Working with custom brushes in Corel® PHOTO-PAINT™ X6

by Maurice Beumers

In this tutorial, I'll show you how a good setup of brushes in Corel PHOTO-PAINT can help to avoid workflow interruptions. I'll describe some of the custom brushes that I use for digital painting and concept design, and how I organize them for better access and productivity. I'll also shed some light on different brush types and their settings, different brush libraries for theme-related projects, and brush nibs and brush groups for specific painting effects.

I like to start with an organized workspace, so I first set up the dockers and toolbars. In addition to the Objects docker, I also need the Path docker (Window > Dockers > Path), which I won't be using for this tutorial but I often rely on it for doing line work. Then I open the most important dockers for this type of work: Artistic Media, Brush Settings, and Color.

Since I like to use reference images for creating brushes, or adding texture overlays on top of objects, I also open the Connect docker (Window > Dockers > Connect) and the Tray docker (Window > Dockers > Tray), which sits at the bottom of the workspace. Here, I can set up several trays for brushes and textures.

For quick access to the different tools, I also like to open the Paint toolbar (Window > Toolbars > Paint Tools) and the Effect toolbar (Window > Toolbars > Effect Tools).

The following image shows the organization of dockers and toolbars in my workspace.

To set up some brushes, I prepare several separate documents with masks. These are usually a partial extraction from a reference image, which I copy and then paste as a selection (Edit > Paste > Paste as New Selection) into a clip mask. By using a clip mask, I can use opacity values (Alpha Channel) for the image's grayscale values. Then, I combine the clip mask with its object and create a mask from that.

Next, I grab the Paint tool from the toolbox and choose Quick Doodler from the Brush type list box on the property bar. In the Nib Properties section of the Brush Settings docker, I click the Toggle Nib Rotation icon, set the Transparency and Soft Edge sliders to 80. Then, in the Dab Attributes section, I set the Spacing slider to 50. And in the Pen Settings section, I set the Pressure Range slider to 0 and the Elongation slider to 200. These settings provide a good base for same happy accidents with brushstrokes. Later, I will show how they are used.

Next, I'll change the brush nib by clicking the Nib Options icon in the Nib Properties section of the Brush Settings docker, and choosing Nib Save As from the menu. This will save the current nib library, including the brush nib that we have modified.

In the Nib Save As dialog box, I'll save the current nib library as TECH_SHAPES_1.

At this point, I'll start to add other nibs to the new library. So I'll select the first document, and then click the Nib Options icon again and choose Create from Contents of Mask from the menu. In the Create a Custom Brush dialog box, I'll leave the Nib size as is and click OK. The new nib created from the contents of the mask will appear in the Brush Settings docker.

Before I start creating other nibs, I save the current brush, which is complete now with the new nib. In the Brush Settings docker, directly across from the Stoke style section, I click the flyout arrow, and choose Save Brush from the menu. In the Save Brush dialog box, I type Tech Doodler 1 and click OK. And now this fully usable brush is saved for later use.

These steps and settings can be repeated with the other nibs so that I only need to exchange the nibs to have a variety of doodle brushes. After which, I can create a Brush Group to better organize the brushes. With the most recent brush still selected, I activate the Artistic Media docker (Window > Dockers > Artistic Media), click the flyout arrow, and choose Create Brush Group from the menu. In the Create Brush Group dialog box, I type Tech Doodlers and then click OK.

And now, my collection of new brushes is well organized.

At this point, I'll create some more brushes for painting, sketching, and refining/retouching. I usually have additional Brush Groups, such as Blocker Brushes for quickly laying out color, and Effects Brushes for creating effects.

The Blocker Brushes usually have the settings shown in the next images. In this case, I have to specify the use of the brush setting Bleed, which gives the brush a smudge-alike behaviour. This means that it takes the underlying color and mixes it with the current color.

This brush is primarily for rough sketching of silhouettes.

I further develop the silhouette with this brush, but I also paint mechanical shapes with it.

With this brush, I lay out more round forms, according to the round brush nib. All the nibs for these brushes are among the predefined nibs.

For Effect Brushes, I use brushes with a specific texture nib, which enables me to paint some soft airbrush effects or cloudy fog and dust.

This is a converted Airbrush with a half opaque nib. It gives a bit smoother results than the default Airbrush.

For dust and smoke lovers, this brush is the best, it provides some nice smokey effects with its textured nib.

The Elongation setting that I used in the Tech Doodle brushes is well-illustrated with this next example. While drawing, the brush nib is rotated and stretched in a very random manner. This can provide some happy accidents with randomly distorted shapes. By dabbing with this brush, and using different objects, it's possible to assemble a collection of some very useful mechanical parts.

This next image illustrated the use of a textured Smoke Brush on a background object.

By using different colors and three of these brushes, I can achieve a basic background for some futuristic robot designs.

On a new object, I draw a silhouette sketch with the Flat Blocker brush.

I place the mechanical parts, which were drawn earlier with the Tech Doodle brushes, on top of the silhouettes and in the Objects docker, click the Create Clipping Group button. This ensures that the mechanical parts only appear within the silhouette.

Next, I add another object on top to overpaint the sketches. I use mostly the triangle shaped Blocker Brush for further developing the sketch.

After I am satisfied with the overpaint, I'll use the Airbrush to darken or lighten up certain areas to create more realistic shadow and light values.

After some additional color changes in design, I put a human figure next to it to show the scale, add some dust and smoke, and confirm it as finished.