Painter How-To: Wet-into-Wet Watercolor

Excerpted from "The Painter 7 Wow! Book" (Peachpit Press).

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Overview of technique: Make a "pencil sketch"; loosely paint smooth washes with Watercolor brushes to build up varied color; add subtle wet-into-wet bristle marks; add details to the image and create a speckled texture using Salt.

"Pink Orchid," a loose digital watercolor study, was painted from life in Painter 7 with a Wacom Intuos pressure-sensitive tablet and stylus. Watercolor wet-into-wet techniques were used, then details and texture were added. Wet-into-wet is a traditional technique that can be simulated using Painter 7’s new Watercolor technology. Wet-into-wet is the most fluid way to apply color, as it involves keeping the paper wet while new color is applied, so new colors blend with existing moist paint. Painter 7 offers the flexibility of new Watercolor media layers, making the medium much more versatile than in previous versions of the program.

1. Setting up and opening a new file. For the best performance, Macintosh users may need to increase the RAM that is allotted to Painter when working with Watercolor.

Begin by creating a new file with a white background (File, New). In the New dialog box, click the Image button. For a square format, set the Width and Height at 675 x 675 pixels. Click OK. (The brush sizes that you’ll use will depend on the pixel size of the document.)

Figure 1: Starting a new file for the Orchid painting.

2. Making a pencil sketch. Choose a natural-looking grain (such as Cold Press Watercolor) from the Papers section of the Art Materials palette. Choose a neutral gray color in the Colors section of the Art Materials palette and select the 2B Pencils variant of Pencils (in the Brushes palette) to draw your line sketch. We set up our blooming orchid plant next to the computer and sketched from life.

Figure 2: The pencil sketch drawn in Painter using the 2B Pencil variant of Pencils.

Tip: Setting Brush Tracking
It’s a good idea to set up Brush Tracking before you begin a Watercolor session because it will increase expressiveness in Painter’s brushes and make smoother strokes. With Brush Tracking you can customize how Painter interprets the input of your stylus, including parameters such as pressure and how quickly you make a brush stroke. You’ll notice the more sensitive control of the Watercolor brushes, especially with brushes such as the Diffuse Camel and Fine Camel variants. Choose Edit, Preferences, Brush Tracking, make a representative brush stroke in the window, then click OK.

Making a brush stroke in the Brush Tracking window.

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Posted on: October 9, 2002

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