How to paint lizard skin with Corel Painter X3

Artist Don Seegmiller reveals how to paint realistic scales using Corel's Painter X3 custom paper textures.

lizard skin 1

The canvas layer is filled with green and both the dark and light scales are painted on separate layers above

Painting the shiny texture of lizard skin isn’t very difficult if you approach the task in a logical manner – starting with painting the scales. This is easy to do with Corel Painter X3, using custom Paper textures.

01. Pick your texture

I select a scaly looking paper texture from a custom Paper library that I created earlier, then choose a brush that interacts well with the paper texture. The Variable Chalk brush, which is a variant of the Chalk and Crayons brush category, works really well. I start by filling the canvas with a 
mid-tone green colour.

02. Layer your colours

Next, I create a new layer for the dark areas between the scales and paint this with a darker green than the background. Then I create a second layer for the top part of the scaly texture. I invert the paper texture, select a green colour lighter than the background and paint the top areas of the scales.

03. Add some depth

lizard skin 2

Drop the scale layers onto the canvas and paint the highlights across the scales with Corel Painter’s Glow brush.

I then drop the two layers onto the canvas. I choose the Glow brush from the FX brush category. Picking a very dark green colour, I lightly paint over the areas that I want to appear shiny.


I vary the colour to give a chameleon-like feel to the scales. Usually, I would make the highlights follow the contours of the creature; however, in this case 
I just paint across the scales.

04. Reflect your surface

I can paint scales with the impression of a light source using the Direction Toggle button on the Paper Palette. Paint in the light side of the scales with strokes from the top and the shadow side with strokes from the bottom.

Want to know more? Take a look at these video tutorials:

Words: Don Seegmiller

Don Seegmiller is an artist and instructor at Utah Valley University, and has worked on five digital- painting books, including Advanced Painter Techniques. This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 108.

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