backhomeChaparral grafix Tutorialsgraphicsindextutorialindexnext

Software: Ulead PhotoImpact 6
Author: Lynn Rainwater
Home Page: Chaparral grafix
Title: Chrysanthemums in Chinese Style
Skill Level: Intermediate
Additional Files: leafgreentexture.jpg for use as fill


Description: It's not difficult to use PhotoImpact to emulate Chinese painting techniques. This tutorial will show you how to get started. You will need the image below to use as a fill throughout the tutorial. Right click on it and save it to your hard drive.


Resolution: Have you been frustrated when you zoomed in on your canvas by the way everything becomes pixellated? The answer is to work at a higher resolution. Let me explain.
A common canvas size in PI is 400 by 400 pixels with resolution at 72 pixels per inch. While you are working I recommend you set your canvas at 1200 by 1200 pixels with 300 pixels per inch. This larger canvas is the equivalent of zooming in 300%, but without the distortions caused by your image breaking up into pixels.
If you need to view your entire image, select 34% zoom. This gives you the equivalent of 400 by 400 pixels, which is what you are aiming at for your final image. On fine detail, where you use zoom to increase to 200 or 300%, you will have to check your results frequently as you can easily make lines and objects too small to show up, or a fine line may be broken into pieces at 34% zoom.
After you are satisfied with your work, go to Format - Dimensions and reduce it to 33%. Then save it with Web - Image Optimizer. You don't have to worry about changing the 300 pixels resolution back to 72; Image Optimizer will do that automatically.

Instructions: Open a new image 1200 by 1200 at 300 pixels per inch. Canvas: white. With the Path Drawing Tool, Shape: ellipse, Color: white, Mode: 3D Pipe, draw an outline shape of the chrysanthemum blossom. Reduce the border to 2 or 3. While the shape is still selected, right click and duplicate it. Use the Transform tool, Freely Transform, to reduce it to the size of the flower center. Place it off center towards the top of the larger shape.


Working within the guides, use the Path Drawing Tool, Spline, to draw the petals. Mode: 2D Object. Color: Hex:#FFC928, a bright yellow. Or use another color appropriate for mums. There are not too many petals, so I drew each petal individually. Don't be upset if the petal you draw bears little resemblance to what you envisioned. Concentrate on placing the Edit Points where you want them. You can improve the shape while drawing straight lines or acute angles by holding down Control while you click. (See example image later in tutorial.) Then select the Path Edit Tool and click on Toggle on the Attributes bar. Now you can click on each Edit Point to move it or use the handles to adjust the shape. This can be time consuming, so a shortcut would be to draw just a few petal shapes, duplicate them, and use Transform - Freely Transform - Resize or Distort to change the shape of some of them and then use Transform - Rotate and Flip to align them around the flower center. You should have something similar to this:


The petals are outlined for added interest, but only parts of some petals are outlined, and sometimes the lines don't exactly line up with the petal edges. These outline shapes are small objects drawn with the Spline tool and filled with the leaf texture I have provided. First draw the shape, remembering to hold down Control when you want a straight line or have an acute angle. In the example image below, the first shows a petal drawn without holding down Control at the acute angle; a blob requiring editing. The second shows how a petal that needs no editing was obtained by holding down Control when doing the segment marked by x's. The third shows where to hold down Control when clicking on the outline shape; on the top, between the x's, on the botom, between the x and the o completing the shape. It will be easier to draw and edit the outline shapes at zoom 300%.

Editing a Petal

Make any small tweaks needed to edit the shape, then go to Edit - Fill and select the Image tab. From File browse to where you have image stored and on How to fill, select Tile the image. Then click OK. Repeat this procedure with each outline. Here's a closeup of what you should have:


The finishing touch for these petals is to include a little white here and there to better define the petals where they overlap without an outline or to add a little highlight or accent. But first, it's time to make these petals into one object. Go to Object - Select All Objects - Merge as Single Object. Then, while your new object is still active, use the Object Paint Eraser Tool at about size 4 to erase selectively. In the image below you can see where I erased part of some of the leaves.

