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Painting with the Retouch Tool - Part 1
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Painting with the Retouch Tool - Part 1
The Clouds
Created by: theProf

Background and Clouds

In this four (4) part tutorial series, we will be creating and painting a Mountain Scene using the Retouch tool and in particular the Smudge Option. The techniques presented will provide both an orientation to using the Retouch Tool for painting and how its various options affect images.

Part 1 both explores using the Retouch Tool and its options and creates a background of clouds on a blue sky. The basic painting techniques are described in this tutorial.
Part 2 creates the Mountains and background Trees.
Part 3 creates the Lake and a Foreground Scene.
Part 4 finishes up the Painting with enhancements and a Frame.

There are no downloads needed for this tutorial series.

Introduction to Painting with the Retouch Tool

Before we begin our painting, let's explore how to prepare for painting a scene, the concept of perspective and light source as it relates to painting a scene, and then explore the Retouch Tool and its various options and how they work.

In developing a painting, it is useful to have an idea in mind what the painting you create will look like. In this tutorial we want a cloudy sky with mountains in the background, trees at their base, a lake, and in the foreground land, bushes and trees, a path, or anything else you might like to create.

Perspective basically is that objects in the distance are small in appearance/size while objects in the foreground are large. Also, there is a sky/land point or horizon. And, there is a vanishing point meaning that if a road, for example, started at the vanishing point and came to the foreground it would start as a single dot and then increase in size to the 'front' of the painting. Thus, the painting will take on the illusion of depth and dimension.

Light source determines both the position of the light and the height of the light from the horizon. The easiest way is to consider the position on the face of a clock and the height as a rising sun from horizon to high noon. Thus, how one develops shadows in the painting will not only define the light source but also contribute to the painting depth and its realism.

In our painting, the horizon will be about 1/4 down from the top of the canvas. The Vanishing Point will be in the center. The Light Source will be about 10 o'clock and mid-morning in height. In other words, the light source will emanate from the top left of the canvas. however, the actual light source will not be on the canvas itself but off in the distance.

Mountain Scene

No downloads are needed for this tutorial series..

Retouch Tool

Introduction to Using the Retouch Tool

Create a New Image: Create a New Canvas

Click on the File > New [CTRL+N].

Width = 400 pixels
Height = 400 pixels
Resolution = 'doesn't matter'
Background color = transparent
Image Type = 16.7 Million Colors (24 Bit)


Retouch Tool Options Window

Click on the Retouch Tool: Retouch Tool

In the Retouch Tool Options Window the following Options are available:

Retouch Option: At the bottom of the window, the Retouch Option must be set first before setting any other option. There are 19 possible Options each which will affect a painting in a different way.

Shape: There are six different brush shapes one may use.

Size controls the width of the brush tip.

Hardness controls the sharpness of the brush edges.

Opacity controls the transparency of the area covered.

Step controls the frequency of the brush tip touching the surface.

Density controls the amount of paint applied to an area.

Comment: In our painting we will use various Retouch Options as well as the Air Brush  Air Brush Tool, which has similar options.

We will use different option values at different times.


Let's Explore using the Retouch Tool

When painting a picture, remember we want to start with the background first. Then we will build up on it with the images first those in the distance and then others increasingly closer to the foreground of our painting. Also, keep in mind when we blend colors using the Retouch Smudge Tool, we want lighter colors on top of darker colors.


ForeGround - Background Boxes

Setting Styles Foreground to Gradient
Setting Texture Colors to Null

Gradient Options Window

Set the Background Colors

Foreground: Light Blue (20, 130, 250)
Background: Dark Blue (0, 85, 175)

Use a Gradient Pattern

(When setting Styles and Texture Color Box, click on Right Arrow and select the style or pattern wanted.)

Styles Foreground: Gradient (Second icon from left)
Styles Background: Solid or 'Brush' (First Icon)

Textures: Both Foreground and Background = Null (Last Icon)

Click on the Styles Foreground Color Box to bring up the Gradient Options Window and use these settings:

Set the Gradient Pattern = #1 (Foreground-Background) by clicking on the arrow in the box with a clock hand.

Invert Gradient = Checked
Angle = '20'
Repeats = '1'
Click on 'OK' to set the gradient pattern

Flood Fill Canvas

Flood Fill Your Canvas

Click on the 'Flood Fill' Tool in the 'Tools Palette' Flood Fill tool

Left Click in your canvas to paint it with the gradient pattern.


Begin Painting the Clouds

In this next exercise we will use the 'Retouch Tool' and the 'Smudge' Option and create the backdrop for our Clouds. The 'Smudge' option essentially works like taking your finger on an oil painting and smearing or smudging the colors. It blends the colors together to get different effects and shapes and patterns. Thus, we can create the effect of Clouds by the settings we use.

We will use the gradient background and the smudge option to create a cloud background. The key in using the Retouch Tool is to experiment and experiment and experiment. The instructions below will provide a basis for using this tool.

Just experiment. If you do not like an outcome, then use the Undo function. Edit > Undo or [Control+Z] and start again.

Step 1. Painting Circles with Smudge

The Retouch Tool Settings

Click on the 'Retouch Tool' and set the Option = 'Smudge'

Shape = 'Round'
Size = '100'
(Later, we will use different Shapes and Sizes for the brush.)

