Products Free Trials Store Community Support About Partners

Expressive painting with Corel® Painter™ IX.5 and the Wacom® 6D Art Pen
By Cher Threinen-Pendarvis

By combining the Art Pen Brushes in Corel® Painter™ IX .5 with the Wacom® 6D Art Pen, you can add to the natural look of your brush strokes. You'll find an excellent variety within the Art Pen Brush category. In this lesson, we will use the Tapered Camel, Square Grainy Pastel, and Worn Oil Pastel brushes.

The Art Pen Brushes were designed to work with all six dimensions of the Wacom 6D Art Pen: the X-Axis (left and right), Y-Axis (up and down), Pressure, Tilt, Bearing, and Rotation. With the 6D Art Pen and the Art Pen Brushes, you can create expressive strokes by simulating the action of rolling a conventional pastel stick or brush in your fingers.

For this project, we will use the three Art Pen Brushes to create a loose pastel painting, starting from a photograph. Before we do that, though, let's try out the brushes and do some practice exercises.

1. Choosing the brush. From the Brush Category pop-up menu on the Brush Selector bar, choose the Art Pen Brushes category. Then, from the Brush Variant pop-up menu, choose the Worn Oil Pastel variant. This brush applies paint and smears it a bit. The brush is excellent for applying color quickly over large areas. The Worn Oil Pastel brush paints thick or thin strokes, depending on how you hold the 6D Art Pen.

2. Holding the Wacom® 6D Art Pen. Hold the 6D Art Pen so that its wide side is between your thumb and forefinger. Think of how you would use the thin side of a flat drawing pencil to draw a thin line, and the broad side to draw a thick line. Experiment with rolling the pen side to side in your fingers as if it were a brush or calligraphy pen.

Notice the white curved line, which demonstrates the rotation.

3. Making practice strokes. Try to relax and enjoy using the 6D Art Pen while you draw these practice strokes.

It's easiest to begin by drawing the slightly curved vertical stroke. Touch the pen tip to the tablet. With the pen shaft tilted to about 60 (midway between the vertical and horizontal axes), press down and then pull the pen toward you to begin drawing the stroke. As you draw the stroke, rotate the pen from a 2 o'clock position to about a 10 o'clock position. Practice until you have an expressive, curved thick and thin stroke. If your stroke is different from mine, experiment with the orientation of your pen until you achieve a similar look.

Now, use the wide side of the pen to rotate and pull a curved horizontal stroke that tapers from thick to thin and back to thick. Hold the pen so that you are using the broad side of the nib, and tilt the top of the pen to about 60. Touch the pen to the tablet, and draw the sweeping curved stroke while subtly rotating the pen to taper the stroke from thick to thin, and then back to thick as you complete the curved stroke.

Next, use the Worn Oil Pastel to draw a thick and thin spiral stroke. Touch the pen tip to the tablet. With the pen shaft tilted to about 60 (midway between the vertical and horizontal axes), press down to begin the spiral, and rotate the pen as you work your way through the spiral. As you draw the stroke, rotate the pen from a 3 o'clock position to about a 9 o'clock position.

Congratulations! You have drawn your first set of practice strokes with the Worn Oil Pastel. Continue to practice by using the same instructions with the Tapered Flat Chalk and Square Grainy Pastel.

These practice marks are drawn in blue with the Worn Oil Pastel (top), in red with the Square Grainy Pastel (middle), and in purple with the Tapered Camel (bottom).

4. Choosing an image. Let's put the Art Pen Brushes to work by using them to paint over a photograph and create a pastel look. The photograph shown below is one I shot of my friend Daniel at the Cosmic Creek surfing event, held near Laguna Beach, California. I chose this photograph for the graceful, powerful surfing action and the intriguing patterns in the water spray. This subject would be ideal to show off the expressive Art Pen Brushes.

Open an action photo with a simple composition. An image of a dancer, surfer, or a waterfall would be ideal. This version of my photograph measures 904 819 pixels. If your photo is much larger, you need to adjust the size of the brushes.

5. Painting loose brush strokes. To make the painting, we will create a clone image and then paint directly over the photo. In this step, work on really loosening up and painting expressively. Later in the process, you can gradually add more color and detail back into the image.

To create the clone, choose File menu > Clone (not the Quick Clone command), and then give your cloned image a unique name to keep your files organized. Leave the original image open, and make sure the clone image is active. Leave the photograph on the clone canvas.

Choose the Worn Oil Pastel. To paint with color from the original image, click the Clone Color button (the rubber stamp icon) on the Colors palette.

Add a layer to your image for your brushwork by clicking the New Layer button on the Layers palette. Working on a new layer gives you the flexibility to edit as you work without disturbing the imagery underneath. In the Layers palette, enable the Pick Up Underlying Color check box for this layer.

Next, using the 6D Art Pen, loosely work over your image. Don't worry about staying within the lines of the forms as you work, but feel free to generalize the shapes and enjoy painting the movement in the water. Relax as you work, and allow your pen to rotate naturally in your hand as you paint. As I worked, I used color from the Clone Source, and I also painted with color from the Colors palette, which I accessed by clicking the Clone Color button to turn off the clone color.

6. Adding expressive brushwork. Now that you have the composition roughed in, save the working image with a unique name so that your files stay organized. Drop the painted layer to the image canvas by choosing Layers menu > Drop. Now, choose the Tapered Camel brush variant. As you rotate your hand, notice how the brush stroke changes subtly and naturally.

I used the Tapered Camel to add brushwork to the figure and surfboard. Then, to paint the squiggles and stipples in the water spray, I made the brush smaller and painted freely, using color from the Colors palette instead of the clone color. To add more texture to areas of the water, I used the Square Grainy Pastel. I decreased the size of the brush to paint the grainy squiggles and thinner lines.

7. Restoring areas and painting details. If you want to restore detail from the original image to areas of your painting, you can quickly switch to the Soft Cloner by clicking the Cloner tool in the toolbox and then choosing the Soft Cloner from the Brush Variant pop-up menu of the Brush Selector bar. Zoom into your image and restore whatever detail you want.

I used the Soft Cloner to add a few details on the side of the surfer's face. Then, I used a small Worm Oil Pastel to define a few edges on the surfer's arms and legs, and to define the surfboard. To achieve the transparency in the water, I used a small 3x5-pixel Worn Oil Pastel and worked back and forth over the areas of spray, pulling one color into another and blending. Finally, to smooth a few areas on the water, I stroked lightly, using the Grainy Water variant of Blenders. As a last step, I cropped the image to focus more attention on the surfer.

Images and content: © 2006 by Cher Threinen-Pendarvis

An award-winning artist and author, Cher Threinen-Pendarvis has always worked with traditional art tools. She has been widely recognized for her mastery of Corel® Painter™, Adobe® Photoshop®, and the Wacom® tablet and has used these tools since they were first released. Exercising her passion for the artist tools in Corel Painter, Cher has worked as a consultant and demo-artist for Corel Painter developers. Her artwork has been exhibited worldwide, and her articles and art have been published in many books and periodicals. Cher has taught Corel Painter and Photoshop workshops around the world, and she is principal of the consulting firm Cher Threinen Design.

Cher is the author of The Photoshop and Painter Artist Tablet Book: Creative Techniques in Digital Painting and all seven editions of The Painter Wow! Book. The Painter IX Wow! Book is the latest edition of this highly praised volume of inspiration. To learn more about Cher, visit her Web site at

Copyright © 2015 Corel Corporation. All rights reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy