Creating Fashion Illustrations with Corel Painter

By Cher Threinen-Pendarvis

Dateline: January 27, 2006
Version: Corel Painter IX

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Inspired by the work of Tobie Gildio, Cher Threinen-Pendarvis utilized Painter’s Pens and Watercolors to create her illustration.


Open a new file, size it to 1500 x 2000 pixels, and add a new layer to the image. In the Brush Selector Bar, choose Pens from the Brush Category menu, then choose the Thick n Thin variant from the Variant menu. It’s a good idea to make some practice marks with the pen. When you’ve finished practicing, delete your practice strokes by choosing Select > All and Delete/ Backspace. Press Command-D to Deselect. For this illustration, I chose to sketch the basic shapes using this pen because it allows you to sketch smoothly, while varying the thickness of the lines. Use the stylus to add sweeping, curved vertical strokes that suggest the outlines of your subject. Then add a few details and accents with shorter strokes.

Tip: For the most responsive and expressive strokes, set up Brush Tracking. It allows you to customize how Painter interprets the stylus input, including factors such as Pressure and Speed. Choose Corel Painter IX > Preferences > Brush Tracking, and make a representative brush stroke in the window. For instance, if you plan to use both light and heavy pressure, sketch slowly, then quickly. Try to make a few brush strokes that include all factors.
Next, I added texture to my line work with two unusual Pens variants—the Leaky Pen to add textured spots, and the Coit Pen for textured line accents. Choose the Leaky Pen variant. Make a practice stroke using light pressure to begin the stroke, then apply heavier pressure. Add more irregular texture with the spotted strokes. Switch to the Coit Pen to draw a few linear accents, as shown along the sides of the skirt in my illustration.
Create a new layer, and choose the Broad Water Wash variant of Digital Watercolor. When you choose a Digital Watercolor variant, you’ll notice that the Composite Method for the new layer will change to Gel. The Gel method will allow the washes on the layer to be more transparent. Choose a light color in the Colors palette. Digital Watercolor enables you to paint smooth washes quickly and to subtly blend colors while the paint is wet. I suggest using light colors that are from the upper portion of the Value triangle in the Colors palette. Now press lightly on your stylus and paint loose, vertical strokes that generally follow the shape of the model. Don’t worry about staying within the lines, but allow the strokes to break out of the line work occasionally for a fresh, natural look. For this illustration, I chose to lay in the light washes on the dress using the Broad Water Brush. Then I used the Soft Broad Brush and a light peach for the skin. This brush allowed me to paint smooth, soft-edged washes.
To make the illustration livelier, I added a few strokes of deep pink to the clothing. Choose the Soft Broad Brush variant of Digital Watercolor. The Soft Broad Brush allows you to paint smooth-looking, wet-into-wet washes. The small amount of Diffusion in the brush allows you to lay brush strokes next to one another with the paint blending subtly between the edges of the strokes. Wet Fringe, also in the brush, allows the paint to pool slightly at the edges of the wet area of paint. To have your Digital Watercolor paint stay wet between painting sessions, save your working file in RIFF format.

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Cher Threinen-Pendarvis is an award-winning artist, author, and educator based in San Diego. She is principal of the consulting firm Cher Threinen Design and has most recently authored the Photoshop and Painter Artist Tablet Book: Creative Techniques in Digital Painting and The Painter IX Wow! Book. Order her books at Peachpit.com.