Hand-drawn animation




This lesson will cover how to create an animation by drawing each frame.

We will create a short animation like the one below, using the traditional method identical to drawing on paper or cel.

Note that the lesson will not cover animation techniques, but will focus on the functions of Clip Studio Paint.


Note: For techniques please refer to the the following articles on inbetweening and motion arcs.


Note: If you want to make other types of animation, please refer to the following.

Options: What kind of animation do you want to make?


This tutorial covers the following steps of animation.

[1] Storyboarding ideas

[2] Creating a new canvas

[3] Drawing characters on cels

[4] Adjusting the timing of cels(keyframes)

[5] Inbetweening using the light table feature

[6] Drawing backgrounds

[7] Adding camera movement to the background to match the character

[8] Export as a movie


[1] Storyboarding ideas

Based on an idea you want to animate, we first make storyboards. These are the blueprints for animation.

Here, we will figure out the how the character will fill the frame, how it will move, how the camera will move if there is camera movement, etc.

When moving backgrounds etc. with camera movement, the canvas will have to match the size of the entire background.

Therefore, creating storyboards before creating a canvas is recommended to streamline the workflow.


This time, we will create an animation of a character moving from the bottom of the frame to the top. The camera will follow the changing background.


[2] Creating a new canvas

1. By selecting animation from the [New] dialog box in [File] menu → [New], we make a canvas with the following settings.


We are going to make a FullHD video for Youtube.


・Size of output frame From [Preset], select [1920x1080(192dpi) with blank space] and set the unit to mm.

・Overflow frame This time, we are going to set the [Specified scale] under [Height] to 2.00.

・ [Reference point]: When a [Reference point] is set, you will be able to set the position of the [Output frame] in respect to the [Overflow frame]. For this animation, we want to set the [Reference point] to the bottom middle so the camera moves upwards.


Note: This [Size of output frame] is usually suitable for Youtube videos.

Appropriate settings for [Create new] and [Export animation] differ depending on the final media and service.

You should set the output frame size and playback time according to the recommended standards for the services you want to post, such as for YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.


・[Frame rate] (fps = Frames Per Second): 8fps. This setting allows 8 frames of cels to be displayed per second.

■Playback Time: 24 frames. As the framerate is set to 8fps, the animation will be 3 seconds long.


2. After changing the settings, click [OK].


This will create your canvas.

A timeline named “Timeline 1” will be made in the [Timeline] palette, and an animation folder named “Animation folder” will be made in the [Layer] palette. A layer named “1” will be made in the animation folder, and will be specified in the timeline.


・Layers and layer folders in an [Animation folder] can be specified as [Animation cels] in the [Timeline] palette.


 ・Regarding frame rates in EX

In this course, we will create a 3 second animation using 24 frames set at 8fps. These settings can be created with the PRO version of CLIP STUDIO PAINT, which is limited to 24 frames.


However, the same limitations do not apply to EX, which can use more than 24 frames. Due to this, EX can use more smoother framerates.

If the framerate is set to 30fps, a 3 second animation will have a [Playback time(frame number)] of 90.

・3 second animation(8fps, 24 frames)


・3 second animation(30fps, 90 frames)

The higher the frame rate, the more frames you can show per second, and the smoother the animation.


[3] Drawing characters on cels

*1. Drawing on cel 1


On cel 1(“1” in the layer palette), we draw the first frame of the character.


Note: Setting the [Paper color]

Double-clicking the thumbnail of the [Paper] layer will display the [Color Settings] dialog box. This will allow you to change the color of the paper layer.

I wanted to draw a character with a pale color, so I changed the paper color to a slightly darker gray for contrast.




*2. Creating and drawing the next cel


To draw the next cel in the timeline, you will need to create another cel.

Click [New animation cel] on the [Timeline] palette to create an animation cel. This will also specify the cel to the current frame.


To show the same cel for 2 frames, select frame 3 in the timeline and click [New animation cel].


Cel 2 will be created, and we can continue drawing.


When you select a layer specified as a cel from the [Layer] palette, the frame specified on the [Timeline] palette will also be selected. The selected cel will be displayed on the canvas as well, and become the currently selected cel.


Once you have drawn on cel “2”, follow the same procedure to create a subsequent cel and continue drawing.



Specifying and creating cels can be automated by using the [Batch specify cels] command, which specifies cels at the same interval in a batch.

