After a year’s absence


Where has the time gone?  I meant to come back each week and have a chat with you, but I have been so busy.

“Busy! You procrastinated and you know it!” Kevin interrupted.

“OMGosh.  Are you back to heckle me?”

“You couldn’t write without me.”

“Kevin, I assure you I can write without you, but I have to admit, it isn’t as much fun when you are not around.  Now let me get back to the reader.”

I am so excited.  With a little help from a friend, I have figured out how to add my brushes to the blog.  That means, dear Reader, you can download the zip file and install them using StudioChris Brush Manager.  Or, you can unzip the file and load them manually.  Following is the zip file for Eastern Water.  They should be compatible from Painter IX to Painter 11.

Eastern Water

“Do you think everyone knows how to install brushes with or without the brush manager?”

“I don’t know, Kevin.  I suppose if anyone has trouble they will add a comment asking questions,” exasperatedly I replied.  I know I shouldn’t be exasperated, but I was just beginning to feel the flow of writing.

If the test for Eastern Water works, I think I will add a brushes page with all of my brushes listed.

Enjoy, Skip

Bamboo on Silk


Sue made a comment on the last post that the bamboo would look good printed on silk.  It was a timely comment because I had just finished a piece with a background that looks like the piece was printed on silk.   I called this one wind.

Enjoy,

Skip

Bamboo in the wind

Wind

Second Week Open Studio – Bamboo


Hi…

I’m just stopping by to let you know that the second week of Open Studio at the Digital Art Academy has started, and we are working on sumi-e bamboo.  Kevin is processing a video in the background, which means he will probably not pop in and bother me.  I don’t want to hang around too long, though.

Here is my first painting for this week.  It has more of a digital feel to it than traditional sumi-e, but I liked it.  Be back later in the week with more information on brushes.

Bamboo

 Enjoy,

Skip

Eastern Water Brushes; What’s the Big Deal


I love watching You Tube videos of sumi-e paintings.  There is something intriguing about the process.  When I found out that Open Studio at Digital Art Academy was going to focus on sumi-e, I was delighted.  I began to practice.

No matter how hard I practiced, the process felt muddled.  Did I just need more practice? Of course, but who has time for practice.  Good brush painters hone their skills for decades; I had a matter of weeks.  Surely (tongue in cheek) with the right brush I could be a Master in less than a few days.  I knew it was impossible, but what else is a hardhead good for, if not for banging it against an impossible goal.

Bang one.  What is necessary for a good sumi-e brush? “Kevin?” (Dear reader, I know you do not know Kevin, but if you will bear with me, I’ll make a page explaining all about my computer Kevin, but right now, let’s just chat about the brushes.)

“Many things,” he replied rather too simply.

“Well, duh.  You champion the obvious.  I’m asking for one essential behavior.” Sometimes Kevin can be so obtuse.

“The ability to load the brush tip with one value of a color and the base with a lighter or darker value. But you will never remedy that conundrum.”

“Exactly, a perfect function of the brush.  What? Never remedy? Don’t be rude or I’ll run the CCleaner you hate?

“What we need is the ability to sample multiple colors with one brush, and Painter has that exact function.  It is located in the Mixer Pad.

Sample Multiple=

  1. This is the dropper tool, which will sample a single pixel of color
  2. This is the sample multiple colors dropper.  It will sample a range of colors from a single pixel to 50 pixels.
  3. The slider determines the range of colors.  Currently it is set to sample 24 pixels; slide it all the way to the right and it will sample 50 pixels.”

“Aha…you jest.  Are you telling me that you can eyeball 50 pixels on the screen?  I think not,” he chuckled; well it was more like a giggle.

“No, of course not.  I do a little trial and error to get the right range, but most of the time, I leave it at 50 pixels and change when needed.  Check this out.

Sample Strokes

Sample Brushstrokes with 50 Pixel Range

“The slider is set for 50 pixels and I sampled color from just beyond the tips of each arrow.  You can see the resulting strokes.  Obviously, 50 pixels is not very big; plus, there is a bigger problem.  Not all brushes can use the sample multiple function.

“Artist’s Oils Category variants can use the function, but many, for example, in the Acrylic Category cannot.  The determining factor is the Brush Dab Type, which can be found in the General Palette.”

Kevin coughed, hacked, cleared his throat; he made a noise, “Sputter. Is this the first time you have mentioned this palette?  Will the readers understand what it is?”

“Some, yes; others, no.  But I get your point.  Explain the General Palette.

“Under Window > Brush Control you will find a palette group consisting of a number of palettes relating to brush controls.  The General Palette is first in the list.

Brush controls Group Palette

Brush Controls Group Palette with Emphasis on General Palette

“If one of the following four words is listed in the first drop down menu, then the brush can sample multiple colors from the Mixer Pad: camel, flat, and bristle spray.  The illustration identifies all dab types that can use this function.

