Corel Tutorial: Painting a Concept Art Seascape with Cliff Cramp


Cliff Cramp is a veteran illustrator, concept artist and cover artist working in popular entertainment. His clients have included Lucas Films, 20th Century Fox, Nickelodeon TV Animation, Disney Entertainment, Warner bros, DC Comics and many more. In his professional work, Cliff uses both analog and digital methods.

Continue reading to learn why Cliff loves Corel Painter and check out his tutorial on How to Paint a Digital Seascape down below.


Why I use Corel Painter:

Corel Painter has a very intuitive workflow. The brushes simulate natural brushes very well and the brush library is extensive so you can experiment to your heart’s desire and find the perfect matches for your workflow.

#1 Setting up the canvas

I begin by setting up my canvas at 5400 pixels W x 3600 pixels H and 300 pixels/inch.

#2 Setting the composition

The early development of the painting is rapidly paced. My goal is to set the composition while establishing the tone, the color, and the temperature.  I develop the shapes, form and color quickly.

The initial block-in begins by creating shapes and completely covering the canvas using the Digital Watercolor – New Simple Water brush. It allows me to easily go from light to dark and also dark to light, based on the pressure I apply. For this stage I use a large size brush to block-in shapes and may reduce the size depending on the shape I’m painting. Once I’m satisfied with the composition, I dry it. I love that it can be instantly dried and worked back into. Go to Layers – Dry Digital Watercolor.

#3 Laying in form

Layers are useful for many different reasons, but in this tutorial I use them to increase color value and to paint with texture. Now I increase the color values by selecting all and pasting in place. Then I set the Layer Composite Method to Multiply. This increases the color value quickly for me. Then I collapse the composition and apply a digital glazing technique using opaque media and the Glazing Constructing brush to establish form in the rocks.

#4 Adding color

Now I select Digital Watercolor – New Simple Water and use a large size brush to glaze in color and continue to establish form in the composition. I bounce back and forth from opaque to transparent media to set up the composition color and mood, creating movement in the water without needing to add any further detail yet.

#5 Creating movement

Next I move to the Glazing – Stencil Paper – Pencil brush, adjusting the size as needed to either bring in more defined shapes or larger and softer shapes in the sea foam and rocks.

#6 Softening and sharpening edges

Now I use oil brushes to create a bit more texture. I select the Artists’ Oils – Real Flat Opaque brush and vary the size of the brush while working into the water and the rocks, taking them beyond the preliminary stage and adding more detail. Once the oil is laid down, I like to use Blenders to either soften or sharpen edges. At this point, I’m thinking about light side, dark side, warm side, cool side, hard edge, soft edge, and detail suggestion. I select the Blenders – Coarse Oily Blender and Course Smear Jitter brushes to establish hard and soft edges.

#7 Adding texture

Now I begin to develop the temperature of light and shadow using the texture brushes.  I experiment the most during this part of the painting. The variety of paper textures that Painter offers are wonderful, although I only used the basic paper for this painting.

Add a new layer above the canvas and then select Texture Cover – Airbrush 2.5D to add detail. Refer to the video for the exact texture modification steps. The size of the brush will vary depending upon where you add the texture and how strong you would like it to be. Once I’m done adding texture, I set the Layer Composite Method to Multiply and adjust the layer opacity until I like the look. Finally, I flatten the image.

#8 Finishing

Everything is set: composition, shape, form, color, and temperature. Now it is time for detail. I slow down and reinforce hard and soft edges. Highlights are heightened and bounce light is adjusted. To add detail, I use Chalk, Pastel and Crayons – Concept Art Jitter Smooth brush at a small size. I’m using a smaller size to reinforce my shadows and I also play with the detail of the foam in the water and add more cool bounce light. At this stage I’m giving my painting character and having fun with the detail.


Download Painter here and follow along with the video tutorial

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