Improve your inking techniques
Tan Hui Tian explains how to effectively use Clip Studio Paint to ink a sketch, using tools such as the Curve tool and Pattern brushes
Get more from Clip Studio Paint, with Tan Hui Tian.
The inking process in Clip Studio Paint is more intuitive than in other software such as Photoshop. As expected of a manga-focused drawing software, the kind of setup and tools favour manga drawing, so there’s a huge focus on inking tools.
But beyond the obvious manga-focused tools, I find doing line art in Clip Studio Paint more responsive because of the ability to adjust the pressure curve, antialiasing and stabilisation for inking brushes. What that means is that you can make crisper, sleeker lines with a lessstable hand than in Photoshop. Inking becomes a much more painless process in Clip Studio Paint, and for that reason alone would be the software I’d recommend to beginners.
There’s a misconception among some artists that comic inkers merely trace over the lines of the pencillers. This is far from the truth. Inking is an art form of its own, and inkers not only have to correct mistakes in the sketches, but the quality and style of inking can make or break the artwork as well. Just look at the variety of inking styles presented in comics and manga: from Mike Mignola’s intense spotted blacks to Takehiko Inoue’s virtuoso detailed inking.
While this article focuses more on how to use the software for an efficient inking process, a general tip for studying inking is to find an artist you like and dissect their techniques and thought process.
1 Turning a sketch non-photo blue
For those used to working traditionally on non-photo blue lines, there’s a quick way to convert sketches (scanned or digital) into digital, by using the ‘Change colour of line to drawing’ command. You can select other colours, but the logic is that you don’t get your (usually) black ink lines muddled with the grey pencil lines.
2 General brush settings
Good brush settings save you time. On each of the Pen tools, you can access additional settings, in Source Settings. Non anti-aliased brushes are great for crisp graphics such as pixel art and I like to use the second setting for crisper lines.
3 Stroke stabilization
Pump up the Stroke Stabilization for cleaner line art. The top example is done with a value of 100 for Stabilization and the bottom with 0. You won’t normally need much; six is the default. But if you’re drawing calligraphic elements or smooth lines, it can be useful.
4 Using the Curve Line tool
For curves that are more geometric, you can use the Curve tools found under the Figure option. You can customise the brush so that it has sharp ends, too. For artists who aren’t using a pen tablet, the Figure tools (the equivalent of the Pen tool in Photoshop) is an excellent alternative for inking.
5 Spotting and screentones
If you’re drawing the artwork for a comic or as a black and white illustration, black spotting and screentone would make it look finished. You can save some time if you don’t want to manually crosshatch or draw the textures, by using the Decoration tool. I simply use the Auto Select tool to select the area I want to spot or texture. It’s a very quick process.
Make sure the Opacity is 100 for clean line art.
You can adjust the Pressure curve manually like this.
You can make your sketch background transparent with this function. Choose your colour before clicking the command.
Experiment with Continuous curve for more complex curves. Adjust the Brush tip shapes here.
Use a Combine mode on Erase to use the same texture for erasing. You can download or create your own patterns here.
Wonky strokes add character to line art, so don’t eliminate them completely.
You can click here to insert values manually.