Painting and effects with the Artists brush category

By Cher Threinen-Pendarvis

Special effects artists, illustrators, and photographers working with Corel® Painter™ will benefit from using the Artists brush category. With the Artist brush variants, you can apply Impressionist paint effects, push and pull colored paint in the style of Sargent, make curved strokes inspired by Van Gogh, create Pointillist dabs like Seurat, and more.

In this article, I'll demonstrate how Artist brush variants can produce Impressionist paint dabs as Seurat did, wild curved Van Gogh strokes, and brushy palette knife looks. We'll begin by using the Auto Van Gogh brush to simplify the image, while adding luscious brushstrokes. Then we'll add more brushstrokes and texture to the image with the Sargent Brush and Impressionist brush variants.

The Artists brush category

Laying in base colors with the Auto Van Gogh brush variant

The Auto Van Gogh brush and effect is useful for roughing in base color and tone onto an image while removing the photographic look. Open a photo with good contrast and color. For example, a bold image with a definite focal point and an interesting sky, or an image that has areas of graduated color would work well with this project.

Note: The owl image measures 512 x 768 pixels. If you choose an image much larger or smaller than that, you will need to increase or decrease brush size accordingly to adapt the application for your own image.

The original photo of the owl

Click File > Quick Clone. By default, the Quick Clone command makes a clone, clears the clone canvas, and selects the Cloners brush category. When prompted, save your file with a descriptive name.

Next, on the Brush Selector bar, choose the Artists category and the Auto Van Gogh variant. The default size of the Auto Van Gogh brush is 12.9 pixels.

Now the fun begins! From the Effects menu, choose Esoterica > Auto Van Gogh. Painter will now clone from your photo using the curved strokes of the Auto Van Gogh brush. Sit back and relax as Painter does its magic with the Auto Van Gogh strokes. The combination of the Auto Van Gogh brush and effect process applies strokes in different directions, depending on the tonal range in the image. Save your file.

Auto Van Gogh brushstrokes combined with the Auto Van Gogh effect

For more detail, I applied the Auto Van Gogh effect a second time with a smaller brush. On the property bar, use the Size slider to reduce the size of the Auto Van Gogh brush to about 8 pixels. Then choose Effects > Esoterica > Auto Van Gogh and watch as Painter lays in finer strokes.

A second application of smaller Auto Van Gogh brushstrokes combined with the Auto Van Gogh effect

Bringing back detail from the original

The Auto Van Gogh effect laid in interesting brushstrokes in the sky and on the foliage, but I wanted more realism on the bird. So I used cloning to restore details on the owl, such as his eyes, ears, and areas of feather. Use the Soft Cloner variant of Cloners to softly brush over these areas while being careful not to restore too much photographic detail.

Restoring detail on the owl

Painting with the Sargent Brush

Next, we'll use the Sargent Brush to by apply brushstrokes by hand. The Sargent Brush is similar to a thin, flat brush with a wet, oily feel. With the Sargent Brush, you can paint expressive brushstrokes that push and pull color similarly to wet oil paint. This brush applies color from the Color or Mixer panels, and can also use color from the image or from a clone source. I used the Sargent Brush to push and pull color on the bird's feathers, and to add a few details to the foliage. For subtle changes, I made soft, expressive brushstrokes.

The owl with paint added by using the Sargent Brush

Adding texture with the Seurat brush variant

Reminiscent of Seurat's dotted Pointillist paintings, the Seurat brush variant paints a sprinkle of dots. To finish the painting, I used the Seurat brush variant to sprinkle bright stars across the sky. On the Brush Selector bar, choose the Seurat brush variant from the Artists category. For this project, I reduced the size of the brush to 2.6 pixels to create the look of small, twinkling stars (the default size is 4.2 pixels). Paint smooth, sweeping strokes with the Seurat brush.

The owl image with the twinkly stars in the sky, painted with the Seurat brush variant

Night Owl

Night Owl was created with the Artists brushes, including the Auto Van Gogh brush variant and effect, as well as the Sargent Brush and the Seurat brush variants.

© Cher Pendarvis 2012

Artist Cher Pendarvis is the author of all ten editions of The Painter Wow! Book. To learn more about Cher, please visit her web site at