David Gell's Blog

...a Painter brush maker and explorer who likes to share

Auto Dab World (Painter IX and Above) Part 1

Before I explain about the Auto Dab World custom palette and associated resources, I want to give a short background introduction into two less known or utilized Painter features.

Auto Clone

In Painter IX and X, Auto Clone may be accessed from the Effects menu> Esoterica> Auto Clone. As the name suggests, the  feature provides a way to automatically paint in a new 'clone destination' image, based on the current variant and color information taken from the 'clone source' image. Unlike the more recent Auto-Painting palette feature (based on Record Stroke> Auto Playback), the resulting image is made up of individually placed brush dabs (think of a random pointalize technique) rather than pre-recorded brush strokes painted along paths.

There is a keyboard shortcut to access Auto Clone Shift + Command/Control + Z. In fact, prior Painter X, this was a shortcut with a twist, as dabs could also be applied with many non-cloning variants, meaning the main selected color (along with any associated Color Variability) could also be applied automatically. From this latter observation, I coined the term 'Auto Dab' to encompass both cloning/clone color and non-cloning applications. It must be noted however, that not all selected variants will work in the Auto Dab/Auto Clone modes.

The Auto Clone/Auto Dab technique lost popularity in recent years due to the fact that the speed of successive dab placement was based on the speed of the computer's processor, and although the process can be stopped by clicking in the image, users found that the buildup of strokes was often too rapid and difficulty arose in yielding a pleasing result (Painter X users will note the provision of a speed control slider in the Auto Painting Palette).

Automated Directional Drips

Circa 1998, a talented gentleman named Valery Kritchallo stumbled upon the technique of using Painter's Auto Clone feature in combination with a Drip Method variant. Some of the images he created (the Drip World image series) were posted on his website (archived), along with a mention of the technique employed. Unfortunately the associated image links appear to be broken, but I did find a couple of other links; 'Liquid Marble' (archived) and 'Dripworld posters at Zazzle'.

Mr. Kritchallo may have also stumbled upon the directional melting property of the Drip Method when used in conjunction with Auto Clone. Although (as far as I can ascertain), the movement of pixels in the underlying imagery takes place within the boundary of each applied drip method dab, the direction of drip (melting) can be predetermined prior to initiating Auto Clone. This is achieved by first making a single brush stroke of the desired direction within the image. As already mentioned, the Auto Clone process may be stopped at any point by clicking in the image.

One aspect I am not clear about is whether Valery was aware of the Auto Clone key combination shortcut (which I believe was not widely documented until later Painter versions). If that was the case, then he would not have been able to access 'Auto Dab', using color selected in the Colors palette to directionally auto-drip paint without cloning/Clone Color. Looking at the smoothness of the completed drips in Valery's images, it is also possible that he may not have experimented with the influence of paper texture in combination with variants employing the Grainy Drip and Grainy Hard Drip subcategories, as demonstrated in the background of the custom palette screen shot below.


Auto Dab World Interface for Painter IX and Above 


Following the apparent success of the Suminagashi brushes, I wished to explore dab automation, particularly with respect to the Drip method (as used by 1 Suminagashi category variants) . After much experimentation and toil, I found that it was possible to build a macro scripted custom palette interface allowing me to rediscover these hidden secrets. The resources comprise of two parts, firstly a Painter script library (from which, after loading in the Scripts palette, the recipient can drag each script icon onto a new custom palette). The second part comprises of a Painter brush library to use in combination with the scripts (via the custom palette).

To relate to what each script does, I have included a numbered key to the right in the above image.

For use with Drip variants only, clicking on any of the script linked icons 1 through 4 changes the Drip method subcategory of the currently selected variant. For variants of the applicable Dab Type, the brush Method is also changed to Drip (if not already selected). Icon 1 = Drip, 2 = Hard Drip, 3 = Grainy Drip and 4 = Grainy Hard Drip.

Icons 5 through 12 are primarily* used in combination with Drip method variants as presets to define the direction of the subsequent Auto Clone/Auto Dab drips. It is possible to also perform this task manually by making a single stroke in the document image in the direction required. The presets allow for accurate repeatability however, and are also combined with an undo operation so that the image is not marked by the stroke.

