Vintage print style with Clip Studio Paint




Hello everyone! This time, I'll introduce you to one of my favorite styles: the vintage style!


Actually, retro or vintage design refers to many graphic design styles which hail from different historical eras. The style I use in particular reminds of old illustration prints. You can apply these techniques in your design, from illustration drawings to photos and text.


1. Vintage print style breakdown

Here are my observation about this style:


  • Limited palette: from 2 - 6 colors

  • Aged colors: because the materials (paper and ink) degrade over time

  • Use of simplified colored shapes: the print block must be hand-carved at the time, so the shapes are often very defined and geometrical

  • Halftone patterns: because of the limited number of colors, halftone is used to achieve more shades and textures

  • Noise, grunge textures and other imperfections: the printing process was by hand so there were many imperfections like misalignment of the color blocks, fractures on the ink lines, stained paper and so on.

  • Photo: can be used alone or mixed with drawing elements. Often black-and-white or duotone photos.


We can achieve the nostalgia effect if we mimic those characteristics.


2. Sample drawing process

2.1. Preparing line draft

Try to use bold, geometrical shapes. Except when you're drawing in vintage western comic style, but even so, try to make your character's silhouette defined and readable.

Make a clean line draft on a separate layer since it'll help a lot with other steps.

2.2. Choosing colors

Pick 2 - 6 colors of your choice beforehand to keep with the consistency. Of course you can use more colors but try to use colors related to/derived from your chosen palette (ex. darker/lighter shade, mixed from, etc.)

Some minor notices:


  • Try to have light and dark colors for contrast. The lightest color is usually reserved for the paper's color.


  • Vintage prints often have an overall warm tone rather than a cool tone, because when paper ages it turns into a yellow then brown color.


  • Even if your drawing has black line art, note that when printed the black line often turns into a dark blue/violet/green/reddish hue, not completely black. Pick the color accordingly.


Tip: Choose derivative colors with Intermediate color tab (mixing up to 4 colors) and Approximate color tab (for lighter/darker shade of the same color). If the tabs aren't shown on your screen, go to the Window menu to turn them on.


2.3. Color draft

I use the Fill tool [G] and G-pen [P] to map out the colors on another layer, using the line draft as a reference. You can use halftone texture instead of color filling too, more on that later.


You can do it as detailed as you want. The more detailed it is, the easier the next step will be.

2.4. Drawing in layers

After deciding the color, I redraw them carefully. Each element should have its own layer, but if you don't like too many layers in your drawing, try to have at least each color in one layer. For example, with a 5-color palette, you have one layer for the paper, and 4 layers for the rest of the drawing.


The same applies for comic drawing: at least one for the lineart, one for paper, and one for each of the colors used.


If your drawing favors clean, crispy lines and shapes, you can try drawing them in vectors. See my tutorial about vector drawing with Clip Studio Paint for more info:


2.5. Halftone

You can find many halftone textures on the internet or make them yourself. For my tutorial, we'll use the ones that come equipped with Clip Studio Paint.


They are in the Material tab > Monochromatic pattern:


There are many ways to apply halftone texture. I often use one of two ways:


A. Use the Auto selection tool (or other selection tools), choose the area from the line draft layer. Drag-and-drop the halftone texture from the material tab to the Layer panel.


The tone texture layer will come with a mask. You can draw on the mask with any color at 100% opacity to reveal more from the tone layer, or draw with the "transparent color" (or using the Eraser [E] tool) to hide the tone.


B. Fill the part with color (paper color or any other colors). Drag-and-drop the tone on top of the colored layer, then click Clip to Layer Below.


Either way, the tone will be black (or white). We will change its color along with other attributes.


On the Layer Property tab:


1&2 - Use these numbers to change the size and density of the tone

3 - Click for a list of the dots' shapes (I've changed the tone in this sample from Circle dot to Cross)

4 - Click the color to change the tone's color


You can also combine the mask with a clipping layer to both show the tone and change its color. This way we can have multiple colors for one tone layer.

