Starry Night Sky Tutorial



Today I will be showing a step by step tutorial on painting a simple starry night sky! I will be using only the default brushes provided by the Clip Studio Program for your convenience but if there are personal brushes that you feel might work better for certain effects, please go straight ahead!

Before We Start

Before we begin the tutorial, I'd like to point out the brushes and the layer settings that I will be using.


1) G-Pen: This default brush will be used for blocking out the initial color scheme of the painting. It will also be used at the end to block in the mountains.

2) Running Edge Watercolor: This default watercolor brush will be the most frequently used during this tutorial. It will be used for both the clouds and the lighting required to achieve the glowing effect shown in the painting.

3) Blur: I will only use the blur tool once but based on preference, this default blending brush can definitely be used in multiple areas.

4) Blend: My go-to default blending brush for this tutorial. This brush is great at blending and mixing colors evenly to create smooth gradients.

5) Spray: Great for quickly drawing stars. One thing to remember is that the density of the dots/individual pixels grows as the brush size decreases. A larger brush size = smaller and more spread out dots.

6) Soft Airbrush: This default airbrush is great not only for erasing and touching up mistakes, but also for gradually adding in colors and mixing colors as well.

7) Transparent color setting: This isn't a brush, but a color setting. Instead of opting for an eraser brush, I find it easier to keep both texture and consistency in strokes but using this setting. Instead of applying color, the transparent color setting acts as an eraser. I have mine set on the shortcut Ctrl+C (I believe that is the default shortcut).

Layer Settings

1) Normal: As the name states, this is the normal default layer setting. Every new layer created will be automatically set as Normal.

2) Overlay: This filter will be used at the very end to lay a texture effect on top of the finished painting without affecting the pigmentation and lighting of the painting.

3) Add (Glow): The Add layers have a brightening effect, but the glow option is more intense. It creates a "glow" effect, especially when using bright colors such as white. We will be using this layer several times to create lighting.


Now that we've gone over the tools that Clip Studio offers that will be used in this tutorial, we can go ahead and get started with the painting process!

Part 1) Base/ Sky

1) The first thing I do is lay out the colors I want to use in the painting. We want to choose colors that are almost complementary (EX: blue and orange, purple and yellow). However, directly complementary colors will look incredibly forced and unnatural. So, for this painting, I chose indigo (purple-blue) and a dull yellow.

2) After choosing the colors, we're going to block in the colors. We want to keep the majority of the painting blue/ purple and keep the yellow/orange at the very bottom as a highlight.

3) After blocking in the colors, we're going to use the Blur tool and blur out all the sharp edges. This will make the blending process faster and smoother.

4) Using the Blend tool, we're going to blend towards the center (Blend the top down and the bottom up). Remember to keep the majority of the canvas the darker blue/purple color.

Part 2) Clouds

Adding clouds will create texture and add depth to the painting. We can achieve this by using the Running Color Edge Watercolor brush. This brush has a soft wispy edge that is perfect for this step in the painting process.

1) Our first step is to map out where we want our lightest area to be. This will be done on a new layer. We're going to use the Running Color Watercolor brush, and gently/lightly map this area out using a color slightly lighter than our base/background color. For this painting, I decided to do a slightly curved line going straight down the center of the canvas.

2) On another new layer, we're going to use the yellow color at the bottom of the canvas to lightly map out the areas where we want to have light shining through. This will eventually be the area that we want to glow.

3) Still using the Running Color watercolor brush, we're going to paint in some clouds using a color a shade or two darker than our base color. What we're going to do is on a new layer, gently paint in the area around the lightened area from the previous step. This will create depth. Notice that the dark clouds to the right of the lighted area are darker and more intense than those to the left. When the glow effect is applied, later on, this will create the illusion that the dark clouds to the right are in the forefront and have light shining from behind them.

4) I went back and added more intensity to the lightened area. I also touched up the darker clouds and blended down the yellow areas at the bottom of the canvas. The purpose of these touch-ups is that we want a sufficient amount of contrast that we can apply a glow effect without it looking forced and out of place, but not so much contrast that the wispy blended effect of the clouds is no longer there.

If we make the contrast too visible, our lighted area loses its shape and clouded effect. We will have to blend this out more (create a larger lighted area than we want).

Another thing to keep an eye on is that the layer with the darker clouds will always stay on top. As you can see, even the add(glow) layers that come afterward, will be below this layer.

5) On a new layer (below the dark clouds layer), we're going to apply our first add (glow) effect. Remember to turn on the add(glow) filter for this layer. Using the Running Color Edge watercolor brush and light purple color, we're going to gently paint around the lighted area from the previous steps. Our purpose in this step is to surround the lighted area in a soft glowing aura. Using a light purple allows the lighted area to better blend into the background and the dark purple clouds around it.

6) Our second add(glow) layer will be a new layer (of course). We are still going to be using the Running Color Edge watercolor brush, but we will be decreasing the size and increasing the density of the brush. Using the same light purple color from the previous step, we are going to paint in slivers of light right in between the dark purple clouds on the right and our lighted area. This (once again) enhances the illusion that the clouds are in the forefront with light shining through from behind it.

