Watercolor or other Rendering Techniques


What is the best method to go about achieving Watercolor or other rendering effects?


Any version of PowerCADD (version 7 or newer recommended). Additionally: Corel Painter Essentials (formerly Painter Classic), Corel Painter IX , Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or other image editing applications of your choice


As a reminder, we offer custom rendering services where we use some or all of the above applications. In some cases, we also use 3D modeling and rendering applications as part of the above work flow to achieve the desired look and feel to renderings. Links to some of our examples can be found here:

With almost over two decades of experience with creating digital renderings with PowerCADD and related applications including Painter, Piranesi, PhotoShop and other early Mac OS? 6 painting applications, we've come to a few rules of thumb you may find helpful:

  1. In all cases, there is no single button - press R for Render - type solution. This is true no matter which rendering tool is being used nor how fancy the filtering effects may be.
  2. There is no one method or application which will always achieve the desired result. Sometimes you'll need to combine multiple effects or effects from different applications to achieve the best results.
  3. Which methods are best is a question of style preference and individual skill sets.
  4. It's easiest to start with a quality PowerCADD object type rendering first.
  5. A good quality PowerCADD rendering may mean only portions need additional effects using Painter, PhotoShop or other raster editing applications.

In many cases, when presented with options, clients often prefer the PowerCADD only rendering or PowerCADD rendering with portions filtered in Photoshop or Painter . This, despite the fact they originally envisioned something more artistic (whatever 'more artistic might mean).

It should be noted, when we're discussing rendering in the context of PowerCADD, Painter, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc., we're dealing with a purely two dimensional (2D) rendering environment. This is true whether the graphic is a typical plan, elevation or section drawing, or something generated with WildTOOLs perspective or 3D tools to have the appearance of a 3D rendering (often referred to as 2 1/2D). There are 3D painting and rendering products, such as Piranesi , which are very impressive applications however they require a 3D data set to work with. As such, in the 2D context of this article, such products are of limited value. The problem lies not with the product(Drunk themselves but with the fact the data set used in PowerCADD is 2D and as such lacks the 3D materials and spacial references which make products like Piranesi effective. We encourage readers who use 3D modeling products such as Sketch-up or Form-Z (and others) to explore using Piranesi as a possible solution for perspective renderings, the product merits serious consideration.

What to do

As you can likely already tell, we can't recommend a single method, tool or technique. However, here are few thoughts to help you get started.

Paper is just as important as any other component of the the rendering. In many cases, simply using the appropriate textured paper will go a long way to generating a water color, pastel or other effect. The trick is to get multiple paper samples (they are typically free if you know a good paper supplier). Don't forget to consider hand made papers too. Some hand made papers are specifically designed for inkjet printers, others aren't but that doesn't matter - don't be afraid to experiment as the results can be outstanding! (remember, failures can be the most valuable learning experiences).

A Wacom XTNL URL tablet (or other manufacturer of your choice) is a required tool to unlock the workflow and rendering style benefits and features of applications like PhotoShop and Painter (and to a lesser degree PowerCADD for some operations).

Photoshop effects are typically very good or excellent but no match for the true watercolor rendering effects which can be achieved using Painter. In fairness, Painter is designed to mimick natural rendering mediums, Photoshop is an image editing application - two very different things Wacom tablets all ship with Painter Classic which works quite well even in Classic/OS X and is an excellent place to start learning. Corel Painter 8 is significantly better and is native to Mac OS X.

It is often necessary to blend different effects, from different applications, to achieve the desired result which can be automated using Photoshop Actions or Painter Scripts. Typical workflow approaches include:

Option A:
PowerCADD object type rendering and stop there (or include some minor elements which take advantage of PowerCADD bitmap effects for highlighting)

Option B:
PowerCADD rendering ->Painter->Back to PowerCADD

Option C:
PowerCADD rendering -> Painter-> PhotoShop -> Back to PowerCADD

Option D:
PowerCADD rendering -> PhotoShop -> Back to PowerCADD

Here's an special tip for Wacom Intuos2 Tablet users and a perk for taking the time to visit our website and read this article - visit this link at Wacom's web site XTNL URL where you can get special pricing on purchasing our upgrading your copy of Painter and other perks! Instead of paying the typical retail price of ± US$300, you can pickup a copy of Painter for US$ 130 (or less - follow the ilnks as Corel will often knock off a few more dollars from the prices when purchased on-line!)

We hope that helps

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