Creating uncommon characters



Since we started drawing we use the line as a resource to create shapes and separate them from each other, but sometimes we want to achieve the same without using the line and we are forced to experiment with new techniques and find new resources to make a lineless illustration.

In this article I will tell you the basics and show you the resources I use to create characters without outline.

Basic concepts

There are different ways to create shapes and represent your area, I like to think that there are these three:

1. Lineart:

It is the line that we use to create contours and separates the shapes from each other, this is widely used in animated series and comics.

2. Illustrations without contour (Lineless art):

This type of illustration is characterized by using flat shapes and colors to delimit the area of each shape.

3. Textured:

It is dominated by a series of patterns that can be added to our illustration to create more interesting results, most of the time we use special or personalized brushes to apply the desired textures.


Now that we know the basics I will show you the tools and process I use to create shapes using Clip Studio Paint, there are similar tools in other drawing software and most of the tips listed here can be easily applied in these software.

Brushes: This tool emulates the materials that we usually use when drawing in a traditional way such as pencils, markers, brushes and more.

I personally like to separate the brushes into three categories based on the border each brush has.

1. Hard edge brush: It is characterized by drawing lines with a uniform color and with defined edges. In Clip Studio Paint you can find several brushes with these characteristics in the "PEN" section.

2. Soft edge brush: It is characterized by painting blurred areas creating a gradient and blending colors, creating uniform figures. In Clip Studio Paint you can find several brushes with these characteristics in the "Airbrush" section.

3. Textured brush: These brushes paint patterns in a continuous or random way, managing to emulate various textures such as those that we can observe in traditional media, such as the texture of paper, graphite, fabrics and many more. In Clip Studio Paint you can find several brushes with these characteristics in the "Pencil" and "Brush" sections.

Lasso and Polyline: They are used to create a selection that limits the area in which we will work and everything that is outside will not be affected.

Fill: Also known as a paint pot, this tool helps us fill existing contours created with brushes or the selection tools with color.

You can use these combinations to create flat shapes with the fill tool.

Lasso / Polyline + Fill

You can press the SHIFT key to add area to a previous selection and you can press the Alt key to subtract area to a previous selection.

Brush + Fill

Let's paint a character: process to create characters LineLess

Great! We already know everything we need to create illustrations without contour, now I will describe the process that I use to paint my characters.


Many artists start their illustrations with a sketch, this is a guide that helps us capture the idea we have, remember that this is an exploration stage, so feel free to make all the modifications you like and do not worry about the quality of the the line because it will not be visible in the final result.

To make my sketch I use a textured brush with variable opacity, the variable opacity is controlled by the pressure we exert on our graphic tablet, which means that the harder we press, the more opaque the stroke will be, and with less pressure the stroke will be more transparent. helping to create different shades without having to choose a color from the selector.

Clip Studio Paint has the option of transparent color, which makes the brush we are using work like an eraser, eliminating opaque colors and respecting the current brush settings.

Color Block

When we have our sketch defined, we proceed to create blocks of colors using the selection tools, brushes and the paint or fill bucket.

We will reduce the opacity of the layer in which our sketch is located, normally I set the opacity with 30%. Now with a hard edge brush we draw the silhouette of the character with the predominant color, in this case orange. Then we fill in the silhouette with the help of the fill tool.

It is time to add the rest of the colors, we must create each new color in a different layer because it will help us to easily navigate between our blocks. We will create each color on the layer that contains the silhouette and we will link it to the layer of our silhouette with the layer property "Clip to layer bellow"

The clip layer bellow property limits the area that we can edit to the opaque pixels of the lower layer, when this property is active a vertical pink line will be displayed on the left side of the layer.


With our blocks created we can start adding textures to our character.

For this we will use a new layer property called "Lock transparent pixels" which prevents any transparent area from being modified, and we will only be able to paint within the opaque pixels that have been made when this option is disabled.

We block the transparent pixels in all the color layers and we can start adding texture with the brush of our choice. Try to vary the tones using light colors for the light areas and a little darker colors in the excess areas, in this way to generate contrasts that help to create volume and delimit each part of our character.

For this process I use a brush with variable opacity and texture, the configuration is similar to the brush I use for the sketch, with the only difference that the texture is different.

In the image below I show you the areas that I consider are important to contrast so that the character looks interesting and voluminous.

Final details

Great, we are close to finishing our character, it only remains to add the final details to make our character stand out a little more.

On the dress we will paint a milky way, for this we will use the polyline and fill tools to draw the first star, then we will duplicate the star layer using the keyboard shortcuts CTRL + J, we will modify the position and size using the keyboard shortcut CTRL + T and we will vary the size and rotation of the object.

Then we paint a couple of nebulous shapes using textured brushes to generate a more colorful background.

To finish we will draw small stars represented by colored dots, for this we will use a hard edge brush and place small dots varying the pressure to generate different sizes.

Now we will add Highlights to our character in a new layer, for this we use the lasso tool and the fill tool to create the shape that our light will have with saturated colors. Then with the help of the blending modes we will select the one that we consider to be the best, in this case I have decided to use the blending mode "Overlay".

To finish we will draw a surface on which our characters rest, we will try to emulate a surface that reminds us of the reflective floor of an airport. To do this we will draw an oval with a grid inside, now with a darker color we draw the shadow that is projected on the ground.

To add the reflection we will duplicate our character, reduce the opacity of the layer and flip it vertically to accommodate it on our floor.

To finish we will create a monochrome background, we will look for a color that contrasts with our character so that he is the protagonist of the piece.

That's it, making illustrations without contour usually raises a lot of doubts when we just started, and for this reason I decided to write this article to help understand how this type of art works. I hope this article has been useful to you.

Remember that when painting there are several ways to achieve a result, so feel free to experiment and have fun.

If you liked the article let me know in the comments.

Thank you for reading!

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