2.6. Noise and grunge texture

They are imperfections which add to the nostalgia feel of your drawing. You can find/buy these textures on the internet or Clip Studio Assets as well. Of course Clip Studio also has them.


Apply them as with halftone patterns. You can apply on the whole drawing or individual parts.


The sample above shows how a noise layer enhanced the halftone effect.

Another example using two different size white noise layers on the whole drawing.


Another way of using noise/grunge patterns is using a textured brush - for example, the Droplets airbrush [B]. Pick the same color as in your drawing, to mimic the cracks and dents of the ink/paint.


2.7. Misalignment

This is another common imperfection found in vintage prints. Simply use the Move Layer tool [K] to move the layers slightly off to the side.


Another way to do this is duplicating the layer and changing the colors of the copies. Then move them to mimic the offset printer misalignment. You can change the layer mode to Multiply to amplify the effect, but beware that can change your color drastically.


2.8. Paper texture

Add to the realism of the drawing. Go to Material tab > Monochromatic pattern > Texture, drag-and-drop the texture onto the Layer tab. Click the Overlay texture button on the Layer property tab and lower the Strength a bit.


Pick a warm ochre/brown/violet color and use the Airbrush [B] to draw over the corners to mimic aged paper. Set the layer mode to Multiply and lower the opacity as necessary.


3. Text

Treat text as a drawing element and you can apply all the steps above. There are many ways to make text, I'll give an example that uses many techniques so you can adapt to your own liking.


Type your text using a bold font with the Text tool [T].


Right-click (or long-press on iPad) the text layer and choose Rasterize (you may not do it if you like, it's convenient but not optional).


Duplicate the text layer into two using Ctrl + C then Ctrl + V (or right-click/long-press > Duplicate Layer). Keep the original layer just in case.


Right-click/long-press the text layer again > Selection from Layer > Create Selection.


On the context menu, click the Shrink selected area button (if you have no context menu, go to Select menu on the top bar > Shrink selected area…)


A pop-up dialogue box appears. Type the shrinking width and choose the shrinking type you want.


Create a new layer and fill the selected area with the color of your choice. (My chosen font has transparent dents already so the selected area is not even, this depends on each font. The majority of the font will have even, aligned select area)


Ctrl + D or click the Deselect button on the context menu to exit the selected area.


Go to the Material tab > Monochromatic pattern and drag-and-drop the Offhand line pattern onto the Layer tab. Change the size of the lines if you want using the bounding box.


Create a new layer, fill it with another color. Clip the colored layer onto the pattern layer.


Select both layers then right-click/long-press > Merge selected layers.


Clip the pattern layer onto the shrunken text layer. Change the original text's color, I Lock transparent pixels of the layer then use a big brush to draw over it.


Turn on the duplicated text you've kept since the beginning and move it a bit to the right and down. Change its color if you want.


Duplicate it again and change color again. (I fixed the dents on the red layer by drawing with a brush too)


Optional: I use the Selection area tool > Polyline to connect the corners of the text and its shadow to form a 3d text. Then I fill the selected area with the same color. You can also draw with a brush. Remember to unlock transparent pixels on the layer first.


Add noise, grunge, texture etc. as with drawing elements.


Use bold, colorful, decorative text for posters, postcards etc.


Use old-school fonts with a grunge/bleed effect to mimic typewriter text/offset printing of vintage flyers and magazines.


Use hand-writing, all caps font for comics (and fun, large letter fonts for sound effects).


4. Photo edit

There are many ways to include a photo in your vintage design or artwork. Below is one method that I use. Note that you'll need a high-contrast photo to work with.


For this example, I use a photo included in Clip Studio Paint, under Material > Image material > Picture.


Rasterize the image then go to Edit > Tonal Correction > Gradient map…


On the pop-up dialogue box, choose a White Black gradient. You can fine-tune the image using the slider. Click OK when you're done.


On the Layer Property tab, click the Tone button. Change the Frequency as you like.


Go to Edit > Convert brightness to opacity.


Now you can use other techniques like Clip to layer below to add colors to your photo.


Hope you can find something useful in my tutorial! If you like my tutorials, visit me at my pages! Let's have a chat:D



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