Creating Digital Paint – Texture Part 2

Good lord, it’s been over a year since I posted Texture Part 1. That seems like a reasonable time period between an ongoing series of posts, right?


I’m such a terrible blogger. Sorry for leaving everyone hanging for so long! I swear I’ll be more timely with future posts in this series!

So, as promised, I’m going to talk a little about how I use Corel Painter to create paint texture in my digital paintings. As a disclaimer, this isn’t to say that you can’t create good texture in Photoshop, but I find that Painter allows you to do it in a much more logical and straightforward way. Just my preference really.

As I said in Texture Part 1, if you’re going to try and create a convincing imitation of a real painting, you need to be thinking in real painting terms. When it comes to texture there’s three types that I’m always aware of: substrate texture, paint texture, and representational texture (see Texture Part 1 for further explanation). Representational texture is our end goal in a painting, but to achieve it we must utilize and control the other two types. As in real life, the first thing we need to decide is, what the hell are we going to paint on?

Paper? Wood? Glass? Your little cousin’s face?

Creating Digital Paint Tip #3:

Decide what “surface” you’re going to paint on and
create its texture digitally.

The great thing about Painter is that you can actually set a paper texture for your painting and adjust its properties from the “Papers” panel. I usually stick with a relatively soft paper texture because I enjoy painting on illustration board out in the real world.

papers-panel papers-panel_2

With that now set, any brush in Painter that has a “Grain” property enabled will interact with the paper texture I’ve selected. It’s great because you can use any variety of brushes (oil paint, charcoal, pastel, watercolor, etc.) and they will all show the paper texture you’ve chosen without you having to make specific changes to the brushes themselves (like in Photoshop).

You’ll notice that setting the paper texture will not actually have any effect on the blank digital canvas (it will still just look plain white). To apply the paper texture you’ve selected to a blank canvas or an entire image, use the “Apply Surface Texture” effect shown here:

surface-texture_1surface-texture_settings surface-texture_applied  

Okay, so that takes care of our substrate texture. Now how does it apply to digital oil painting? I’m glad you asked…

Creating Digital Paint Tip #4:

Always consider how thick or thin the digital paint you’re applying is and how it will respond to the paper texture.

Here’s a break-down of what I mean with some real life-to-digital comparisons:

  • Paint thinned with medium or solvent will make strokes cleaner and crisper. Paper texture has little effect on the quality of the stroke except at the very end.
  • If you’re using a thinned transparent pigment, it will still be crisp and clean, but will also show the texture and color of whatever is underneath it (in much the same way a “multiply” layer would in painter or Photoshop, hint hint).
  • Thick paint strokes will start very crisply, but will begin to soften and fizzle out depending on the surface being painted on. The more textural the surface, the more the paint will drag on it. Note that this does not affect its opacity, only its textural qualities and stroke length.
I’m going to leave it at that for today. Keep in mind that a lot of the program settings I’ve found that work for me came from hours of just messing around with brush properties and other settings. It would take forever to explain every little setting I use and when I use it, so it’s up to you to explore for yourself and figure out what suits your needs. But hopefully these tutorial posts will at least get you thinking in the right direction!

As always, if you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments section. I promise I’ll have Texture Part 3 up soon as well. There’s just soooo much to dissect and discuss! Until then, I hope you all have a fantabulous week chock full of fulfilled dreams and rainbow unicorn robots!