Specify cels by (1) Selecting the [Animation] menu-> [Edit track]-> [Batch specify cels], and (2) Creating cels in a batch by selecting [Animation] menu-> [Edit track]-> [Create all supported cels].

For detailed steps please refer to the following article.


Note: Use shortcuts to move between cels

By setting keyboard shortcuts to the two commands [Select previous cel] and [Select next cel], you can draw while moving to the previous and following specified cels with a keystroke.


(1) Open the [File] menu and select [Shortcut Settings].

Note: In the mac and tablet versions, select [Shortcut Settings] from the [Clip Studio Paint] menu.

Note: In the smartphone version, select [Menu] button > [App Settings] > [Shortcut Settings].


(2) Assign the following keys to the following functions.

[Animation] menu > [Edit track] > [Select previous cel]: [ ; ]

[Animation] menu > [Edit track] > [Select next cel]: [ ' ]


(3) Click [OK] and close the dialog box. The keyboard shortcuts will be assigned.


 Onion skin Function

Click [Timeline] palette > [Show animation cels] > [Enable onion skin] to overlay the preceding and following cels over the current cel.

▲ The previous cel will be shown in blue and the next cel will be in limegreen.


You can set the color and number of skins displayed for the onion skin by selecting the [Animation] menu > [Show animation cels] > [Onion skin settings].


Use [Select next cel] and [Enable onion skin] to speed up your work and draw each keyframe.




*4. Setting animation repetition


One animation cel can be used multiple times by setting it on a separate cel in the timeline.

In this example, the animation of the wings can be repeated by specifying the same layers to different cels on the timeline.


Right-click frame “7” in the timeline where you want to add a cel, and specify the “1” cel that has already been drawn.

Do the same for frame 9 and 11.


The animation in cel 1-3 will be repeated after frame 7.




*5. Playback and checking the animation


Once you have drawn a character in every cel, play the animation and check the movement.


Click [Play/Stop] on the [Timeline] palette.


The animation will be played back with the specified fps.

Pressing [Play/Stop] again will stop the playback.


We will adjust the sections that you want to move smoothly and delete unnecessary cels in the next chapter.


[4] Adjusting the timing of cels(keyframes)

Since the animation drawn up to this point has specified 1 cel per 2 frames on an 8fps timeline, 4 images will be displayed every 1/4 seconds.

By adding frames to the scenes you want to move smoothly, and reducing unnecessary cels, you can add clarity to the animation.


The following will show how to specify cels on the [Timeline] palette.




<Moving cel specification>

In the [Timeline] palette, click the frame of a cel to select it.

Drag the selected cel horizontally to move the selected frame.


 Adding and deleting cels

< Adding cels >

Select the frame you want to add the cel to in the [Timeline] palette.

Click [Timeline] palette > [New animation cel] to add and specify an animation cel.




<Deleting Cels>

Click to select a cel on the [Timeline].

Right-click and select [Delete] from the displayed menu to delete the specified cel.

Note: This will only delete the cel specification, and leave the layer.


 Inserting and deleting frames

When adding or deleting cels, the number of cels specified in the timeline changes, but the total playback time(number of cels) does not change.

For this reason, if we were to add a cel between cels 2 and 3, the length of cel 2 will change.


If you want to insert or delete a cel while maintaining the timing of the current animation cels, use the following function.




<Insert frame>

On the [Timeline] palette, right-click the position where you want to insert the frame to display the menu.

Click [Insert frame].


In the [Insert frame] dialog, enter the number of frames you want to insert and click [OK].


New frames will be inserted to the right of the selected frame.

Subsequent cel specifications are shifted backward by the number of inserted frames, and the playback time will increase.


If you want to add a single cel, select the inserted frame and click [New animation cel].


Note: The DEBUT and PRO versions have a limit on the number of frames, so the playback time will be up to 24 frames. Frames cannot be inserted beyond this limit.




<Delete frame>

On the [Timeline] palette, right-click the frame you want to delete to display the menu.

Select [Delete Frame].


When the [Delete frame] dialog box appears, enter the number of frames you want to delete and click [OK].


The frames to the right of the selection will be deleted.

The cel specification of the deleted frame will also be deleted, and the playback time is shortened by the number of deleted frames.


Note: Right drag to enter the number of frames.

In the animation [Timeline] palette, you can right drag with the mouse to speed things up.

1. On the [Timeline] palette, right-drag the number of frames you want to [Insert frame] or [Delete frame] and release to display the menu.


