Painting a Dingbat Font

Software: Ulead PhotoImpact 6, 7, and 8
Author: Hillary Sadur
Home Page: EwaNevaland
PI Projects:

Skill Level: All

Featured Tools: Airbrush, Paintbrush, Paint Drop Water, (Dodge & Burn Retouch Tools optional).  Wacom or other graphire tablet is preferable.

Description:  This is a fun way to try out your artistic ability with a Dingbat Font.  Anyone who used to use crayons and a coloring book will find this fun and relaxing.  You don't have to be an artist to get very pretty artistic results.  Let your imagination go wild!  The following tutorial takes just filling in the font a couple of steps further; however, even just coloring in a font with solid colors can be very pretty.  

What's a dingbat? A dingbat is a picture font that's either represented by a letter (lower case and/or upper case), by a number, or any other symbol on your keyboard (not all dingbats use or have a picture for every letter and/or symbol). If you see plain frame type symbol when you click on a letter or symbol this usually means there is NO picture for that particular letter and/or symbol. Just try another letter and/or symbol when you see this.  There are dozens of websites which offer free dingbat fonts in every variety.

For purposes of this tutorial the Traditional Floral Design III True Type font is being used. Please save it into a folder where you will be able to access it easily. Note: Because I am addicted to dingbat font collecting, I have created a folder specifically for my dingbat fonts.  For the Sealife True Type font used for the lobster example at the bottom of this tutorial, click here.

For those of you who have limited RAM, you may download both the Traditional Floral Design & Sealife font  PATH SHAPES in zip format as UFO files.  

                Download Traditional Floral Design zip file                            Download Sealife zip file

You will note that the size has been reduced and you will need to highlight the object (after dragging it to your new canvas and clicking on Format/Image Size (CTL G), making sure that you select the Apply to Selected Object and resize it to fit your canvas (approximately 300%).

BTW, this is an excellent exercise for introducing your young ones to digital painting.

1. BEFORE opening Photo Impact, double click on the dingbat font to open it. (This will allow you to use the font in Photo Impact without installing it into your Windows Fonts directory.)

2. Open a new image, 300x300, white background.

3. Choose the Text Tool, and set it at the highest size possible (128) and type the lowercase letter "n". You will note that it is still too small, so type in the number "350" in the size box. Drag the floral dingbat to the center of your canvas.




4.  Convert the font to either a Path Object or Image Object.

4a.  At this point, you should close the font as it will use extra RAM (memory) while it is open.

NOTE: Do NOT merge the font until you are finished with your painting and ready to save your graphic as a JPG/JPEG.

5.  You will note that both the Retouch Toolbar & Paint Toolbar are open for convenience, as well as the Color Swatch box for quickly choosing colors for the tools.

The tools used in this tutorial are primarily the Paintbrush, Airbrush and Paint Drop Water (for blending).



This is YOUR option and the following screenshot explains how to set up the Tool Panel views:


Try to choose your colors in the same tonal range.  Since I had no idea what kind of flower this was, I chose the colors I wanted.




6.  Click anywhere OUTSIDE the font to deselect it and to begin your painting.

6a. Select the Paintbrush and set to 50% transparency and quickly fill in the center with your dark color.  It's not important to cover completely.  Scribble as much as you like and don't worry about staying within the lines.  You will note that the black lines of the font remain visible throughout the painting process until the final merging.

Note:  Let me also remind you to save your image as a UFO file often, and now would be a good time to begin. 

7.  Begin filling in the petals with a lighter color and then complete coloring the stem and leaves, adjusting the size of the Paintbrush or airbrush according to the areas you're coloring.


8.  Begin blending with the Paint Drop Water Tool.  You can drag the darker center color out into the petals for shading purposes, as well as adding more of the center color into the inside of the petal and blending if it isn't dark enough for you.  You may add some highlights with the Dodge Retouch Tool level set at 50 on the attributes toolbar..

 9.  To achieve the background, use the Airbrush Paint Tool, transparency=90 and size=30 and paint in the background softly with the petal color. 


10. Next, use the leaf color and repeat the airbrushing, leaving some areas lighter than others and darkening more on the right side for a soft shadow effect.  Note:  If you have multiple colors in your flower, don't be afraid to add them to the background also.  This will tie in the painting beautifully!!


11. Switch to the Paint Drop Water Tool, size=25, and blend the colors in until you are satisfied with your background. Note: You can use the Dodge Tool and Burn Tool to assist you in achieving the effects you might want. Remember to keep the background soft and don't hesitate to use the Undo feature and the Paint Drop Water to help you.  When you're satisfied, you can add a black border, size=5, equal on all sides.

12.  NOW is the time to MERGE!



The colored font of the lobster is one of the Sealife.ttf dingbats (you may download font above),  roughly colored in like a coloring book, with minor blending with the Paint Drop Water tool and the highlights achieved by using the Dodge Retouch tool.


The paintings were done rather quickly but I hope that you will find that you can be very artistic, with little effort.  I hope you enjoy trying this tutorial and that you will begin exploring all the possibilities of the different variations of painting dingbat fonts.

That's it. Just sign it and claim it as your own!   Please feel free to pick up your Complimentary Award here!  Good luck and email me if you have any questions.


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