Custom Water Color Brushes Corel Painter

Corel Painter Custom Water Color Brushes

This article is by Skip from the January Issue of Digital Paint Magazine. In the magazine article Skip has screen shots that illustrate the text. We could not utilize those in this article. The January issue is being re-designed at will be on the back-issue page later on.

Custom Watercolor Brushes too slow?

Try putting them in a library.

Most of us are brush junkies.  We must have the latest brush category even though we may never use it.  We proudly load it and marvel at the ever expanding list of brush categories we see when we click on our Brush Selector. And, we are frustrated to find many of our variants painfully slow.

I was chatting with a friend a couple of nights ago, and she was complaining about my Real Watercolor 2 and Soft Water custom watercolor brushes being too slow.  She loved the brushes, but said that they were all but useless.  We were connected through Go To Meeting, so I asked to see her screen and watch her use the brushes.

What I saw was a nightmare.  My friend would make a stroke and while waiting for the stroke to render she brushed her hair or wrote a note; she did anything to keep from staring at the screen in disgust.  Together we unfairly vilified the program, but the solution resided only a few clicks away and Painter was not the fault.  We moved the watercolor brushes into a separate library and a shocking miracle happened.  I am not kidding, the brushes flowed across the canvas with astonishing speed.  Why?  In the Painter Help file, you will find the following entry:

Brush Libraries and Memory Usage

Brushes are loaded into memory when you open Corel Painter, so adding brushes to the default brush library increases the need for RAM. If you’re working close to the memory threshold, you can organize new brushes into secondary libraries. It is also a good idea to limit the number of items in each library.

When you want a different brush set, just switch libraries. This helps Corel Painter be more efficient with memory usage, and makes it is easier to find a particular item.

The problem is and has always been that most of us load our brush categories into Painter’s default library putting a huge load on our RAM and slowing the efficiency of Painter. Some of us load in the library under the Program Files using the following path:

MAC: Applications > Corel > Painter 11 (X) > Brushes > Painter Brushes

Windows XP:  Program Files > Corel > Painter 11 (X) > Brushes > Painter Brushes

Windows 7 or Vista: Program Files (x86) > Corel > Painter 11 (X) > Brushes > Painter Brushes

The rest of us load custom brushes into the same library under the User Folders.  Here are the paths:

MAC: Users > [User Name] > Library > Application Support > Corel > Painter 11 (X) > Default [or custom workspace name] > Brushes > Painter Brushes

Windows XP: Documents and Settings > [User Name] > Application Data > Corel > Painter 11 (X) > Default [or custom workspace name] > Brushes > Painter Brushes

Windows 7 or Vista: Users > [User Name] > AppData > Roaming > Corel > Painter 11 (X) > Default [or custom workspace name] > Brushes > Painter Brushes

Notice that all paths end with Painter Brushes. That is the name of the default brush library.  We do not need to place all of our custom brushes into this library; in fact, it is recommended that we create separate libraries for them.  Guess what?  It is surprisingly easy.

To create a new Brush Library:

  1. Close Painter and follow the path that fits your machine and operating system:

MAC: Users > [User Name] > Library > Application Support > Corel > Painter 11 (X) >            Default [or custom workspace name] > Brushes

Windows XP: Documents and Settings > [User Name] > Application Data > Corel > Painter       11 (X) > Default [or custom workspace name] > Brushes

Windows 7 or Vista: Users > [User Name] > AppData > Roaming > Corel > Painter 11 (X) >     Default [or custom workspace name] > Brushes

  1. Under the Brushes folder, add another folder, which will be a new Brush Library. Name it anything you like but something that will help you remember what is in the library, for instance, Watercolor Brushes, My Favorite Brushes, Seldom Used Brushes, etc.

To load custom brushes into the new brush library:

To recognize a custom brush category, Painter needs to see two items in the library folder.  First, it must see a 30 x 30 pixel jpeg that is used as the icon by the Brush Selector.  Second, it must find the custom brush folder, which holds numerous files describing the variants in the category.  If either of these is missing, Painter will not see the custom brush category.

  1. Navigate to the Painter library that holds your custom brush category.
  2. Select the custom brush folder and its companion jpeg and move…do not copy…physically move the two items to the new brush library.  See examples:

Now that we have loaded our custom brushes into a custom library, it is time to load the library in Painter and watch our watercolor brushes zip around the canvas.

Load a Custom Library

  1. Launch Painter and open a new document.  Watercolor works best at lower resolutions.
  2. Click on the dropdown menu of the Brush Selector.
  3. Select Load Brush Library…
  1. In the Brush Libraries pop-up window, select the Library of your choice.  In this example there is only one choice other than the default, Painter Brushes.
  1. Click on the dropdown categories menu of the Brush selector and you will see only two categories, Real Watercolors and Soft water.
  1. Select a category and then click on the dropdown menu for the variants and you will see that your variants are all in place in a new library.  Begin to paint.  If you system has been very slow in the past, you will notice a great improvement.  If however, you are not hitting the ceiling on your RAM, you will probably not notice much improvement.

Tip: Moving between brush libraries

Most of us would go nuts having to load brush libraries every time we want to change variants.  Good news, it isn’t necessary.  All we have to do is create a custom palette with at least one variant from each library.  It does not have to be a variant from each category, just from each library.

Create a custom palette from each library:

  1. While the default Painter Brushes library is loaded, drag any variant on the workspace and a custom palette will appear containing the variant.
  2. Load a custom brush library and repeat step one.
  3. Continue step one and two until your palette has one variant from each library.
  4. Go to Window > Custom Palette > Organize and select your palette and select rename.  Name the palette something that will remind you of the use of the palette.

See examples:

When you select a variant from this custom palette, its library will automatically load quickly and easily.  Create this custom palette with your workflow in mind.  It doesn’t have to follow this example.  Have fun with your speedy watercolor variants.


  1. VERY useful tip, thanks for sharing!

    Although I love Corel Painter, this particular example of bad design by the Corel team has left me fuming on too many occasions. With 4 Gigs of memory on a dual-core system, I expect a very pricey piece of software to perform, but still the brushes dragged, ruining any digital work-flow. I ended up switching to ArtRage Studio Pro because of Painter’s lack of performance.


    This Custom Library trick will certainly get me to dust off Painter and give it another shot!


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