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Video Training Review: A Celebration Of Art – Paint Like A Master with Fay Sirkis from NAPP

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A Celebration Of Art – Paint Like A Master with Fay Sirkis is the new video training DVD for those who want to learn to paint digitally using Painter X and Adobe Photoshop. It is hosted by Fay Sirkis, an internationally recognized portrait artist, photographer, and instructor. The video is published by National Association of Photoshop Professionals, or NAPP. If you are not familiar with NAPP, please read my review on Photoshop User magazine to gain more insight on what NAPP is all about and why you might want to join.

Paint Like A Master is contained on a single DVD that runs 222 minutes and can only be used on a computer. It is aimed at users new to digital painting and want to move into this medium. The author goes over the material in 23 lessons.

 Paint Like A MasterLesson 1, "Analyze the Image" examines what you need to do to simulate the look of a fine art painting. Here you will look at primarily simulating watercolor and oil, what to look for, and how to set each up. Lesson 2, "The Sandwich" is a technique that will allow you to color-correct your image, especially in situations where you have multiple areas of highlights and shadows.  Lesson 3, "Final Preparation" shows you additional sandwich steps that will help you prepare skin conditions to handle blemishes and wrinkles before heading into Painter.

Lesson 4, "Wacom Tablets" instructs you on some really key ways to set up your Wacom Tablet to work with Painter much more efficiently. This includes launching Photoshop and Painter from the tablet as well as undo and changing brush size.

Lesson 5 & 6, "Painter X" takes on the tasks of first introducing some of the new features to Painter X and how some of these will be further addressed in later lessons. Then we are walked through the interface and how to use Painter X in general.

Lesson 7, "The Cloners" describes the use of the Clone stamp functionality within Painter. In this lesson, you will see how the use of the Cloners can really be powerful if used correctly. The instructor also gives a number of 'little' tips that can really be helpful while using this tool. Lesson 8, "The Blenders" takes a look at what blenders are and how they can be used in Painter. This lesson also does a good job at looking at the Re-saturation (Resat) control on the brush info bar as well.

Lesson 9, "Watercolors" begins to show you how to work on a watercolor by continuing with Blenders techniques. Here you will see how to emulate a watercolor border in a painting. Lesson 10, "Custom Pallets" examines one of the features in Painter X. Now, you can share custom pallets with others just by saving them and transferring a file.

Lesson 11, "Custom Workspace" now describes how the workspaces are used in Painter X. Since these, too, can be saved, Fay saved her personal workspace, which includes all of her brush categories, pallets, as well as everything as she has laid out on her system, and has provided it for you on the DVD.

Lesson 12, "Shadow and Highlights" shows you how to give your painting what it needs to pop the image out to the viewer. Here you will work with enhancing the shadows and highlights to give better definition to your image.

Lesson 13, "Details" looks at how when you add outlines to your image you can give it more depth. This way, you accentuate the finer points of your image. By adding a line to an upper piece of cloth, you give the lower piece the impression of distance.

Lesson 14, "Portrait Hair Brushes" now takes a look at some of the hair brushes that the instructor includes with the DVD. These include hair color brushes, hair texture brushes, and a wonderful fly away hair removal tool.

Lesson 15, "Portrait Faces" shows you how to bring out the best in the face. Here you will work with brushes to smooth down the skin tones and focus on retaining the reality of what the person looks like.

Lesson 16, "Mary Cassatt" takes from example of the warm painting of children and mothers that Cassatt did, and translates the types of brush strokes she used to gain that same feeling to your image.

 Paint Like A MasterLesson 17, "Rembrandt" begins by showing you how to create a master layer. By using a combination of the Rembrandt oily brush and the Rembrandt blender, you will be able to create the look and feel of a Rembrandt masterpiece.

Lesson 18, "Real Bristle Brushes" were a major feature to Painter X. They replicate the real bristle brushstrokes by not only simulating the look of a brushstroke, but also forcing you to dip the brush, so to speak, to refresh the amount of color on the brush.

Lesson 19 & 20, "Autopainting" covers the Underpainting, Auto-Painting, and restoration features in Painter X. The first part examines how each of the three parts works starting with the Underpainting, and then the Auto-Painting. This is done in stages where you are able to get finer and finer detail. Then you use the Restoration to add the detail back from the edges.

Lessons 21 begins the first of three bonus lessons (22 and 23 being the others). In this one you will see how to create an image similar to a Renoir using the auto-painting system. Then you will recreate another Cassatt image, again using the auto-painting, and then finally one more with techniques of Monet.

A Celebration Of Art – Paint Like A Master is a wonderful DVD that works in a very systematic fashion and logical manner. It is filled with a lot of tips and techniques that will totally enhance your ability to use Painter. Since it comes with many images that you can work with as well as a trial copy of Painter X, you can get started right away. It is clear that the instructor, Fay Sirkis, is very knowledgeable about both painting and Painter X.

The retail price of A Celebration of Art: Paint Like a Master is $149.99 USD. You can get it from KelbyTraining for $107.99 USD, but for NAPP members it is only $94.99.

If you want to learn to paint digitally, want to learn Painter X, or take your Painter skills to the next level, then I highly recommend A Celebration Of Art – Paint Like A Master.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.