Corel® Painter™ Brush-ology: Brush Library Organization 2

In the previous installment, Brush Library Organization , we learned how Painter's XML-based brush variants are hierarchically organized within your system's folder structure. To review, Painter stores brush variants in 2 locations.

The Master Brush Library, which is a component of Painter's installation, contains all of the initial brushes found in the Painter Brushes library:

Master Library Hierarchy:

Mac: Applications > Corel Painter IX > Brushes > Painter Brushes

Windows: Program Files > Corel > Corel Painter IX > Brushes > Painter Brushes


The User Brush Library, which maintains all of a user's modified and newly created variants:

User Library Hierarchy:

Mac: Users > [username] > Library > Application Support > Corel > Corel Painter IX

Windows: Documents and Settings > [username] > Application Data > Corel > Corel Painter IX


In this installment, we'll dig a bit deeper to examine the files located within the various brush folders in both the Master and User libraries. If you haven't read the Brush Library Organization installment, please do so; it's required reading for proceeding!


A Deeper Look Inside the User Brushes Library

It's unlikely that any two Painter User Brush folders are going to have exactly the same contents. If fact, the only time this will happen is with two fresh installations of Painter (or two separate users initially logging on the same machine). After that, each user will begin to select and use different variants according to his or her personal preferences. Modifications as minor as Size or Opacity changes are recorded. Going forward, the two User Brush libraries will begin to diverge and contain different content. Additionally, each user's User Brush Library will grow in size as it stores the growing list of variant changes made, as well as any new variants added by the user.

Brush Library Rule #1: The Master Library content never changes; Painter only reads from it.
Brush Library Rule #2: The User Library contains user-created variants and any user modifications.


Contents of the Master Brushes Library folder

This folder is treated by Painter as if it were Read Only; that is, Painter never modifies its contents. As installed, the Brushes folder contains the Painter Brushes folder. When Painter is restored to its factory defaults, the contents of this folder are preserved.

Note: The brushes are restored via the Brush Selector Bar: Restore All Default Variants command. Alternatively, all Painter defaults are restored by holding down the Shift key when launching Painter. This action replaces ALL user-made changes to Painter—including brush variants—and restores Painter to its original installation settings. You should only use these restore-to-default settings after backing up any user-created variants located in the User Brushes Library folder.

Within the Painter Brushes folder is a folder for each brush category ( i.e., Acrylics), plus a same-named JPEG file (i.e., Acrylics.jpg) that contains the graphic used as the category's icon that appears in both the Brush Selector Bar and the Category pop-up list.

Digging deeper, each Category folder contains—for each Variant—an XML, NIB, and STK file, as well as a JPG file if the variant uses a Captured Dab. See the Anatomy of a Variant installment for more information regarding variant components.


Contents of the User Brushes Library folder

This folder is used by Painter to store any user-made variant alterations, as well as any user-created-and-saved variants added to the library.

The User's Painter Brushes folder is located here. It, in turn, contains subfolders mirroring all of the category folders found in the Master Painter Brushes folder. Unlike their Master folders, these User category folders do not bear the accompanying category JPEG icon.

An exception is when a user creates a new Category from within Painter using the Brush Selector Bar's Capture Brush Category command. In this instance, the user-created category generates a user-defined JPG icon, as well as a Category folder containing the variant that was active at the time the new category was created. When Painter detects a user-created Category folder and its accompanying same-named category JPG file in the User Brushes Library folder, it adds it to the list of categories viewed in the Brush Selector Bar's Category pop-up.

Note: New categories created by this method will not appear in the Brush Selector Bar's Category pop-up list in correct alphabetical order; rather, they will appear at the top of the list (We'll fix this in the next installment).

The Pre-Built Brush File is located here. As a brush variant is opened for the first time, its internal definition is expanded from a compressed state (to reduce initial brush library size). The expanded definition is added to the Pre-Built Brush File to enable instantaneous opening of the previously-used variant.

Note: Some users report problems when this file grows to an appreciable size. Whether or not this is a source of crashes or performance loss is debatable. Corel has done a lot of engineering work to ensure that the Pre-Built Brush File enhances performance and that it does not create any untoward situations.

Whenever any variant is used or changed in Painter, a cached XML file is generated in the appropriate User Brush Category folder. The cached file records any user-made changes to the variant. For example, the source of the Captured Bristle variant in the Acrylics category is the Captured Bristle.xml file in the Master Brushes' Acrylics subfolder. Just by using this variant—or adjusting it—generates a cached file, c_Captured Bristle.xml in the mirrored User Brushes' Acrylics folder.

User-created Captured Dabs are stored within a User Brushes Category folder. Whenever a user captures a dab, a same-named JPEG file is generated placed in the User library.

Each User Brush Category folder contains a house-keeping file, CategoryData.xml. This file stores the name of the last-used variant from its category. Painter uses this information to open the category with this variant active. This file can be deleted and Painter will automatically generate a new one with the first variant in the list as active.


We're Getting Close

Admittedly, there are quite a few specific details involved with deciphering Painter brush organization. If you want to be able to comfortably edit, customize, and share Painter's brushes, understanding its organization is essential. If you haven't read the companion Brush Library Organization installment, be sure to do so. Using these two installments as a foundation, we'll finally delve into brush customization and sharing next time around.

Viva la Painter!