* Along with the Drip Method variants, there are also five Plug-in Method brush types whose dab characteristics can be directionally influenced, albeit mainly with different results. These are the Comb Brush, Diffuse Motion Brush, Diffuse Pull Brush, Liquid Brush and the Pinch Brush. The Liquid Brush appears to produce the same or similar effect as some of the Drip Method variants.

Script linked icons 13 through 26 enable preset numbers of dabs to be automatically applied to the image (the total number of dabs is indicated on each icon). Any applicable variant (not just Drip types) may be used in combination with the Auto Dab/Auto Clone presets. Clicking the 'M' (number 26) icon in the custom palette will apply the maximum number a dabs in a single application (1000000000). The dab number presets can of course be applied repeatably in any number combination. Each dab preset application requires a single undo if necessary, and it is also very easy to change drip direction by clicking any one of the 5 through 12 icons between dab applications. For the larger number dab presets, clicking the icon again in the custom palette will stop the dab application before completion, or click in the image.

The Define Pattern command (added to the custom palette via the Window menu> Custom Palette> Add Command dialogue) can be used to prevent or minimize an unwanted elongated distortion effect which may occur on the trailing edge of the canvas when a large number of Drip dabs are applied in only one direction using a variant having an opacity set to zero (ie. one which distorts the underlying imagery without applying color). The Define Pattern function effectively allows colors dragged off one edge of an image to appear on the other side.


Combination scripts (providing preset numbers of dabs in several opposing drip directions as demonstrated in the image left) make up icons 28 through 39 and are for use with the Drip Method variants, along with the three Plug-in Method brushes previously mentioned. I found that in conjunction with Drip variants set at 0 percent opacity, by making the total number of dabs for each opposing direction the same, original imagery broke up with the possibility of yielding a painterly appearance, whilst generally maintaining the relative original positions of the respective objects within the image.

Creating the combination scripts is very simple; uncheck Record Initial State in the Script palette menu> Script Options dialogue, click the Record button in the Scripts palette, then press the desired drip direction and dab number preset combinations in the custom palette before clicking the Stop button and saving the script with a unique name.

Thinking more about Painter creativity, I know of at least one talented artist who may be interested in translating dance steps into the directional movement and numbers of dabs (steps) in each direction, then subsequently playing the recorded script over existing imagery using a drip only or drip with color variant. Stepping even further out of the box, take a look at this Honey Bee video.

You will notice that in my combination presets, the final drip direction is downwards. This was intentional as I wanted to create the appearance of vertical landscape structure in combination with Grainy Drip variants and custom paper textures.

It is important to note that Drip Method variants will only work directly on the canvas or already existing imagery (including a fill) on a default layer. It is also possible to create a new layer, fill with white, and after setting the layer composite method to Gel or Multiply, subsequently apply colored Drip method dabs to the layer. In this case, the drip applied pixels will be transparent to underlying imagery.

Unlike the fixed dab preset renderings which can be undone using only one level of undo, the combination presets require either 4 or 8 levels of undo, depending on the script. To facilitate this, icons 40 through 43 are multiple undo/redo presets. Clicking icon 40 will undo all dabs applied using any one of the 28 through 35 presets, and clicking this twice will undo all the dabs applied using any one of the 36 through 39 presets. The redo preset 41 will redo the applied dabs in a similar manner. Clicking on icons 42 or 43 will undo or redo all the applied dabs to the maximum level set in Preferences> Undo.

Last but not least, clicking on any of the custom palette icons 44 through 47 will change the angle of applicable pre-squeezed Circular Dab type variants or horizontal pre-capture, Captured Dab type variants to the angle indicated by the icons. Effects such as directional rain, brushed metal or cross-hatching can then be achieved using the fixed dab presets. These are not to be confused with the directional preset scripts (5 through 12), as they only control the brush tip orientation, not the directional effect within the dab.

Here is a link to a short demo movie (requires QuickTime 7) demonstrating the results of using some of the Dab World scripts in combination with a custom paper texture and Drip/Grainy Drip variants.

Download Resources for Painter IX and Above

The resources come in two parts, a Painter script library and a Painter brush library. The script library is platform specific, so download with the Mac or PC version, whereas the brush library is universal for both platforms.

