Colouring with manga in mind
Tan Hui Tian saves time with Clip Studio Paint.
The process of manga-style colouring doesn’t differ hugely from those of western comics, although there are some stylistic quirks. My own illustration style is a mixture of various influences, and the distinction may be an unnecessary one.
Typically, manga colouring tends to have flatter values and doesn’t aim to be perfectly realistic. The archetypal manga created digitally usually retains its line art and has a smoother, airbrushed colouring compared to a more painterly quality favoured by other artists. Most of the quirks are perhaps byproducts of artists influenced by the animation produced by the Japanese film studios. In anime, cel-shading is the preferred method of colourising the frames, and gradients are employed to give the images more depth.
Owing to the nature of the manga style, I tend to separate the colouring process into blocks of colours on different layers, and add layer modes on top. For other art styles, I may choose to paint everything on one layer once the initial sketch and colour comps have been approved.
Separating elements onto different layers is a good thing to have for client projects, when changes are requested. However, having too many layers for a single illustration slows you down and would be confusing should you not have a good naming convention. It takes time to find your personal balance when developing a painting process, so see what works best for you.
1 Brush Combine modes and colour mixing
Brush Combine modes are only available on the Pastel brushes. Typically, I use them to lay down values quickly after finishing the flat colours. The advantage of this method is the hue shift that’s inherent in many of the combine modes. The Color Mixing tool is depicted by two merging circles. It acts similarly to Photoshop’s Mixer Brush tool and is great for developing interesting colour effects.
2 General brushes and contour line paint
Most of the brushes blend into each other like real paint does, and is one of the major reasons Clip Studio Paint is preferred by many artists as opposed to other programs. You can adjust the blending with the brush settings. And if you want to replicate the look of watercolours, you can do so with a good amount of control and finesse with the Watercolor tool. The Contour Line Paint tool is a colour fill tool that creates a natural gradient between two coloured lines, and is especially useful for cleaner styles.
3 Colour flatting
Colour flatting in Clip Studio Paint is a straightforward process because with the Close Gaps option selected, you don’t have to worry about stray gaps. I create a base colour by clicking outside the line art, then invert the selection (Ctrl+Alt+I) and fill it with a neutral colour. This ensures there aren’t any transparent pixels left by the flat colours above it afterwards. I combine certain colour blocks that aren’t close to each other in a single layer, both for convenience and to reduce the number of layers.
4 Basic colouring techniques
Here, I’ve mainly used the smooth Watercolor brush. But you can use other brushes depending on what you want the final product to look like. You can colourise the line art using the Tonal Corrections option, or lock the transparency of that layer (indicated by a padlock icon beside a transparent square) and colour it manually.
5 Layer modes
Most layer modes in Clip Studio Paint mirror those in other art programs such as Paint Tool SAI. The pink translucent coat on her hips has a layer on a reduced Opacity on Normal, and another on Add (Glow). The tan lines are achieved using an Overlay layer.
Close Gap can be toggled with other fill tools, and makes colouring line art with small gaps faster. You can simulate watercolour painting by using a variety of brush types.
Overlay is a convenient way to introduce hue shifts.
To quickly lay down shadows and highlights, use Brush Combine mode rather than layer modes.
Experiment with different layer modes and think about the various ways you can apply them. The advantage of using Layer Mode is that you can easily adjust or delete that layer.
Being able to select from different layers makes workflow more efficient when you have multiple line art layers. Dividing sections of colours and naming them will also streamline your painting process.
The colouring looks more vibrant when hue shifts are involved. Work from big, soft brush strokes to tighter, smaller strokes.