Hello! My name is Liz Staley and I’m a long-time user of Clip Studio Paint (I started using the program back when it was known as Manga Studio 4!). I was a beta-tester on the Manga Studio 5 program and for Clip Studio Paint, and I have written three books and several video courses about the program. Many of you probably know my name from those books, in fact. I write weekly posts on Graphixly.com and on CSP Tips, so be sure to come back every week to learn more Clip Studio Tips and Tricks from me!
Though CSP isn’t made with Graphic Design as its first priority, it is possible to do layout and other printing-related tasks with Clip Studio! In this article we’ll create a basic business card from creating a properly-sized canvas to finish.
In this article we will cover the following topics:
Creating Your File
Importing and Aligning Images
Typographical Tools You Should Know
A Few Final Tips
Let’s get started!
Creating Your File
When designing a printed item with common dimensions, such as a business card, it is important to set up your file at the proper size from the beginning to prevent any printing issues later on.
If you’ll be sending your design to a professional printer, you’ll want to look at that printer’s website or contact them to ask for their recommended finished size, bleed area size, and file format. Most large online print services will have templates or this information on their website, so look around to see if they have them before contacting.
Standard business cards are 2x3.5 inches (at least in the United States, I’m not sure if these same dimensions are standard elsewhere!). The printing service that I normally use for my cards has both pre-made templates in various formats as well as dimensions for setting up a new file in your software of choice. So let’s use their information to create a file in CSP.
The printer I use for my business cards recommended a canvas of 1088 x 638pixels and 300dpi.
Because we’re using Clip Studio, we can also set the Finish size and Inner size to give us guides for when we’re designing our finished product. Most professional printers require that we include a Bleed area in our design. This area is trimmed off after the printing is done so that the design seamlessly goes off the edge of the paper. This means that for a final size card of 3.5x2, our working file should actually be slightly larger than that. Most printers request a bleed of about .5 inches. In the screenshot above with my canvas settings, the “Binding (finish) size is the size that the canvas will be after the bleed area is trimmed off. So our final card will be 1050x600 pixels (or 3.5x2 inches) after cutting.
If this is still a bit confusing to you, that’s alright! It took me a long time to wrap my brain around it. I’ve included a visual aid below.
The black area is the work area around the canvas. The red area inside of that is our bleed and anything in this area will be trimmed off. The yellow area denotes the outside of our finished print. We can still include some things in this area, but note that some trimming is not precise and so a cutter that’s a bit “wonky” may accidentally trim into this area. The green area is our safe area (the “Default Inner Border” in Clip Studio Paint). Anything important, such as text or logos, should stay within this area so that it’s not in danger of being chopped off.
If you’re still having trouble, there are lots of templates available online from printing services with the set-up already done, and there is usually a layer with directions and with the safe area marked out for you.
Importing and Aligning Images
Now that we have our document set up, let’s put some images in. I thought I’d play around with a redesign of my current business card. I found a nice set of old paper textures on CSP Assets that would work well for the background. I’ve gone over how to download and use items from CSP Assets in many articles so I won’t go over it again. But if you don’t know how, here’s a link to a previous article I wrote all about it!
I have a transparent PNG of my logo saved that I want to add to the card, so let’s do that now. To bring an image in to your current canvas, go to File - Import - Image..
Next, locate the file you want to import on your hard drive, USB drive, or wherever you have it saved. Click on it to select it, then click Open.
Depending on the size of the image you import, you may need to resize your logo to fit! My logo file is quite large, so it’s far too big for the dimensions of a standard business card! That’s okay though, just use the controls at one corner of the imported image to resize it. You can hold down SHIFT while resizing to keep the proportions the same and avoid skewing the image, or in the Tool Property window click on “Keep aspect ratio” to lock the ratio before scaling.
Our logo is now down to size, but what if we want to make sure it’s centered?
Clip Studio Paint doesn’t currently have a way to center images or text to the canvas easily. But thankfully we have Guide rulers and also the guides around the edge of the canvas from our Finish Size lines! Let’s use the lines from the outer guidelines to create a ruler that will help us center our logo or any other elements we want to center.
To create a Guide ruler, click on the Rulers category and then the Guide subtool.
Guides are special rulers that can only be horizontal or vertical. These are handy for when we need to make sure that things are aligned.
Using the center line of the Trim area border above my canvas, I positioned my cursor in the center of the card, then clicked-and-dragged to create a vertical ruler. (Also, since these guides are considered rulers, they won’t print or export unless we tell CSP to export them, so we don’t have to worry about these guides being on our finished product!)
Next, select the imported image layer again to bring the bounding control box back. You’ve probably noticed that this box has a control point at the top and bottom center of the image.
Now we can use our guide and this center box to make sure that the image is centered by lining the two up!
Use guides for any other horizontal or vertical alignment of elements that you need! For instance, later in this article you’ll see that I use a set of guide rulers to align some social media icons.