Hardness = '50'
Density = '100'
Opacity = '100'
Step = '50'
(These settings will capture a round section of the canvas and every 50 pixels paint it at almost the original of the section initially captured.)

We will draw four (4) lines on our canvas, the first from left to right, the second below the first from right to left, the third below the second from right to left and the last below the third from left to right. Each line drawn will have a number of circles connected together to form the line. Some lines will be light others dark, dependent upon where you capture the first circle.

(Also, keep in mind the general shape of clouds you want to paint. I am considering puffy clouds in this painting.)

1. Start in upper left corner and paint in a straight line to the right leaving a section of blue on the right as is.
2. Start at right side just under the last painted round section and paint a line left under the line you just painted above.
3. Start again at the right side just under the blue line just painted and paint another blue line to the left leaving some lighter blue between the two lines.
4. Start at the bottom left corner and paint a line upward and toward the right corner leaving lighter blue above this line.

The result will now only very slightly resemble shaded clouds. The next step will actually smudge these 4 lines to create a backdrop for our clouds.

Softening and Shaping with Smudge

Smudge It

Reset the Options as follows:
Shape = 'Right Slash'
Size = '50'
Hardness = '50'
Density = '50'
Opacity = '50'
Step = '5'

Draw your paint brush in diagonal lines smudging the circles. You will need to experiment how much you draw the lines. You should draw them diagonally from top left to bottom right. You should also draw them vertically down creating variations in the outcome.

You might even draw horizontally from right to left as well as left to right. You will smudge and soften the circular colors. Think about how puffy clouds look. The more you use the tool the more you soften the edges of the circles.

The result will now only begin to resemble shaded clouds. The next step will paint white circles to make the clouds more distinctive.


Save Your Work

Now is a good time to Save Your Work. Label your work 'Retouch-01.psp'

Use: File > Save As > retouch-01.psp

Painting White Circles with the Air Brush

Give Clouds Definition

To give the clouds definition, we use a two-step process. The first step is to use the 'Air Brush' and paint some 'White' Circles on the Canvas in various areas. The final step is to again use the Smudge Tool and shape the clouds.

First, in the Layer Palette, 'Duplicate' your layer (Right Click on the Layer, and then select 'Duplicate'.) Work on the duplicated layer now.

Set your Foreground = White (Solid)

Then, Use the 'Air Brush' Air Brush Tool with these settings.

Shape = 'Round'
Size = '50'
Hardness = '50'
Density = '25'
Opacity = '25'
Step = '25'

Now just paint where you think the clouds might exist. (Paint some circles joining them together and other circles just as a single spray of the can. Paint some circles near the middle and bottom of the canvas.)

NOTE: It does not matter really where you paint as the white circles will be smudged into looking like clouds. Just consider where you want the clouds on your canvas. If you paint a single spray, your cloud will be smaller than if you connect sprays (circles) together, or draw a short line by holding the mouse button down. As you paint, leave some of the darker areas visible. (The bottom area will become the lake in the next tutorial so those clouds will be reflections.)

If you don't like the results, use 'Undo' [Control+Z] and start again.

Smudging the White Circles

Smudge It

Now we will again use the Retouch Tool and the Smudge Option to smudge the circles and create our clouds.

Use the 'Retouch Tool' Air Brush Tool with these settings.

The 'Smudge' Option is already selected.
Shape = 'Right Slash'
Size = '50'
Hardness = '50'
Density = '50'
Opacity = '50'
Step = '5'

Do Not Over do the smudging action. Just lightly draw your brush diagonally, or horizontally from left to right. Smudge the circles shaping them into puffy clouds. You might want to try drawing the brush vertically to create darker or lighter areas in the clouds. However, always finish up drawing your brush horizontally from left to right. Remember, the more you use the smudge the more the colors blend.

If you don't like the results, use 'Undo' [Control+Z] and start again.


Save Your Work

Now is a good time to Save Your Work again. Use the same filename: 'Retouch-01.psp'

Use: File > Save As > retouch-01.psp

Smudging the White Circles

Darken Cloud Bottom -- An Optional Step

We can use another 'Retouch Tool' option, the 'Darken RGB' option to give the bottom of the clouds a darker shadow appearance. This step is to be used very judiciously. Only paint very lightly on the bottom of the clouds you want to shade.

In the 'Retouch Tool' at the bottom of the window, click on the Down arrow and scroll up to select 'Darken RGB' and use these settings:

Shape = 'Round'
Size = '25'
Hardness = '50'
Density = '50'
Opacity = '50'
Step = '10'

Do Not Over do the painting action. Just lightly paint circles under areas of clouds you think could be a shadow.

Finish up by again selecting the 'Smudge' option with no changes in values. Just lightly smudge the clouds again in one direction to blend the darker area into a shadow effect. Remember, the more you use the smudge the more the colors blend.

If you don't like the results, use 'Undo' [Control+Z] and start again.

Optional: You might want to experiment with the Mode Options in the top layer. Try 'Luminance' or 'Lighten'. You might just want to leave it set to normal.

When Satisfied, Save your work again as the PSP file.


Part One is now Finished

We have now completed the First Part of this Tutorial Series by learning to use the Retouch Tool and Smudge to paint Clouds on a background. In our next Tutorial (Part two) we will paint Mountains and pine trees in the distance using similar techniques. Remember, save this painting as we will begin with this canvas next time.

Have fun experimenting with Smudge and making Clouds.

-- Prof --