forward to the rest of this series. Being Southern, I get annoyed when people imitate my accent or try to change how I speak. I have no intention of intimating the English. It’s a value thing. I have a hard enough time with the difference in the way some teachers teach the value scale. Some say 1 to 10 with 10 being the darkest, others reverse this. Who is right? Don’t get me started on composition!

    • Hi Eva,
      I have to admit that when I hear others imitate our southern accents, I find it endearing. Have you ever looked up where or how our southern-isms developed. I haven’t either, but the other day I just happened on a TV show that explored the hidden meanings of words and phrases. This particular episode was talking about words used in the South. Y’all was particularly interesting for several reasons. I was surprised to find out that y’all is also spelled ya’ll; Faulkner and Hemingway used ya’ll.
      Of course I have always thought it was a contraction of you and all, but apparently that isn’t correct…or maybe it is…there appears to be disagreement on the derivation. Prior to modern day English, we had a different word for second person singular and second person plural. OK…forgive me, the details get a little shaky here…I know I am not remembering what exactly was said. Anyway, modern English lost “thou” and started using you for singular and plural. So words like you’uns, you guys, youse, and y’all were developed to replace the plural you. But, I like another theory. The South was mostly populated by the Scotch Irish. They had a word, ye aw, that is probably the real derivation of y’all. Actually most of our southern-isms come from the Scotch Irish. Also, ye aw would explain the contraction ya’ll instead of y’all.
      I am no linguist, so please folks…I’m just rambling…and the ramblings may be off the mark.

      • Skip, you are such a kind and delightful person that I am not surprised that you find imitation enduring. Growing up as a military brat and being transferred from one school to another, the teasing about my ” southern-isms” and accent was unbearable. So when others try to imitate another person’s “isms” or accent, it hits a painful nerve.

        • Hey Eva…my Southern Bell,

          You know Southern ladies never sweat, they glisten. It sounds like you have a “axe to grind.” That’s another one that came from the Scotch Irish. Or, maybe it is time to “bury the hatchet.” That one came from a peace making ritual of actually burying a hatchet from both parties.

          But…you know what. The next time someone hits that nerve, just slap ’em upside their head.

          Hey this is fun…I do love the derivation of words. Pottery terms are always interesting. I always wondered why I threw a pot…that doesn’t make sense does it. I potter friend always said he turned pots on a wheel and that sounded odd, too, but he was closer to the original meaning. Throw came from old English thrown, meaning to twist or turn. Modern day English uses throw meaning to toss. But since pottery is a craft older than modern day English, it holds on to many archaic words. Slip…the very wet clay used to cast or in my case colored and painted on pots comes from the Old English word Slype, meaning slop, which is what we mean when we say slip. If you want to look one up, try porcelain. As you dig back into its history, you will find it is quite off color…at least for me to post.

          I do need to say that I can sympathize with your comment. I have many vivid memories of being teased. There is one that happened in the fifth grade that was extremely painful. I remember it as if it was yesterday. Years later, I had the opportunity to ask a couple of the folks involved in the incident what they remembered. We had actually become friends by this time. Neither friend even remembered the incident. How about that…it was such a non-event to them and life changing for me. Yikes, right?

          • Skip, I am impressed with your knowledge about origins of words. Fascinating, to say the least. My mother was from North Carlina and was part Scotch Irish and Cherokee Indian and my father was from South Carolina and was Dutch German. I guess that may explain my axe swinging nature and thrifty ways. LOL

            Sketching and value studies was something I was taught to do as a painter. I think digital art and cloning has replaced a lot of that. I believe any digital painter would benefit from taking a traditional painting course like you are doing. Reducing a photo to it’s basic shapes and values, makes for a much stronger painting in the end. I love seeing you do that and I’m eager for the
            next videos!

            • Hey Eva,

              I’m Scotch Irish on my Dad’s side. Mom’s side was from France and England. Maybe we are related way back. But, lets don’t get started with genealogy. We would have to start another blog.


  3. Hi Skip, being a newbie to Painter I find this very helpful, especially watching you work with layers which I’m rather addicted to from being a Photoshop user. I’ve never even heard of Painter Lite but I can do all this in the regular program…right? I’m looking forward to the next set of vids Skip. Great Stuff!….M

    • Hi Mary,
      Yep, you can do all of the stuff I am doing in Painter Lite in Painter 12.2…even better. It might be fun to download the Corel Painter Lite free download and follow along with the same program. That way you will not get confused by the differences. If I were in Painter 12.2 I would probably use the cloning functions…at least to get started.
      Thanks for the comments,

    • Hey Melvin,
      You and me both…I don’t know why I want to avoid value sketches and painting. That’s next…a value painting. This is a bit different because we will establish more values and look at how value affects the atmosphere.

