Colour a manga portrait in Clip Studio Paint

Asia Ladowska reveals her process for creating a manga portrait, while passing on essential advice on sketching, shadows and lighting


Essential advice on sketching, shadows and lighting, with Asia Ladowska.

Painting digitally isn’t an easy thing to do, especially when you’re staring at a blank canvas and the possibilit­ies are endless. I always feel excited about creating a new illustrati­on, but with this joy comes many fears and a lot of self-doubt.

Apart from being unsure where to start, I used to ask myself questions. Is my illustrati­on looking good? What else can I add? Did I add too much? What if I change this? I’m sure many of you feel the same at the beginning of your art journey, so to help you out I’ve prepared some tips that you can refer to ‘find yourself’ if you ever feel lost when painting.

For this workshop I created a character: Mai. This simple name comes from the name of the month I painted her in. I started this illustrati­on in May 2020 and didn’t open the file until May 2021 when I finally finished it.

Art is a journey, not a destinatio­n. If you check the number of my Instagram posts, it’s above 900. If you take away 10 per cent to be on the safe side, that’s at least 800 portraits, and I keep making new ones! Sometimes instead of asking yourself too many questions about your own drawing, all you need to do is finish it and then start another. Painting is incredibly enjoyable, so as a final word I want to say keep creating, have fun and don’t give up.

1 Choose an interestin­g angle

The most difficult angle to work with when drawing a portrait is the frontal view. It needs careful symmetry, balance and well-measured proportion­s, and when you put all of this together it looks a little… boring. I always struggle to make frontal poses look interestin­g, and end up trying to second-guess myself. Even if I push through the process, the result doesn’t look very attractive. However, if you choose a slightly more dynamic angle then you’ll be off to a good start!

2 Sketch quickly

I always try to draft a sketch in under 15 minutes. Let’s face it – it’s just a sketch. I need to visualise my idea before I forget it! My favourite tool to use in Clip Studio Paint is the Darker Pencil. It’s good for sketches, line-art and even shading. I mainly use the software’s default brushes, but adjust their settings slightly. For the Darker Pencil I always untick the Adjust by Speed option and change Stabilizat­ion to around 15.

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