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October 16th, 2009 #1
Painter blending basics (Painter X)
Hi, some time ago I completed a tutorial on Painter blending (posted in my sketchbook at different forum),
and - thought I´d perhaps create a separate thread for this tutorial, somewhere, some day;
so - now I decided to post it here at CA.
The tutorial is not intended to be considered as "the only way" of how the blending technique works, since - I am sure - different artists use their own different approaches; so - this is just the way I work (incl. a few very basic general rules), in case someone is interested.
My English is not that perfect,
so the text might be a bit difficult to read, sorry,
- hopefully everything makes sense,
Painter blending basics /tutorial (Painter X)
The Blenders (unlike in Photoshop) are a separate category in Painter. There is a bunch of pre-defined blenders in there, but - in fact - you needn´t use only those pre-defined blenders; you can even make your own custom blenders, very easily, from (many, not all) standard painting brushes you use for painting ...
A simple "trick" how to turn a regular painting brush into a Blender:
The "trick" here is the "Resat" slider (= Resaturation value; available either at the upper Property Bar - or - within the Well pallete).
Not all the painting brushes - but a lot of them - HAVE this control/slider available. If you set the "Resat" value to 0 %, this will cause that the brush won´t "add color pixels" any more, but instead - it starts behaving as a "dry" brush (adding NO new information), that only affects/alters (in a certain way, depending on the brush type and other settings) the colors/pixels already painted ...
This "Resat" value modification is especially usefull when you want to keep the same characteristics of the painting brush also while blending (size, opacity, bristels/tip type, grainy structure if any applied etc .. ).
Often it is a good idea to increase also the Bleed value/slider, so as the colors/pixels can mix/blend together more naturally ..
In the following *gif animation you can see the Hard Pastel - used for painting first, and then - the same brush after changing the Resat and Bleed values - used as a blender for blending:
Basic "workspace rules" for good blending results:
Though it is not obligatory, it is a good idea to keep/follow a few simple rules:
(1) for best results - you should always blend only in a separate layer above the canvas (or above the layer with the painting, if any); the blenders can be used also in the canvas, but - to get best results - blending works best when in separate empty layer, above the painting/pixels you want to blend (this is a good way how to work also for another reason - while blending in a separate layer, you wont ruin your underneath painting in case your blending process wont turn out well); personally - I got used to keeping every single "important" element of an illustration in its separate layer - until I am satisfied - then I drop everything down, and - again - create another new empty layer/layers above, to proceed with something else .. and so on ..
(2) while blending, check "Pick Up Underlying Color" (but - this applies only to the blenders that have the Resaturation attribute/control available; both the Resat control and this attribute/control are related to the underneath color/pixel information, that may be included/picked up/merged into the above blended area, very naturaly);
(3) the Resat value setting - when available - as I already mentioned - is the way how to control/switch between painting/blending process
You can of course change other attributes too, the Opacity and the Size are usually the most often used/useful ones while painting/blending, etc.
What makes the difference while blending ...
Blending process in Painter may be a real whole alchemy - since there is so many various issues that may affect the process and the results;
not only the brush/blender settings are important to achieve certain blending results - also a few other things make a great difference - I mean - for example - the way how the brush is dragged: the speed, direction, first starting "sampling" position of the stroke, number of repetition of strokes in the same area etc. - and also - the "starting/initial" information available (colors/pixels already painted) to work with (to be blended) ...
So - this means - you can get many (many!) absolutelly different results from the same initial painting, whatever it may be (you can start with something really simple, a few painted brush strokes, for example, see below), since the blending process may be performed in many different ways, which leads to different behavior of the Blender.
Here´s an example of what I am talking about:
to make things simple, in the folowing image I only used ONE (the same for all examples) simple pre-defined "just add water" blender,
and - in all 5 examples - I started up with the the same initial simple black/white strokes (seen in the red-border).
The only difference here was the WAY HOW I dragged the brush (direction, repetition, "sampling" starting positions etc.
The blending technique - controlled by the user this way - may be then very flexible (this was only a simple b&w example combined with only one simple blender) -
just imagine how versatile blending may actually be ...
- you can use not only black/white limited pallette ..
- you can use whatever blender/brush type you might need ..
- you can start up with whatever initial painted shape you may want (that you paint first, to be blended then)
- you can choose whichever way/direction/strenght/intensity of blending you want
- you can even combine blending and painting on the fly - after defining some basic blended shapes, just add/paint some more strokes of "color/pixel information" to work with again, and blend again ..
The technique (basics)
While blending with blenders - the underlying colors/pixels are dragged & spreaded softly in the direction you drag - but - not only the direction (besides other things) is important for the final look of the blended stroke, but also the "starting" position of each stroke is important, since the blender/brush samples the information under the cursor each time you start a new stroke - and - only the "available/sampled" information is then spreaded to other areas. Which means (looks simple, and it is actually) that for blending it makes a great difference WHERE you start dragging (see the little circles) and WHICH DIRECTION you drag the blender/brush (see the arrows);
This is a very powerfull way how to control the blending process: you can spread/"move" the color/pixel information where you need, so - you can "model" the final shape of your choice in a pretty precise way (when using small brushes near the edges, watching out not to blend what you do not want to blend, etc.) ...
(the *gif here is very bad quality due to b&w indexing,
real blending is nicely smooth, actually)
As you should see in the demo - another important thing to keep in mind is WHAT areas to blend, and WHAT just not.
You can either shapelessly blend everything together - just to get a smooth transitions between colors/values, without any other particular "painting" purpose - or - you might want to keep some shapes "untouched" while blending.
So - this is another little "tricky" (but pretty simple again) issue when blending: making decission on what areas to blend, in which direction. This kind of planning your work allows you to achieve different shapes/characteristics of the final blended areas. For example - when starting up from two single adjacent black/white strokes (see the following example) - you´ll get completely different results in case you decide to keep the middle line (and to blend the rest) - or - in case you decide to keep the outer edges of the two initial strokes (and blend the space in between) ...
And the way you spread the existing pixels/colors has a great impact on what the final "blended shape" looks like ..
This kind of "one-sided" blending is actually the very basic/fundamental and the most powerful blending technique, that lets you achieve (combined with a little pre-planned initial painting) whatever shape you might think of, literarly ..
(pls note: the arrows in this example do not show the direction of particular strokes, but - this time - only the "overall blending/spreading direction" defined/constrained by the edge of choice that remain "untouched" while the rest areas are blended .. )
Here you can download a few (very simple & short) movies
showing the process (not bigger than 1 MB):
download #1 (defining precise shapes) >>
download #2 (keeping the edges sharp) >>
download #3 ("modelling volume" via blending) >>