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Video Training Review: Intro To Corel Painter: Concept Art Workflow With Ryan Church from The Gnomon Workshop

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If you have watched any kind of science fiction/fantasy movies that have come out in the last 20-plus years, you have been influenced by a concept artist. Whether through an interpretation from the scene in a movie, or the actual scene that you see on the screen, it is brought to life by an artist. A concept artist is one who generates a visual design for a movie or game so that it can be generated in the final product. They can also create the matte paintings that are used as some of the most amazing backgrounds.

In Intro To Corel Painter: Concept Art Workflow, artist Ryan Church, concept artist and design supervisor for Star Wars: Episode 3 will introduce you to the digital painting software Corel Painter and then take you on a tour of how he creates his fantastical artwork.

The training is effectively divided into two parts. The first part will take you through the use of Corel Painter, and the second will show you how Church uses this product on a daily basis to create complex works of art. This video contains 17 chapters and is 195 minutes in length.

Ryan Church – Intro To Corel Painter

Fundamentals of Corel Painter
Lesson 1, "Setting up the Painter Workspace," shows you the fundamental layout for the Painter environment. Here you will look at the color wheel, basic key strokes, and how to position all of the palettes for easy use. Lesson 2, "Preferences," will walk you through some of the more important options that the instructor uses within his work environment.

Lesson 3, " Image Navigation" examines methods for moving the image around while you are working with your artwork. Here you will see how to use standard keystrokes to move more efficiently instead of having to navigate through the menu system. Lesson 4, "Customizing Hot Keys" will show you how the instructor has remapped his some of the standard keys to work more efficiently and speed up his work flow.

Lesson 5, "Painter's Brushes" looks at the different brushes that come with Corel Painter. Here you will see the brushes that Church uses most frequently and how to set up a custom palette for the brushes you will use most frequently. You will also see methods to modify your brushes to change the way that they perform and look. Lesson 6, "Using Layers" describes what a layer is, how to create them, and what makes layers so useful. It also shows you how work with selections, merge layers, and how to add a bunch of detail quickly and easily using layers.

Ryan Church – Intro To Corel Painter

Lesson 7, " Using Papers" describes how you can use the existing papers in Painter as well as how to create your own papers from images that can be used in your creations. Here you will see how papers work and how you can use them creatively in new projects.

Lesson 8, "Shapes" examines how to use shapes to create items within your painting. Here you will see how to use the pen tool as well how to use as the ellipse to easily create a structure around the image that was created in Lesson 7. Lesson 9, "Effects" finishes the preliminary look at Corel Painter by exploring how to use effects to add more depth to your artwork. Here you will create some mountains in the background, add atmospheric perspective, and change the focus of areas in your image.

Creating Conceptual Art Using Corel Painter
Lesson 10, "Starting a Painting" starts with a client saying we have this thing that is already designed and we need it put into an illustration, or that we have this scene in a script and we don't know what it looks like, or some combination of both. Here you will see how to set up your canvas and begin to lay everything out for a first read of the scene. Right now it is all about simplicity, flexibility and getting started quickly.

Lesson 11, " Monochromatic Sketching" will now look at blocking in some of the major areas of the composition. This will give some semblance to where everything is located and further refine the roughed in look. There are some details that are added here that give form to the scene. Lesson 12, " Refining Design and Composition" will take what you have so far and begin to change the design in ways that will help make it more realistic looking and give it more feeling.

Lesson 13, "Local Color Pass" shows how to add some local color to the scene. This is just the initial coloring and you add lighting for effect and to give the scene depth. Lesson 14, "Lighting and Atmosphere" will show how to create a layer and bring some values of lighting back up from within the scene and add some atmospheric light around objects and enhance the background buildings. This is all done without selections to keep it more painterly.

Ryan Church – Intro To Corel Painter

Lesson 15, "Adding Texture and Details" using the scratchboard tool you will add highlights to the scene. Essentially you are painting with light. You will also see how to create fire, add reflections, as well as add more features.

Lesson 16, "Adding Drama, Depth, and Mood" now brings in lighting from the remnants of the sun or back light. You also will see how to add more details to the helicopter giving it a more finished look. Lesson 17, "Finished Rendering" works at finishing the scene by adding some special effects, adding people, more rim lighting and basically giving you the techniques to finish the painting.

While I find it interesting to see how different people use Corel Painter for their work, Intro To Corel Painter really gets into a lot of specifics most other training glosses over. For example, I like how in this title, the instructor goes into creating your own palettes, modifying your brushes, creating and working with papers, and his take on working with layers.

What I also like is his free-form dialogue as he is working through each lesson. He describes his thought processes as well as the techniques he uses when he works with Corel Painter. It gives you a sense that you are in the workshop with him as he is describing his workflow.

Ryan Church – Intro To Corel Painter

Finally, what I also like about Intro To Corel Painter is that the first part is focused on the use of Painter and techniques that are used. Then the second part is dedicated to the creation of a work of concept art in real time from start to about 90% complete in a little over an hour-and-a-half. If this were to be a complete matte painting, it would take much more work to complete as a finished piece – see the completed image, and would be beyond the scope of this video. If it were a concept piece, then this may be more than enough to get the idea back to the client.

The quality of the audio and video was excellent on Intro To Corel Painter. It comes with the finished painting as well as some brief lesson notes. I do wish that it would have come with a keystroke cheat sheet highlighting the most frequently used, but these can be found through making notes during the video.

If you have been fascinated by the work of concept and matte artists and want to see how this type of work is created, if you want to see how to do more with Corel Painter than just your standard painting, or if you just want to learn from the work of a master illustrator, then I very highly recommend Intro To Corel Painter: Concept Art Workflow With Ryan Church from Gnomon Workshop.

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About T. Michael Testi

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