Making Untraditionally Traditional Digital Brushes



I'm back with another tutorial and today we'll be making some untraditionally "traditional" digital brushes in Clip Studio! From physical materials, rendering, and digitally sharing them, I'll be guiding you through what's needed to make incredible new content to help you with your illustrations.

But wait! What if you don't have expensive physical ink or art brushes to help you make your new favorite digital brushes? No worries! In this guide, we'll be stepping outside of common methods and exploring some interesting substitutes like free soy sauce, barbecue, napkins, and plastic cutlery... Wait what? Keep reading to find out more!


First thing's first; we need items to make the physical patterns that we'll be later rendering into digital brushes. Here's what I'll be using...

x 1 :: Bowl (Any kind)
x 1 :: Soy Sauce
x 1 :: Barbecue Sauce
x 2 :: Napkins
x 1 :: Spoon
x 1 :: Butter Knife
x 1 :: Fork
x 2 :: White Paper (Thicker paper works best)
(Optional) x 1 :: Something to place under your paper so that the condiments don't make a mess. I used a plastic trash bag, but anything works.
(Optional) x 1 :: Pair of plastic gloves to wear if you're not a fan of getting sticky.

You'll notice that I obtained all of these items for free from restaurants (aside from the paper, gloves, and trash bag) ! Are you missing anything from the list, such as soy sauce or barbecue? You can substitute in a dark pigmented condiment with similar thickness instead! Here's some ideas;

Don't have soy sauce? Instead, try...

- Worcestershire Sauce
- Runny Hot Sauce
- Teriyaki Sauce

Make sure your substitute for soy sauce is watery and smooth in texture/consistency and a dark shade (like red, black, or brown).

Don't have barbecue sauce? Instead, try...

- Ketchup
- Thick Salsa
- Oyster Sauce

Make sure your substitute for barbecue is thick and a dark shade (like red, black, or brown).

Making the Physical Patterns

Do you have the materials listed above ready? If so, it’s now time to get started on making our physical brush patterns!

- Step One :: Tear a small corner from the side of your soy sauce packet so that only a small quantity comes out at a time. Next, drizzle a little on your paper. Because this product is so watery, a little goes a long ways!

- Step Two :: Use your butter knife to spread around the soy sauce. The thinner the spread, the more texture will be visible as the liquid seeps into the paper.

Use your bowl to place the soy sauce packet into and any other messy materials so you keep a tidy workspace.

- Step Three :: Our first brush pattern is done! I’ll be making a bunch so that we have a nice selection later to choose from. You can make as many or as few as you want!

- Step Four :: Open up your barbecue packet. Dip your spoon into it, or to regulate the amount you use, dip your finger into the sauce and then dish it onto your spoon from there. Use the spoon to paint it across the paper. Notice how the barbecue is thicker; this will give you a more paint like effect, while the soy sauce often looks more similar to ink when rendered.

- Step Five :: Try mixing the two condiments for an interesting diversity of consistency! Here’s also a trick for making splatter effects; Dip the butter knife into a condiment, then, holding it a small ways from your canvas in one hand, tap the knife against the other hand (Making a clapping motion with your hands). This will splatter product across the canvas in a random manner. It’s great for ink effects!

- Step Six :: Want more texture? Grab the napkin, dip it into the barbecue or soy sauce, and dab it onto the paper. It looks like you’re using an art sponge!

- Step Seven :: Use your fork to form lined patterns, perfect for grass, cloud, and hair brushes.

- Step Eight :: Once you're done making the physical patterns, take photos of your paper and upload them to Clip Studio.

- Tip :: Have fun! The more creative you get, the better your brushes turn out to be.

Rendering Brushes in Clip Studio

Now it’s time to start rendering the patterns in Clip Studio to make them digital brushes!

- Step One :: Open the photos you took of your brush patterns in Clip Studio. If your photo is too dark, consider brightening it like I did by going to (Layer) -> (New Correction Layer) -> (Tone Curve). Merge the new tone curve layer with your photograph once you get it how you want it, so everything is in a singular layer.

- Step Two :: Use the Lasso Marqueue (M) tool to circle the brush pattern that you want. Then, use the shortcut CTRL + C to copy that selection.

- Step Three :: Make a new canvas by going to (File) -> (Edit).

- Step Four :: Set the dimensions of the new canvas to...
Width :: 2000
Height :: 2000
Resolution :: 300
Basic Expression :: Color
Paper color :: Bright green
- Click Okay.

- Step Five :: In your newly made canvas, use shortcut CTRL + V to paste the prior made brush selection in.

- Step Six :: Use shortcut CTRL + T to rotate the image to the direction you want. You can also alter its dimensions further by doing CTRL + T, right clicking, and selecting (Free Transform).

- Step Seven :: Alter the expression color of the brush layer to be (Grey). Then click (Apply Expression Color of Preview).

