Corel® Painter™ Brush-ology: Brush Library Organization
In this installment we are going to examine Painter's brush library organization. We'll venture outside of Painter and into the operating system's world of directories, files, and folders. For some, this is a walk in the park; for others, it can be a deep, dark forest of unknowns. If you want full control over your brush libraries, it is necessary to temporarily leave Painter's confines to perform some outside work.
Painter IX Brush Library Organization
Prior to Painter 7, all of Painter's brushes were kept in a single file (Mac: Painter Brushes / Win: Painter.BRS). This single file methodology made it difficult to move individual variants from one system to another. If the Painter Brush file became corrupted, all of the contained variants could be lost.
Painter 7 introduced the individual XML-based variant file. This structure has several advantages. Foremost, the XML file format is cross-platform. This enables translation-free transfer of variants between Windows and Mac users. Secondly, it makes it easier to manage variants utilizing the operating system's file and folder hierarchy structure. The Painter Brushes
folder is contained within the Brushes
folder, which is in turn contained within the Corel Painter IX
folder. These folders must be named exactly as shown, and must be nested into the folder hierarchy described here:
Master Library Hierarchy:
Mac: Applications > Corel Painter IX > Brushes > Painter Brushes
Windows: Program Files > Corel > Corel Painter IX > Brushes > Painter Brushes
The Brushes Folder
folder is used to organize and access additional brush libraries. For example, the Painter Brushes
folder is contained within the Brushes
The Brush Library Folder
The Painter Brushes
folder is an example of a brush library
. The Painter IX CD also includes several additional brush libraries (Calligraphic Brushes, Nature Brushes, Fun Brushes, etc.)
. These libraries, as well as any brush libraries either found on the web or created by the user, must be placed in the Brushes
folder in order to be opened in Painter (via the Load Brush Library command
in the Brush Selector Bar's palette menu).
The Category Folder
A brush library folder contains Category
folders. For example, the Painter Brushes
library folder contains the Acrylics, Airbrushes, Artists, Artists' Oils, Blenders, etc.
category folders. These folders represent the content found in the Brush Selector Bar's Category pop-up menu.
The Category Icon
In both the List and Thumbnail views, the Brush Category pop-up menu
(Brush Selector Bar) displays an iconic representation of the category's medium. For example, the Airbrushes
Category is represented by an icon of a traditional airbrush. This icon is stored as a 30x30 pixel JPG file. This category icon .JPG file
must share the same name as the category folder
it represents. The category icon
is located along with its associated Category folder within the designated brush library
folder. For example, both the Airbrushes
category folder and its associated Airbrushes.jpg
icon file must be located within the Painter Brushes
Note: Depending on the file viewing preferences of a Windows system, the Category Icon .JPG files in a Brush Library folder may not appear with the .jpg file extension.
The Variant File
The XML-based variant files are stored in the Category
folder. Some variants additionally require a same-named JPG file. For example, the Chalk category's Square Chalk.xml
file requires the Square Chalk.jpg
file in order to properly load in Painter. An in-depth discussion of Variants can be found in the Anatomy of a Variant
installment. Any variant added to Painter must be placed in a Category folder along with the variant's same-named .JPG file (if there is one); otherwise, Painter will not be able to load it.
Corel Painter IX > Brushes > [library folder] > [category folder + category icon] > [variantFile.xml + variantFile.jpg]
The Multi-User Environment: Master & User Brush Libraries
Both the Windows and Mac OS X operating systems have evolved to include multi-user environments. Each user has a unique log-on account that is maintained separately by the OS. On an individual computer, each unique logged-in Painter user can modify and create his own brush variants. The OS maintains each user's modified or created variants via separate user libraries. All user settings are saved to a local user library folder; when Corel Painter starts, it recalls these user settings rather than the application settings.
A major implication of individual user libraries is that there are actually two separate brush variant storage locations
per user. The previously described brush libraries located within the Corel Painter IX application folder can be considered master brush libraries
. When the variants accessed from the Master brush libraries are modified, or when a new variant is created, the new variant data is saved in the local user's brush library
folder. As a result, the master library in the application folder remains untouched. All variant changes and additions are saved in the local user brush library.
User Library Hierarchy:
Mac: Users > [username] > Library > Application Support > Corel > Corel Painter IX
Windows: Documents and Settings > [username] > Application Data > Corel > Corel Painter IX
Knowledge Is Power
For the activities of customizing, reorganizing, or sharing your Painter brush variants, it is essential that you understand how Painter's brush folder and file hierarchy is organized. Strewn about the web, there are numerous tales of users unable to successfully add a new brush or library to their copy of Painter. The key to brush variant and library addition is understanding Painter's brush organization. I highly recommend that you take the time to navigate through your system's Window Explorer
(Win) or Finder
(Mac) and become comfortable with locating your Master and User brush libraries. For convenience's sake, I've added an alias of my user brush library in my master brush library and vice-versa. This enables me to quickly move from one to the other when necessary.
In the next installment, we'll build upon our understanding of Painter's brush library organization to edit, customize, and share variants and their libraries with other users.
Viva la Painter!