Hey everybody, Ahh feels good to be back, how long has it been, a week? Oh…Ohh.. well, this thing seems highly inaccurate doesn’t it? Let me fix that. You may have noticed that I haven’t been as active on YouTube as I would like to be. The reason for that is a rather big project that I’ve been working on: A comic.
It features Ian, the character I made a video about way back. And it’s going to be dumb boys love story that is totally worth spending all my time on 😉 It is far more time consuming than I expected. And then the convention season started and it was just hard to focus on videos as well. But I am back on it! Although the comic isn’t finished yet, working on it has taught me some time-saving tricks that make working on it more efficient.
So whether you are working on a comic yourself or are just interested in the creation, get cozy, grab a drink, and let’s get into it. First up this tutorial will focus on the program ClipStudio Paint. Over the course of working on this project, I found no other tool that had so many helpful features. I’ve come to enjoy them so much that I wanted to share them with you. This video is not sponsored, but ClipStudio if you are listening, hit me up 😉
When I started, I struggled a lot with the question of what medium I should use. Should I go traditional or digital? As I love working traditionally, I was drawn to the thought of creating everything on paper and just scanning the results afterward. So I did the layout sketches for the pages all scribbled on paper and started working.
But I learned very quickly that there are some major benefits when it comes to working on a comic digitally, especially when you are inexperienced with telling a story like I am. So even though I already did layout sketches and planned the pages beforehand, I often found myself very insecure with my initial plans when it came to actually work on the pages. But when I worked digitally and there were some panels I disliked, some faces
I would have liked to zoom in or just editing the position of speech bubbles, there was no problem changing it in an instant. On paper, I would find myself in a bad situation because it’s impossible to just quickly try and rearrange things without having to trace your panels all over again. Look at how slow this is. Of course, this isn’t an issue if you are confident in what you are doing, but even then it’s always nice to have more options. That’s why I decided on the first page that I will have to go digital with my project. And there are even more benefits, which we are going to have a look at now.
If you’ve seen my 10 Digital Art Tips video, then you know that personally I prefer Photoshop for digital painting. But lineart, in my experience, tends to come out better in ClipStudio. Besides that, there is another reason why I think ClipStudio is better suited for comic projects. I’m mostly referring to the assets it provides. So let’s take a look at the integrated 3d models. The first time I saw them I wasn’t really sure whether they’d be useful to me. Over the years I had tried working with different 3d models as references but never really felt them be helpful. Either the anatomy looked off or it took way too long to get the models in the right poses, so it wasn’t really time-saving after all.
Working on the comic forced me to give them another chance and it turns out that they can be immensely helpful for drawing your character and working with new and exciting perspectives. For this page, I used them for every panel. I also used a background model but we will have a look at those later. So, how do they work? First some basics: When you open the materials and drag the 3d model into your work area you will notice that along come to some symbols. These are buttons that are used by pressing and holding them and then dragging your pen around. The first set of buttons manipulates the camera. The first button lets you rotate the camera freely around the model. The button right next to it lets you move the camera around the scene. Use the third button to zoom in and out.
Next up are the buttons with the little cube icons. Moving the model around is split into two different modes. The first button lets you move the model up or down and left or right. This lets you place characters under or above the ground. The last button is used for moving the model along the ground. You can move them to the right or left and further into the foreground or the background. These two move modes complement each other as they only ever let you move the model within two dimensions at any time. The remaining set of buttons are used to rotate the model. The first button generally lets you rotate the model in any direction. The next rotation button locks the rotation to a specific axis.
Imagine putting a painting on a wall and rotating it there. That is the only way this button lets you rotate the model. The other rotation button turns the model along a vertical axis. So if you want to turn your character around to face the other way, use this button. By double-clicking the arrows and circles around the model you can achieve the same kind of movements and rotations. Use whatever feels more comfortable for you. Let’s get us an example. Say you want to show your character in a certain pose, maybe he sits on a chair in a classroom. So I start with a rough sketch of what I have in mind. It doesn’t need to be accurate, just enough so we have something to work with. We drag the character on our canvas and start modeling. Position your model so it lines up with the sketch.
