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Master portraits in Corel Painter

By Miklós Földi (Miki et Petur)
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 12th September 2014
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Miklós Földi combines reality and mythology as he shares the workflow and techniques he used to create a traditional looking painting in Corel Painter 11.

This painting was inspired by Joe Hill’s novel with the same title and was made for the express purpose of applying to ImagineFX magazine’s contest. At first we were planning to create a complete series of mythological themed paintings, but eventually the submission deadline let us to finish only one single painting. Our purpose was to merge the borders of reality and mythology so as to make the everyday fantastic. This is why we chose a realistic portrayal for the model and the ID-photo take.

Step 1: Photo shoot

Our model was a friend from the university, whose sharp features seemed perfect for a portrait.
While shooting we paid attention to the statuesque shadowing of the model’s face.

The shooting took place in a room without any studio conditions, under natural lighting circumstances. We also didn’t use make-up, in order to maintain the natural contrasting and create the mythological atmosphere. The photo was taken by Péter Nagy.

The model was Milán Rátosi, a music journalist from the university

Step 2: Planning sketches

Following the photo shoot I made several rough sketches. I looked through many reference pictures but I couldn’t find an appropriate one, so I decided to make the additions on my own and drew the horn according to my own vision.

Making traditional study sketches for the project

Step 3: Painting sepia

I’m a traditional oil-painter, so I’m used to this stage of the process, regardless of whether it’s a traditional or digital painting. For the priming I needed a new layer. After opening a new layer I chose the Oil Brush Cloner option (or another brush with the same effect). In this step, you can work with rough brushstrokes using an ochre color palette.

For the statuesque surface, the Opacity was adjusted. The ground coat shouldn't reveal forms/contours, but should rather be about patching and that's why you should never focus on creating the details of your painting at this stage.

Painting sepia tones with rough brushstrokes

Step 4: Finishing the sepia layer

I then developed the sepia layer. The Opacity was adjusted to a higher volume, and the HSV-value of Color Variability was be changed. These settings modify the composition of colors.

I used the Value set at 5-10%. I set the Random Jitter between 0.02 and 0.15, which allowed the brushstrokes to appear more ‘radiating’. At this stage I used use bright, vivid colors, structuring the contours and the patches according to the reference picture. For a dramatic effect, I focused on the contrast settings.

Finishing the sepia layer by adjusting the settings

Step 5: Composing the colors

For the composition of colors, a new layer was needed. For the face I used orange and pink shades and gave the horns a dominant color. The light blues used for the shirt make a vivid contrast with the painting’s darker background. I set the brush’s Color Variability HSV to 5%, which made the strokes stronger.

Adding a little color to the scene to define the content

Step 6: Background

I used glossy brushstrokes for the background. For the vivid, vibrant effect I used blue, green and red in the shadowy parts of the painting, which highlighted the shirt’s violet nuance.

More color creates a vivid, vibrant effect

Step 7: Perfecting the details

I repainted the details with tiny strokes: the face, the eyes, the hair were redefined. For the background I used the Cloner and the Artists Impressionist brushes, which give the impression of a dynamic background. The natural movement in the hair was recreated using radiating brush techniques. The shirt and the horns were developed according to the
reference photo.

To give the impression of a traditional oil-painting, I experimented with nuances and patches, for example; the violet cloud under the eyes and on the shirt, and the sharp brushstrokes in the background. This created a dynamic scene.

Adding dynamic swirls of color gives the impression of an oil painting

Step 8: Final touches

For a dramatic impression, I chiseled the face’s irregularities by placing stubble and wrinkles. Finally, small highlights were added. When the painting was ready, I opened the saved PSD file in Adobe Photoshop, and with the Smart Sharpen filter, I sharpened the picture on a new layer. You can also soften the sharpness by using the Undo Brush History tool.

The final image

Advice for Corel Painter beginners

If you are expecting good results from the complex Corel Painter, you need to practice, develop your skills and be devoted to what you do. Never stop experimenting and never lose your interest, there’s a lot of potential in this program that you have to discover - it’s only up to you!

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