Smith Micro Graphics Software Blog

How Brian Allen Illustrates In CLIP STUDIO PAINT - Part III: Coloring

Posted by Emmy Rey on Nov 9, 2016 1:12:02 PM


We asked Official Influencer and full-time freelance illustrator of FlyLand Designs StudioBrian Allen, to tell us how he illustrates using CLIP STUDIO PAINT. He has created a full-length, three-part video tutorial series with commentary taking you step-by-step through his process. He'll go through Penciling (Part I), Inking (Part II) and finally, Coloring (Part III). Here's what he had to say:

First, a little background on what we've been creating.

For this tutorial series, I decided to create a tribute illustration to one of my favorite animated movies, Wizards by Ralph Bakshi. I chose to illustrate the iconic poster from the movie, featuring the character Peace.  I thought a rendering of my own stylistic approach to an existing piece of artwork would be a great vehicle for a tutorial, because the foundation has already been set, and we can focus instead on the technique.

BAllen3-2.png            Ralph Baksi’s original classic poster art.         Tribute illustration we will be creating in this tutorial.

Part III: Coloring  

Video of coloring process.

Step 1: Flats

“Flatting” a piece consists of coloring the basic shapes of the illustration in random, unique colors to differentiate the elements from one another in order to make quick selections when coloring.

Set this Flats layer as a Reference layer in CLIP STUDIO PAINT. 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.

Step 2: Create a Color Comp

I always experiment with color BEFORE I begin working on the final piece.

First, duplicate your document and reduce to 72 dpi.

Next, gather reference of great color schemes and environments for inspiration. On a layer set to overlay above all other artwork, experiment with different color schemes. Quickly use a large soft airbrush to block in colors. 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. Since the image is small, and is just a rough, this encourages you to take risks and experiment with color schemes you may not have considered.

Lastly, once you’re happy with a color scheme, save the document as a flat jpg. and load the color scheme into CLIP STUDIO PAINT’s SubView palette. This will now be a handy palette you can use when coloring the real thing. 

Step 3: Colors

It's important to setup before coloring.

First, open up your original document and resize your main illustration to 300 dpi (previously set at 600 dpi for inking).

Next, duplicate your "Flats" Layer and name it "Colors" (this is the layer you actually paint on), and keep it below your Line Art layer. Make sure Lock Transparency is turned on to prevent you from painting outside of the layer area and onto the background.

Last step in setting up is to fill the Colors layer with one solid color. Color the background behind all other layers. Typically, I like to use a desaturated blue with a neutral value. 

It's finally time to really color!

Start by roughing in the background colors. It’s important to block them in, because it sets the tone and contrast for the figure. I use my custom textured watercolor brushes to fill in the background quickly. 

Next, block in colors on the character. Start with the Local Colors first. Objects with Local Colors are things like 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.

Now, put in large gradient color fades to areas that fade from one color to another. Use a large soft brush or the gradient tool to put in large color transitions in the piece. I like to use a soft brush with a little texture in it, so that the color transition blends look more natural.

Next, add hard edged cast shadows. Do this by setting the new layer above the Colors layer, and set to Multiply. Paint with a very desaturated, light value purple/blue color to create the hard shadows. Be sure to follow the lineart, and add volume to the forms by hugging the edges with your brush. Careful not to introduce a lot of rendering information at this point, just paint in some of the midtones, (letting the line-art do the work for you). Remember to use hard-edged brushes when cast shadows are more intense.

Next, we want to add Highlights.

The illustration at this point should look rendered, but a little dull and desaturated. The highlights and rim lights will do the final rendering, and will help tell the viewer what to look at.

Begin by zooming in a bit closer, then merging the Multiply Shadows layer down with the color layer. We will be painting over top of the shadows. Remember to always be mindful of the direction and color of the lighting.

Next, use the “Lasso Cut and Gradient” method to color sharp, high-contrast areas. Make a selection with the lasso tool, and use a soft brush to paint inside that area. The brush should be touching one edge of the marquee, but the fade should not touch the opposite end.

Now add Rim Light around the edges of the figure. Do this by creating a new layer above color and line-art. The rim light will be a slightly darker, desaturated shade of the color of the lighting itself. 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.

It's time to finish the background. Keep it blurry and less sharp than the foreground figure. You'll want to create glow effects at this time as well. Add a separate layer on top of all artwork and set layer to Screen Blending Mode. Punch up selected areas of the piece that need to be brighter and in focus. 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.

Now for Line art Knockouts.

“Knockouts” are when you color parts or all of the line art so it isn’t just black. This is a really effective way to make areas appear brighter and to make the piece as a whole appear less flat.

Start by setting your line art layer to Lock Transparency to prevent you from painting outside of the line art. Find the areas closer to the light source, and color the line art with a darker version of that color. This is especially effective on background elements that you want to appear some distance away.

Finally, add Texture.

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.

Start by adjusting the colors. Take a step back and make final tweaks to the color scheme if needed. Make selections with your Flats layer, and use Edit>Tonal Correction> Hue/Saturation to adjust colors.

Now add Atmospheric Effects. Begin by creating a new “Effects” layer above all others. To add 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. This creates the illusion that more atmosphere is between you and the object, and pushes it into the background. This is similar to the way a mountain range appears to have less and less contrast as the frame of reference zooms out. 


And there you have it! 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.

For more creative inspo be sure to follow Brian on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube!


Topics: Insider, Featured Artists, News, Education, CLIP STUDIO PAINT (Manga Studio), Digital Artists

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