Download (117 KB) folder containing a  Painter Script Library for the PC platform.

Download A_DabWorld_Mac.dmg.gz (92 KB) folder containing a Painter Script Library for the Mac platform.


Download (711 KB) complete Painter Brush Library for both Mac and PC platforms.

There are no restrictions on use, other than the resources are not to be offered for sale or redistributed without my prior consent.

Important Information for Installing the above Resources.

For Painter IX / IX.5

1. Unzip the brush library (Auto_Dab) and place it (with contents intact) at the top level of the main Painter Application Brushes folder. To load the custom brush library in Painter, choose Load Library from the Brush Selector Bar menu, select the brush library you wish to load in the Brush Libraries dialogue, before clicking Load.

2. Unpack/unzip the A_DabWorld_PC or A_DabWorld_Mac folder containing the associated Painter script library (Auto Dab World for the Mac version or Auto Dab World.ssd for the PC version). In order to ultimately run the scripts contained in the library from a custom palette, it is necessary to place it at the top level of the Painter IX User folder, which for the PC is located;

\Documents and Settings\<USER NAME>\Application Data\Corel\Painter IX\

On the Mac platform, this is;

Users/<USER NAME>/Library/Application Support/Corel/Painter IX/

3. If the Scripts palette is not already visible on the desktop when Painter is launched, choose Window menu> Show Scripts.


Although the above screenshot shows the Auto Dab World script library already loaded, in order to load the library in the first instance, click on the Script Selector window, top right in the Scripts palette, then click on the triangle top right of the flyout menu. Next select the Load Library option and in the Choose Scripts dialogue, navigate to the previously located Auto Dab World script library, select it and click Open.

The final stage is to create our custom palette. This is done exactly the same way as you would use to create a custom palette to access your favorite brushes. First ensure that the Scripts List is in the open position by clicking once on the Script Selector window if required. Next, drag the first icon (Drip) from the scripts list onto the desktop to create a new custom palette, then proceed to drag the remaining icons in order of occurrence onto the same custom palette as shown in the first screenshot. If you make a mistake in the order or positioning, hold down the shift key while dragging to reposition, or hold Shift key and drag of and release onto the desktop to remove an icon. The Define Pattern command button is added using Window menu> Custom Palette> Add Command.

Now this is the important bit. Do not let excitement get the better of you and be tempted to click any of the items in the custom palette to test them. In my experience, Painter will crash and you will probably have to build your custom palette again from scratch. Instead, Quit/Close Painter and Relaunch the application.

You should now be good to go, running the scripts via the custom palette, in combination with the brush variants in the Auto_Dab library. I will talk about the brushes in more detail later, but to make things easy for you, all variants in the brush library prefixed 'D_' can take advantage of the Direction scripts (5 through 12 in the custom palette key) and the combination scripts 28 through 39 in the key). Variants with 'GRN' in their name have resulting brush dabs which interact with the currently selected paper texture. The two variants named Manual Comb and Manual Canvas Relief are for manual use over existing canvas imagery. All the other variants have been created to function specifically in Auto Dab mode via the custom palette.

For Painter X

Install the resources as for Painter IX / IX.5 with the following exception;

The Auto Dab World script library with associated Auto Dab World custom palette are workspace specific. Therefore, to use the associated custom palette in the default workspace (Window menu> Workspace> Default);

1. The Auto Dab World (Auto Dab World.ssd) Script library file should be placed at the top level of the user Default workspace folder in Painter X user folder. For the PC, this is located at;

\Documents and Settings\<USER NAME>\Application Data\Corel\Painter X\Default\

On the Mac platform, this is;

Users/<USER NAME>/Library/Application Support/Corel/Painter X/Default/

2. The Auto Dab World script should be loaded in the same workspace corresponding to where the original library file is located (Default workspace in this example as the Auto Dab World script library is located in the user Default workspace folder).

3. After loading the Auto Dab World Script library, the associated custom palette should be created, again in the same workspace (Default in this example).   

Again, don't forget to Quit/Close Painter and relaunch before running the scripts from the custom palette for the first time.



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About David Gell

I have been using Painter since version 6 (on the Mac platform)
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