- Step Eight :: With the brush pattern layer selected, go to (Edit) -> (Tonal Correction) -> (Binarization) to turn the pattern to only black and white.

- Tip :: Want to retain the texture in your pattern without using the binarization method? See the “How to Retain Original Brush Texture While Rendering” section of this tutorial to find out how.

- Step Nine :: Adjust the binarization as desired. The farther to the left of the scale, the less dense and more spotty the pattern will be, while the farther right of the scale, the denser the pattern will be.

- Step Ten :: With the brush layer selected, go to (Edit) -> (Convert Brightness to Opacity) to automatically delete any white in the layer, leaving only the brush.

- Step Eleven :: Check to insure no white is left behind. This should be easy to do as the digital paper color is set to a bright green allowing you to differentiate between what’s the brush and what’s the digital canvas.

- Step Twelve :: Expand your right side panel so that your (Material) tab is visible. Make a new folder by clicking (Create a Material Folder) and label it something that’s easy to remember. Now, with the new folder open, drag the brush pattern layer from your canvas into the folder.

- Step Thirteen :: Double click on the newly added brush pattern in the folder OR select (Show property window of selected materials) on the bottom of the panel.

- Step Fourteen :: With the (Material Property) tab opened, name your brush something you’ll easily remember. Then, under (Material Settings for Brush) click (Use for Brush Tip Shape). This step is very important. Forgetting to select (Use for Brush Tip Shape) will mean you can’t carry out the following steps properly.
Save the brush under your prior created folder. Then, click (Okay).

- Step Fifteen :: Select the (Pen) tab on your left panel. Click the (Sub Tool Pen) tab. Pick the small three line button at the front of the row showing the tool property and sub tool buttons. This will open up a panel with various options. Choose (Create Custom Sub Tool) from the list.

- Step Sixteen :: On the popup screen titled (Create Custom Sub Tool) you now have options to determine the general function and name of your new brush. I find that Input Process (Pen) tends to work best for brushes which you desire to have higher density. You can also have your brush be an eraser instead of a brush at this point, though I feel keeping them set to brushes or pens and then manually choosing the clear paint pallet to erase with gives the most diversity and ease of use.
Click OK when done.

- Step Seventeen :: Now it’s time to begin customizing your new brush! A new popup labeled (Sub Tool Detail) will be visible.

- Step Eighteen :: On the (Sub Tool Detail) panel, select (Brush Tip) from the list of options. Click (Material). Then choose (Click Here and Add Tip Shape).

- Step Nineteen :: Another screen will come up titled (Select brush tip shape). Enter in the name of the brush tip that you want to use. Remember the name you gave your newly made brush pattern earlier? Now, select the brush tip from the list and click (OK).

- Step Twenty :: If you’re creating a brush that you want to randomize the output of, such as for ink or splatter brushes, click the small pen icon button called (Adjust this setting with dynamics such as pen pressure or stroke speed) found on the end of the (Angle) setting. Choose the (Random) box at the bottom of the (Angle Dynamics) popup. Adjust the strength to determine how much and how often you want the brush to the rotated randomly when using it.

- Step Twenty One :: To achieve a traditional blending effect with your brush, select the (Ink) tab and enable (Color Mixing). Now, adjust the (Amount of Paint), (Density of Paint), (Color Stretch), and (Blend with Sub Color) to get the perfect combination. You can edit these settings later even after setting the brush’s defaults if you have the eye icon checked in each category.

- Step Twenty Two :: Go to the (Watercolor Edge) tab and adjust the settings if you would like an even more traditional appearance in your brush.

- Step Twenty Three :: Once your settings are how you want them, click (Save All Settings as Default) and press (OK). Your brush is now made and accessible from the Sub Tool Pen list!

- TIP :: To make your own (Sub Tool) brush category, drag the newly created brush to the bar. A new category will be made, with the brush inside. To rename the category, right click on it and select (Settings of Sub Tool Group). Rename it as desired, and press (OK).

- Step Twenty Four :: Open a new canvas to begin testing the freshly created brush. Not a fan of how it’s looking so far with the default settings? On the brush’s (Tool Property) panel, click the wrench icon in the lower right corner labeled (Show [Sub Tool Detail Pallet]) and correct the functions to get it just right.

Once your brushes have been made, get to work drawing and testing them out!

How to Retain Original Brush Texture While Rendering

Sometimes you’ll create a brush pattern that has wonderful texture that you want to incorporate into the final product. The steps to render these brushes are quite similar to the previously seen method, but with some important differences. In this segment I’ll show you my favorite method on how to do so.

- Step One :: Follow steps 1 – 7 of the segment “Rendering Brushes in Clip Studio.”

- TIP :: Want your brush to retain its original color and be usable in that color(s)? Skip Step 7 from the "Rendering Brushes in Clip Studio" segment so that (Expression Color) is left on (Color) mode.

- Step Two :: Select (Layer) -> (New Correction Layer) -> (Binarization). Achieve a desirable outline of the brush in black with the Binarization function.

