Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives

Painter tips from Karen Sperling

Blending the "Smart" Way

Corel Painter IX.5, a free download from the Corel site for owners of Painter IX, has some nifty new palettes for speeding up the steps for turning photos into paintings.

The new Smart Blur feature streamlines the process of blending, which many photographers use to give faces a painterly look. Blending involves painting stroke-by-stroke with one of the Blenders' category brushes. Now Smart Blur does the blending for you. Here is a photo by Mary Wynn Ball before and after Smart Blur was applied.


I opened the photo in Painter and chose File > Clone and named the new clone (File > Save As).
I chose the new Underpainting palette in the Window menu.

In the Style drop-down menu I chose Increase Contrast to make the photo more dramatic.

Then I set the Smart Blur Amount slider at 30 percent and clicked Apply. I experimented a lot with this slider and I found that the results varied based on the size, resolution, clarity and contrast in the photo. You’ll have to experiment on your own photos to get the desired effect. Another thing I found was that on larger photos, applying the blur several times worked better.

Once you’re done with Smart Blur, save. This is your new clone source.


Photo © 2006 Mary Wynn Ball. Painting © 2006 Karen Sperling.

I used more of Painter IX.5's new features to turn the photo into a painting. See my May 2006 Artistry Tips and Tricks for details!

Artist, author and photographer Karen Sperling is the original Painter expert. She wrote the manuals for the first several versions of Painter, authored several Painter books, has had many Painter tutorials published in magazines and has taught Painter to artists and photographers at movie companies, design firms, universities and professional photography organizations. She currently publishes Artistry Tips and Tricks newsletter and Artistry Corel Painter tutorials, and leads Artistry Corel Painter Retreats, and the new Artistry Corel Painter Portraits for Profits Workshops—all of which include information about art concepts in addition to Painter instructions. She paints commissioned portraits, and her Painter art has been displayed in several group shows. Karen's art, and information about her tutorials and classes, can be found at