Hey, everyone! I'm Skyribbonsteph and I want to share with you some tips and tricks on how to use shape, color, and effects to make amazing magic effects in Clip Studio Paint!
Before You Begin
The first thing you should consider is what kind of magic you want to illustrate. Generally, magic comes in the form of solids, liquids, gases, and plasmas/lights. Some common magical elements used in illustrations are water, earth, fire, air, and psychic magic.
Now before you draw anything, think about HOW your magic will flow in your artwork.
Is your magic effect light and airy, or heavy and blob-like? Does it come out in one continuous stream? Or maybe it swirls out of your characters' hand or even comes out in sporadic bursts! Coming up with ground rules will allow you to make more varied and unique magic effects.
Making Magic with Shapes
Once you've figured out how your magic will flow through your picture, you can make cool effects using basic shapes!
Try letting your hand flow across your canvas the way you imagine the magic flowing through the illustration--then add some details to it!
One common way that magic like clouds or fire is stylized is by making them "swirly." You can do this by first drawing the basic outline of your shape, then adding the swirls on the inside corners where two curves meet.
Stylizing Magic with Shapes
You can also stylize your magic by basing it off a shape! This method works well if you want to give your magic more of a "fun" personality.
Look at how these elements (fire, grass, earth) are still recognizable even though they are highly stylized.
Feel free to stylize with whatever shapes you can think of! The same magic type (in this case, ice) can look very different depending on what shape you base it off of.
Don't feel pressured to stylize and exaggerate too much if it's not your style, though! You may feel more or less inclined to stylize depending on how realistic or cartoony your style is.
Contrast and Color
It's also important to have contrast between the magical and non-magical parts of your illustration so that they pop against each other. One method I like to use is giving the magical part of the illustration colored outlines to contrast with the dark outlines I use everywhere else.
You can also create contrast through line art, such as making the outlines of your magic effect thicker or thinner than the line art in the rest of the illustration, as shown here. Or you can even give your magic no line art at all!
Now let's get to coloring your magic! The three main ways I like to color my magic shapes is with either a gradient (1), cel shading (2), or blended shading (3).
Coloring Technique: Gradient
To make a gradient, pick a foreground color and background color in the color picker and select the inside of your magic effect outline. Make sure that the shape of your outline is a closed shape with no openings!
Next, select the Gradient tool in the Toolbar (found underneath the Paint Bucket Tool) and set your gradient to the blending setting "Foreground to Background."
Then click and drag inside your shape and watch your gradient appear!
Coloring Technique: Cel Shading
Cel-shading is the simplest way to color your magic! First, color the inside of your effect with one solid color, then use another color to make a border. Then, for added flair, try shading the inside of your magic with a bright color!
Coloring Technique: Blended Shading
Blended shading is doing the cel-shading process, but with the added step of blending your colors together! To do this, lower the opacity of one of your colors (the Opacity setting can found in the Tool Property tab on your Sub-Tool tab). Then shade inside your shape and blend the colors.
Then, you can add in some white at a low opacity to give your magic element a white-hot core.
Bonus Coloring Tip
Remember that your colors don't have to be bound to reality! You can draw your magic however you want--make blue-and-yellow fire, pink rock shards, and more!
Effects: How to Make Magic Look Translucent
Now let's go over how to give your magic a see-through effect against your character or background. First, color in the areas of your magic where it does NOT distort or interact with your subject (if there are any).
Here, I've colored every area where the water magic does not overlap on the hand.
After this, blend the areas where your magic effect interacts with/distorts your subject with low-opacity coloring tools. Here, you can see I've blended the color of the blue water magic with the skin color of the hand.
I also changed the color of the outline to blue wherever the hand interacts with the water for contrast.
Then add shading, making sure to still blend your magic color with the subject color all around your magic shape! See how the color of the skin is seen in little areas in the water? This creates the effect of distortion.
Effects: How to Make Your Magic Glow
Now say you want your magic effect to look "glowy" or luminescent. To do this, first color everything normally, then make a copy of the layer where you've colored in your magic effect. Make sure that this layer is on top of your original layer or the effect won't show properly!
Then go to the "Filter" tab on the Main Menu bar, and add a "Blur" effect on your copied color layer.
You can choose any effect, but I chose a Gaussian Blur for this picture. I also like to play around with the opacity of the blur layer here to determine how intense I want the light to feel.
The glow looks good, but I'm not done yet! I have to imply that the hand is being affected by this light source. You can see I highlighted the areas of the hand that would be lit by the glowing magic in orange.
Finally, I'm adding in the highlights according to my guide. And for some added flair, I'm adding little light particles in the illustration!
Bonus Effects Tip
Don't forget to consider secondary effects that you can add your magic to make it feel more realistic--like smoke, sea foam, motion blurs, etc.
Those are all my basic tips on making magic effects! I hope this tutorial helps and happy drawing!