As you may have heard, new in X3 is a brush search tool.


I personally think that brush search combined with an expressive stroke preview is is great way to discover (or perhaps rediscover forgotten) brushes in Painter. I know I often go back to brushes I am familiar with in my day to day work.


So the question is… what can Brush Search look for?


The most obvious searches are queries that use variant names or categories.


For example, if I remember using a brush that had the word "Bleach" in the name…  but I can't find it (or don't want to spend time looking for it)…


I simply type the word Bleach and the results come back:





I can also combine words together.  For instance, I can combine a words from the variant name with words from the category name.


For example, I type Bleach and Watercolor.  


Here are the results:




Now that I have found my brushes, I don't want to keep searching for it.  I can create a custom palette with those variants.


I simply shift-drag from the search results and it creates a custom palette! 




Ok… but what else can be searched besides names and categories?


In X3 you can search for words, or word combinations of the content listed below.

Combinations is when you use more than one word to create a more complex query.

You can combine a word from the Dab Type with a word from the Variant Name for example (e.g. Captured Watercolor).




Searchable content in X3:



-Variant Names 

-Variant Categories


Dab Type:



-Static Bristle



-Camel Hair


-Palette Knife

-Bristle Spray


-Pixel Airbrush

-Line Airbrush



-Liquid Ink Camel Hair

-Liquid Ink Flat

-Liquid Ink Palette Knife

-Liquid Ink Bristle Spray

-Liquid Ink Airbrush

-Watercolor Camel Hair

-Watercolor Flat

-Watercolor Palette Knife

-Watercolor Bristle Spray

-Watercolor Airbrush

-Blend Camel Hair

-Blend Flat

-Artists' Oils

-Computed Circular


Stroke Type:













-Digital Wet







-Gradient Repeat


-Pattern With Mask

-Pattern As Opacity



-Soft Buildup

-Grainy Soft Buildup

-Grainy Edge Flat Buildup

-Grainy Hard Buildup

-Soft Variable Buildup

-Flat Cover

-Soft Cover

-Grainy Flat Cover

-Grainy Soft Cover

-Grainy Edge Flat Cover

-Grainy Hard Cover

-Soft Paper Color

-Soft Paint Remover

-Soft Paint Thickener

-Soft Alpha Colorize

-Soft Grain Colorize


-Hard Drip

-Grainy Drip

-Grainy Hard Drip

-Hard Cover Cloning

-Soft Cover Cloning

-Grainy Hard Cover Cloning

-Grainy Soft Cover Cloning

-Drip Cloning

-Grainy Wet Abrasive

-Grainy Wet Buildup

-Wet Remove Density

-Real Wet Buildup

-Real Wet Cover

-Real Wet Replace

-Real Dry Buildup

-Real Dry Cover

-Real Wet Oil

-Grainy Digital Wet Abrasive

-Grainy Digital Wet Buildup

-Digital Wet Remove Density

-Grainy Marker Abrasive

-Grainy Marker Soft Cover



-Glow Brush

-Graphic Print Brush

-Overlay Brush

-Hue Brush

-Hue Add Brush

-Hue Sat Brush

-Sat Add Brush

-Val Add Brush

-Val Add Sat Sub Brush

-Bulge Brush

-Deep Well Brush

-Diffuse Motion Brush

-Diffuse Pull Brush

-Horizontal Crease Brush

-Left Twirl Brush

-Liquid Brush

-Pinch Brush

-Right Twirl Brush

-Simple Diffuse Brush

-Vertical Crease Brush

-Add Grain Brush

-Blur Brush

-Comb Brush

-Relief Brush

-Sharpen Brush

-Confusion Brush

-Scratch Remover Brush



Is there anything else that Brush Search can look for?

Yes, there is more! :)


In X3 we also included the ability to search for some basic brush capabilities.

Here is a summary of the brush capabilities you can currently search for:



search for brushes that have the RealBristle option turned ON.

(Note this will NOT return brushes that can make use of RealBristle, only those brushes that are set to currently make use of it).


Stroke Attributes:

search for brushes that currently have "Use Strokes Attributes" turned ON.



search for brushes that will make use of paper texture.


Flow Map:

search for brushes currently making use a flow map texture.


Clone Color:

search for brushes that currently are set to cloning. (Either a cloning method or the clone color option on the color wheel or cloning palette).


Hard Media:

search for brushes making use of the Hard Media technology



search for brushes using impasto



search for brushes using any of the jitter brush settings (opacity, radius, grain, stroke etc.)


Finally, you search for brushes using any of the following expressions:














Anything else?



You can also search by brush version.

In the future, brushes will be versioned so that we can search for brushes that were created in specific version of Painter.


For example, in X3 you can search for "X3" or "13" and the results will show brushes that were created for the release of Painter X3.


Here is a search query that combines several words:

"X3 Jitter Captured Impasto Grain"


The results will only include brushes created (or updated for X3), that make use of Jitter, Impasto and Grain and that use the "Captured" dab type.



As you see, you can combine words together to create very specific results.


So a good question is what would YOU like search for?


Some ideas to get the ball rolling:


-Stylus capabilities like "6D"?

-Descriptive words like "Oily" or "Abstract" EVEN if those words are NOT in the brush name?

-Synonyms ("Grain"vs "Paper Texture" vs "Canvas Texture")

-Incorrectly spelled words: ("RealBristle" vs "Real Bristle" vs "RealBritsle") 


All ideas are welcome!

