Nib Preview Labels for Corel Painter
Credits: The following techniques and resources have been developed from an original concept by artist and illustrator Athos Boncompagni.
Although it is possible to give an indication of the general behavior/ properties of a particular variant by including words such as ‘Grainy’ or ‘Thick’ in the variant name, it could be useful to have a colour coding/ labelling system to identify a variant which will only work on say a Watercolor or Liquid Ink layer, and particularly variants which will work on the canvas, but not on transparent regions of a default layer for example (leading many users to incorrectly believe there is something wrong with their Painter installation).
The solution is really quite simple, and could possibly be made simpler still, by incorporating a direct drag and drop system into the application (one for the developers to consider). Basically, when a brush variant is saved, two additional files are created, which provide the nib and stroke previews for the Brush Selector and Brush Creator. I believe these previews are also created independently for display in the Tracker palette. The good news is that as these preview files appear to be jpeg files with nib/ stk file extensions, they have the same potential to be modified as any normal image file in Painter.
As it is the nib preview which always visible in the Brush Selector > Brush Variant window, these seemed the obvious candidates for a visual labelling system. Because Painter also allows us to store images in Image Portfolio libraries, this provides a wonderful storage solution for our nib labels, to use at any time in the future.
The above image demonstrates a typical workflow, where a label image is dragged from the Image Portfolio palette, onto the Captured Bristle.nib file in this example, which has already been opened in Painter. After dropping on the image, the label imagery is automatically placed on a new layer, where it can be repositioned using the Layer Adjuster tool from the Toolbox palette, or by using the keyboard arrow keys. The file is then saved as an Excellent quality jpg (with a nib file extension), and can be viewed in the Brush Selector, after the original brush library/ category is reloaded.
Note that we are not looking to label every nib file in Painter (unless you really want to), but just the ones which would help identify a certain variant behavior or characteristic, especially in categories which may contain a mixed selection of Liquid Ink, Watercolor or variants which do not add colour of their own for example. It would also be very convenient to drag an image from say the Image Portfolio (or some other template dialog), directly onto the brush variant nib preview window in the Brush Selector in order to assign a label, but this is not currently possible.
This labelling system is unlikely to be a Corel supported feature, and neither David Gell nor jitterbrush.com accept any responsibility for loss of data or performance issues with your computer, which could occur as a result of using this system and/ or associated resources.
Whilst there is nothing really difficult with the labelling technique, it is easy to get in a muddle, so my advice would be that if you are not very confident with navigating directories, moving and renaming files, or perhaps you are a novice with Painter, then it may be a wiser decision for you not to proceed with this.
Locating nib Preview Files
The preview .nib files for Painter are located within brush category folders, which in turn reside in brush library folders. Each nib file is named identically to the corresponding brush variant, except with a .nib file extension.
If a brush library has been installed in the Painter Application folder > Brushes folder, then the associated nib files are likely to be found inside the respective brush categories. For example;
Mac – Applications > Corel Painter 11 [or version number] > Brushes > Painter Brushes (the default brush library) > Acrylics > Captured Bristle.nib
Windows – Program Files > Corel > Corel Painter 11[or version number] > Brushes > Painter Brushes (the default brush library) > Acrylics > Captured Bristle.nib
For brush libraries installed within a user workspace folder, for example;
Mac – Users > [User Name] > Library > Application Support > Corel > Painter 11 > Default [or custom workspace name] > Brushes > [brush library name] > [brush category name] >
Windows – Documents and Settings > [User Name] > Application Data > Corel > Painter 11 > Default [or custom workspace name] > Brushes > [brush library name] > [brush category name] >
Windows Vista – Users > [User Name] > AppData > Roaming > Corel > Painter 11 > Default [or custom workspace name] > Brushes > [brush library name] > [brush category name] >
Note that it is also possible to have nib files relating to the same brush category in both of the above locations. A user modified nib file in a Workspace > Brushes sub folder will take UI display priority over an identically named file in the Application folder > Brushes sub folder, even though they may both have different content.
Opening/ Saving the nib files in Painter
For Windows PC
As the Windows O.S relies heavily on file extensions to identify the file type and which applications can open them, in order to open the nib preview files in Painter, the file extension must first be changed from .nib to .jpg
A word of caution. Whilst extension renaming can be done in situ, with the file still resident in the associated brush category folder, a conflict will occur when a variant is of the captured dab type, as there would then be two very different files in the same location, but having identical file names, with the potential for one of them being overwritten. The safest solution in this case would be to;
1. move the nib file temporarily to say the desktop
2. change the file extension to jpg
3. open the jpg file in Painter
4. edit the image (add the label imagery)
5. re-save as an Excellent quality jpg (using the same name, and with a jpg file extension)
6. change the file extension back to nib
7. finally move the modified file back to the original brush category folder.
In the case of the Mac OS, having to change the file extensions should not be necessary. Certainly in Painter 11, I found that nib files associated with custom variants would open in Painter, either through the File menu > Open dialog, or by double clicking the file in the Finder (or via. right click/ Ctrl + clicking the file icon and choosing Open With > Painter 11).
There is however an issue with the default Painter Brushes library nib files. In this case, I first had assign the correct File Type and Creator code to them. For this, I used a freeware utility called FileType 1.0.1 (bright page warning).
In the FileType utility dialog, I first used the Edit List open in to add ARX1 as the Creator (Painter 11), and JPEG as the file Type;
Note that the Creator codes for earlier Painter versions are;
ARTX for Painter X
ART9 for Painter IX
FSX3 for Painter 7 and 8.
Again, as the Mac O.S is not file extension critical, the nib files can be saved as Excellent quality jpg files with the .nib file extension. As I had kept my original nib files in situ, it was then a simple matter of reloading the original library/ categories to view the modified previews in the Brush Selector.
Nib Labels 1 Library
I have actually created four Image portfolio libraries containing label imagery for nib files. As it is possible to save the current layer blending mode with the Portfolio image, many of these have been saved with the Gel method for use against a light background, whilst at the same time being transparent to any underlying dab preview pixels. It is however possible to change the blending mode back to Default (or any other mode) prior to saving the jpg. This first library has a vertical bar label format, originally designed to be positioned to the left edge of the nib preview, but the choice is yours.
nib_labels1.zip (84 KB) Image Portfolio library for Corel Painter 7 and above.
After unzipping any of the Image Portfolio libraries downloaded from this page, ensure that the Image Portfolio palette is visible on the desktop (Window menu > Image Portfolio), then choose Open Library from the Image Portfolio palette flyout menu, navigate to the chosen library in the Choose Image Portfolio dialog, highlight it, then click Open. Unlike brush libraries, the location of Image Portfolio libraries can be anywhere on your hard drive. Note that these Image Portfolio libraries have a .por file extension. In more recent Painter versions, this was changed to .portfolio.
Nib Labels 2 Library
This second collection comprises of ‘top left’ corner labels. I thought the two twin corner labels could be used to identify cloner variants perhaps. Note that the visual quality in the image portfolio window is degraded by the up-sampling of these rather small labels, and the quality is much better in the final nib preview.
nib_labels2.zip (40 KB) for Corel Painter 7 and above.
Nib Labels 3 Library
The concept for this third library involves placing a framed border around the nib previews.
nib_labels3.zip (44 KB) for Corel Painter 7 and above.
Nib Labels 4 Library
A smaller but none the less useful collection of miscellaneous labels makes up the fourth and final collection. Of particular interest are the Triangle Reverse Out and Reverse Out labels, demonstrated top right in this screenshot.
nib_labels4.zip (8 KB) for Corel Painter 7 and above.