Welcome to “5 Time Saving Tips for Animation”. In this tutorial we will look at some of the methods I’ve developed to cut corners and save time while animating using Clip Studio Paint. This is supplemental knowledge to animation in Clip Studio Paint, not a beginner how-to or an animation tutorial; meaning, I will not show you the absolute basics of animation or animating in Clip Studio Paint, but hopefully provide a better grasp on more efficient methods of animating in the program. I hope by the end of the list you have a better idea of some of the more powerful tools available in the software, and maybe come up with some of your own workflow habits based on what is shown here. Let’s get started!
1. Moving a Single Frame with Multiple Layers:
Tell me if this sounds familiar: you think your draft looks great, you start to ink the art work, you might even get to coloring it, but then you realize the location is off on a frame, or in multiple frames and now you need to move maybe 2 – 3, maybe even 4, different animation folders to solve this issue.
It sounds awfully painful to move those frames individually, layer by layer, trying to line them up, to fix this problem. You might first think to select all the layers active for that frame to move them, or even try sliding through the cel list on the timeline, but I’ve found a much easier solution to this.
First, select the Operation tool. By default, the Operation tool will be set to Object mode, which handles layers that are selected. By choosing Select Layer in the sub-tool palette, we can now move any layers that are selected in a box.
It also will ignore selections as seen in its sub-tool panel menu on the left.
So for example, if we need to move this fully colored character, we will lock the layers we don’t need (e.g. background) and simply select in a box by clicking and dragging the area we do need, then make the necessary adjustments.
Super handy for those pesky small adjustments needed later!
2. Using the Light Table for Reference
One of the tools I often overlooked when first using Clip Studio’s animation tools was the Light Table, which it turns out, is quite useful. If you’ve spent any amount of time animating in Clip Studio, or other animation software, you’re probably familiar with the Onion Skin feature which allows you to see several cels in front and behind your current position on the timeline.
The Light Table is a more versatile onion skin. Instead of showing cels in linear, chronological fashion like the Onion Skin, the Light Table lets you determine which cels are visible on a canvas basis or an individual cel basis. It’s a great way to stay on model while drafting or finalizing your animation. To access the Light Table, go to Window > Animation Cels to open its respective tool panel.
Here you can turn the Light Table on and off, determine whether its active for all cels on the canvas or a single cel. You can load files from your documents directly into the Light Table for use.
You can also register the current cel you’re on, or what I like to do, drag and drop any number of cels for reference directly into the registry. You can determine the opacity of registered images on an individual basis or change them all at once.
You can also change the color of the registered images to more easily distinguish between them, similar to Onion Skin.
Let me show you how this can be used. For example, I have here the beginning of a new animation loop and I want to make sure the character I’m drawing remains accurate. I’m going to enable the Light Table and register this first keyframe for the entire canvas.
Now as I begin to draft her subtle movements, I have a keyframe reference in the background while working. I can easily manipulate the opacity or simply disable the Light Table if I no longer need it.
3. Duplicating Frames for Minor Adjustments
A common scenario while animating, especially when animating straight forward, drafting, or animating special FX, like fire and wind, is making small adjustments to the previous drawing.
As of the making of this tutorial, ver 1.9.3, does not offer a “Duplicate Cel/Frame” function; there is, however, a Duplicate Layer function. However, it is not keyboard bound so we need to edit our shortcut key preferences to make the most of this function. To edit your keybindings head to File > Shortcut Settings.
Make sure the setting area is set to Main Menu, then open the Layer hierarchy and find Duplicate Layer. Press edit shortcut and now you can decide which keybinding you would like for this function.
I’ve set mine to Alt + D. Now that we’ve set up the shortcut key, let’s see how it works.
To perform this select the cel on the timeline we wish to duplicate, which will automatically select the corresponding layer in the layers palette (if at first the layer is not selected, be sure to expand the layer folder so you can see all the layers inside the appropriate Animation Folder); then press your shortcut for Duplicate Layer, in this case Alt + D.
Clip Studio Paint has now duplicated that frame’s layer in the layer panel so now we can right click on the timeline and register that layer to the timeline where we need it.
It isn’t a perfect solution, but this is the best work around I’ve found until it’s given a proper function.
4. Sub View for Color Picking and Reference
In most other painting programs when you want to use an image for reference or color picking, the steps to take usually look something along the lines of: open image, un-dock the window and set it aside, go back and forth between two different canvases for reference and color picking; alternatively, load the image into the document and have it as an additional layer.
Clip Studio Paint has an elegant solution to this in the Sub View palette. To open this panel, click on Window > Sub View (If you’re using the default workspace, Sub View is tabbed next to the Navigator panel in the top right. I like to keep my Sub View pinned on the right-side dock for easy access).
The Sub View allows you to load images to quickly color pick or simply keep as reference. Pretty straight forward. To make the most of color picking quickly, enable Switch to eyerdropper automatically in the panel settings.
I like to create my color palettes in a separate document and then load them into Sub View for my coloring process. This is a huge time saver when coloring your final animations!
5. Timeline and Layer Organization: Best Practices
Because of the way Clip Studio Paint handles animation (layers are cels kept in an Animation Folder you register to the timeline) it’s a good idea to correctly name your groups, Animation Folders, and subsequent layers (when necessary). The general hierarchy for thinking about your animations goes as such: Groups > Animation Folders > Layers.
Keeping things organized in the layers panel helps keep you organized in the timeline. Larger more complex animations can sometimes feel out of hand if you’ve forgotten to label things or keep track of what goes where. In the animation I’m showing, I’ve separated her hair/beanie into a single Animation Folder (which counts as one layer track on the timeline), her face into its own, her hands are separated, and her body is last.
If the naming convention of duplicating or creating new layers becomes too unclear by the end of your project, Clip Studio has a function in the timeline menu to rename everything in the order of how it’s registered to the timeline, or in order of the layer panel.
Simply go to timeline menu > Edit Track > Rename in order of timeline/Rename in order of layers. This is very helpful for cleaning up your layers and staying organized.
Another helpful function on the timeline to re-organize is Batch Specify Cels. Available via the timeline menu > Edit Track > Batch Specify Cels allows you to set any number of cels in an order you specify (note: an Animation Folder must be selected for this function to be available. You cannot Specify groups or regular layers).
This is helpful for importing a reference animation, repeating a series of cels, or changing the duration of a series of cels. You can use both renaming the timeline and Batch Specify Cels in combination to set your animation in reverse, loop actions, or change their timings from 1s to 2s. In the Batch Specify Cels panel, select Specify name of existing animation cel and then select the cels you want repeated or looped.
Number of frames determines how many frames each cel is given, not the total number of frames. So for example, setting it to 3 makes all your cels have 3 frames. By selecting the last frame in Start cel and the first in End cel, we can set the animation in reverse.
Staying organized keeps you moving smoothly throughout the animation process!
Thank you all for viewing my tutorial! Animating in Clip Studio Paint is a methodical process so planning animation, organizing your layers, and knowing your tools is very important. I hope this was a good introduction to some ways to cut corners and save time during that process!
Cheers and have fun animating!