Happy painting … and searching in X3!


Posted by Chris.T | 6 comment(s)

Here is a little trick that you can use with the image hoses in Painter.


Using the Grain brush control, you can make your image hose "content" blend with the "Additional Color" (sometimes called "secondary color").



Here is the image hose with Grain set to 100%.


If you change the image hose to 50% for example, and set your additional color to orange, here is what you should get:



Ok, now what?


If you set your Grain expression to be Random, you will get randomly blended image hose content, with your additional color.


Here is an example of what it could look like:


Happy painting... or image spraying!


Posted by Chris.T | 5 comment(s)
Filed under: , ,

In this blog post, I wanted to try to combine some tips for creating custom brushes, as well as some tips into quickly transforming photos into paintings.


So the first thing I want to do is create a brush that will feel very organic and oily. Then I will use the brush to convert a photo into a painting.

NOTE: I am NOT an artist ;)





There are many ways to achieve this in Painter.  I could use a mix of various types of brush technologies (Blend Camel Hair mixed with Real Bristle, Artist's Oils, Static Bristle with Resaturation & Bleed etc.), and I would get a wide range of very different results, and they could all be very pleasing.  There isn't only a single way to get the brush you want in Painter, and this is what makes Painter so powerful!


But today, I wanted a brush with a specific organic shape.  For this purpose, I will use the "Captured Dab" technology along with the "Growth" effect.


Whenever I want to create a new brush, I often try to find one that is a least a bit similar to what I want to achieve. Then I modify the brush to get the effect I want.

Below are the steps I used to create the "Organic Oily" brush variant, which you can download at the end of this post.


Step 1. Select Captured Bristle from the Acrylics category as a starting point.  This brush is stamp based, so it's as good a starting point as any.

Step 2. Create the footprint/shape of your brush.

- Create a blank document, size 500x500 pixels.

- Launch Growth effect (under Effects - Esoterica), and use settings similar to these:



- Click and drag from the centre of the document to the edge to create a large shape, without going outside the document.



Tip: You can try repeating steps 3 and 4 until you like the shape you get.


- Click on: Select - All.

- Click on: Brushes - Capture Dab (This captures the image to be the footprint of the brush)


Step 3. Show brush controls.

- Window Menu - Brush Control Panels - General


Step 4. Select an oily media.

- Change brush method and submethod to be "Drip - Grainy Drip".  This method has a greasy effect which is what I am looking for.

- Set Grain to 100%. (For drip brushes, this makes the effect stronger).


Step 5. Make the brush size change with pressure.

- Set size to 30, minimum size to 0, size expression to pressure and size step 10%.


Step 6. Make the brush have some differences in orientation, so that the footprint will not always be in the same direction.

- Set the squeeze to 99% to allow the brush to rotate.

- Set angle expression to source (this will make the brush rotate with changes in color from the clone source).

- Set angle range to 360 degrees

- Set angle step to 10 degrees



Step 7. Make the brush have some randomness in dab positions.

- Set jitter to 0.2


Step 8. Enable cloning so that the brush will pick up color from a source.


Step 9. Save brush 

- Brushes Menu - Save variant and give it a name.



Here is a sample stroke created with the brush.





Ok now we are ready to use this brush to transform a photo into a painting.



Step 1.  Choose a nice photo :) and open it in Painter.


Step 2. Select the photo as the current clone source.  This will make your new brush pull the colors from the photo.


Step 3. Paint directly on the photo, adjusting the brush size, and using pressure to control your brush.


Some tips for painting: 

- Use broad strokes (larger size) in the sky and other areas.

- Use finer brush size for detail areas.

- Follow the contours of the shapes.


Some additional tips:

- You can use the underpainting palette to prepare the photo before using it as a clone source.  For example, use Smart Blur to remove details from the original photo. 


-You can use the Apply Surface Texture effect to add a canvas texture to your painting.



Here is a quick sample result...

I'm not an artist, but I think this could be a good starting point, and someone with more talent could start adding colors and more depth as well as refined strokes to the painting.




If you would like to try out this brush, here is the link:


UPDATE: You can download the variant in the much easier sharing format here, I still add to zip it to conform with the blog software... sigh!




Let me know if you have any questions or comments on this brush or any other types of brushes :)

Happy painting!




As suggested out in one of the comments, you can use this brush to paint colors if you turn off cloning.

Here is a sample of some of the brush work details that you could get.  You can see that the brush can give some nice "rough edged" stroke which helps to make it look less digital and more natural.










In the last post, I described the 4 main paper interactions with Real Watercolor.

In summary they were:

  • Granulation (bias for pigments to settle in the valleys of the paper texture)
  • Grain (paper texture is used to introduce variability in the pigment concentration for the liquid that is being brushed on the surface)
  • Flow resistance (paper texture is used to influence the direction of the flow of the liquid)
  • Dry rate (paper texture is used to introduce uneven drying of the liquid)
In this post, I would like to revisit the third behaviour, (Flow Resistance) because this has been greatly enhanced in Painter 12.2 with the new flowmap functionality.
Here is an image showing the same stroke with and without flow resistance:


Prior to Painter 12.2, in order to get this kind of effect with Real Watercolor, you had to use a paper texture with large enough structures and variations.
However, in most cases, paper textures have small structures which nicely simulate the texture of a surface, but not so much for flow patterns.
In the example above, I used the Artist Canvas texture, which I scaled up to 400% in order to have larger scale structures.