Erased petals

Now for the center of the flower. This is easy; you only have to make one object, then duplicate it as many times as you need. Click on Paintbrush, Mode: Fine Brush, Size: 4, Color: Hex:#FF9B16, a bright orange, Paint in Object Mode. Draw a small round shape, then change the color to black and add some squiggles. My shapes are a little larger than they should be, but if I made them smaller I lost the clear black and orange effect. Click on Mode to go out of Paint in Object Mode. Use the Pick Tool to make the shape active and make the duplicates. When you place these in the center of the flower, do not place them in regular rows with equal space between them. A more random arrangement will look more natural. Now click on the elliptical flower guides with the Pick Tool and delete them.


The same steps are used to make the flower bud. With the Path Drawing Tool, Shape: circle, Color: white, Mode: 3D Pipe, draw an outline shape of the chrysanthemum bud. Reduce the border to 2 or 3. Use the Path Drawing Tool, Spline, to draw the petals. Mode: 2D Object. Color: Hex:#FFC928. The petal on the left edge will not be within the circle. Now click on the circle guide with the Pick Tool and delete it. Then create petal outline shapes, the small objects drawn with the Spline tool and filled with the leaf texture. First draw and edit the shape, then go to Edit - Fill and select the Image tab. From File, browse to where you have image stored and on How to fill, select Tile the image. Then click OK. Repeat this procedure with each outline to get this bud.

Mum Bud

The graceful, swirling stems are a snap for the Spline Tool. Note how the stem of the bud is in pieces. Be sure that each segment is sized correctly to form one stem. Fill with the leaf texture just as you did the petal outlines. Make the top section of the bud stem and the bud calyx as one object.

Mum Bud with Stem

Use the Spline Tool to create the small leaf right below the bud and then fill it, as shown above. Next, create the larger leaves. Make the large leaf on the lower left as two objects.


If you look at the large leaves in the finished image, you will see that on the one on the right the color/texture has not been changed, while the upper one on the left looks slightly darker, as does the left half of the bottom leaf, while the right half has been slightly lightened. To do this, while the upper leaf is active, select the Bristle Brush, round, Size: 90, Color: black, Transparency: 90, Preset: None. Run the brush over the leaf several times; if it turns too dark, Undo and try again. Do the same thing to the left half of the bottom leaf, then change the color to white and repeat on the right half of the bottom leaf. An alternative, easier really, (only I didn't think of it!), would have been to click on the Quick Color Controls, once on the plus on the sun to lighten the right half of the bottom leaf, twice on the minus to darken the other half of this leaf and the leaf above. To show how this can affect the image, I have darkened (clicked twice on the minus sun) the finished chrysanthemum composition and placed the changed image at the end of this tutorial.


I normally use the Paintbrush set to Size: 2-4, Color: black, Paint in Object Mode for making leaf veins. If your line goes astray, Undo is but a click away. But for this painting, I used the Spline Tool, Color: black, because I just couldn't see me drawing the delicate half circles (see image below) used in these stylized veins. So, you have a choice: Paint in Object Mode or Spline Tool.

Leaf Veins

That's it, your chrysanthemum in Chinese style is done. Click on the Object Menu and Merge All. To put your composition in a simple frame, go to Format, Frame and Shadow, and select 2D Frame from Style on the Frame Tab. Width: 10. Outward. One color: black. Click on Inner Shape and select Square from Custom Shapes. Click OK. Again, Object, Merge All. Now it's time to reduce the dimensions. Go to Format, Dimensions, and, with User-Defined selected and Keep Aspect Ratio checked, change the Width and Height to 33%. Click OK. Okay, I lied, you won't end up with a 400 by 400 pixel image, but that's because we added a frame. But it will be close, and it will be at 72 pixels per inch for use on the Web. Below is the version I darkened with the minus sun from the Quick Color Controls.

Darkened Composition