Making Webcomics in Clip Studio Paint

Introduction

In this tutorial I will go over all the steps involved in making a finished, publishable webcomic page. To be able to follow this tutorial you will need to have an idea for your story and your characters already. You will also need a copy of Clip Studio Paint but don’t worry about money yet, you can use the thirty day free trial to test out the software.

coloured digital comic

Finished page ready to be published on Webtoons, Tapas or any other online platform.

comic base sketch
comic rough draft
comic base colours
illustration comic with shadows and gradients

Outline the Scene

At the top of your page, create a list of all the basic elements of your scene:  characters, setting, objective of the scene, set up and the pay off.

After you have decided all of this, break down the sequence of events into pages. Each page should move you one step closer to completing your setup and towards your payoff. The way I make sure I do this is by writing down the situation in blue at the beginning and at the end of each page.

scene script breakdown

Basic breakdown of the scene

Breakdown the Page into Panels

Now that you have a clearly outlined plan for your scene, it is time to decide the number of panels on each page. When deciding the number of panels the simplest way to think about it is this: the more panels and dialogue on a page, the slower the pace; the fewer panels on a page, the faster the story moves. So, if you want a slow meditative scene, break a simple action into many panels. If you want a super fast scene, just show the beginning and end of the action with no dialogue.

dialogue planning and scripting

Bare bones dialogue and actions happening in each scene.

Draw the Thumbnails

Thumbnails are a quick sketch of the final look of the pages. You need to try many different compositions to make the page look right, so don’t get too precious with your drawings.

To make things easier, study your favorite comics and have a look at interesting and effective ways of laying out pages with different numbers of panels. If you’re doing a vertical webcomic, think about the space between panels and how using gradients and other visual cues can help readers build up anticipation when introducing new panels.

thumbnail comic page sketching

Whole scene thumb-nailed, with a Pound coin for size reference

Prepare the File

Open a new file and choose the size of the page. I personally use A4 size and 350 dpi. The bigger the file size, the slower your computer will run, but if you choose a tiny file size, the final image will look blurry.

Now choose the panel tool and draw the panels. Remember to keep all your panels inside the safe area, unless you are trying to make your panel extend past the border of the page. In my case, the third panel will be doing this, so I drew it past the safe area.

clip studio paint panel tool

Margins are really important if you want to print later.

Draw the Rough Pencils

It’s time to start drawing! Using your thumbnails as a guide; start drawing everything quickly and expressively.

Rough Pencils are your first pass at the final illustration for each panel. The focus during this step is creating interesting and dynamic drawings with good composition. Don’t worry too much about details such as the position of fingers, or the pattern of a t-shirt. This is not the time for that, what you need to focus on is the energy of your drawings.

clip studio paint sketching

Rough pencils

Rough Lettering

You may want to have a second or third pass at your pencils. The more realistic the style, the more you will have to refine the pencils. However, the more you refine your drawing, the less energy you will retain from the rough pencils. Before you do that though, do the rough lettering.

Using the text tool, write the dialogue and captions. Then roughly draw the bubbles around them. This will give you an idea of what parts of the drawing will be covered by text, so you won’t waste time drawing something that will not be visible.

clip studio paint lettering and typing

Getting an idea of the space taken by the bubbles.

Ink your Pencils

The objective of inking is to get clean lines including all the details. To ink, choose the pen tool. Pens on clip studio are made to mimic the pens traditionally used to ink Manga. Play around with them and find the ones you like best.

Doodle on a test page to find your favorite pen and settings. I personally use a textured custom pen because I like my lines to have a bit of a crispy texture, my other settings are: size 15, opacity 100, far left anti-aliasing option and stabilization 15.

clip studio paint inking designs

Inked page and explanation of the pen tool settings

Flat colors

We refer to “Flatting” in comics, meaning: blocking out all the colors of the page without any shadows, light or textures. To do this you will need to use the Marquee tool and the Bucket tool. Using the rectangular and Polyline Marquee tool, select the area you want to color. Once you have carefully selected the area, use the bucket tool to fill it with color.

It is best to start applying one color to bigger areas (for example a full panel) and then select the next biggest area inside. That way there won’t be any white pixels left uncolored by mistake.

polyline marquee tool clip studio paint

Flat colors finished along with the Polyline and Bucket Tool

Shadows

Create a new layer and put it on top of the flat’s layer. Then, set its blending mode to “Multiply” in the drop down menu. Apply your shadows in the multiply layer with the pen tool you used for inking or with a brush if you want any special effect or texture.

When choosing a color for your shadows choose the same color as the sky for naturalistic shadows. However, you may want to use dramatic colorful shadows for different effects, such as green shadows for an alien spaceship or purple shadows for a darker scene.

shadowing comic panels

Creating a new layer, setting it to multiply for shadows

Lettering and Effects

Test out the fonts on Clip Studio or download some copyright free fonts to carry out some experiments and see what looks right. Once you find the right font, pay attention to the space between lines and adjust it to minimize the space used for text.

Once the text is written, use the figure tool to draw the bubbles making sure you leave white space in their margins. Then, draw the tails making them point at the character’s head.

Finally, play around with the gradient tool and the layer blending options to create interesting light effects and other final touches.

clip studio paint comic lettering details

Finished!

Top Tip 1 - Stretch Regularly

Making a comic page can take an entire work day. Please remember to stop every hour or so to do a stretch routine for artists. This will prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and other drawing related injuries that could put you out of commission for weeks or even months.

girl illustration stretching

Take every opportunity to stretch!

Top Tip 2 - Create an Asset Folder

If you’re writing a longer story create a folder to keep drawings you are going to need regularly in your panels. For instance, I have a folder where I keep my speech bubbles so I don’t have to draw them over and over again.

assets folder design speech bubbles

The speech bubbles in my asset folder

Top Tip 3 - Start Small

If this is your first comic it’s a good idea to test out your skills on a smaller comic before attacking bigger projects. Try to do a four-to-ten page comic; you will learn a lot and you will be better prepared for your bigger project after finishing a small comic.

frog sketch illustration

Making a one page mini comic is great fun

Top Tip 4 - Find Collaborators or Friends that can help

Comics are very time consuming and require a lot of different skills such as writing, drawing, lettering, coloring, editing… It’s a good idea to look for collaborators and friends for mutual support and to help each other out when possible.

sketch 2d illustrations

Friends!

Video showcasing the process of Terasa making the comic page

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