Guest Writer: Toast#9350
People tend to have a preference when it comes to what art medium they use. While some people choose traditional art, a good number prefer digital. Many artists differ in why they choose to focus on digital art. It can be because they think it’s prettier, or because it’s more convenient since their audience is primarily online. The reason I draw digitally is mainly because I don’t want to be fumbling around trying to find supplies for my work.
I will be showing you my process for drawing digitally. As an example, I will be using the Akiara “Think” emote I made for Tsukei. For my work I use CLIP STUDIO PAINT and I use the same brush for sketching, inking, and most coloring. With that being said, here’s my digital art tutorial!
Brush Settings & Workspace
This is how my setup looks! I try to keep unnecessary items out of the way. On the left I have all my brushes and erasers. The Sub View window at the top right can be used for reference. The bottom right section is where I keep all my layers and folders. The icons above it have some features that are exclusive to CLIP STUDIO PAINT, but if you don’t have the budget to buy a program like this one, then I recommend downloading MediBang Paint Pro. I used it for about 2 years and I believe it’s a top tier program for those on a budget and looking into trying their hand at digital art. When I first downloaded it, I immediately felt comfortable with the software. It has many of the same features as CLIP STUDIO PAINT, and it’s free!
I’ve also heard another favorite is Krita, though I’ve never tried using that program before. FireAlpaca and MediBang Paint Pro are essentially the same programs at their cores, but if you’re illustrating, I highly suggest using MediBang Paint Pro rather than FireAlpaca.
Here are my brush settings for my all-around brush. The size and stability can change depending on what I need. For example, if I need to apply colors quickly I will change the stability so that it is less strained and so I can apply colors more quickly. This also applies to sketches! If I need to change the size, it is usually for line width in sketches or to vary thickness when inking. Adjusting the size and stability is also important when I want to add big globs of color quickly. It really depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
The sketch: I first start out with a rough sketch of my design. A sketch is nothing too special––just a general idea of what you want to create. It’s generally the first draft of your work. I don’t typically draw bases and guidelines, but there’s no harm in using them if they help you maintain proportions more accurately. Sometimes I will do a very messy sketch where I have to make a cleaner sketch on top. Before you move on to inking, make sure to flip your canvas horizontally! Flipping your canvas allows you to see the mistakes in your proportions! Fix it if needed and continue flipping until they look fine on both sides.
The inking: Something you should always do when inking is to divide the the process into different sections via layers, such as making one layer the eye inking, and another the hair inking. To not clutter up your layer area, I suggest you create a folder or group for your inking.
The base colors: Next, I put down the base colors on separate layers. For example, I apply the base color for the skin on one layer and then apply the base color for the eyes on another layer. Make sure to check for any gaps in your base colors, as these will be the foundation of your coloring. To check for gaps, just add a background layer that is darker than your base colors (second image).
The shading and highlighting: For the sake of this tutorial, I will start with the eyes. I create a clipping mask (shown below) and then apply the darker shade with the airbrush. Next I get a color lighter than the base color and draw the pupil in. I go back to the shade color and make a semi-circle shape around the pupils. Then I add highlights with the pupil shade. You can always add more to it, and add white if you want a higher contrast.
The difference between using clipping masks (first image) and not using them (second image).
Next, I apply shading to the skin with a more reddish tone on a clipping mask. The tone can vary, depending on what level of contrast you want it to have. I apply the shade tone where there would be shadows such as the bangs. I then blend it out. If you want to apply blush you can take the same color and very lightly apply it to the cheeks with the airbrush.
We’re almost done! I simply shade the hair in strategic places. It’s very hard to explain where I put my shading but for me, it’s an instinct. If you want to get an idea of how I shade, I try to follow the way Hyperdimension Neptunia art is shaded. I finally get a light shade of yellow and apply it to the places that need highlights. The color highlight can vary depending on the hair color, such as using navy blue hair paired with a light lavender highlights.
I find digital art very comfortable. It gives me a lot of customization for what I want. You can create custom brushes or import some for your own personal use. Digital art also gives you a much easier time with proportions thanks to the fact that you can flip the canvas with the tap of a button. Much of your ability to draw comes from practice but applying this tutorial may be able to help you in the process!