Prior to Painter 12.2, the same paper texture had to be used for the flow resistance as well as for all of the other nice paper effects (such as granulation, grain etc.).  
So on one side, if you wanted interesting flow patterns, you needed a paper texture with large structures. On the other side, if you wanted some nice surface texture in your paint, you probably wanted a paper texture with finer details.
It was therefore not possible to do this with a single paper texture. This is where flowmaps come in.
NEW in Painter 12.2, you can choose a separate texture to be used for the flow resistance from the other paper effects.
This allows to choose one texture (flowmap) to control the flow of the liquid. And you can choose a different texture (paper) for the rest of the brush behaviors.


Here is a sample stroke showing some nice flow patterns on the edges, as well as some paper texture inside the paint.  So both textures were used by the Real Watercolor. The flowmap texture was used to direct the flow, and the paper texture was used in the pigment drying.


This kind of result was not possible before Painter 12.2, because the same paper texture would have been used for the flow resistance and the pigment drying.
In addition to the new flowmap functionality, Painter 12.2 includes 3 flowmaps and 3 new Real Watecolor brushes which are designed specifically to make use of the flowmaps.


And here are some sample strokes created using the new content:


Special Tips:
When trying out the new flowmaps functionality, try adjusting the "Flow Resistance" in the Real Watercolor controls. Also try adjusting the contrast level in the flowmap panel.
This is what the flowmap panel looks like, with contrast and other controls:


I hope you enjoy the new functionality provided by flowmaps. As always, please send along questions, and I will do my best to answer them.
Happy painting :)



There are many ways for paper textures to be used with Real Watercolor brushes. The paper texture can be used to create pigment granulation, to influence the flow of the water and more. In this blog post I will try to shed some light on various ways that paper texture can be used with Real Watercolor.


There are 4 distinct paper texture interactions that I want to describe.  In order to make the distinction between these 4 effects clear, I will modify a brush throughout these examples so as to only have 1 paper effect applied at a given time.


To demonstrate the 4 effects, I will use the Light Fringe variant, from the Real Watercolor category.



To make sure the brush has initially the default settings, hit the Reset button on the property bar.


I will use a paper texture that I like, such as the Artist Canvas paper texture.


Before getting into the specifics of each of the 4 effects, it's good to know that the Real Watercolor technology uses a 2 step process.

1) Brushing (affects what happens when applying brush strokes)

2) Drying (affects what happens when the watercolor flows and evaporates).


Some of the Real Watercolor controls and effects are for the brushing part.  Others are for the drying step.



Effect 1: Pigment Granulation (Drying process)


In this effect, the pigments tend to accumulate more in the valleys than in the peeks of the paper texture.

As the water evaporates, and pigment remains on the surface, you will start to see the paper texture become visible in the dried pigment.


The control for this effect is called Granulation.


Adjust the controls in the Real Watercolor panel to be as follows:

Granulation: 100%

Flow Resistance 0%

Dry Rate 0%


and set grain to 0%


This turns off all other paper interaction except the Granulation.


Here are 2 images showing the watercolor media in 2 states: wet and dry.

The image on the left shows no paper texture, the media is wet the drying as not started. Only brushing as occured.

The image on the right shows the watercolor completely dry, and some paper texture is visible in the dried pigment.


By making adjustments to the granulation amount, you can effectively affect how much paper texture will be visible in the dried pigment.


Alternatively, you can adjust your paper texture. For example, you can increase or decrease the paper contrast to control how much granulation will occur.

If the paper is completely flat (0% contrast), the pigment will dry evenly, without any texture.


In addition, paper roughness also allows you to affect contrast of the paper texture.



Effect 2: Grainy deposition (Brushing process)


The previous effect showed how you can control granulation of pigment as the watercolor dries. This second effect will show how you can make use of the paper texture to affect pigment that is being brushed. 


This is a somewhat artificial effect, in that this doesn't necessarily have a real world counterpart. The paper texture is used to adjust the pigment concentration at each pixel in the brushed media. The paper texture does not affect the fluid amount, only the concentration.


Once the drying process is started, the pigment that was brushed is free to move along with the water.  It is only the pigment brushing that uses the Grain amount.


To see this effect, set Grain to 100%.


And disable the previous effect, by setting Granulation to 0%.

For a watercolor with more "movement" (to see the pigment actually move on the surface), I also adjusted:

Wetness: 100%

Viscosity: 0%

Evaporation Rate: 0%


These images show the media wet and dried:



You can see the paper texture in the wet media on the left.  Once the water starts to evaporate, the pigment moves with the fluid.

You can still see some texture in the dried media on the right, however the texture is not uniform, because the pigment moved in many directions.


Remember that you could combine this effect with Granulation to have complete control over your pigments, both in the brushing and drying process.



Effect 3: Flow Resistance (Drying process)


Moving away from pigments, this next effect uses the paper texture to affect the movement of the water. This can help to create interesting patterns by forcing water to move according to the texture.


Taking the brush from the previous example, adjust:

Paper Roughness: 100%

Flow Resistance: 100%


And set grain to 0%.


Here is the same brush stroke applied with Flow Resistance set to 0% and 100%



Often, you will want to adjust the scale of the paper texture to allow for larger scale branching patterns in the water flow.