2. Click [Insert Frame] or [Delete Frame].

The number of frames selected by right dragging is entered in the [Number of frames] field of the [Insert Frame] or [Delete Frame] dialog that is displayed.



If you add or delete cels, the cel names will not be in the order they are played.

You can change the cel names in the order of playback using the following method:


[5] Inbetweening using the light table feature

Note: What’s Inbetweening?

In order to make the animation smoother, you will need to increase the number of pictures displayed per second.

The process of adding images between two cels to connect the movement is called “inbetweening.”


Inbetweening will result in smoother animation, but will increase the number of frames you need to draw.

Due to this, you will need to balance the workload of drawing and the smoothness of the animation, especially when working on longer animations.


This time, we will inbetween to end with an animation that displays 8 unique images per second(8fps.)

Increasing the number of images per second from 4 to 8 will smooth out the animation.




We will inbetween using the [Animation cels] palette > [Light table] function.


In the [Animation cels] palette, you can import cels and other image files, register them to the light table, and draw while using them as reference.

While the [Onion Skin] function only references the previous and following cels, the [Light Table] function can reference any cel in the timeline, even external files.

In addition, you can change the position and size of the image registered to the light table without editing the actual cel.




*1. Adding inbetween cels


1. In the [Timeline] palette, click a frame to add a cel to.


2. Click [Timeline] palette > [New animation cel].


Cel “1a” will be added between cel “1” and “2”.




*2. Registering cels to the light table


Using the light table function, we will inbetween the following cels.

Note: Currently, cel “1” is displayed in blue and cel “2” is displayed in yellow-green because of the Onion skin feature


1. Select the inbetween cel “1a” in the [Timeline] palette.


2. Select the [Animation cels] palette from the [Window] menu.


The currently selected cel(edited cel) will be displayed at the top of the palette.

The [Light table specific to cel] will be displayed at the bottom of the window. In this light table, you can register images and other cels that you want to use as reference.


(3) Selecting cel “1a,” drag and drop layer “1” (cel “1” ) in the [Layer] palette to the [Light table specific to cel] at the bottom of the [Animation cels] palette.

  • If you click layer “1” in the [Layer] palette when doing so, the editing target will be switched to “1.” Once you have clicked on layer “1” in the [Layer] palette, hold down the mouse and drag and drop it to the light table on the [Animation Cel] palette.


Cel “1a” will be registered to the cel “1a”’s [Light table specific to cel].


4. Next, register layer “2” to the “1a” light table using the same procedure.


Two layers will be registered. All registered layers are displayed with 50% opacity.




*3. Operating cels registered to the light table


When selecting a cel registered to the light table, the selected tool automatically switches to the [Light Table] sub tool, and handles will be displayed on the canvas.


1. Select cel “1” in the light table.


2. Move and rotate the image using the the [Light table] sub tool so that it overlaps the cel “2”.


3. Select [Animation] menu → [Light table] → [Move canvas to center].


4. In the [Move canvas to center] dialog box that appears, enter a value between 0 and 100 and adjust the position of the inbetween.


If set to “50”, you will select the exact middle position of layer “1” and “2” on the light table.


5. Click [OK].

The canvas position of layer “1a” has been moved to the exact middle position between “1” and “2.”



The layer color can be changed by selecting the cel registered in the light table and changing [Color] to [Half color] in [How to show] at the top right of the [Animation Cel] palette.


After changing, you can set a different layer color for each cel by selecting [Change layer color] in [How to show].


Similar to the colors from the onion skin feature, the previous cel was changed to blue and the next cel was changed to yellowish green.




4. Inbetweening


1. Select the cel to draw on “1a.”


2. Draw on cel “1a” so that it bridges the images of “1” and “2.”


3. Once you are done, click [Reset position of layers on light table] in the upper left of the [Animation Cels] palette to reset the position of the layers registered on the light table.


Inbetween 1a has been made between cel “1” and “2.”


4 Using the same method, add a cel using [New animation cel] to the frame to which you want to add an inbetween, and use the [Animation cels] palette to accurately draw the frames.


  • For details on how to use the [Animation cels] palette, refer to the following reference guide.


4 All of the inbetweens are now complete.

This is how the animation looks so far.

Before inbetweening → After inbetweening


In this same step, we can can color the characters and add details.

Each individual cel is colored and brushed up.


