Impresso Pro Tutorial

How to Use the Background Paint, Soft Paint & Painted Edge Layers

Getting Started with Paint Layers and Settings

To start, drag and drop a photo on the open application of Impresso Pro. When a photo is placed, it will automatically render into a painting using the Alla Prima paint style. If you look on the Layers Palette to the right, you will see both the Alla Prima paint style and the Canvas on their own individual layers. To adjust the paint style, click on the layer named Alla Prima and watch as the settings load below on the adjust pane. There you can change stroke size and style along with other options specific to this effect.

Background Paint—Add Layer

Use the Background Paint style to create distances in a painting by knocking down detail in the scenery and background elements. To use the Background Paint, go to the top of the Layers Palette, click on the ( + ) plus sign, and choose the Background Paint style from the menu.

Background Paint—How it Works

The Background Paint style works differently then the Alla Prima and En Plein Air ones because it requires a brush to paint on the effect. Once the Background Paint layer is added brush over the background scenery with a large brush size to see the effect. This is quick work and very forgiving so don’t worry if you soften the wrong areas, you can quickly correct them by changing the brush tool to the eraser one and paint the details back in. Once brushed, adjustments can be made to the background paint by going to the adjust panel to edit the stroke size, stroke style and brush depth or to change the artistic finish.

Background Paint—About Brush Adjustments and Clearing

The Background Paint brush can be adjusted to show more or less detail. To adjust the brush, you must first decrease the brush opacity slider before you use it. This gives you control over how much detail shows through when you brush the background elements. If you want to completely remove the brushed on effect and start fresh, go the Mask located right of the brush slider and choose Clear.

Another way to use the Background Effect is to first the brush Opacity Slider to see that it’s at the default setting at 90%, and again do this before you brush on the effect. When you are finished brushing go to the adjust panel and turn the Layer Opacity down a bit to blend the Background Paint with the layer below. This technique is a great for adding back in brush texture to the knocked down areas. Now turn the Background Paint layer off and on to see the changes.

Soft Paint—Add Layer

To add detail to the foreground using the Soft Paint effect, you will need to add a Soft Paint layer. To do this, go to the layers palette and click on the ( + ) plus sign to drop down the menu layer styles and choose Soft Paint. When adding detail Zoom into the area using the magnifying glass on top with plus sign or use keyboard (command +) for Mac or (control +) for Windows.

Soft Paint—How it Works

This paint style like the background paint requires a brush to paint it on, and again, brush on quickly to the areas where detail is needed. For elements in the middle of the scene try reducing the brush Opacity Slider for a softer detail when brushed.

Soft Paint—Realism or Soft Paint

This effect was created for compositions where artists may want to combine Realism with Impressionism; and for photographers who need their subjects to retain their original quality.

To adjust the effect, first brush it on then use the Soft Paint slider on the adjust panel to change the detail. You can move the slider right for a subtle painterly feel called soft paint, or left for realism.

Artistic Finish—How to Add

Adding an artistic finish is a great way to add mottled light and color to the brush strokes. You can do this by going to the Artistic Finish slider on the adjust panel, then add the finish in by moving the slider right. Now turn the Soft Paint layer on and off to see the changes.

Artistic Finish—Link to Unify Color

To unify the Artistic Finishes across all the paint layers, click the Link icon on.
When a link is set to on the artistic finish globally changes all other paint layers to it. If you want to return the paint layer finishes back to the way they were, just turn the link off and they will change back. You can do this with any finish on any layer by repeating the process and all layers will change to the one you set…also any new layers you add will also link to that finish…this feature makes it easy to unify color or keep the finishes separate.

Aged Paint—How to Use

Aged Paint cracks the paint in a Linear or Angled fashion, to give the painting an appearance of age. To add the Aged Paint style, go to the top of the Layers Palette, click on the ( + ) plus sign, and choose Aged Paint from the menu. When an Aged Paint layer is created the settings for it can be found on the adjust panel below. Here you can fine tune the cracks and choose between either a Linear or Angled crack style.

The linear and angled crack styles have the same settings the only difference is the Linear crack uses a 360’ ring to set the Crack Direction.

To age a painting one Aged Paint layer is all it takes to crack a painting, however if you want an abundance of cracks add another Aged Paint layer then set one to Linear and the other to Angled; or duplicate the Aged Paint layer and set both to the same crack style then offset the cracks using the Irregularity slider.

Aged Paint—About the Settings

All sliders have pop-up descriptions to tell you what they do. Here is a quick explanation of the more commonly used ones for Aged Paint.

  • Spacing increases the width between the cracks. Use this to make the cracks look smaller or larger.
  • Branch Length connects the lines between the spacing.
  • Paint Sensitivity recesses cracks into darker areas of the paint. Use this slider to see less cracks in darker areas and more in lighter ones.
  • Irregularity offsets the angle of the crack. For lots of crack texture, duplicate the layer, use the Irregularity slider to offset the cracks, then move the Align slider all the way to the left.
  • Crack Strength adds depth to the crack.
  • Crack Color is great way to match the canvas color, for times when the Canvas layer is set to color rather then white, or when a darker or lighter crack is needed to make it stand out

Aged Paint—About Brushing

When an Aged Paint layer is added it auto fills the painting with cracks, or you can add them yourself using the Brush Tool. This is how you do it:

  • Remove the cracks by going to Mask setting found to the right of the brush tool. Clear removes the cracks, Invert reverses the brushed on area, and Fill covers the painting with cracks.
  • Use the brush tool to paint on cracks or switch to the Eraser to remove them.
  • Set the Opacity slider to 100% for full on crack strength, or decrease the slider for lighter ones.
  • Adjust the cracks using the adjust panel. Try receding cracks into darker areas using the Paint Sensitivity slider—this gives the crack great variation.

Painted Edges—How to Use

To add an Edge, go to the Layers Palette and select the Canvas to see all the settings for this layer.

Once the canvas layer is selected add an edge by clicking the thumbnail right of the Painted Edge slider, this will open the Library of Edges. Once an edge is picked use the selection box dots around it to resize and position it.

Painted Edges—Hard and Painted Edges

Use the edges from the library as is, or change them to paint with the Painted Edge slider. The Painted Edge slider creates a hard edge when moved left, or adds soft brush strokes when moved right with these options: Edge Stroke Size slider changes the size of the brush strokes, and Edge Blend softens and blends the paint in to canvas.

Painted Edges—Edges and Canvas Color

A way to enrich the painted edge is with the Canvas Color. To do this, select the Canvas Layer and to the right of the Canvas Color slider click the box to open the color picker. A good way to decide what color to use color is by picking the prominent one in the painting and then adjusting the color to a darker or lighter value.

Now if you prefer, bleed the edge off the canvas by enlarging the selection box to see less canvas color, or use the reset arrow to restore the edge to it’s default setting.

Tip—Match Crack Color to Canvas Color

You can match the crack color on Aged Paint to the Canvas Color and it looks amazing! Do this by first looking at the RGB values used on the canvas’ color picker, then go to the Aged Paint layer to enter the same values using the color box on Crack Color. Adjust the strength of the new color using the crack color slider.

Ellipse Tool

An ellipse detail tool can be added to any Paint Layer for quick detail without brushing. Use one as a focal point in the scene or use multiple ones for detail in face and hands.

About Mask

Use the Mask options found to the right of the brush opacity slider. Use these to:

  • Fill the entire painting with a paint style
  • Clear the paint style and start fresh
  • Invert brushed on areas


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