Corel Painter, like Photoshop, boasts a massive arsenal of powerful tools. The temptation for overenthusiastic artists is to employ as many as possible, but this can lead to cluttered, chaotic work. You can get stunning results with just a limited toolset, avoiding the daunting task of mastering a large number of tools.

Here Derek Lea focuses on a single tool, the Oil Palette Knife. It uses the colours and imagery from existing layers and spreads them around on a new layer, taking you far along the path from photo to painted portrait, with only fine detail to be added.

Derek began by assembling several elements in Photoshop, including a model shot and some hair extensions. The starting point for this tutorial, with a few predefined layers, can be downloaded on the right.

Step 1 Import in-progress.psd (above) into Painter. Select the Oil Palette Knife in the Brush Selector bar with the Size at around 20 pixels. Click the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers palette and name the result ‘canvas paint’ in the Layer Attributes box. Start painting on this layer in the cloudy region above, using a series of strokes to remove the photographic look of the image. Notice how the brush reacts with the imagery. Try to create strokes that mimic the contours and fluffiness of the clouds; with some effort, a painterly feeling will become more and more evident. Also go back and forth over the cable above the model’s head until it becomes obscured. You can smooth the effect by gently painting over regions more than once.