If you want to use multiple layers for coloring and retouching, refer to the following.


[6] Drawing backgrounds

We will now add space for the characters to move around.


1. In the [Layer] palette, click the triangle button on the left of the animation folder to close it.


2. Click [New Raster Layer] to create a layer. I changed the name of the layer to “Background” for clarity.


3. Drag and move the new layer so it is under the character.


4. Draw the background.


[7] Adding camera movement to the background to match the character

By storing this background layer in the [2D Camera Folder], you can add camera movement to it.




*1. Creating a 2D Camera Folder


(1) Under the [Animation] menu, go to [New animation layer] > [2D Camera folder].


This will create the 2d camera folder “Camera 1.”


(2) Drag and drop the “Background” layer folder into the “Camera 1” folder.


(3) Select the [Operation] tool > [Object] sub tool.

When the “Camera 1” folder is selected, a handle will be displayed over the output frame.

By manipulating the handle, you can set camera movement such as [Scale up/Scale down], [Rotate], and [Move.]




*2. Adding keyframes


1. In the [Timeline] palette, click the first frame to select it.


2. When the 2D camera handle is operated with the [Object] sub tool, a key frame will be added to the selected frame.


  • When adding a key frame without changing the camera movement (the initial position of the camera), select the frame you want to add and click [Add keyframe] on the [Timeline] palette.


The shot of the background you want to show in the 1st frame has been added as a [Keyframe.]


Next, we will move the camera.

You can set where the camera should be next and when.

Select the 16th frame where the character stops moving upwards.


3. Select the 16th frame in the [Timeline] palette.


4. Use the [Object] sub tool to operate the camera handle and move the camera for the background.


Ae keyframe is now added to the 16th frame.

The camera frames for frame 1 and frame 16 will be displayed, as well as a Camera path connecting the two camera frames.


The camera movement of the selected frame is displayed in blue, and you can check the area that the camera is covering at that moment.

Camera work for the background has been added.


Note: How to display 2d cameras

You can change the display method of the area covered by the 2D camera in the [Tool Property] palette of the [Object] tool.

By changing the display method from [Show field guides] to [Show camera’s field of view], the 2D camera will be rendered, and you will be able to preview the final animation.

  • With [Show camera’s field of view], the frame and camera path of the 2D camera will not be displayed.




■ 3. Camera movement playback


With the initial settings, pressing [Play/Stop] on the [Timeline] palette will move the 2D camera frame to indicate where the output frame will show.

Characters outside the 2D camera folder will play correctly in the reference frame, but the background in the 2D camera will not move.


If you want to check how the actual camera movement will appear, set [Playback settings] as follows.


・ [Render 2D camera]

Under the [Animation] menu, go to [Playback settings] > [Render 2D camera].

By checking [Render 2D camera], playback will show the final animation complete with camera movement.


・ [Render before starting playback]

When [Render 2D camera] is selected, the 2D camera will be rendered while being played, making it stutter for a while.

From the [Animation] menu, select [Playback settings] → [Render before starting playback] to play the animation after rendering for a smoother replay.


・ [Play all frames]

In the default [Play in real time], the animation will accurately be rendered according to the frame rate, making this a memory-consuming process.

By changing to [Play all frames], playback may be slightly slower than the actual animation, but the rendering process will be lighter.


・ [Prioritize speed]

The animation will be played at a reduced resolution.


By checking the above settings and pressing [Play/Stop], the background displayed in the final animation will be played.

If you do not need to check the camera movement, we recommend deselecting [Render 2D camera].

Left: Playback screen with 2D camera rendered, Right: Playback screen without render


[8] Export as a movie

We will export the finished animation as a movie.


1. Select the [File] menu→[Export animation]→[Movie].


2. Enter the file name, select the save destination and save format, and click [OK].

You can export to either MP4 or AVI, but this time we will export in MP4 format.

  • The MP4 format is more versatile, as the AVI format is not suitable for playback on a Mac,


3. The [Movie export settings] dialog box will be displayed.

If there is camera movement, make sure [Apply 2D camera effects] is checked.

Set [Frame rate] in [Options] to the same value as the frame rate you selected in the [New] dialog (8fps for this animation.)

  • If you change to a lower value, the playback time will not change, but the number of pictures displayed per second will decrease.


4. Click [OK] to export the movie.


The animation is now complete!

Note: This example has been exported as a GIF.


That concludes the hand-drawn animation lesson.



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