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Tutorial 3 of 3 – How To Color Artwork in Clip Studio Paint (Manga Studio 5)



VIDEO 3:  https://youtu.be/10FCEL_Nv90

    1. Flats

      1. “Flatting” a piece consists of coloring the basic shapes of the illustration in random, unique colors to differentiate the different elements from each other in order to make quick selections when coloring.
      2. Once finished, you set this Flats layer as a Reference layer in Clip Studio Paint.
        1. Using reference layers makes coloring much faster, because you can use the magic wand tool to select quick masks of certain areas, without having to switch the layer you are working on.
    2. Create a Color Comp

      1. I always experiment with color BEFORE I begin working on the final piece.
      2. Duplicate your document and reduce to 72 dpi.
      3. Gather reference of great color schemes and environments for inspiration.
      4. On a layer set to overlay above all other artwork, experiment with different color schemes.
      5. Quickly (for just about 15 minutes) use a large soft airbrush to block in colors.
        1. Don’t worry about staying in the lines or coloring small portions of the illustration.  Just focus on making color choices for the most important parts of the illustration.
      6. Because the image is small, and because you are being very loose and rough, this encourages you to take risks and experiment with color schemes you may not have considered.
      7. Once you’re happy with a color scheme, save the document as a flat jpg.
      8. Load the color scheme into Clip Studio Paint’s SubView pallette.
        1. This will now be a handy pallette you can use when coloring the real thing.
    3. Colors




        1. Open up your original document.
        2. Resize your main illustraiton to 300 dpi (previously set at 600 dpi for inking).
        3. Duplicate your Flats Layer and name it Colors (this is the layer you actually paint on), and keep it below your Line Art layer.
          1. Make sure Lock Transparency is turned on to prevent you from painting outside of the layer area and onto the background.
        4. Fill the Colors layer with one solid color
          1. Usually I like to use a desaturated blue with a neutral value.
          2. You don’t want the random colors you used for Flatting to distract you.
        5. Color in background with a solid color behind all other layers.




        1. Rough in background colors
          1. It’s important to block them in, because it sets the tone and contrast for the figure.
          2. I used my custom textured watercolor brushes to fill in the background quickly.
        2. Block in colors on character
          1. Attack the Local Colors first.  Objects with a Local Colors are things such as an apple, which is generally accepted to be red when shown in white light.  Local Colors will still be influenced by the color of the lighting, but identifying them early can help calibrate the color balance of your piece.
        3. Put in large gradient color fades to areas that fade from one color to another.
          1. Use a large soft brush or the gradient tool to put in large color transitions in the piece.
          2. I like to use a soft brush with a little texture in it, so that the color transition blends look more natural.
        4. Add hard edged cast shadows
          1. Set new layer above Colors layer, and set to Multiply
          2. Paint with a very desaturated, light value purple/blue color to paint the hard shadows.
          3. Follow the lineart, and add volume to the forms by hugging the edges with your brush.
          4. Don’t introduce a lot of rendering information at this point.  Just paint in some of the midtones – let the line-art do the work for you and just compliment it.
          5. Use hard-edged brushes when cast shadows are more intense.
        5. Add Highlights
          1. The illustration at this point should look rendered, but a little dull and desaturated and a bit flat.
          2. The highlights and rim lights will do the final rendering, and help tell the viewer what to look at.
          3. Zoom in a bit closer now
          4. Merge the Multiply Shadows layer down with the color layer
            1. We will be painting over top of the shadows.
          5. Always be mindful of the direction and color of the lighting.

        6. Use the “Lasso Cut and Gradient” method to color sharp, high-contrast areas.
          1. Make a selection with the lasso tool, and use a soft brush to paint inside that area.  
          2. The brush should be touching one edge of the marquee, but the fade should not touch the opposite end.
        7. Add Rim Light around the edges of the figure.
          1. Create new layer above color and line-art
          2. The rim light will be a slightly darker, desaturated shade of the color of the lighting itself
          3. Start with a soft brush around the edges of the form, and then use a harder edged brush with a brighter highlight along the edge.
        8. Finish background
          1. Keep it blurry and less sharp than the foreground figure.
        9. Create glow effects
          1. Add separate layer on top of all artwork and set layer to Screen Blending Mode.
          2. Punch up selected areas of the piece that need to be brighter and in focus.
          3. Use a darker, desaturated color when doing this, and press very softly so you don’t blow out the area and make it too bright.


  • Lineart Knockouts


          1. “Knockouts” are when you color parts or all of the lineart so it isn’t just black.
          2. This is a really effective way to make areas appear brighter and to make the piece as a whole appear less flat.
          3. Set your line art layer to Lock Transparency to prevent you from painting outside of the lineart.
          4. Find the areas closer to the lightsource, and color the line art with a darker version of that color.
          5. Especially effective on background elements that you want to appear some distance away.


  • Add Texture


        1. To add character to the piece, use grungy brushes and textures on a layer set to screen, multiply, or overlay (depending on the piece) and lightly paint textures in some areas.
      1. Adjust colors
        1. Take a step back and make final tweaks to the color scheme if needed
        2. Make slections with your Flats layer, and use Edit>Tonal Correction> Hue/Saturation to adjust colors.
      2. Add Atmospheric Effects
        1. Create a new “Effects” layer above all others.
        2. To add even more depth to your piece, find areas of your figure that would be farther back, and lightly paint over them with the color of the background.
        3. This creates the illusion that more atmosphere is between you and the object, and pushes it into the background, similar to the way mountain ranges appear to have less and less contrast as they go back farther into the distance.

And we’re done!

Thank you so much for following my tutorial.  If you have any questions, please feel free to comment on my YouTube videos.

Brushes used:

If you would like to purchase any of the brushes I used in this tutorial, they are available at http://ClipStudioPaintBrushes.com

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1 reply
  1. Jeffrey Hunt
    Jeffrey Hunt says:

    Thanks Brian. This is extremely useful. I currently struggle with making my paintings look more crisp and less muddy. The characters often start to blend into the backgrounds. I am focussed right now on making more background settings without the characters until my technique improves. I am going to try to apply your suggestions and see what I get. I have watched part two of this video at least three times. Have a great day.


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