7) On the same layer, we're going to use a large Soft airbrush with an almost pink lavender color. This time, instead of restricting ourselves to the area between the lighted area and the dark purple clouds, we are going to gently airbrush the majority of the canvas. Because this layer is below the dark purple clouds, any areas where the clouds are not heavily dense will become lighter. This will create a more natural effect.

8) On a new add(glow) layer, we're going to use the Soft airbrush and white color. The airbrush should be set to a smaller brush size and a higher density. Using a white color will maximize the intensity of the glow effect, as white is the brightest color on the color spectrum. Like in step 6, we're going to paint only in the area between the dark purple clouds on the right and the lighted area.

9) Using the Blend brush, we are going to blend out the area we painted in the previous step. This allows the glow effect to blend out into the other lighted areas without harsh and unnatural edges.

10) Before proceeding to add stars, I did another touchup of the clouds. Using the Running Color Edge watercolor brush on its transparent color setting, I erased and blended out some of the edges on the purple clouds to create a more natural and wispy shape.

Part 3) Stars

1) Our first layer of stars is incredibly subtle. On a normal layer placed right above our base layer and below all our cloud layers, we will use the Spray brush and a light pink-purple color. The Spray brush should be set at its highest brush setting (remember that the larger the brush size, the more spread out the dots [stars] will be). For this layer of stars, we will brush over the entire canvas. This layer will be below all the cloud layers to decrease the visibility and brightness of the stars in this layer. This is because the purpose of this first layer of stars is to create texture and depth.

2) On a new add(glow) layer ABOVE the purple clouds layer, we are going to use the same pink-purple color and the Spray brush. This time, because this layer is above the clouds layers, the stars will be more prominent and bright. Too many stars will be unnatural, so we will be using the brush sparingly, painting only sections of the canvas. We will still need to erase and dim some stars using the Airbrush tool set on its transparent color setting in order to create more natural looking stars.

3) Some stars shine brighter than others, so on a new add(glow) layer, we are going add several individual stars that will be brighter and more prominent than the rest. To do this, we will use the G-Pen brush, and white color to draw small dots/stars sparingly. Notice that the majority of these stars are centered around the lighted area.

Part 4) Canvas Texture (Optional)

Something that I like to do on all my paintings, is adding a grainy texture on top of the canvas. To me, this makes the painting more "real" as the canvas is no longer incredibly and unnaturally smooth. The grainy texture also adds dimension to the painting. Of course, this step is completely optional. Feel free to skip it if you like the smoothness of a digital canvas.

1) the first thing I do is go to the RGB tab. Then I set each value to 100 to get a gray color. This gray color is the most balanced gray color, as it has the same amount of red, green and blue values.

2) On a new layer, I use the fill bucket tool, and fill the entire canvas.

3) On the main menu toolbar, there is an option called Filter. Scroll down to the Draw option and click on the Perlin Noise tab.

4) When this pop-up menu appears, set the scale to 1.00 in order to create the grain effect and click ok to apply the filter.

5) After the filter is applied, your canvas should look like this. The first image is a zoomed-out view, and the second image a zoomed-in view.

6) To use this layer as a texture layer, we will need to set the layer to an Overlay effect.

7) After applying the Overlay effect, your canvas should be heavily texturized. Based on preferences, you may want to adjust the opacity of the texture/overlay layer. Personally, I like to set mine at 50% opacity, as I find that the most natural.

The benefit of using this grainy effect for this particular tutorial/painting is that it emphasizes the stars as the grainy texture itself adds dimension and depth to the painting. In other paintings, the grainy texture can help achieve an antique feeling or effect, and in realistic paintings of humans, for example, the grainy texture can be used to create more realistic and natural-looking skin.

Part 5) Mountains (Optional)

For this painting, because it just so happened that there is leftover space at the bottom of the canvas that feels empty, I decided to add mountains. Of course, this step is once again, optional. You may want to add a cityscape or make this painting the backdrop for another painting.

1) For the simple silhouette of a mountain range, the first thing we're going to do is draw and fill in the first mountain range. We are going to draw this using the G-Pen brush and a dark blue, dark purple, or black color.

2) Then, using the Soft Airbrush tool and its transparent color setting, we are going to lightly erase the mountain range so that only the sharp edges of its peaks are visible. This creates a faded effect and an illusion that the mountain range is far from the viewer.

3) We are going to repeat the previous step, and create several mountain ranges. The number of ranges depends on you and your preferences. Personally, I like sticking to three or four in the background because I find any more than that overwheming to the viewer.

4) We will draw our last mountain range on a new layer. We will keep this one filled in and unfaded to give further depth to the previous mountains. Keeping this mountain unfaded will give the illusion that this mountain is the closest to the viewer and reinforce the idea that the rest are further away.


And there we have it! A starry night sky! Thank you for reading through this tutorial, and don't forget to leave a like and a comment of support! Hope you liked this tutorial and hopefully, I will be back for more!



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