Many digital concept art and illustration pieces use images such as photos and textures to add realism or visual interest to their work. This article will introduce you to the basics of importing and blending images.
Blending paper textures to give a pen and paper aesthetic to your art
Increasing the visual interest of the work by blending texture and pattern images
 Importing images to a canvas
Before you apply textures, photos, or pattern images to your work, you must first import them to your canvas. Try loading an image using one of the methods described below.
The imported image will be converted into a [Image material layer], which has different characteristics from normal layers.
<What are Image material layers?>
Image material layers do not degrade in quality even if you apply scaling or transformations. Image material layers will have a handle that makes them easier to manipulate. Detailed instructions on how to use this will be introduced in .
<Applicable image formats>
BMP, JPG, PNG, TIFF, Targa, PSB, PSD
●Import from Clip Studio Paint’s menu
(1) From the [File] menu, click [Import] -> [Image] and browse your computer to find your image.
[For the iPad Version] If you want to use images saved in your camera roll such as photos taken with the camera or images created with other applications, select [File] menu -> [Import]-> [From Photo Library].
(2) The selected image will be imported to the canvas. If you want to blend the texture with the entire image, place it as the topmost layer.
●Place using Drag and Drop
Images can also be imported by dragging and dropping directly from a folder to Clip Studio Paint.
When importing with this method, drag and drop files to the [Layer] palette instead of the canvas.
[For the iPad Version] After displaying both Clip Studio Paint and the the image in Split View or Slide Over, drag and drop the image onto the [Layer] palette to import.
Dragging and dropping an image onto the canvas will make a new canvas and import the image as a normal raster layer instead of importing it to the canvas you are drawing on.
●Placing ASSETS materials or materials in the [Material] palette
To use materials in Clip Studio Paint’s [Material] palette or materials downloaded from Clip Studio ASSETS, drag and drop the thumbnail image of the material in the [Material] palette onto the canvas.
If [Tiling] is set for the material, handles will be displayed on the border of a single pattern as shown below. [Tiling] can also be turned off from the [Tool Properties] palette.
●Placing editable image data (File object)
Importing image data edited in Clip Studio Paint (.clip) or Photoshop (.psd) as a [File Object] will allow you to edit the image data with another canvas or software while it is placed on the canvas. Edits will be applied to the canvas without replacing the image.
You can import file objects from [File] menu > [Import] > [Create file object].
<What are File Objects?>
File objects are layers in Clip Studio Paint that contain the original image or video file structure. Although edits cannot be made directly in Clip Studio Paint, any changes to the original file will be applied to the imported file object in Clip Studio Paint.
If the original file was edited using Clip Studio Paint, the latest version of the file will always be displayed. If not, you can update it manually from [File] > [File object] > [Update file object].
For more information on file objects, please check the following article.
 Transforming and blending the imported image
The transformation, blending modes, opacity, etc. of the imported [Image material layer] and [File object] can be adjusted. Here, we will introduce common techniques.
You can adjust settings for tiling under the [Tool Property] palette, and use commands for [Texture combine] under the [Layer Property] palette.
However, the content of an [Image material layer] cannot be directly edited. To make edits, you can use a [Layer Mask] or [Rasterize] (convert it to a normal layer), as shown below.
●Tools to manipulate images
Images imported to layers can be transformed by dragging the handles. Handles can be displayed and operated by selecting [Tool] palette > [Operation] tool > [Object].
Transforming the imported image
By default, imported images have fixed aspect ratio and can be scaled up/down and rotated. If you want to change the transformation method, change the settings on the [Tool property] palette.
To change the aspect ratio, uncheck [Fixed aspect].
If you want to transform freely, change the [How to transform] option to [Free transform].
Blend imported images with a single click.
In most cases, imported images will stand out from the image. You can use the [Texture combine] tool to easily apply the texture of the [Image material layer] or [File object].
Arrange the texture image so that the entire canvas is covered, and then select the [Layer property] palette’s [Effect] > [Texture combine].
You can also use blending modes instead of the [Texture combine] feature when blending imported images.