Typographical Tools You Should Know
Clip Studio Paint isn’t really a typographical program, however a lot of features have been added in the past few years that give much more control over how our text looks, line spacing, and more. Let’s add some text to our business card and explore some common text functions along the way.
Select the Text tool and the Tool Property window will show our basic text controls. This includes Font, Size, Style, Justify, Text Direction, Text Color, and Mode.
Font: Controls the “Font face” and is made from the fonts available on your device. The name of each font displays in that font in the dropdown list, which is very helpful!
Size: Makes the font smaller or larger.
Style: Change the style of the font. The options are Bold, Italic, Underline, and Strikethrough.
Justify: Choose the Justification of the text. Text can align to the left, align center, or align to the right.
Text Direction: Change the text between Horizontal or Vertical.
Text Color: By default your text color will be the main color you currently have selected. However you can also select between using the Background color or setting a user color.
Mode: Changes what the bounding box surrounding your active text does. You can choose between Scale/Rotate, Scale, Rotate, Skew, or Scale/Rotate/Skew. I actually like being able to change the size of my text by just grabbing a corner of the text box and dragging it!
Choose your font face and then type in your information. In this case, I’m adding my email address to my design.
The blue lines around the text are the bounding box I was talking about earlier. Putting your cursor over one of the corner controls will allow us to drag the text to make it larger or smaller without having to use the Size slider.
The text options in the Tool Property window aren’t the only options we have for our text. Below our text when we are using the text tool are three icons. Clicking on the left icon that’s shaped like a pen is a shortcut to the full Sub Tool Detail options for text.
In this screen, we have control not only size, but the horizontal and vertical ratio, character spacing, and in other sections of this menu we can also change the spacing between lines of text in the same text box.
This ability to change the line spacing can really make our lives a lot easier when wanting to align lettering with other elements, such as social media icons. In the example below, the list of social media account names doesn’t align with the icons they correspond to.
We could fix this by putting each account name on a separate layer and spacing them by hand. But it’s much easier to use the line spacing options instead! Click the Pen icon below the text, then click on the Line spacing/alignment option on the left side of the Sub Tool Detail window.
Using the Line Space slider, we can increase or decrease the space between the lines of text. By highlighting the entered text and then increasing the spacing to 190.0, the social media account names in the example below now align with the social media icons.
Once you have your design made, you’ll of course need to export it and send it off to your printer! I’ve already written an entire article about prepping and exporting art for print which you can find here: https://tips.clip-studio.com/en-us/articles/4464#c08e70df https://tips.clip-studio.com/en-us/articles/4464#c08e70df
A Few Final Tips
The art of graphic design is truly that - an art. It takes a lot of practice to get good at it, just like any other form of art! But more and more freelance or starting artists are taking on the task of designing their own promotional materials. Here are some basic tips if you’re designing your own items but don’t have a background in graphic design.
Do your research before designing! Look for a company or service that you’d like to print or produce your items and then browse their website for their design specifications. If you can’t find these or if you need additional help, contact the company and ask questions. It’s much easier and less stressful for everyone involved to have your design file set up correctly from the start than to have misprinted items or to have to do the designing over again because the file was incorrect.
Look at what others have designed. Making a business card? Do an internet search for “(industry) creative business card”. For example, if you’re a comic artist, search for business cards for comic artists. You’ll find some creative and inspiring examples online!
Choose a color scheme. Your ‘brand’ should have a color scheme that is easily recognizable. In my art business I use gray and blue as my colors, while also incorporating some vintage elements such as old paper textures. This makes my materials instantly recognizable to those who know my work.
Decide what information to include beforehand. Not every business card needs to include a phone number, so unless you absolutely need clients to be able to call you, don’t include it! You don’t have to include a physical address unless you’re running a store or having clients come to a location for meetings. I include my logo, slogan, email address, website, and social media info on my cards.
Make use of both sides if creating a paper material! For instance, when designing a business card make sure to use both sides. On the back of my cards I put one of my popular pieces of art. This makes people more likely to keep the card, because the back is like a tiny free art print. You can also leave room for a QR code, or room to write down appointment information, or any manner of things.
Don’t overcrowd your design. This is especially important when making something like a business card. All the important information should be easy to find and very legible. Avoid using too many fonts, and ensure that all fonts are easy to read and logos are clear.
And above all, don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with your design!
Design is not the thing that CSP was made for, but recent additions have made working with text easier. Having the ability to change horizontal and vertical ratio of text as well as line spacing is a bare minimum and is not as many options as some other software have, but for those who just dabble in design or are making the occasional card for a convention, it has more than enough options for simple design!
For more information on CLIP Studio Paint, please visit https://www.clipstudio.net/en https://www.clipstudio.net/en or https://graphixly.com https://graphixly.com