Next, we start adjusting the individual body parts. Click on the body part you want to move and it opens the options to tilt and rotate said parts in any direction. It takes a bit of practice but you will quickly get the hang of those functions. Double-clicking shows some anchor points where you can move the limbs as a whole, or even precisely change the direction the model is looking in, which makes things a bit easier. Quite frankly though this takes a lot of time and, as I said from the start, positioning the puppet from scratch every new panel can be very time-consuming in itself and therefore a bit inefficient – especially when it comes to the hands. To make this process more convenient there are predefined poses. I often find myself browsing through the catalog and just picking something that is already pretty close to what I want, so I have a base to work with.
For the sitting character, I just pick the pose I like and drag it onto the 3D model. From there I can refine the pose to my liking, like changing the arms … maybe he is writing something. The hand gesture can be changed separately by clicking on the hand you want to edit and dragging a hand pose on it. When you are done with posing you can save that pose for the next time. You can even use the saved pose on different models that are also available. Another helpful tool is the backgrounds and objects. Unfortunately, these aren’t as universal as the character models that you can use for almost any character and purpose. As you have quite a limited set here, their usefulness depends on what is available and whether it matches the scenery of your story.
But still, it’s worth checking them out as they can turn out to be incredibly helpful when you find the right one, as it solves some problems when working with scenery and perspective. And if you can’t find what you are looking for in ClipStudio’s own catalog, maybe you can find and download models made by the community in the asset section. This is where everyone can offer models and objects to download. But back to the tools, we have, since conveniently for our classroom scenery there is a model available.
The lighting is adjustable. With some backgrounds this is really necessary because I don’t know what happened here… someone should turn the light on. The great feature of these models is that you can easily drag them on your canvas and then literally place your characters and objects in the scenery by just dragging them in as well. They will adopt the perspective of the set and then it’s just your job to get the pose and position right for your purpose. As we have already created a sitting pose, all we have to do is to drag it onto the character. Then comes a bit fine-tuning by using the position tool.
Move the character through the scenery. If you notice that he floats, there is this “ground” button that pulls him down again. So when we have placed the character or even a few of them we can start adding objects like books, pencil cases, and pens. Just drag the objects in and set them up to your liking. You can even change the scale ;D Maybe you are writing a story about chair-Kun, always sitting behind his first love senpai-senpai, but too shy to talk to him. Once you are done, all you need to do is use your work as a reference for the drawing you had in mind. How close you stick to the reference is up to you of course. The next great feature is brushed. Similarly to the 3D models, you’ll find plenty of brushes that come with ClipStudio itself or brushes created by the community. But of course, you don’t want your comic to look like it’s just an ensemble of brushes.
I’ve used a bunch of highly detailed and useful brushes in this forest scene, but it doesn’t really come together nicely. There’s hardly any depth and it overall looks pretty noisy and without focus. These are all great tools and there is nothing wrong with using them, but used too excessively they might change the perception of your work. If their use is easy to spot, they can’t be unseen and it might become a distraction when the reader notices the same brush used all over the place. So when possible I recommend being subtle and integrate and edit them to your needs. As it always is, there are loads of different ways to do that. You can combine different brushes together for example. But let me demonstrate that. I want to draw a forest background, so first I do a rough sketch of my composition – what perspective I have in mind, where the trees are going to be, etc.
The first brush I am going to use is for basic grass. It’s not really detailed, but it helps to give the drawing more depth. Then I start on a different layer using a leaf brush and roughly giving the treetops some shape. Next, I use a clipping mask on top and use the same brush but solid black this time to create some shadow. I use a hatching brush to make the shadows look lighter on the bottom part. To make the seam on the top part look more natural I make a selection to stay inside the lines and use a foliage brush. To add more depth underneath the treetop layer, I use the leaf brush in solid black again and draw some trees that are more in the background. Now for the trunks, I use a few lines and fill them with color so they are not transparent.
On top, I do a clipping mask and fill the space with a bark textured brush. Then I use a layer mask and a leaf brush to erase the tip of the trunk to make it blend better with the treetop. For the bottom part, I use some grass brushes, so the trunk is connected to the ground as well. As the tree in the foreground is a bit more detailed, I use another brush for the trunk. Then I roughly paint the root by hand and try to make the transition subtle by adding and covering some details.
The rest is basically the same steps as before until we call our landscape finished. We can add some falling leaves or more flowers, it’s up to your taste. Here are a few other examples where I used different brushes to create a forest scene.