You can adjust both settings, so try experimenting with different patterns!
[Rasterize] to edit imported images
Imported images can’t be directly edited because they are [Image material layer]s. To edit them, you will need to convert them into normal, or “rasterized” layer.
(1) Select the [Image material layer] from the [Layer] palette, then click [Layer] menu > [Rasterize].
The layer’s icon will change, and you will be able to edit it as you would a normal layer.
Tips: Layer Expression Colors
Each layer in Clip Studio Paint has a [Expression color](Color Mode) setting.
If you can’t add color to the layer, the [Expression color] might be set to [Gray] or [Monochrome].
Make sure to set the expression color to [Color].
Blending the imported image after making it transparent
If you want to make the white or black areas of the image transparent (such as for line arts and textures), you can adjust the expression color of the layer.
(1) Click the [Display decrease color] icon under the [Layer Properties] palette.
(2) Clicking the black icon of the expression color will erase the white areas, extracting the black parts.
If you click the white icon, the black part will be erased and the white part will be extracted.
This feature is also useful when extracting the line art or outline of an imported image.
Using a [Layer Mask] to erase part of an image
To blend a part of an image that you’ve imported, use a [Layer mask]. Layer masks can be used to hide selected parts of a layer.
If you delete images with the [Eraser] tool, you cannot restore the erased section after as certain number of actions. However, if you hide it with [Layer Mask], you can restore it at any time.
Layer masks can also be used with regular raster layers, layer folders, tonal correction layers, etc., in addition to Image material layers.
(1) Select the layer you want to partially hide, then click the [Create layer mask] icon at the top of the [Layer] palette.
(2) Select the thumbnail for the layer’s mask, then paint over the part you want to erase with the [Eraser] tool or a drawing tool(such as a pen) with a transparent color. Areas that have been erased with transparent color will be displayed in black on the layer mask icon, and will be hidden on the canvas.
In the figure below, areas such as the pliers have been masked out from the texture image that covers the entire canvas using a layer mask.
Clip Studio Paint’s [Layer Mask] will mask a layer when it is painted out with the [Eraser] tool or with a transparent color from a drawing tool. If you want to restore the hidden part, paint it with a color other than transparent.
For more details on layer masks, please refer to the article below.
Blend an image with selected parts [Clip at Layer Below]
If you want to apply the imported image to a specific area such as the pliers, use [Clipping on lower layer].
This convenient function is frequently used Clip Studio Paint workflows.
(1) Place an image layer on top of the layer you want to blend, and click on the [Clip at Layer Below] icon at the top of the palette.
(2) A red line will be displayed to the left of the the image layer icon, and the image will only appear on the drawn parts of the image below.
You can use [Clip at Layer Below] for things other than images.
・Adding gradients to a tree to add color variation.
・Apply [Level Correction layer] on character layers to make them brighter
Blend images to for a pen and paper aesthetic
If you want your work to look traditional(e.g. watercolors and oil paint), blending your entire work with images of paper or canvas often helps
You can find some paper textures under [Material] palette > [Monochromatic Pattern] > [Texture]
(1) Drag and drop from the [Material] palette to paste to the canvas. Adjust the layer order and place the texture material layer at the top of the [Layer] palette.
(2) Select the layer property palette’s [Effect] > [Texture Combine] icon on the [Layer Properties] palette.
(3) Use the handles on the texture image to scale, and adjust the density of the paper to match the artwork.
Paper canvas without textures
Blend images to match perspective
Imported images are even more effective when combined with 3D and perspective rulers.
On creating and using perspective rulers, please refer to the following article.
For example, when blending an image with the floor of the example below, transforming the lines to match the perspective ruler grid used to draw the floor will look more natural.
(1) First, display the perspective ruler grid. Select the perspective ruler with the [Object] tool, and select [Tool Property] palette > [Grid] > [XZ plane].
(2) Import the canvas and import the images. Set the [Tool property] palette’s [How to transform] to [Free Transform], and adjust the handles to fit the grid.
Keep in mind that transforming to match perspective is also useful when drawing skies and walls.