Auto Van Gogh Digital Watercolor...a Painter IX.5 tutorial
Most people who have explored Painter to any degree, eventually stumble upon the Auto Van Gogh feature. Auto Van Gogh (AVG) utilises the Auto Van Gogh variant, located in the default Artists brush category, in combination with the selection of Auto Van Gogh from the Effects menu> Esoterica. The resulting image results in elongated, directional strokes similar to those use by Van Gogh in some of his paintings.

The documented procedure is to first select a suitable image, clone it, select the Auto Van Gogh variant, then select Auto Van Gogh from the Esoterica sub menu.

The tutorial below demonstrates a technique I have developed to produce a simplified Digital Watercolor(ish) look, using custom variants and automated scripts whilst hijacking the Auto Van Gogh algorithm (I hope dear Vincent can forgive me).

Although I did have some success in previous versions of Painter, I found Painter IX.5 to be significantly faster at rendering, with the added benefits of Quick Clone and the new Underpainting palette. Before you get too excited, the results obtained depend on a lot of factors and experimentation. As such, I consider this current technique to be semi-successful in producing a basic (wet Digital Watercolor) rendering, requiring further manual brushwork (in clone or non-clone mode) with any of the default or custom Digital Watercolor variants. Other post drying enhancements may also be needed.

Remember that the Auto Van Gogh algorithm was developed to produce a very different look, but hopefully after seeing the results below, the Painter development team at Corel may be inspired to modify that algorithm to also give us a dedicated Auto Digital Watercolor feature, improving on my best effort...and while I think about it, an Auto Oil option would also be useful :-)

The image to the left has been cropped from an original photo of a Hydrangea bush growing in my back garden.

As a side piece of trivia, the flowers of the Hydrangea can either be pink or blue, depending on the acidity or alkalinity of the soil and the presence or absence of Aluminium. Just for fun, we are going to change them to blue during this tutorial.

The screen-shot below shows the new Underpainting palette in action. In this case, I chose a Rectangular Vignette edge effect.

If you are happy with the Edge effect, click the Apply button in the Underpainting palette. Next, we are going to change the flowers to predominantly blue. To do this, I chose Effects menu> Tonal Control> Adjust Selected Colors, changing the Hue Shift in the Adjust Selected Colors dialogue, after first clicking on a pink area of one of the petals in the image. Click OK in they dialogue when you are satisfied with the adjustments.
Before we proceed further, I thought it would be interesting to remind ourselves of what the default Auto Van Gogh variant would produce in combination with Effects> Esoterica> Auto Van Gogh. Please Click here to see (the original color adjusted image is shown on the left for comparison).
The left hand image has been obtained by first ensuring that the above color corrected image was open and to the front of the Painter application. Next, the AVG_DWC_Grain variant was selected from the Auto DWC brush library (see download links below, before selecting the French Watercolor Paper from the default paper library. I then ran the Auto DWC script from the Auto_DWC script library (see link below) via a custom palette, et voila! Auto Digital Watercolor.

Please click here to see a side-by-side comparison with the original cropped image.

For the purpose of manually touching in the image whilst in the wet state, it may be preferable not to initially incorporate the paper grain texture. In this final example, the custom AVG_DWC_No GRN variant has been used in place of the grain exhibiting variants.

After manual editing with other Digital Watercolor variants, the image can then be dried (Layers menu> Dry Digital Watercolor, or run the Dry Digital Watercolor custom script via a custom palette). Next, choose Effects menu> Surface Control> Apply Surface Texture (using Paper).

Please click here to see an example of Apply Surface Texture, in conjunction with the default French Watercolor Paper.

Downloading and Installing the Resources. (24 kb) for Painter IX through IX.5 PC.

auto_DWC_Mac_folder.dmg (40 kb) for Painter IX through IX.5 Mac.

Note: to take advantage of the Underpainting feature, Painter IX.5 is required.

How to Install and Load;

First place the enclosed brush library (Auto DWC) at the top level of your Painter application folder.

For the script library (Auto_DWC) to auto-load via a linked custom palette in Painter IX/ IX.5, the script library file must be placed at the top level of your Users Painter IX /IX.5 folder which can be found at the following locations;

Users > [username] > Library > Application Support > Corel > Painter IX

Documents and Settings > [username] > Application Data > Corel > Corel Painter IX

Once in the correct location, use the 'Load Library' option from the Scripts palette> Script Selector window> menu.

To load the custom brush library, select Load Brush Library from the Brush Selector Bar menu, select the Auto DWC library from the Brush library dialogue, before clicking Load.

If individual scripts are to be run via a custom palette, due to a Painter bug, drag the script icons onto the desktop/ custom palette, re-arrange the palette icons if desired, then quit Painter without clicking any of the icons in the newly created custom palette. Failure to do this may result in Painter crashing. Re-launch Painter and try out the scripts via the respective custom palette.

Note to Developers;

There is an update bug associated with the Canvas preview window in the Layers palette. After running Auto Van Gogh in conjunction with one of the Auto DWC variants, the above window remains white until the user clicks twice in the image. I have neutralised the bug by incorporating Stroke> Undo> Stroke> Undo in the Auto DWC script (see screen-shot below).

Using Auto DWC;

1. Open a photograph to use as your clone source for the Auto DWC rendering.

2. Load the Auto DWC brush library and select one of the variants from the Auto DWC category.

3. Choose a paper to use with one of the Grain inhibiting brush variants (if selected).

4. Click on the Auto DWC icon in the previously created custom palette.

5. Manually touch in using Digital Wet method variants if required (clone or non-clone).

6. Dry Digital Watercolor by clicking on the hairdryer icon in the custom palette.

7. Apply any post-dry enhancements (eg. Sharpen, Apply Surface Texture etc.).

Note: after drying, the Auto DWC script can be run again, this time on the previous clone image.

...and most importantly, never be afraid to experiment.