A.M. SchaerPainter Essentials 4
by A. M. Schaer

Painter Essentials 4Corel Essentials is intended for digital drawing and painting. It installed with no problems. The program has a variety of tools to help you create images that look like they were done with traditional artistic media. When the program starts it offers links to videos and a guidebook which teaches you how to use the program. I highly recommend taking advantage of these, even if you have used this type of program before.

Although you can draw with a mouse, you will get a lot more out of the program if you have a drawing tablet such one of the Wacom models (their BAMBOO Touch & Pen model reviewed December 2010). This way, you can change the appearance of the “brushstrokes” you make on the “canvas” by varying the pressure of the stylus.

There are three main ways of using this program. You can make a painting from scratch, trace a photograph by hand, or apply Autopaint to the photograph to make it resemble artwork in a variety of media.  If you want to use the tutorial images as starting points for your first experiments, they are under File > Open Template. This differs from the menu shown in the tutorial.

I have mixed feelings about the Autopaint mode. Sometimes the results are attractive. Sometimes they’re downright ugly, or at least confused looking. The program definitely isn’t going to turn you into a digital Rembrandt. Also, Autopaint can be quite slow and seemed to get progressively slower the more times I used it.

After taking the Photopainting by Hand tutorial, I found that using a photo as a guide and painting over it manually with various brushes achieved more pleasing results. You will achieve better results by working loosely rather than slavishly tracing every curve and angle in the underlying photo.
If you are confident in your artistic abilities, you can start from a blank screen and work from your imagination.

Corel EssentialsIn the “Drawing and Painting Mode”  a palette of colors and color mixing area replace the PhotoPainting tools on the right side of the screen. To mix colors, you drag them from the palette to the mixing area and smear them into one another, just as if you were mixing “real” paint.
Overall, Essentials is a fun program and is a good way to try out many features typical of a painting program before investing in a more expensive application. For more info go to: www.corel.com

A. M. Schaer, a HAL-PC member, discovered computer graphics in the early 1990’s and hasn’t stopped learning since. She is a digital image/camera/image edit class instructor. One of her professional interests is digitally retouching old photos, examples of which can be seen at http://memories.artgeekgal.com or you can email her at schaer@artgeekgal.com