Here is the same stroke with larger scale branching patterns:


Keep in mind that if you do adjust the scale of your paper, this will also affect the other paper effects described, not just the flow resistance.




Effect 4: Dry Rate (Drying process)


This next effect uses the paper texture to absorb some of the water on the surface. This is similar to evaporation, but the absorption will be greater at the peeks than at the valleys. This can help to create uneven evaporation and paper texture patterns in the final dried result.


It can also make you simulation run faster by making the water dry faster.  (The same goes for Evaporation Rate.)


Let's adjust the current brush by settings:

Flow Resitance: 0%

Dry Rate: 100%.


Also reset your paper scale to 100%.

And set contrast to 400%


These 2 images show the result of the dried watercolor with Dry Rate set to 0% and 100%.


Note that the stroke with Dry Rate set to 100% took less time to dry.





In summary, you can achieve various effects with Real Watercolor and paper textures. You can combine these together for very creative and realistic effects to simulate watercolors. 


If you have any questions on this topic, or any other brush related questions let me know!

In the mean time, happy painting :)



This is a topic that I often get questions on. Why are there multiple ways to control the opacity (opposite of transparency) of your brush, and what is the difference between them?


This question usually refers to these 3 controls, 2 of which are new for Painter 12.


- Brush opacity (in blue)

- Stroke Opacity (in red) (New in Painter 12)

- Dab opacity (in green) (New in Painter 12)




The confusion comes from the fact that Painter 12 introduces 2 new ways of controlling opacity. The first part of the question is easy to answer!  The reason is that we want to give various creative ways to control the look of the brush.  And even though these 3 controls have the word opacity as part of their name, they all do different effects.


So I will do my best at describing what is the difference between these 3 controls.


In a few words, you can of think the controls as:


1) Brush opacity - opacity of the paint being deposited, on a per dab basis (or per bristle basis for other brush types).

2) Dab opacity - opacity of you brush "tip" or dab.

3) Stroke opacity - opacity of the paint being deposited, on a per stroke basis.



1) Brush Opacity (legacy)

This control applies to the majority of brushes in Painter (unlike the 2 newer opacity controls, with only applies to specific brush options as you will see below). Using this control you can adjust the opacity of the paint as it is deposited onto the canvas.


For example, if you are using a dab-based brush, the opacity setting will be applied independently to each new dab created.  If you are using instead a bristle-based brush, the opacity will be applied to each bristle that deposits colour.


This image demonstrates brush opacity on a dab-based brush.



In the first stroke I have set dab-spacing at 50% and brush opacity at 25% to show that each dab is deposited with independent opacity.  You can see the opacity of the paint "building-up" as each new dab is created.


In the second stroke, I reduced the spacing between the dabs (10%) and adjusted the brush opacity to 5%. This is a more typical brush configuration so that it is more difficult to see the dab overlaps as you make the stroke.


2) Dab opacity (new in Painter 12)

Dab opacity is only available to brushes using the computed circular dab type which is new for Painter 12. This dab-based brush is very similar to the circular dab, except that instead of choosing a tip-profile, you can control the edge softness and dab opacity.


In short, the dab opacity is the opacity of the bitmap that you will be painting with (your brush tip). For those who are familiar with captured dabs, this is similar to capturing dabs with some transparency.   


This is different from the brush opacity (see above), which is the opacity of the "paint" that is deposited.


You can combine the dab opacity and the brush opacity on a single brush, and this gives you fine control over the look of your brush. This can be useful, for example, in limiting the maximum opacity of your brush (which would be limited by the dab opacity).  


For example, consider the image below where the brush opacity is constant at 80%. In the first stroke, the dab opacity was 100% and in the second stroke the dab opacity was 10%. 




Instead of having a constant brush opacity in the strokes above, I could have used a tablet and hooked my brush opacity to pressure. This would allow a brush to have varying opacity (brush opacity) with a maximum opacity (dab opacity).



3) Stroke Opacity

Another new way you can control opacity in Painter 12 is with the stroke opacity. This is only available on brushes using the stroke attributes (when "use stroke attributes" checkbox is ON).


The difference with this one is that the opacity is applied to the paint of each stroke independently. This is similar to the brush opacity, where the opacity was applied to the paint, but on a dab level instead.


Consider this image.



The first stroke was created with brush opacity at 25% and 50% spacing (and 100% stroke opacity).  You can see that the paint of each dab is painted with independent brush opacity and will build-up in the stroke.


The second and third strokes were created with a brush using 100% brush opacity. However, the stroke opacity was 25% in this case. You can see that the paint of the dabs in each stroke has a constant opacity during the whole stroke. You can build up opacity by applying multiple strokes.






Hopefully this helps a bit in understanding the various ways you can control opacity in Painter. You could combine all 3 kinds of opacity in a single brush, for some ultimate opacity fun!  


Myself, I think I will stick with brushes without transparency for a while and only use the opacity control in the layers palette ;)


Until next time, happy painting.

How time flies when you spend it with a new baby :)  After a wonderful parental leave, I am happy to be back at work this week.  And for my first blog post in several weeks, I decided to write about a topic that I think can be a bit confusing sometimes: Real Watercolor Deposition vs. Flow.

When you paint with the new Real Watercolor media in Painter 12, there are actually 2 very distinct painting models happening: deposition and flow.

