Review: Advanced Painter Techniques by Don Seegmiller

Don Seegmiller (featured here in a past Digital Image article) is a professional illustrator, fine artist, art instructor at Brigham Young University, and author of a number of acclaimed books on Painter and Photoshop illustration techniques. So I had high expectations for Seegmiller’s new book, Advanced Painter Techniques (Wiley Publishing). I’m pleased to report the book surpassed those expectations. This is a project book of the highest order, written by someone who not only has a deep understanding of Corel Painter, but knows how to share that knowledge. If you are familiar with Painter and want to take your skills to the next level, you are in a for a treat.

Although Painter X comes with a spiral-bound user manual which details how all the parts of Painter work, it stops short of showing how those parts work together. Until now, there really hasn’t been a book demonstrating a professional-level workflow for Painter. Advanced Painter Techniques lays out concrete working methods that take full advantage of Painter’s power.

The book emphasizes time-saving techniques throughout. Professional illustrators don’t get paid by the brush stroke, so they are always looking to develop shortcuts and tricks that make it easy to paint a forest, without painting every single tree (literally! see Chapter 4). You’ll learn how to make the program work for you, and save yourself hours of time on your projects.

What’s in the book

There are nine projects, one per chapter, each averaging about thirty pages long, which means there’s quite a bit of depth here. Seegmiller explains his thought process as he goes, so you are never doing something without knowing why you’re doing it. His goal is to teach useful techniques that you can apply to your projects, once you’ve completed the projects in the book. Downloads from the publisher’s website include all the brushes, textures, patterns, sketches, image hoses, and papers used in the exercises.

  1. Painting An Oil Portrait.

    Seegmiller, who also works in traditional media, shows how to use Painter’s 3D texturing ability to mimic, as closely as possible, the look and feel of a traditional portrait painted on canvas. He demonstrates how he uses the digital medium much as he does the traditional ones, toning the canvas, blocking in , and then building up color using the supplied brushes.

  2. Painting Clouds, Water, and Stone

    This chapter covers a lot of ground (pun intended) as it shows a complete approach to creating a landscape. Seegmiller uses a number of time-saving tricks that may surprise you. For example, did you know Painter has a fractal pattern generator? Or that it comes with plug-ins?

  3. Painting a Rocky Surface, Then Making it Look Wet

    This chapter shows how to create a rocky, stony texture using a combination of fractal patterns and a gradient. Then you’ll create paint drips, using layer composite modes, a Drop Shadow effect, and shine using image luminance. The mysterious Growth tool turns out to be very useful for creating cracks. Cool stuff!

  4. Painting a Fantasy Forest with the Image Hose

    The Image Hose, probably one of the least-used tools in Painter, is put to work in this chapter. Learn how to create your own nozzle (a group of images loaded into the Image Hose) to create complex scenes with ease.

  5. Painting the Sleepwalker

    Here Seegmiller shares problem-solving methods for painting night scenes and wispy smoke.

  6. Painting a Sea Serpent

    The Make Tesselation tool is brought into service here to create the scales for a sea serpent. You’ll learn how to create a custom pattern, use it to create a custom paper, and then use a grainy chalk variant to “draw” highly complex scales quickly.

  7. Red Riding Hood

    A complex background is created here using a combination of paper textures, patterns, custom brushes, and the image hose. As before, Seegmiller explains his process thoroughly, showing how a professional uses Painter to create an illustration.

  8. From Concept to Complete

    This chapter is a bit different, in that it shows how the author creates a concept design, from start to finish.

  9. Painting Shiny Baubles

    In this final chapter, you’ll see how to use Painter to create shiny metal jewelry, employing the Liquid Metal plug-in, the Align to Path option, and custom brushes. Even the strange Maze tool is used here, to add an interesting texture to the background.

Advanced Painter Techniques is highly recommended to digital artists who are already familiar with Painter, and to anyone interested in seeing how professional illustrators create their amazing works of art.

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