Using 3D Models for Illustrations and Concept Art




Drop the 3D Doll Into your scene

Hi guys! For this tutorial I'm going to show you how to set 3D figures or characters into your already existing background, or concept art to give the piece more emotional context, or to completely change its purpose.

I'll be taking a happy scene I painted some time ago, and changing it to something more somber.

From the Materials window, drag and drop the 3D doll into your scene. I wanted a younger female character for one of my figures so I chose a specific body shape. You can download this below.

As soon as you drop the model in, you'll see it's in a basic standing pose. We'll fix that, but first we're going to place the model within the perspective of our exiting artwork.

Using the camera tool above your model, you can zoom the camera in and out. I zoomed out quite a bit, then using the move tool, instead of the operator, place my character next to the tree. I want her sitting underneath it.

For matching the perspective, you can check the grid that shows up underneath your model when you shift the camera. You want to try to get it to line up with the ground plane in your artwork.

My perspective here was rather flat and straight on.

Pose your character


Now that our character is roughly where we want her, it's time to pose her. I looked through my collection and found two poses that I thought might fit.


Clip Studio comes with a lot of default poses, but if nothing pre-installed fits your needs you can always download a new pose, or do it all from scratch.

I tried this pose first, but it didn't fully convey the sorrow I wanted.

Much better! She looks quite distraught now.

You can find this pose in the material set below.

Adding in additional characters

A lone character can tell you a lot about the action in a piece of art, but the interaction between two or more characters can tell you even more.

Lets add a friend for our sad girl.

I dropped in a pose without selecting a body type first. This defaulted to the male 3D doll, which is what I wanted. If it's not what you want, please select a female body first.

We do have a small problem though. Our guy seems to be floating. He's in the same space as the girl, but much farther back on the plane.

I want him standing next to her, so lets move him now.

With the operator tool selected, click and drag in an empty space to rotate your 3D scene. From this view point we can more easily see where our other figure actually is.

Click on him, then move his model closer.

If he ends up in the air, or through the ground plane, you can simply click the "move to ground" icon on the bottom 3D tool bar. It looks like an arrow pointing down at a cube.

Now he's next to our girl. Shift the camera back into place so your figures are where you want them again.

Edit a base pose

Above is the pose I used for the male. You can download it at the link.


This isn't exactly what I want, however, and it's time to tweak the pose.

Click on the offending limbs and use the 3D handles to rotate and move them. Each handle color corresponds to a different direction of movement.

He's just about there, but his open right hand feels awkward. Here's an easy way to edit the hand position.

Click the hand you want to edit. If you don't click any hands, the changes we make will be applied to both of them, instead of just one.

Now in the 3D properties window, scroll down until you get to "Pose".

You'll see a blue hand here.

Click anywhere within the triangle and see how the hand changes.

I brought the cross hairs (the little plus icon in the triangle) down the bottom point to make a fist.

Now that his hands are done, I tweak the rest of the pose by selecting different body parts and adjusting them one at a time.

You can also click and drag a body part to a new position, but be careful. You may pull other parts out of place!

Adjust the 3D Doll's proportions

Now that our guy is in place, it's time to make his proportions match the female's.

Click the very last icon in the lower 3D tool bar. This will bring up the sub tool properties of the model. Here you can adjust the body shape. I select the head, then drag the cross hairs toward the top right corner to make the head a little larger.

Draw your characters

With our figures in place it's time to draw!

Create a new layer and fill it with a color you'll be able to tell the models apart from (not white or gray). Drop the opacity a bit, and create a new layer over this. I labeled mine "draw here".

I already knew what my characters looked like, so from here it was a simple matter of drawing loosely over the models. Above is a mid progress sketch so you can see how closely I do (or sometimes don't) adhere to the model reference.

3D models' joints don't function the same as humans so even when using 3D for assistance, it's good to look up references of real people (or animals) while you work.


Once your sketch is done, get ready to refine.

Bring the opacity of your fill up to 100% and drop your sketch layer's opacity down to about 40. This way you can completely focus on the sketch lines and cleaning them up.

I inked one character at a time here, but I often bounce all around when doing inks. I get distracted easily!


Once you are done cleaning up your lines, hide your sketch layer.


It's time to color your characters!

Add color and match the characters to the existing artwork

Here I used a G-pen and drew in rough separations of the clothes, face, hair, and props.

Once your characters are flatted, you can hide the fill layer so you can see how well they fit within the existing colors of your background art.


It's not too bad, but, well, it's flat.


We need to add shading so that the characters don't feel like they are just pasted in.

Keep in mind the light direction of your environment!

Creating a new layer over the flats. Set this to multiply and "clip" it to the layer below. This is the icon at the top of the layer window. This setting makes sure everything you draw stays within the bounds of the layer below.

So for this, our shadows will only apply to our flats layer.

Paint in your shadows according to your personal preference of brushes and style.

Now do the same again, but this time with an "Add Glow" layer to add highlights.

Be careful not to use too bright or overly saturated colors when painting in your highlights. This can really blow up the values of your work!

On a new multiply layer underneath of your flats layer, paint in a drop shadow to help "ground" your characters. I also painted a light cast shadow behind the figures against the tree.

With all of your shadows and highlights painted in, you can now merge things together and adjust the overall colors of your image with color balance, hue and saturation sliders, and contrast/brightness adjustments.

I pumped up the brightness a lot to help the characters stand out.

That's it!


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

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