Many professional photographers offer their clients painted portraits, which they create in Corel® Painter™, based on an original photo. If you're a professional photographer, or a hobbyist who wants to paint portraits of your kids or grandkids, you can try painting portraits with Corel Painter! This tutorial includes a few simple steps, which incorporate some basic art concepts, for painting portraits in Corel Painter.
When painting, the first concept to keep in mind is that a painting has less details than a photo. Therefore, I like to start a portrait by painting out the details of the face by using a Blender.
To paint out the face details
One popular technique found in painted portraits today is outlining the irises. To achieve this look, I paint the iris outline by picking up the color of the iris and then outlining the iris with a color that is a shade darker.
To outline irises
In painted portraits, there is the concept that the brows and the area above the eyes cast a shadow. To achieve this look in Corel Painter, I paint a shadow across the top of the eyes using a Digital Watercolor brush.
To paint a shadow across the top of the eyes
The next art concept that I apply to portraits is to add light to the bottom of the eyes. The term for this is catchlight.
To add catchlight in Corel Painter
If the dodging makes the irises too white, I paint back the color using the New Simple Water variant from the Digital Watercolor category. You can then dry the watercolors (Layers menu).
In theory, the catchlight comes from the light source hitting the top of the eye. The rule of thumb is to paint the catchlight on part of the pupil and part of the iris. You can use the Sharp Chalk variant from the Chalk category or the Digital Airbrush variant from the Airbrushes category to paint the catchlight. To achieve a more subtle result, you can try lowering the opacity.
To make my portraits more dramatic, I apply the art concept of contrast. I achieve contrast by heightening the highlights and shadows that I see in the photo by painting them in the portrait. For instance, I paint highlights on the face with the Digital Airbrush set to low opacity.
To add contrast to a photo
For the lips, the art concept is that the upper lip is darker than the lower one because the light hits the lower one and the upper one is in shadow.
The art concept for hair is to paint areas of color and to suggest the details of the hair strands.
And there you have it! Steps (and art concepts) for painting portraits from photos in Corel Painter. Now all you need is some practice, and you'll be painting from your photos before you can say Michelangelo!
Painting by Karen Sperling from a photo by Michelle Lamberth.
Karen Sperling is the original Corel Painter expert. She wrote the first manual when the software debuted in 1991 and the manuals for several subsequent versions. She has written three Corel Painter books and her fourth, Painting for Photographers, about turning photos into paintings using Corel Painter and Adobe® Photoshop®, is due out soon. She publishes a monthly Corel Painter tutorial e-zine, Artistry Tips and Tricks, and teaches Corel Painter in her Artistry Painting for Photographers retreats. Karen is also an artist and a photographer. Her art has been exhibited in a gallery in New York's prestigious Chelsea art section and during Art Basel Miami, the biggest art show in the United States. Her art is held in private collections around the world. To see examples of Karen Sperling's art and photography, and for information about her Corel Painter tutorials, books and classes, visit Karen's web sites: http://artistrymag.com and http://karensperling.com.