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Painter is More than Just a Pretty Face says Heather the Painter

Nikki HarrisonComment

French words. Lots and lots of French words. And not the appropriate, family friendly ones. 

It’s too often that words get in the way and block us from moving from beginner to expert level especially when we make the leap between software. And even greater, software jumps outside of the comfort zone of our favorite Adobe Photoshop. 

Hi, I’m Heather, known as “Heather the painter” and I’ve spent a decade helping creatives make the leap from buying the software, to actually using the software known as Corel Painter proficiently. It always blew me away when I’d go to a conference and ask “how many people own Corel Painter?” Most hands go up. “Okay, now how many of you have OPENED Corel Painter?” Only a few hands remain. Even fewer would use it on a regular basis.


It’s okay. I get it. It’s a totally different beast than Adobe Photoshop. A completely sexy, gorgeous beast, but a DIFFERENT beast. When I first opened it 14 years ago I thought oh crap. What have I gotten myself into? At that time there were few resources available on learning the software with the steep learning curve, and that was always crashing.  What I can tell you 14 years later is it was the one of the best decisions of my life sticking with her. She’s needy, highly intelligent, craves your attention, but works harder than anything out there! Her brush engine is unlike any I’ve ever seen. Coming from an organic painting background (oils, acrylics, watercolors), the brush engine was the closest thing to traditional media on the market. So making the transition to digital painting from the easel tool-wise made sense. Stick with it. There are plenty of resources out there nowadays with and my personal channel or full length tutorials at You can even find Painter loving groups on Facebook such as Brush Strokes. 

Click the button below and use the following code to take advantage of a $15 savings on Heather's new Intro to Corel Painter 2018 - also good if you have an older version of Painter as well!!

I had used Adobe Photoshop for about 3 years before diving into Painter. And the interface was deceptively similar, but only in user interface. When you started using terms like “cloning” or “tracing paper” the glazed eyes come out and the French words surface.  Photoshop “cloning” was a different term than Corel’s “cloning.” Semantics. They get in the way especially when you’re relying on terminology specific software. But, push through. It’s worth it! The more I explored cloning in Painter, the more I realized the KEY TO PAINTER. The reason it’s so expensive. Cloning in Corel Painter is simply loading your brush with any image you’d like (yes, even photographs!) and painting it in that brush’s style! You control the brushwork. You can even control the detail that comes through. This changed my world forever. Cloning meant I didn’ t have to freehand paintings from scratch, but marry the workflow of cloning plus freehand brushwork! The key to cloning is setting up your workspace correctly. In versions from Corel Painter X3 (also known as 2013), and newer, simply open your retouched file and click file/clone to start your new document. Before you get excited, start a save file/save as and rename it. I’ll borrow the retouched file’s name, and place “1 ptr” in front of it saving as an uncompressed PSD. You can also do this as a File/Quick clone instead, which will apply a set of actions to your document that are setup in your preferences. This is typically what I use in everyday paintings.


Photographers making the leap from Photoshop to Painter often get frustrated in what I mentioned above - the word “cloning.” In Painter, it does NOT mean cloning in Photoshop. Push through. The user interface is also more elaborate with more options and more buttons and customizations. The brush building alone have far more elaborate customizing options. Until you get over the initial shock of being in this new environment, don’t try building new brushes. Just ease yourself in. Baby steps. Painter provides you with several hundred gorgeous variants! Try the Artists Favorites: Impressionist brush or the Oils: Smeary Round brushes to start! Once you make friends with Painter, visit her on a regular basis. 

Layers. Painter has those, too. They’re not as sophisticated as Adobe Photoshop, but they’re perfect for painting. Let’s keep it simple while you’re adjusting to Madam Painter. I rarely paint in layers. Unlike the rule in Photoshop where you never touch your original file, you can do this in Painter. It’s okay! Remember, you’ve made a duplicate document from file/clone (or file/quick clone) so your original file is safe. In fact, I typically always paint on this original layer (Background). Go ahead, and be naughty. Paint on that layer! Feels good, doesn’t it? If you feel you’ve messed up beyond repair, go to Cloners/straight cloner and it’ll bring back your original file!

Painter is more than just a pretty face. I’ve used her for creating hand drawn words (calligraphy) that are used in logos, marketing, and more. Plus, you can hand paint your own backgrounds and save a library. It’s a wonderful marketing point telling your clients you have one of a kind backgrounds that you created! You can create clipping masks (black shapes for clipping masks in Photoshop), or illustrate custom cards. The list goes on. Painter is a beast. A gorgeous, sexy beast. 

Painter and Photoshop work together beautifully in the digital painting world. They’re not meant to replace the other. If you’d like to learn a methodical approach with every step covered (including mistakes), please consider visiting for detailed tutorials!

The tutorials will help you keep the French words to a minimum. 

Happy creating!



Heather Michelle Chinn is a Corel Painter Master Elite, Corel Approved Painter Educator, M. Artist, Cr., M. Photog., and Golden Artist Educator

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Master Artist, M. Ph. Cr, Corel Painter Master Elite, Corel Approved Painter Educator,

Golden Artist Educator,

Heather Michelle Chinn was born with a paintbrush. From early on she would

paint anything with any medium within reach from food to nail polish. Her earlier

masterpieces were found on ceilings and cafes in professional murals in

Fredericksburg, Virginia. For several years, Heather painted whimsical watercolors for

the international stationary company Mon Petite Chou as well as large scale backgrounds for photographers.

Heather “the painter” is an experienced presenter in live and recorded demonstrations. She has been teaching Corel Painter and mixed media at multi-day workshops, live seminars and webinars, and PPA affiliate schools all across the country for the last ten years. Known for what is consistently called her “calming” manner of speaking, being graceful under pressure, concise and thorough, with easy-to-follow Corel Painter tutorials Heather is a natural educator across multiple platforms. Her education style is methodical, and concise. Taking the Gestalt approach, she teaches what not to do to equally balance how to also correctly tackle a workflow, which has successfully and consistently turned out highly productive artists.
Her time is devoted and divided between being a Mom to her daughter (the “munchkin” who also loves to draw), mentoring artists, and producing educational materials. It is said that Heather’s “soul” is often very clearly seen in her work. Her elegant brushwork and transcendent color harmonies capture the ethereal essence of the subject and evokes an emotional dialogue between viewer and painting. Her belief that anyone can easily use Corel Painter to create their own keepsakes led her to a speaking platform at the beautiful Phoenix Symphony Hall for the Professional Photographers of America’s International Convention in Phoenix, Arizona in January 2014. Heather made her television debut on Lifetime Television’s “The Balancing Act” in April of 2014.