Corel Painter: Unlike any other paint program

We recently sat down with digital artist and Painter Master Michael Bast to chat with him about his work in both Corel Painter and other digital painting programs. As an artist, Michael makes his living using Painter. He shared his thoughts on how the program has influenced his career.


Q: How did you end up in digital arts?

A: I started out as an illustrator in 1980, doing conventional illustrations. It became clear that computers were going to impact even the nuance of commercial illustration, so I bought a computer (and spent a fortune on it). I stumbled upon an article about natural media paint programs. It peaked my interest because Adobe Illustrator wasn’t really my cup of tea.

When discussing Painter, the article talked about pencils, texture and other things I understood as an illustrator. So, I called another illustrator, who I knew was using it. He told me to come try it out. It was Painter 1.3, which was a much different program than it is today. Regardless, it still held this promise of natural media.

I bought Painter, started to learn it and within a few months, I was doing all my work digitally. This is back in 1991-92. It was fabulous to see how it impacted my career. The ‘90s were huge in building my career, as I was kind of the first cadet on the block doing digital illustration.

Q: How does Painter help you achieve success in your career?

A: It’s intricately woven into how I think and work as an illustrator. There’s nothing else out there like it. I’ve used Painter for 20 years now and I’ve made 100% of my living exclusively with it. It’s the greatest tool ever as far as a productive digital tool for an artist.

I use Photoshop a little bit, as a production tool. It’s always the last stop before handing it over to the client; to add layers and do some final color tweaking. The two programs provide a good marriage of capabilities.

Pecan Orchard Farm by Michael Bast

Pecan Orchard Farm by Michael Bast

Q: How do you like the new Particle brushes in Painter 2015?

A: The Particle brushes explore new territory that Painter didn’t do before. It gives you another vehicle to produce textures that are organic, and that can’t be found elsewhere. You have more interactive texture that looks very organic.

They are a great starting point for the future, in how you can make Painter brushes even more realistic. The way those particles whip around is like a brush tip on a surface. It’s really exciting and I see great potential with these brushes.

Q: Is there any tool you use in Painter now that you didn’t originally see a use for?

A: Like anything in Painter, you have to use your imagination a little bit. I never thought I could use the image hose, but I’ve used it a lot. I used it to create 12 drawings of a plant and applied it judiciously throughout a landscape. It looks awesome, and I did it in a fraction of the time.

When creating rose plants (thousands of plants), I weave this naturalistic pencil drawing around and it looks like I doodled every one.

Sweet Savanna by Michael Bast

Sweet Savanna by Michael Bast

Q: Do you have any final thoughts?

A: Photoshop is really all about manipulating a captured image that already exists. It’s not very good at creating things that don’t exist. That’s what Painter excels at. You can create something from nothing.

Painter is not going to make you an artist, but it lets you translate your natural gift in a digital environment. That’s what always attracted me to it. I think any artist who loves to draw should definitely use Painter.

I love this program. It’s the best thing to ever happen to me as an illustrator. It allowed me to participate in this digital world. I couldn’t do what I do in any program other than Painter.

Want to learn more about Michael’s work? Check out his website!

About Tanya Lux

Tanya Lux is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Corel's Digital Arts products including Painter, ParticleShop and Painter Essentials. Working remotely from Chicago, IL during her more than 10 years at Corel, customer interaction has been the key to keeping a pulse on the needs of the market.
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