  1. Deposition
    In this model, some media is transfered from the brush onto the paper surface.
    *You can have brushes that only do deposition without flow... these would be dry watercolor brushes
  2. Flow
    In this model, the media already on the paper surface flows and spreads on the surface and into the paper.  
    The flow process will continue until all the water is evaporated, absorbed and the pigment is settled. 
    *Flow can't happen without having deposition first.
As you can imagine, Painter provides brush settings to control how each of these models will behave.  

For instance, in the deposition model, you can control such things as:

  • Brush wetness
  • Pigment concentration (on the brush)
In the flow model, you can control settings like:
  • Evaporation rate
  • Paper roughness
  • Wind strength
Changing settings that affect the deposition process will have no effect on how the media flows and vice versa.  Of course if you deposit more water in the deposition process, then more water will be available to flow, so there is a link between the 2 models.  But the controls themselves are independent between the deposition and flow models.

*** Changing flow settings while media is still flowing ***
As I mentionned, flow controls affect media on the surface that is not completely evaporated or settled.  This means that while the media is still flowing, you can change flow controls to dynamically change how the media flows.  This way, you can visually see the live impact of the flow controls on the flowing media.
Because flow controls are stored with the brush, there is an important side effect to consider. If you switch between two watercolor brushes, having different flow settings, and you do this while the media is still flowing, you will actually change the result of your brush stroke.
This is because if you switch to a brush with different flow settings, these flow settings will apply to ALL the currently flowing media that was deposited, even if it was deposited with another brush.
You can always wait for the media to finish flowing before switching to a different brush if you prefer.
*** Deposition controls ***
For this blog post, I will briefly describe the deposition controls. In a future blog post, I will cover the flow controls.
As I mentionned above, the settings that control deposition have no impact on how the media will flow or settle on the paper.  These settings ONLY change how the media is transfered from the brush to the paper.
The settings that control deposition include:


  • Brush Wetness: how much water is on the brush (and how much will get transfered to the surface)
  • Pigment Concentration of the media on the brush (this controls the concentration of the pigment that gets deposited from the brush, not the concentration of the pigment as it settles during the flow process, that would be another control called Settling Rate)


  • Dab shape and profile (and related controls such as Angle, Squeeze, Static Bristle, Hard Media etc.)
    This will control where and how much of the media gets deposited. 

  • Method of deposition (again, this only affects how the media, water and pigment, gets deposited from the brush to the flow surface, what happens during the flow process is independent of this setting)


  • Opacity - Controls how much media is deposited
  • Grain  - Controls pigment concentration as it is deposited (pigment concentration follows the grain pattern).


    Note that these settings can be hooked to Expressions (such as pressure or velocity), which is a good way of creating Watercolor brushes that respond to tablet expressions.  For instance, if you hook Opacity to Pressure, you can control how much media is deposited from the brush to the paper using pressure.

    Also, as mentionned, Grain affects only the deposited pigment from the brush to the paper.  There are other controls to control paper grain behaviors during the flow process (such as Granulation in the Real Watercolor controls).

For example, in the image below, only the Grain setting was adjusted between the 3 strokes.  You can see that the deposited media responds to the grain setting.  The pigment concentration of the deposited media folllows the paper pattern.  The flow process was paused to capture the image.

Then we let the flow proceed by unpausing the process:

Because the brush used in this example has some granulation in it's flow settings, some grain is visible in the first stroke, even though none was visible after the deposition.

I think this covers the most common settings that control deposition.  In a future blog post, I will review what settings control the flow and how they work.

If you have specific questions on the topic of Real Watercolor Deposition, or any other comments let me know :)

Happy painting!


Posted by Chris.T | 10 comment(s)


The little guy in this photo is the reason why I have not posted in a few weeks :)  Having a baby is definitely an amazing experience!

But I will be back pretty soon with more tips and tricks on Painter brushes and brush controls...

In the meantime happy painting!




Posted by Chris.T | 12 comment(s)



  • Why do some brushes buildup to black and others not?
  • How come if I paint white over a dark or colored background, nothing happens (or I get weird colors)?



These are frequent questions we get, and both can be explained (and fixed) with a very simple change in the brush settings.


Note: This technique can also be very useful for making a brush more friendly for autopainting or cloning (because this will make the brush not buildup to dark/black, which can easily happen when cloning or autopainting)!



In the sample images below, all the brush strokes were created with this variant:




The top-left strokes were created using the default color mixing for this brush.  The bottom-right strokes were created with a modified variant of this brush, which uses a different color mixing model.



In this first image, I used the same color for the brush.  Notice how the color mixing model used by default goes to black/dark:





In this image, I was using white for my brush color, on a colored background.  Notice the colors I am getting instead of white using the default settings for the brush.




In this last image, I am again using white for my brush color.  Notice how I am getting nothing using the default settings for the brush.





These 3 images show how using a different color mixing model can have a big impact on the behaviour of the brush.




Changing the color mixing model


Painter allows you to control what type of color mixing you want to use in your brushes.  This setting is stored with the brush. As a user you may want to switch the type of color mixing used on a particular brush to get the desired behaviour.  You might want to create different versions of the same brush, that switches between color mixing models.


In the examples above, I am using the variant:  Pencils - Sharp Colored Pencil.   This brush by default uses BUILDUP color mixing. It is also using GRAINY HARD BUILDUP from the Subcategory list to get that nice grainy effect. (These settings are stored in the General brush controls, under Method and Subcategory).