  4. Skip, I always like your wit and wisdom…keep it coming. Value/tone applies also to photos. So I’ll deviate here a bit but may be of interest to you and your wanderings into learning lots of stuff about images…into Photoshop…to maybe an extreme but of excellent value and more knowledge about Photoshop than you may want to know.
    If you look here (click on link), you will find a new book released and info about its content and purpose….Anyone interested in Photoshop might want to at least look. And there is a Yahoo group forum related to it as well.
    Suggest wandering around web site, you can download the free Ps PPW panel and use without the book; it has many help files included…the book explains in more detail.

    • Hey Doug,
      Back when I was first learning a bit about digital photography and Photoshop I was a fan of Dan Margulis. I devoured Photoshop Lab Color. I liked the book very much and when I am adjusting photographs in Photoshop you will find me in the Lab Color. That’s all well and good. But in this series of videos, I’m going to try to approach my painting a little bit more like how a traditional painter would. Obviously, I’m talking conceptually. I also wanted to stay in one program. Many folks don’t have Photoshop, Painter, Painter Lite, CorelDraw, Illustrator, et al. Anyway, I definitely do not want to get into a discussing of one book, software, or whatever being being better or not, which I know you are not doing. I just want to keep this thread and this series very simple.

      However, I didn’t know that Dan Margulis had written another book. I will definitely get it. I have always enjoyed his comments on color in general.


    • Hi Maria,
      I didn’t realize that there was only a trial version for a PC. The Mac version is handled by the Mac Store and that is why there is a difference. You can follow along in Painter 12. I will not be doing anything that cannot be done in 12 and I will only be using default brushes that are available in 12. It’s just that some of the things that I plan to do, I would do differently in Painter 12. Not that it matters…you will still be leaning Painter 12 stuff.
      Sorry I didn’t notice that about the Mac Trial.

  5. And for another “view” of value/tone visualization, after converting a photo to greyscale/B&W and adjusting contrast/sat/luminance etc. Apply a temporary adjustable blur filter (for example: Gaussian) and look at the image as you increase blur…to see dark/mid/light shapes appear (go too far and it all becomes one flat grey screen)….to get a sense of the balance of the image brightness distribution/arrangement without any distraction from actual visible content.
    Can do the same of a value/tone sketch. Sometimes a balacend look is just right, other times, for dramatic effect, an unbalanced result is desired.
    Above beats “squinting eyes” to visually see tone distribution.

    • Hi Doug,

      I don’t agree that your suggestions beat squinting eye…LOL. I haven’t got a clue what you are talking about, so I’ll use the tried and true squinting of eyes any day. 🙂 Seriously, I believe in utilizing any techniques that works for you. If what you describes helps you do your thing, that’s terrific. And yes, as you are pointing out there are many “views” of value/tone visualizations. The one you are describing can be done even in Painter Lite.

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with your method; sounds very good to me. And when I use a tool like this in my creative process, I do try to remember it is only a tool. I must see beyond what is presented and let my mind and heart lead the way. I know you do that too.


  6. I have never heard of value painting before. I’m just new to painter. What is the purpose and how do you do this?

    • Hi Bekkie,

      I think you are putting the cart before the horse. In the next set of videos we will start with a value painting. In this set we did a value sketch, which is basically reducing the image to 3 or 4 values (light and dark) of the image. The value painting will be similar but we will put in a little more detail and develop the light and dark of the image. We are doing this to reduce an image to its simplest parts or shapes. Doing a value sketch and value painting are preliminary steps to creating the painting itself. Think of it as creating the bones of a painting. I hope that helps a bit. There is more coming in a couple of days.
      Thanks for the comment and question,

  7. Skip
    Great tutorial glad your back and love the value painting lesson. IN my early days of learning for my elderly lady teacher she was a stickler for that… however Im not really sure of the value of them … ya’al LOL

    Thanks again and welcome back… 🙂

    Denny (the Oldguy)

    • Thanks Denny,

      I struggle with value. I think when you see the next videos it will become apparent, but now that I am trying to focus on them, I’m finding the exercises very helpful.


  8. Nice to see you getting back to this painting. I was wondering if you were in the same creative lull I’ve been lately. You give me hope. :O)

  9. Hi Skip,

    I really enjoyed these lessons, especially the value sketching. Any idea when you might complete the process? Would very much love to see it completed.



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