Expression colors and monochrome layers



[1] Layer Expression Colors

■1. What are expression colors

The [Expression color] is a term indicating how many kinds of colors can be handled in a file or layer.

In CLIP STUDIO PAINT, you can set three kinds of expression colors: monochrome, gray, and color, for each layer.


This can handle one of two colors and transparency, or both of these colors and transparency. With this you can create complete 2-level data (binary images).

Depending on the setting, you can toggle the color handled by the layer between black and transparent, white and transparent, and black and white and transparent.

This is often used for printing manga and comic data, line drawing layers and so on.


The following explanation contains a great amount of information on expression color.

While there is a lot of info to take in, if you remember to set your Expression color to monochrome, when creating a manga manuscript for monochrome printing, there won’t be any problems.


This Expression color setting can handle 256 achromatic colors.

You can set the combination for black and transparency, white and transparency, black and white, and these colors are mixed in 256 stages each.

This can be used for black-and-white images using gradients and monochrome images to be displayed on screens for example website.


This Expression color can handle 16.77 million colors.

These are almost all the colors that the human eye can distinguish.

It can be used for all kinds of chromatic images, such as for color illustrations, color manga and comics and so on.

[POINT: About the layer icons.]

Monochrome, gray, and color layers are represented by icons as displayed by the graphic below.

The lower right squares of the monochrome and gray icon represent the drawing color you are using.

■2. Overview for Monochrome and Gray Layers

For monochrome and gray layers, select the color (drawing color) to be used for drawing out of black, white and transparent.

When creating a layer or from the [Layer Property] palette, the interface shown below is displayed to select the expression color for the layer.

①Expression color ...... Click and select the expression color from [color], [gray] or [monochrome].

②Drawing color ...... This is displayed in case of choosing a [gray] or [monochrome] layer.

<Using a Monochrome Layer>

· Turning only the black button on...... The drawing color will be set to black and transparency. When a drawing color is selected in the [Tool] palette, it will always draw in black regardless of any selected color. In case transparency is selected, it will render it as transparent.

· Turning only the white button on...... The drawing color will be set to white and transparency. When a drawing color is selected it will always draw in white.

· Turning on both, the white and the black button...... The drawing color will be set to white, black and transparency. Depending on the brightness of the selected drawing color, it will be displayed as black or white.

<Using a Gray Layer>

· Turning only the black button on...... 256 levels of colors from black to transparent are used for the drawing colors.

· Turning only the white button on...... 256 levels of colors from white to transparent are used for the drawing colors.

· Turning on both, the white and the black button....... 256 levels of colors from black to white are used for the drawing colors.

[2] Creating a Monochrome or Gray Layer

■1. Setting up the Basic Expression Color

Under the [File] menu → [New], you can set the [Basic expression color] when creating a new canvas. By selecting monochrome or gray as the [Basic expression color], you can set the drawing color.

To create a monochrome manuscript for printing, set this to monochrome.

· Basic expression color...... This is the default expression color setting when creating a layer on the canvas. When creating a new layer from the [Layer] menu → [New Raster Layer], or when using tools such as the [Text] tool, [Gradient] tool etc., the expression color of the layer is set according to the basic expression color of the document.

・ Number of basic screen frequency...... This is the initial value of the number of tone lines to be created on the canvas. This becomes the base value of the number of lines when tones are created from the [Layer Property] palette.

<(EX only) Basic expression color for multiple pages>

When pages are added from the [Page Management] menu → [Add Page], the new pages will have the same basic expression color as the first canvas. Under [Add Page (Detail)], you can set the basic expression color for each page individually.

■2. Setting the Layer Expression Color for a New Layer

To create a layer with an expression color different from the basic expression color, select the [Layer] menu → [New Layer] → [Raster Layer] or [Vector Layer] and under [Expression Color] of the [New Layer] dialog, select an expression or drawing color.

[3] Operating a Layer with a Different Expression Color

Depending on the layer type, there are differences in the expression colors that are set when layers are created, and how to change expression colors.

■1. Raster / Vector / Text / Speech Bubble Layers

Unless you select the expression color when a layer is created, it will be created with the same expression color that is set for the basic expression color.

<Changing the Expression Color>

You can change the expression color of a layer by choosing [Expression color] from the [Layer Property] palette, or by selecting the [Layer] menu → [Convert Layer].

<Converting to Reduced Colors>

When converting color to gray or monochrome, which is a change by reducing the colors, there are colors that can’t be used after the process. A process known as [Color reduction] is necessary.

When changing the expression color in the [Layer Property] palette, and color reduction occurs, the palette will display [Expression color (preview)], along with adding a red border to the layer icon, and showing the result of the reduced colors on the canvas.

At this point, since the original color information from before conversion is preserved, you can revert the expression color back to its original and the drawing content will be restored.

Once you click [Apply expression color of preview], the changes are confirmed according to the previewed content, and the color information from before the conversion is discarded. Even if you reverse the setting to the original expression color, the drawing content will not be restored.

To return to the previous drawing content, you will need to reverse the operation via [Edit] → [Undo] etc.


When changing the expression color with the [Layer] menu → [Convert Layer] the changes will be confirmed without a preview.

<Monochrome Color Reduction on a Raster Layer>

When reducing a raster layer to monochrome, the settings for converting to binary data are displayed in the [Layer Property] palette.

· Color Threshold...... This is the base value for differentiating black, white, and transparency from the original drawing content. The larger the number, the more colors will be converted to black. If the expression color before the conversion was set to gray and the drawing color is [black only] or [white only], these settings are not displayed.

