Hand Lettering in Clip Studio Paint

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1. Create a New Project

Start by creating a new project. This piece is 1080x1080 units (px), which is the standard size for Instagram posts. Even though we will be using vector layers, we need to set a high resolution (300) to avoid pixelation because Clip Studio Paint's vector lines will appear according to their raster counterpart.

2. Display Grid

Go to View > Grid and a grid will appear on the artboard. This allows us to visually measure the size of our letters.

If we want to edit the size of our grids, we can go to View > Grid Settings...

For this piece, we will keep the default settings of a gap size of 100 px. We will also set the number of divisions to 4.

3. Set Background Color

To set a background color, select your desired color by clicking the bottom left icon and choosing from the color picker. Then, select the paint bucket tool in the top navigation bar and click anywhere on the artboard. This will paint the entire artboard.

4. Set Down Rulers

We need to set down rulers to determine the height of our lower-case letters, known as the x-height. We can also set rulers for the height of our upper-case letters, our descenders (letters that hang below the x-height as in the letter ‘y’), and our ascenders (letters that hang above the x-height as in the letter ‘h’).

Go to View > Ruler and the rulers will appear along the top and left-hand borders of our workspace.

However, since we have a dark background, we need to change the color of our rulers so we can see them. To do this go to File > Preferences... Then, in the Preferences panel, select Color of ruler to snap and select a new color.

Now, drag guidelines down from the top ruler for a horizontal line, or out from the left ruler for a vertical line. They will appear in the color we selected- here, I chose yellow to stand out against our dark background.

5. Rough Sketch on a Raster Layer

Time to start writing! Select the New Raster Layer icon from the Layers panel. Our new layer will then show up as Layer 2.

Using the Pen tool, roughly illustrate your hand lettering within your guidelines.

6. Reduce opacity

Slide the bar on the top left of the Layers panel from 100 to 25. This will lower the opacity of your artwork on Layer 2 to 25%.

7. Draw Outlines on a Vector Layer

For hand lettering and graphic design, it is best to work on a vector layer in order to retain quality when resizing your artwork.

From the Layers panel, select the New Vector Layer icon to create a vector layer (shows up as Layer 3). All artwork created on this layer will be a vector.

Now, using the pen tool, we will draw outlines over the edges of our original sketch.

After laying down our outlines, we can now hide the grids, rulers, and our rough sketch. Go to View > Grid and uncheck Grid. Then, from the Layer panel, we will uncheck the eyeball icons on Layer 2 and our Guide layer to hide them.

Now we are left with the outlines of our letters. In the next steps we will clean these lines up.

8. Correct Line Width

Select the Correct Line icon from the side navigation bar and open the Sub Tool panel. From here we can select the Correct Line Width tool. By selecting Fix Width, checking Process whole line, and entering a specific line weight (I chose 3.5), we can change the line weight of our entire illustration to 3.5 by drawing over it with this tool.

On the left image, the lines have varying widths. On the right, our lines have been fixed to be the same width using the Correct Line Width tool.

9. Clean Stray Lines with the Vector Eraser

Now we will clean up any overlapping lines by selecting the Eraser tool from the left navigation bar. From the Sub Tool panel, we will use the Vector Eraser.

Under tool property, we have the choice to erase anything we touch, erase up to the intersection, or erase the entire line. We want to select erase up to the intersection. This will help us delete our overlapping lines.

On the left image, there are overlapping lines. On the right, these extra lines have been deleted using the Vector Eraser.

10. Adding Details

If we like, we can add smaller decorations to the graphic in the same way we have drawn out our lettering. Here, I have added a small city illustration.

11. Add Color

Coloring via the paint bucket tool needs to be done on a raster layer. So, we will create a new raster layer (Layer 4) and drag it below our outline layer (Layer 3).

We will use the Fill Tool located in the side navigation bar. From the Sub Tool panel, we will select Refer other layers. Now when we fill in a shape, it will refer to all layers.

Now, we can fill in our letters with our desired colors.

12. Use Ruler Tool for Extra Lines

For the final step, we want to add straight lines extruding from our artwork to create the appearance of rays. To make sure our lines are straight, we will select the Ruler tool from the side navigation bar. In the Sub Tool Panel, we will select the Special ruler.

Under Tool property, we will choose Radial line.

We will place the radial ruler in the center of the artboard.

Now when we draw lines on this layer, they will automatically snap to the radial ruler. This allows us to easily create our rays.

When we save the file, the rulers will no longer be visible. Our final illustration is pictured below.

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