For the past few years, I have dedicated a good deal of my time and effort toward improving my skills not only as a photographer – but as an artist, in general. One of my favorite tools is Corel Painter and its ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Unlike a Photoshop filter that simply applies a fake effect all over the image, a painting created with actual brushstrokes has the feel of a real oil and canvas painting. The downside is that there is a kind of steep learning curve to doing it right. If you are serious about getting good at Painter (or even traditional oil painting), here are a few of the best things you can do to improve your skills:
1. Study Color – When you are painting, color is your friend. It will make the difference between a so-so image and one that shines! In painting – and in photography for that matter – you need to have a good grasp on color theory. Luckily there are hundreds of books on the subject available, but you can start by just purchasing a color wheel. Once you understand how colors work together you can use them to add life to your painting- such as using complimentary colors to make certain parts of the painting stand out.
2. Try “Real” Painting – One of the things that helped me to be a better digital painter was to take a traditional painting class. I spent several months learning how to paint with oils and acrylics- and it wasn’t easy. Out of the dozen or so paintings I completed, there are only a couple that I would even dare show anyone… but they still helped me to understand the process. This allows me to create digital paintings that are more realistic, because they are true to their original media.
3. Visit Museums – Go to a museum and study actual paintings. Don’t do like I used to do- where you just wander up and down the halls, trying to take in the whole exhibit in 5 minutes. Pick a painting that interests you and camp out in front of it for a while. Force yourself to look at just that one painting for 5 or 10 minutes. The longer you look, the more little details you will notice. Its just a matter of filling your brain with all those little nuances so that you can incorporate them into your own work sometime down the road.
4. Study With A Master – It probably won’t be cheap, but you need to find someone who is good at painting and hire them to train you. It will take years off the learning curve. I had the pleasure of studying with a brilliant artist in Louisiana named Darrell Chitty. You can find out about his workshops HERE . As great as books and online lessons can be, there is really no substitute for working side by side with someone who really knows their craft. If it is something you are serious about learning, you need to find the time and money to do it.
5. Play – Maybe the most important part of improving as an artist is just to play. Take some time to try something that you’ve never tried in Painter. You may be 99% sure that it will be a disaster, but it will likely still be a good learning process. Unfortunately, there are few better ways to grow than to make mistakes… so just embrace the mistakes and try again. At least you won’t be wasting tons of money on expensive oil paints and canvas. Just click File/New and start over…what do you have to lose?
For more information, visit Photo Education Online.