I love creating textile designs more than anything these days, and the program I use most often to create my designs is not Photoshop. Don’t get me wrong…I use Photoshop every day and despite my initial reluctance to learn it, I do love it. But since 2009, I have been using Corel Painter for my digital artwork and I gleefully admit all of my designs start out in Painter. I love the different brushes and effects the program offers and although I truly believe the platform is really intuitive, my familiarity with the program lets me try new things all the time. That’s how I started creating batik prints for my textile design business.
So here’s a quick tutorial on how to use Painter to create batik prints like this one:
The first step is to get the design done in a simple black and white form. I simply drew a leaf motif in an 800×800 pixel square with the calligraphy brush. I kept my marks on a transparent layer so I could later select just the black portion of the design.
The next step was to open a new document and paste the design into the form above – with four of the motifs meeting in the center (I used the transform tool to flip the pattern horizontally and vertically so it was simple). Once I had four motifs meeting in the center, I cropped the image so I had only pattern with a thin border around it. Then I collapsed the four transparent layers, leaving the background separate.
This is where the fun starts! I added three blank layers and got down to adding some color to those layers. I used a variety of brushes from the “Cracked” Brush category. My favorites for this technique are the Aged Grain, Crackd, and Smashed. I used those brushes on one layer until I had completely covered the area in one dark color (red) and three lighter colors of pink. I changed the brushes and layered them over each other until I had a nice mix of shades.
You can see how I left some areas darker and other areas are more a faded and grayed out pink tone. This layer is primarily for texture, so I don’t want it perfect. A true batik has darker patches of dye and colored wrinkles – and the Cracked brushes give me this effect.
The next stage is removing the “batik” lines. In order to do this, I move onto the leaf pattern layer and select the layer content. Then I hide the layer so I can see what I’m doing and move back to the Cracked layer. Using the Pointed Bleach Eraser set to about 12% I carefully begin to remove the color from the pink layer until the leaf pattern can easily be seen against the background. I don’t remove all the color or texture, though. Bringing that layer back to pure white would make it too “clean” for a true batik look.
This is how it looks – nice contrast in most areas, but no where near done.
My next step is to use one of my blank layers on top of the cracked layer and begin toning my design with other colors because batik patterns are rarely one color (or at least mine aren’t). On this new layer, I use the digital watercolor brushes to create some new tones of gold and deepen the reds.
As you can see, I am rather random with this layer and I also added a sprinkling of digital salt on top of the colors. That really makes the design pop because the dying process for batik never looks completely solid. This layer remains set to “gel” so it colors the underlying layers nicely. It’s still a little rough at this point:
The “Just Add Water” blender comes into play at this stage because I need to soften the color transitions between the pinks, reds, and golds. If you look at the bottom right part of the center, you can see where the colors really look like they hand dyed. The opacity of the muted pink (the milky patch in the center bottom of the design) needs more work to make it look like a true batik.
The final step is to add yet another layer (between the gel watercolor layer pictured above and the Cracked layer) and set it again to “gel”. I add some darker tones (crimson and gold) and use the “Just Add Water” blender to bring them together with a little gray. This layer is just to tone the design and get rid of the opaque spots from the cracked layer.
My final step is to select the leaf content again (the transparent pattern layer that’s been hidden until this point) and once again on the Cracked layer, use the Pointed Bleach eraser to remove the opaque colors from the design. This makes the gel layers (the light pink layer shown above and a darker layer) really sing. If you select your layer content and then hide that layer (the pattern) you can add to the gel layers using the watercolor brushes, blenders, and salt until you get just the tones you want.
I hope this quick post inspires you to try your own batik design with Painter. If anything is unclear, leave a comment below and I’ll clarify. That’s the problem with being so familiar with a program – I don’t remember what I didn’t know when I started!