PI8 Digital Painting Brush Presets

You may have wondered at times about the utility being able to Import a Gallery of tool attributes. This tutorial will show you the value of sharing Paintbrush presets to create a digital painting like this one.

You can get the Paintbrush presets I've already created for you, stephs_landscape_brushes.SMP, here. Import stephs_landscape_brushes.SMP into your EasyPalette. If you're not sure how to Import gallery presets, check out this PI8 Basic.

Once you've Imported the brush presets, your EasyPalette will look like this.

imported presets

Like any other presets in your EasyPalette, you can edit these presets to suit your own needs. But having preset attributes such as Color, Size, Transparency, Soft edge, etc. attached to the brushes already makes it a lot quicker and easier to paint your landscape.

Start with a new True Color canvas 400 X 400 pixels. Double click on the Blue Sky preset thumbnail. Immediately the Paintbrush will be selected. The Paintbrush attributes will be edited to Size=99, Transparency=50, Soft edge=50, and the paint will be a soft blue color. Paint across the top of the base image with blue.

In turn, double click on the Pink Sky and Yellow Sky thumbnails and paint lines across the canvas. Save about 1/3 of canvas at the bottom for the water. Double click the Blue Sky thumbnail. In the Attributes toolbar, edit the Transparency to 75 and paint across the bottom of the canvas. This lighter blue will be your water.

fill canvas with color

Double click on the Sky Blender preset. This preset activates the Brush Water Paint tool, a large brush size, Transparency=50 (yes, even water can have varying transparency in PI). Your goal with this blender brush is to lightly stroke over the lines where the colors join, so that they are blended softly and there are no hard lines between the colors. Try to keep the horizon between the blue water and yellow sky relatively straight.

blended sky colors

Double click the Clouds Airbrush thumbnail. This selects the Airbrush Paint tool, with white paint, a large size and high transparency. Lightly brush some clouds into the sky, blending them off the edges of the canvas. We'll add more clouds later, but this will soften the sky a bit.

Double click on the Sparkle Eraser thumbnail. You'll see that this preset activates the Charcoal Paint tool's Gritty preset (but it will say None in the preset section). Edit the brush size larger, if you wish. Note that the Charcoal tool is in Eraser mode in the Attributes toolbar. When you're in Eraser mode, the attributes of the Paint tool are used to erase away paint. This handy little trick creates the kind of "sparkles" you see when paint skips over the surface of rough watercolor paper. Lightly sparkle the sky and water. Don't overdo it, it just create some white rough areas.

Let's add some greenery by double clicking on the Green Bushes thumbnail. This preset will select the Crayon Paint tool, green paint, a size 60 brush and a Transparency of 12. Making the bushes requires a light touch. Don't drag the Crayon tool too much. Instead, just click along the bottom, varying the heights of the greenery. Curve on the right side so that you create a little cove effect where the land will curve around the lake. You'll notice that this preset creates a light, airy look around the edges, while the inside part of the brush stroke is darker. Instant shading!

lay in greenery

Edit the brush size to 25 and extend slightly to the left, then edit the size to 15. Click to extend the little bit of curved land so that it fades to a very small point. You'll want it to look like you're seeing it from a distance. Build up the greenery a little along the left side of the painting.

continue adding greenery

Isn't it amazing how you're starting to see a real landscape emerge from all this clicking and dragging?

Double click on the Yellow Flowers thumbnail. Doing so selects the Bristle Paint tool's Pepper Dot preset. The preset in the Attributes toolbar won't show the preset name, it will just say None. But I want you to know about it because this is a wonderful little preset that I use often to create flowers in landscapes. I love this preset for making flowers and for adding highlights to plants, creating a look of roundness. I just edited the color to yellow and made the paint very transparent. Click (don't drag) to add curving little areas of yellow flowers and highlights at the top of the greenery. Edit the brush Size to 5 to add some yellow highlights to the distant greenery.

add yellow flowers

After you add some yellow flowers, double click on the Pink Flowers and White Flowers preset thumbnails and add more flowers. Try to overlap flower colors a bit and keep the strokes random. Don't try to cover the greenery with flowers. Use a light touch.

add pink and white flowers

Let's add some more clouds to the sky. Double click on the Transparent Clouds thumbnail. This will select the Stamp tool. A clouds stamp will be selected at 50% Transparency. Stamp three times to create three clouds. Hit Enter to deactivate them. Then you can use the Pick tool to position the clouds in a freeform pattern in the sky. Feel free to select and delete any clouds you don't like, or use the Stamp tool to make another cloud more to your liking.

To make the clouds even more ethereal, let's apply a Fadeout. Click on a cloud to make it active, then double click on the Cloud Fadeout thumbnail. Repeat for the remaining two clouds. This applies a radial Fadeout going from white to medium gray on the clouds. It helps the edges to disappear and blend into the sky better.

To add some texture to the water, double click the Clouds Airbrush thumbnail. Edit the brush Size to 25. In the Brush Panel, click the Texture tab, then click Add Texture. When the Open dialog box appears, browse to the PhotoImpact 8 Textures folder and select Water 3.

select texture

Brush lightly across the surface of the water to add some texture. The transparent white paint in the Airbrush will be applied as the water texture. You can use any other water texture you like better if you wish to do so.

add texture to water

To reinforce the horizon, select the Paintbrush tool, white paint, Size=1, Transparency=50, Soft edge=1, Lines=Straight Lines. Click and drag a straight line across the water.

To add a sailboat, drag the Boat object from the EasyPalette's Image Library, Special tab group. Use the Transform tool to resize the sailboat to a very small size. Position it in the water and use Edit, Fadeout, if you wish, to enhance the boat's distance.

add sailboat

Now you just have one more thing to do to finish your painting. Every artist should sign his or her work! Double click on the Signature Brush preset thumbnail. This is actually the Paintbrush with the Round Stroke 1 preset selected (it will say None in the Attributes toolbar, however). In the Attributes toolbar, click Mode to enter Paint as Object Mode. Carefully write your name, then click Mode to exit Paint as Object Mode. I wrote my name very large, then right clicked and chose Properties to edit the size down to 50%. You can even choose Edit, Fill and fill the signature with a different color if you like. Position your signature on your painting, right click and Merge All.

signature added

Take a critical look at your digital painting. If it needs more color or clouds in the sky, or more sparkles, add them. Remember, you can use Mode to add painted objects, then edit their transparency or apply fadeouts as needed. Add Lighting Effects if you'd like. The point of this tutorial isn't to copy my painting exactly, but to show you how easy it can be to paint landscapes with preset brushes.

When your painting is finished add a canvas texture to it by double clicking on the Canvas Texture preset thumbnail. This is a very light application of the Texture Filter's Emboss effect. It adds just the tiniest bit of canvas texture to the painting. If you really want to gild the lily, add a frame from the Frame Gallery.

Your digital painting is done, and you made it almost entirely with presets! I hope you see the value of presets for Tools now. They can be real timesavers when you're showing someone how to duplicate a particular effect. Having these presets available make it very easy to select just the right colors, transparency and other attributes for your digital paintings.

This tutorial uploaded 7/18/03

Do not duplicate, translate, copy, archive, appropriate or redistribute this document.



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