Portrait Painting Simplified in Corel Painter Part 1


Portrait painting simplified in Corel® Painter™ by using the Cloners brush category

by Heather Michelle

Image by Lonnie Hoke

Before entering Corel Painter, make sure you've performed the necessary color corrections, and retouched and resized your image.

Then, import your image as a JPG, at no larger than 300 dpi (dots per inch).

We'll be working from a "Quick Clone" to save time. Cloning is one of Corel Painter's most powerful features that, when used correctly, can allow you to create breath-taking masterpieces without having any previous painting experience.

We'll take the following steps:

1. Open image.

2. Choose File > Quick Clone.


3. Choose File > Save As.

Save as an "Uncompressed" RIFF file. I've added "1 ptr" to the file name, to remind myself that it's stage one in Painter.

You can view your original file without having to toggle to the actual document by pressing CTRL "T" (Windows®) or CMD "T" (Mac OS®) on your keyboard, or by clicking the Tracing Paper icon in the Clone Source panel. You can also hide it by pressing CTRL/CMD "T". The Clone Source panel will also allow you to adjust the tracing paper opacity using the slider. On the Layers palette, you'll notice that the image does not display in the layer. That's because it's a ghost image that is used for tracing purposes only, so the layer is actually blank.

4. In the Toolbox, choose Artist Canvas from the Paper selector. This allows the artist canvas texture to show through.


5. Choose a color to lay down as your canvas ground. I've chosen a muted yellow green sampled with the Dropper tool from the mid-tone region of the flowers. In order to sample color from the original image, open the original file again and use the Dropper tool to sample color. On the Colors palette, I pushed the color towards the gray area of the triangle. Fill the canvas by using the Paint Bucket tool. Your canvas should be a solid color at this point.


When I'm working on paintings, I always work with a canvas ground color selected from some mid-tone region in the image to achieve color harmony. I then clone the subject, while keeping as many details as possible, but erasing the photographic pixels showing through in the final painting. I then proceed to paint the background space and work my way into the face and hair. I clean up the hair/background edges to finish the painting.

6. On the Brush Selector bar, choose Cloners from the Brush Category list box, then choose Wet Oils Cloner from the Brush Variant list box. Use the brush to clone detailed information from the image.


  • Opacity – 100
  • Resat – 100
  • Bleed – 0
  • Feature – approximately 4 - 7


Make sure to use the brush as a cloner, not a color brush. To switch to the clone color mode, click on the Clone Color button in the color palette. If it's grayed out, you're cloning. To switch to using the full-color brush mode, click the Clone Color button again.



7. Let's Paint some color into the background with a Chalk variant. Choose the Chalk Cloner brush variant from the Cloners brush category. Use this brush in full-color mode.


  • Opacity – 20
  • Grain – 10
  • Resat – 25
  • Bleed – 10
  • Jitter – 0




Use the Dropper tool, or press "D" on your keyboard, to sample a color from the existing image, and then add a bit more saturation to the color by using the Color palette. This makes the color ‘pop'. To ground the subject, I focus the darker colors on the bottom left, and then pull pinks from the flowers (subtle, not over-the-top hot pink) to generalize the color in the overall image. Using a soft pink will immediately direct the viewer's eyes from the flowers to her skin tones.

8. Let's blend our paint using the same brush, but set the Resat value to 0 so the brush becomes a blender.






  • Opacity – varying from 20-90
  • Grain – 10
  • Resat – 0
  • Jitter – 0

9. To add some interest, we'll blend the background with a new brush. From the Cloners brush category, choose the Flat Oil Cloner variant. This brush lets you achieve a bristly oil look.


  • Opacity – varying from 20-90
  • Resat – 0
  • Bleed – 100
  • Feature – 7

10. Paint following the direction of the petals, and keep your brush size a bit smaller than the area you're painting.

Choose the Camel Impasto Cloner brush variant from the Cloners brush category. Use the brush in cloner mode.


  • Opacity – varying from 10-50
  • Resat – 25
  • Bleed – 0
  • Feature – 2




View Part two of Portrait Painting Simplified in Corel Painter here:


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