To make the "modified" brush, that uses the different color mixing from the examples above, just switch Buildup to COVER.  



To maintain the nice grainy effect, choose GRAINY HARD COVER for the subcategory (since this particular brush was using Grainy Hard Buildup previously).




Save the brush variant if you like it :)



Why does Buildup behave this way?


Without getting into too much details, Buildup is inspired from subtractive color mixing, which is intended to simulate how dyes, paints and inks mix together.


Here is a link on the topic on wikipedia: subtractive color mixing





The "Buildup" mixing in Painter can be very useful in creating amazing artwork.  However, sometimes you just want your brush to paint with the current color without any buildup behavior.  This is where the "Cover" color mixing comes handy!









Posted by Chris.T | with no comments
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I was just having fun with the Real Watercolor controls... and realized that we did not include any Real Watercolor variants with Painter 12 that used the "Rake" brush technology.

Rake brushes are interesting because they create a series of little dabs in a row, perpendicular to your stroke. You can control how many dabs are created, their spacing, edge softening etc.

This gives you additional creative control over the look of your stroke.


So I decided to create a couple variants using Rake.  You can download the brushes here: Rake Real Watercolor Brushes.


I will describe how to make use of the Real Watercolor controls in future blog posts, but for now I just wanted to have some Rake variants in my Real Watercolor category :)

The first variant I created is rather dry, and also allows to minimize some of fringe effect (overlap) you get when painting wet media over dry media.

Dry Rake WC brush sample:

The second variant is much more wet, and the pigment flows and bleeds a lot more.

Wet Rake WC brush sample:


Finally, after some of the feedback I received on my previous post on Computed Circular dabs, I included another variant.  This one is not a "Rake", but makes use of the Computed Circular dab.

I find that this brush also minimizes the fringe that is created when painting with wet over dry media.


Soft Replace brush sample:


I hope you will give these brushes a try!

Let me know if you have questions and feedback on these brushes or other topics :)


 Painter 12 introduces a new dab type called "Computed Circular".  




This new dab type falls into the category of dab based brushes, which include these other dab types:

- Circular

- Single-Pixel

- Static Bristle

- Captured

- Eraser


These are the brush types that render a sequence of images or "stamps", to create the stroke.


Painter already had a Circular dab type.  However, you were limited to using preset profiles for your dab.  You could not have precise control over the softness of the edges.

These examples show some of the preset profiles you could select for the Circular dab, and the sample dabs it would render.



With Painter 12, you can now choose the Computed Circular dab, and instead of using the preset profiles, this dab type allows you to create custom profiles based on the settings available in the Computed Dab panel.



Here are some sample dabs created with various settings:



As you can see, you can change the softness of the edges.  You can also change the strength (opacity) of your profile, and this is reflected in the dab preview.  

Note that Painter ignores whatever profile preset is selected when your brush is using the Computed Circular dab. Much like when you use the Static Bristle dab type.



This new dab type also supports settings from the Angle controls.  You can squeeze and rotate the dab as you wish. 



In fact, almost every brush setting that you can apply to the Circular dab type, you can also apply to Computed Circular.  One exception is the Hard Media settings.  For now you can't combine Hard Media settings with the Computed Circular dab.


Painter 12 shipped with 12 brushes using this new dab type, in various combinations with other features.


These brushes are:



Digital Hard Edge Airbrush

Digital Soft Flat Airbrush

Digital Soft Flow Airbrush

Digital Soft Pressure Airbrush

Digital Soft Velocity Airbrush

Digital Tapered Soft Airbrush



Gel Airbrush

Gel Grainy Round



Colorize Airbrush


Real Wet Oil:

Liquid Grainy Blender

Liquid Grainy

Liquid Oil



Just for fun, I created 2 new blender brushes using the Computed Circular dab type.


If you would like to try out these blender brushes, you can download from this link: Computed Circular Blenders


I  made the edges really soft, and brought the dab opacity really low so that the strength of the blenders would also be pretty low.  I made one of them use grain, and the other one ignore the paper grain.


And here is a sample for each:


Soft Blender:


Soft Grainy Blender:



If you have questions or feedback on the Computed Circular dab type or any other topics, including previous posts, please send them along, I will do my best to answer any questions! :)





Posted by Chris.T | 6 comment(s)


I really love to play with settings on the Real Watercolor panel.  You can create very interesting brushes by adjusting the behaviour of the water, pigment, paper etc.  In future blog posts, I will describe how these controls work.

But for now, I want a brush that will flow quite a bit on the paper, in order to create some flow patterns.  I don't want the water and pigment to be absorbed exactly where I brushed it, I want it to move around somewhat...


Using the "Light Fringe" brush variant, I will make adjustments to make it flow more.


"Light Fringe" brush with default settings:



If you make the following adjustments, the brush will be more wet, the water will move more easily and will last longer (more time before it evaporates completely).


1. Brush Wetness = 100%

2. Water Viscosity = 0%

3. Water Evaporation Rate = 0%




The brush now creates this sample stroke instead:



Before moving on with this brush, I want a paper with large and interesting texture so that the water will flow according to that texture.


I can use existing papers, but I want to create a new one.  Here is what I will do:


1. From the Window - Media Control Panels , select Patterns.

2. From the flyout on this panel, select Make Fractal Pattern.



3. Select 256 for the size, then click OK to generate the pattern.



4. Select the whole canvas.



5. Capture the paper, giving it a name.



6. Finally, go back to your original document and make sure you select your newly created paper.



Ok, now I want to make my brush flow, but following the texture in the paper. I want to make the paper more rough and make the water "follow" the texture more by increasing the "resistance" of the paper texture.

Make the following adjustments to the Real Watercolor settings:


1. Paper Roughness = 100%

2. Paper Flow Resistance = 100%




In this brush, I have adjusted the controls to "extremes" to make sure I actually get some "flow patterns".  I can now make further adjustments to reduce the effect if I wanted.


I could make the simulation dry faster by re-adjusting the brush's:


- Wetness (reduce)

- Evaporation (increase)


I can also control the paper effects by adjusting the following settings to create various kinds of patterns:


- Paper Roughness

- Flow Resistance


In addition, I can control the flow patterns by adjusting the paper itself on the Paper control panel with the "Scale" and "Contrast" settings: 





And finally, by switching between various papers I can create very different flow patterns.

Note, most of the papers that Painter ships with are not well suited for creating flow patterns.  You will want to scale most of these papers UP to create larger textures in the paper.


Here is a sample image, with different papers at different scale and contrast settings.

The edges in this image were created because the water was actually flowing with the texture in the paper (not because I brushed the shapes).





So in summary, you can make the Real Watercolor media create flowing patterns by making it more wet, and making it more responsive to paper textures.  The paper texture that you use, and the contrast and scaling settings for that paper make a huge impact on the actual flow patterns created.


As always feedback and questions make me happy :)






Painter delivers an incredible amount of power to create brushes of all kinds. There are many different brush technologies available, each with various options.  Part of the power of Painter is the ability to create custom brushes with all of these options available.


When I create custom brushes, I usually take a few minutes to tweak the settings to optimize my brush speed.  There are many ways to do this, and I would like to share just a few of the quick and easy tricks I use to optimize the performance of my brush variants.


Depending on which brush technology you are using for your brush, some of there tricks may not apply.  Also, depending on your particular hardware or system configurations, your results will vary from mine.



1. Spacing (spacing and min spacing)


If your brush is a "stamp" brush, meaning that is is a brush which "stamps" bitmaps in sequence, then spacing will have a huge impact on performance.  

Here is an example of how you can tweak spacing to improve performance.


Using the "Acrylics - Wet Acrylic" brush,  I resize the brush radius from 30 to 200 pixels. The brush is now obviously slower than it was at 30.

If I open the "Spacing" panel in the brush controls I see the following settings:



I then increase the minimum spacing between each "stamp" to 20 pixels.  Since the brush radius is 200, using a min distance of 20 still looks good.



Using a benchmark test, I can now measure that the brush is 171% faster.  Pretty good for one adjustment!  Let's see if we can do better…

I now adjust the spacing between the stamps from 8% to 15%.  I find that anything above 15% loses the "look" of the brush.



Using my benchmark test, I see that the brush is now just over 200% faster. Not bad!  The only thing I noticed is that the brush is not quite as opaque.  So I increase my opacity from 73% to 90%.

There you go, with a few adjustments, my 200 pixel brush is about twice a fast.


For better brush performance, you want to use the highest values possible for spacing and minimum spacing, while still maintaining your brush "look" so that the "stamps" are not too far apart.  So start with high values, and work your way down until you like the look of the brush.



2. Boost


Boost is similar to spacing, but is used for brushes that are not "stamp" brushes.  Increasing the boost setting, will increase the distance between each connection point in your brush stroke.  In Painter 12, the boost slider is located on the spacing panel.


Consider this example, using the "Acrylics - Thick Acrylic Round" variant:


I resize the brush radius from 30 to 200 pixels, and again I notice that it is slower than it was at 30.

I set boost to 15%.  Notice that spacing is disabled, because this is not a "stamp" brush, whereas the boost slider is now enabled instead.



Using a benchmark test, I can measure that my brush is now 293% faster.  That's almost 3 times faster!


Again the trick here is to use the highest "boost" setting that will still give you the look of the brush you desire.  If you don't like how your brush looks, just bring the boost slider down until you find the best setting for both performance and brush look.



3. Feature


Depending on the brush technology used for your brush, the "feature" control can have different meanings. 

In this example, "Acrylics - Thick Acrylic Round", feature is the density of the bristles.  The denser the brush, the slower it will be because it needs to compute and render more bristles marks.


If I resize this brush from 30 to 200 pixels, I notice that my "feature" setting is automatically scaled from 3.7 to 9.6.  This is thanks to a new option in Painter 12, which allows brushes to automatically maintain bristle density as you resize them.  This is called "Scale Feature with Brush Size".






But without this new option, my "feature" setting would have stayed at 3.7.  If I measure the performance difference from having feature at 3.7 vs 9.6 using my benchmark test, I can see that the brush is a little over 6x faster!  That is a huge difference. 


Sometimes though you still want to manually tweak the "feature" setting to get the exact bristle look you want.  The key here is to increase feature as high as you can (basically decreasing bristle density), while still keeping the brush looking like you want it.


In this case, I like the look of my brush with a "feature" of 12.0.  This gives me a brush that is about 1.4x faster than using a feature of 9.6.  And the brush is almost 9x times faster than using a feature of 3.7, which would have happened without the new automatic "Scale feature with Brush Size" option.