· Alpha Threshold...... This is the base value for differentiating black, white, and transparency from the original content. Unlike the [Color threshold], this is the threshold for the opacity.

· Reflect layer opacity...... When this is set to ON, the conversion is done with the opacity of the layer taken into account.

<Converting to Added Colors>

When trying to convert from a monochrome layer to a gray or color, the expression color increases, however, the already drawn contents are not going to change.

For example, if you change a line drawn on a monochrome layer to a gray layer, anti-aliasing will not be added.

[POINT: Font Anti-aliasing]

With the [Text] tool selected, you can individually select whether to use anti-aliasing when creating a new text layer with the [Sub Tool Detail] palette → [Text] → [Anti-aliasing].

When selecting [Canvas setting], it will follow the basic expression color.

If the basic expression color is monochrome, anti-aliasing will not be applied, otherwise it will be used.

When setting this [On] or [Off], regardless of the basic expression color, anti-aliasing can be applied or not.

■2. Fill/Tone/Gradient/Tonal Correction Layer

Although it is not possible to set the expression color for fill, tone, gradient or color correction layers, you can choose whether to display a masked part with a layer mask as binary data or using a gradient.

Layers with layer masks, such as fill, tone, gradient and color correction layers, can use mask expressions from the layer properties palette.

・Posterization...... [Yes] or [None] can be selected When choosing [Yes], the layer mask’s anti-aliasing and gradient will be taken into account. The edge of the masked part will be expressed as a gradient.

When choosing [None], the mask is applied according to its transparency in a binary way, with either complete masking or none at all.

When the expression color of the canvas is monochrome, the setting is [None]. For every other expression color, the default setting is [Yes].

As this can cause a tone moiré effect in monochrome printing, it is recommended that you leave this set to [None] unless there are special circumstances.

・Threshold......This is displayed when [Gradation] is changed from [Yes] to [None]. This is a reference value that divides a mask with gradation into two values. The larger the number, the larger the masked range.

No matter how many times the [Mask Expression] is changed, color reduction will not occur.

In addition, if you create a gradient layer with the basic expression color set to monochrome for the canvas, it will be created with toning set to ON.

The number of the screen frequency will be the number of the basic screen frequency for the canvas.

■3. Image materials/3D-Layers

Image material layers and 3D layers are created as layers with a material-specific expression color.

However, the [Display decrease color] effect can be used via [Effect] through the [Layer Property] palette.

When [Display decrease color] is selected, you can display reduced colors of gray or monochrome.

When setting this to monochrome, it is possible to manipulate the setting to reduce the color to binary data.

Unless you execute [Rasterize] or use [Convert Layer], the original expression color is not lost and [Display decrease color] can be turned off at any time.

When rasterizing, saving or printing, this is converted according to the [Display decrease color] settings.

■4. Frame Border Folders

The expression color of the [Frame Border folder] only affects the expression color of the frame lines.

When the expression color is monochrome, the frame border is always drawn with binary data.

Further, if the basic expression color is set to monochrome, [Anti-aliasing] can not be selected in the [New frame folder] dialog box, and the border is created as binary data.

For color and gray layers, you can select the degree of anti-aliasing when creating a new layer.

The expression color is also set according to the basic expression color for the frame border template from the [Material] palette.

[POINT: Expression color of the Frame Border Folder】

The expression color of the frame border folder affects the border of the frame, but does not affect the contained layers.

Even if the frame border folder is set to monochrome, the inner color or gray layers will be displayed in the exact color as they are.

■5. Selection Layers/Quick Masks

Selection layers and quick masks can not set expression colors.

Even on a monochrome layer, anti-aliasing is included in the selection that is created with the [Marquee] tool or the [Auto selection] tool, which by default include anti-aliasing.

However, even if anti-aliasing is included in the selection area, it does not affect the edited contents on a monochrome layer, such as drawing, area filling, erasing, etc.

[4] Save/Print

In the [File] menu → [Export (Single Layer)] and [Print settings], you can change the expression color to monochrome in the output dialog window.

The [Auto detect appropriate color depth] function is based on the expression color of each layer in the canvas.

In other cases, a specified expression color can be output, regardless of the basic expression color.

[5] Tool Behavior for Monochrome Expression Color

When drawing on a monochrome layer, some tool parameters are disabled.

■[Pen], [Pencil], [Brush], [Figure] and other Drawing Tools

Anti-aliasing, mix ground color, and border of watercolor will be disabled.

Even when drawing with drawing tools that use anti-aliasing or gradients, lines will be drawn as binary data.

If you want to express gradients in monochrome printings, draw on gray and color layers; then enable [Tone] in the [Layer Properties] palette.

By converting the drawing using tones, it is possible to express a gradients in a pseudo manner.

<[Dot pen] Sub Tool >

In addition to the above drawing tools, brush density and opacity are disabled.

<[Fill] Tool>

Anti-aliasing and opacity settings will be disabled.

<[Gradient] Tool>

If the [Layer Property] palette’s [Drawing target] is set as [Draw on editing layer] , anti-aliasing will be disabled.

When using the gradient tool in this state, it becomes an image clearly divided into black and white.

When expressing gradients on monochrome layers, change [Drawing target] to [Create gradient layer].

<[Object] Sub Tool>

When operating vector lines, speech balloons and frame folders on a monochrome layer, anti-aliasing and the opacity of ground are disabled.


When the expression color of a vector layer is monochrome or gray, and a pen tool with color information is used to draw, it is displayed without color. However, changing the expression color of the vector layer to color will display the colors of the brush tool.


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