- TIP :: Consider making the Binarization smaller rather than larger, to decrease excess white space in the following steps.

- Step Three :: Duplicate your brush pattern in the layer tab by right clicking it and selecting (Duplicate Layer) so that there are two. Hide one from view by deselecting the eye icon on it.

- Step Four :: Merge the Binarization layer with the one visible brush layer. Now, go to (Edit) -> (Convert Brightness to Opacity) to erase any white from the brush.

- Step Five :: CTRL + Click the layer of the visible binarizarion brush outline. With the selection now made, hide that layer by deselecting the eye icon, and make the prior hidden original duplicate visible. This duplicate has that wonderful original texture!

- With the selection still made, click (Delete outside selection) on the floating tool popup. This will reveal only the outline of the brush while erasing the majority of all white space around it.

- TIP :: Have delicate ink splotches surrounding the brush that you don’t want to get rid of during the (Shrink Selected Area) step? See Step Six for a solution.

- But wait! There’s likely to be some white canvas leftover clinging to the brush itself. We want to try and eliminate as much of this as possible. To do so, click (Shrink Selected Area) on the floating selection tool popup. Enter in a (Shrinking Width). This may take some repeating as you slowly shave off the white boarders surrounding the brush.

- Step Six :: If you have intricate details of the brush such as ink spots surrounding it, grab your (Marquee) -> (Marquee Lasso) from (Sub Tool) and in Lasso Marquee Selection Mode click the (Remove from Selection) button. Now, circle any tiny details to prevent them from being erased while you (Shrink Selected Area).

- Step Seven :: Go to (Layer) -> (New Correction Layer) -> (Tone Curve) and adjust the tone curve as desired to achieve the best looking texture and shade for your brush. Click OK when done. Make sure it looks good, then, merge the newly made Tone Curve layer with your brush outline.

- Follow steps 11 – 24 of “Rendering Brushes in Clip Studio.” Note that enabling (Color Mixing) in the (Sub Tool Detail) panel will greatly reduce the original texture, but I find some of those shade variations still seem to exist even after.

Uploading Asset Sets

Now that you’ve got all of these great new brushes made, it’s time to share them with the Clip Studio community in an Asset Set pack!

- Step One :: In (Sub Tool) panel, right click the brush you made. Choose (Register Sub Tool as Material) from the drop down list.

- Step Two :: Name your sub tool as desired. This is the name it’ll appear as for everyone who downloads it, so make sure it’s an explanation of the brush itself. Choose the (Location to Save Material) as something you can easily find it from. Then hit OK.

- Step Three :: Confirm all brushes you wish to save to your Assets pack are found under the (Material) folder you specified and with the names you want.

- Step Four :: Open the Clip Studio community homepage and under the (Manage Materials) tab open the folder you saved your brushes to. Now, hit the + button found towards the bottom called (New Material Catalog). Name your Catalog what you wish your new Assets Pack to be called. It will be visible to everyone in later steps, so give it a name that details what the pack consists of. I named mine “Inkish.”

- Step Five :: Begin dragging your brush materials you made into the assets pack.

- Step Six :: When all materials are in the pack, right click your catalog and choose (Manage Material Catalog).

- Step Seven :: Hit (Publish to ASSETS) when you’re ready and all brushes are how you want them.

- Step Eight :: Do you have a thumbnail ready that’s exactly 240 x 240 in size and showcases the brushes in action? Time to use it!

- Step Nine :: If you created a beautiful illustration using your brushes that’s NOT in 240 x 240 canvas size, I find the easiest way to get the dimensions how you wish is to make a new canvas in Clip Studio set to the proportions 240 x 240, open your wrongly sized art in a new tab, CTRL + C the art, CTRL + V to paste it onto the new 240 x 240 canvas, CTRL + T to resize it to the canvas dimensions, and CTRL + T -> Right Click -> (Free Transform) to free size it as desired. Consider adding solid colored boarders around the image if it just won’t look good stretched to 240 x 240.

- Step Ten :: Set your thumbnail, tags, description, and details for how to effectively use your brushes. Now go to (Proceed to Set Content Information) when everything looks correct.

- Step Eleven :: Read Clip Studio’s usage and upload information. Is your content rule abiding? If so, check the box and (Temporarily Upload).

- Step Twelve :: When the upload is done, select (MyUpload).

- Step Thirteen :: Find your brush pack that you want to make public. Click (Operation) -> (Preview and Post).

- Step Fourteen :: Everything good and exactly how you want it? Go to (Execute Post) to share it with the world!

Final Brushes

Here’s an illustration I created using only the brushes found in my Inkish assets set that was made for this tutorial!

Ending Note

Thank you all so much for reading! I hope this was helpful and that you were able to learn some neat tips and tricks for creating your own incredible content!

Please be sure to like, comment, and follow if you want to see more tutorials like this.



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