4. Multicore


The last setting that I wanted to mention, which can really affect brush performance is the new "multicore" option. 



If you enable this setting, Painter will distribute the brush "work" to the multiple cores on your computer.  For many brushes, this can help performance.  However, in some cases, enabling multicore can actually reduce performance.  For example, if your brush uses a small radius, or if the brush is not complex enough, then the cost of enabling multicore could be greater than the benefit.


Painter comes with most brushes with this option enabled.  However, some brushes have it disabled because in our test systems we found that it would not help for those brushes.


For this example I will use the "Acrylics - Clumpy Brush" variant.  If I resize the brush to 400 pixels and measure the performance using my benchmark test, I can see that enabling the multicore option makes my brush approximately 3.5x faster.


My recommendation here is to simply try it.  If you feel the brush is the same or faster, then I would leave the multicore option on. Otherwise, just turn it off for that brush.




With just a few minor adjustments to spacing (and min spacing), boost, feature and multicore, you can make a really big impact on your brush performance with little visual impact.

This is especially useful when increasing the size of you brushes.


If you have comments or questions, please send them along!  

In the meantime, happy "FAST" painting :)




Some feedback from my last post made me think of an additional "hidden" control that allows to fine tune how velocity behaves on individual brushes.

If you find that you want more control over what Painter "thinks" is fast or slow, this control could be useful for you. In most case, you should not need to use this, but it is available just in case.

Painter brushes are defined by XML files.  These XML files contain all the settings that you can apply to a brush.  Most of the settings are exposed through the brush control panels.  However, there are a few brush settings which you can't really control, unless you edit the XML file directly.  This is why I said that this control is "hidden", because you can't change it through the interface, you can only change it by modifying the XML file for the brush.

In this case, the one setting I wanted to mention is called: "velocity-bias".  If you open the XML of my velocity brush, you should find the following:

The default value for all brushes is 1.0, however, you can manually change this. For example, if you increase velocity-bias to 2.0, you will see that Painter expects more velocity out of you in order to create the same stroke.  If instead, you set velocity-bias to 0.5, you will be able to create the same stroke using much less speed. 

Keep in mind that every time you change the XML, you will need to reload the brush by pressing the "brush reset" button on the property bar:

I would recommend to used the exposed controls in the Brush Calibration panel first, and to only use this trick if you find you can't get the velocity effect you are looking for.


Also, I was asked what each of the sliders "mean" in the Brush Calibration panel.  Here is a description that I came up with:

-Velocity Scale is essentially tied to what Painter expects your maximum speed to be.
-Velocity Power is what Painter expects your typical range of velocities to be.
-Similarily, Pressure Scale is tied to your maximum pressure.
-And Pressure Power is tied to the range of pressure you typically use with your stylus.


If you have additional feedback or questions on Brush Calibration in Painter 12, let me know :)


Posted by Chris.T | 2 comment(s)

So I'm putting Real Watercolor aside… but only for a while. I'll come back to this topic soon enough.  ;)  This week I would like to write about another new brush feature in Painter 12: Brush Calibration.


If you open the brush controls, you will see a new panel called Brush Calibration.




If you are familiar with Brush Tracking, think of this as the ability to have customized brush tracking for each brush.  You can still adjust your Brush Tracking settings the same way as in previous versions of Painter,  but now you can choose to have certain brushes override these settings and use their own customized calibration.  If the brush has the "Enable Brush Calibration" option checked, it will override the global Brush Tracking settings and use customized settings.



For a long time, Painter has had the ability to calibrate the brushes according to your tablet sensitivity.  For example, if you typically press hard on your stylus, you can calibrate Painter so that it will take this into account when rendering the brush strokes.


This brush uses pressure to control to width of the stroke:



You normally calibrate your tablet sensitivity in the Brush Tracking preferences dialog.  To do this, you can adjust the sliders manually, or more likely, you can create a sample stroke. If you create a stroke, Painter records your pressure as well as the speed at which you did the stroke.  These settings are then used when you paint with various brushes.  If you use a brush that takes pressure or velocity into account, these settings will affect your brush strokes.




Without setting up Brush Tracking, it can be harder to get smooth strokes.  In this image, the second stroke was created after calibrating my tablet sensitivity in the Brush Tracking preferences. If you find you have unexpected transitions in brush size, opacity or other, this might be a sign that you need to adjust your brush tracking.





In some cases, however, you may want some brushes to be more pressure sensitive than others.  Or, possibly you want some brushes to use velocity in a very different way.  Prior to Painter 12, you would need to go to Brush Tracking every time you wanted your brush to behave differently.  And this would affect ALL brushes afterwards.  Now, with the new Brush Calibration panel, each brush can have customized pressure and velocity settings.


You can manually adjust the sliders on the panel, and you can also record strokes for customized brush calibration by pressing this button:



In Painter 12, there is 1 brush that uses Brush Calibration by default.  You will find it in the airbrushes category:

- Digital Soft Velocity


This brush uses velocity to control the width of the stroke, and pressure to control the opacity. 



Here is a sample stroke done with that brush:


I decided to create a new brush for this blog post.  It uses velocity to control the brush size, and uses custom Brush Calibration to control the effect of the velocity.  The velocity scale and velocity power sliders can be modified to adjust how the velocity impacts the brush.



Here is a sample stroke:


You can download the brush here: Velocity Pen


Feedback and comments are always welcome!!!








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