“Bang one resolved.  And you said it couldn’t be done.  All I have to do is use Camel, Flat, and Bristle Spray Brush Dab Types.”

“You got lucky.  There are many more obstacles ahead,” he said with a certain amount of glee.  He delights in my struggles.  I wonder if all computers are like that, or if I got the only one.

I promised to give you the Eastern Brushes.  Download them here.

The Eastern Brushes conversation will continue.  In the meantime, you may want to download a free webinar that Karen Bonaker and I did about how to use the Eastern Brushes.  The webinar lasted for an hour and 20 minutes, so the zipped file is around 170 MB.  You can download it at Painter Talk, but you will need to register.  It is a free forum; lots of Painter enthusiasts are members.

April edition of Digital Paint Magazine is available. It is a free subscription.

A few paintings I did in the first week of Open Studio:

Dragon Fly

Dragon Fly and Japanese Magnolia

Orchid in a Tree

Orchid in a Tree

The next image is referred to as a Haiga, a combination of Haiku and ga.

My Haiku:

Parrot tulips bright

Bring spring inside the dwelling

Winter returns grey

A Haiga...Parrot Tulip

Enjoy and see you next post,

Skip

Open Studio Assignment, Cherry Blossoms


Today was the first day of Open Studio at the Digital Art Academy.  Time to give my shiny new brushes a try.  I dubbed them Eastern Water in deference to sumi-e style paintings.  I wish I could tell you that I successfully culled them, but strangely the numbers increased to a colossal number, 42, which has cult status and is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

Armed with the answer to everything, I began to paint the assignment, cherry blossoms.  My first attempt was rather stiff, as was my second, third, fourth and fifth.  Then I had an “aha” moment.  I noticed the weeping cherry in full bloom outside my window.  Duh, it is much easier to paint when you have the real thing as your reference.  I cut a branch and brought it inside.

Have you ever tried to put weeping cherry in a vase.  I’m sure florist know how to do it, but my little weepy branch kept falling out.  I finally propped it and vase in a vertical position, which meant the flowers were upside down.  I found a workaround.  I painted a little; extracted the branch from the vase and observed the flowers in their normal position, and then returned them to the vertical.  Hey, the answer to everything is pretty handy. 

Alpha channels are pretty handy in Painter, too.  Alpha channels are defined as a storage device for selections, but I think of them as super selectors.  To start this painting, I first created an alpha channel.  My intent is not to make a tutorial about this painting, but simply show the workflow through a series of screen shots.  This is the alpha channel after painting it with short vertical strokes.  When a selection is created the black areas will be protected and the lighter areas are available for paint, which is just the opposite of a layer mask.

Texture applied to alpha channel

Alpha channel prepared with texture

I added a watercolor layer.  Using my Textured Fill Wet variant I lightly and softly identified the areas where the blossoms would be.

Placement of flowers

Determining the placement of the flowers

Added an additional watercolor layer; I work with a lot of layers.  I used my Chrysanthemum Sharp variant to give some form to the flowers.  I inadvertently continued painting on this layer with Iris Blade, but I wanted to be on another layer.  I deleted what I could.

Giving form to the flowers

Giving some form to the flowers.

On the third watercolor layer I used Iris Blade to give a soft overlay that looks like a petal.

Adding soft petals

Adding soft petals

The center of the flowers and the branch was painted on layers 4, 5, and 6.  I used several brushes, Chrysanthemum Sharp, Bamboo Texture Sharp, Thistle, and Plum Anther.

Flower details and the branch

Added flower details and the branch in the next three layers.

Layers 7 to 10 finished the details of the painting, buds and the first early leaves just barely showing.  At this point I did an Iterative Save and then dropped all layers.

Added buds and the beginning of leaves opening.

Added green buds and leaves just beginning to open.

I didn’t like the composition and added some canvas to the left and bottom of the image.  Also added my name in Chinese characters, at least I think that is what it is.  I got it from one of those sites that claims to write your name in Chinese; it could be profanity for all I know.

Improved composition

Improved composition by adding area to the left and bottom of the canvas, and added my signature in Chinese characters.

When I increased the size of the canvas, the alpha channel did not have any texture in the extra area.  I created a new alpha channel that was the correct size and with the same style texture.  I loaded the selection from this channel and in two layers painted the background.  I reduced the opacity of the layers for the finished piece, but in this screen shot I left the background at 100% opacity so you can see the texture.

Texture layer

Added texture from alpha channel selection. In the final piece, the texture will be reduced in opacity greatly.

I added a frame to finish the work.  I hope you enjoyed this quick look at the workflow of this painting.

Finished with frame

Added a frame for the final image

Here is the zip file of the Eastern Water Brushes.  They are compatible with Painter IX, X, and 11, thanks to Brush Master David Gell, who has created a script to automatically adjust the brushes for backward compatibility.  The brushes can be installed using the Studio Chris Brush Manager.

Zip file will be added later; I can’t figure out how to add it now.

Enjoy,

Skip