tools to add color



Hello!! Welcome to this new TIPS, I'm Foxvon. Today I will introduce different tools to apply color to our illustrations easily and quickly. The methods presented here can be applied to any type of style. I hope these tips help you. Well, without further ado.

Let's start!!

1. Previous concepts

First of all, the first thing I can advise you is a previous preparation of colors that you want for your illustration; along the way they may change their minds and decide to use others, but they will already have traveled part of the way, because if they use color theory to select them, if we later want to change them they can use any of the program's tools without having to start the coloring from the beginning.

► Plan colors

The program has several tools that we will call "Color Palettes" which are essential to choose and save the colors, now let's see which ones can help us plan them.

Here is a link to a more detailed explanation of its features, as well as addressing color theory:

To start, I will recommend using the color palettes because they are practical when choosing colors. Each of these tools can be found in the following path: Window > The options will be from Color Circle to Mix Colors.


This tool allows us to mix the colors using a palette that emulates the analog combination, its use is quite intuitive; In addition, it allows us to mix the colors using the texture of any brush. Useful for employing color fundamentals in the digital world.


These three tools can help us choose colors. The color slider allows us to toggle the RGB, HLS and CMYK model. From this tool you can get the luminosity, saturation or tones of a color that you have selected from the chromatic circle.

As for the Neutral Color panel, you can get the luminosity and saturation of a color or colors, by placing the colors in the reference boxes we can see how they mix with each other.

The approximate color has the utility of obtaining an approximate of your selected color; this now depends on a single color, while the previous one could depend on up to four different colors. With the bar that is in the left and upper left section, you can modify the level of gray and white to measure the level of the functions that we choose.


We already have our colors, but what happens if we want to use these same colors on another occasion? How to save them? Well that is a very interesting question; We will see that the program has a palette called "Set of colors", this will help us store them.

First, the palette has default color sets that we can access through the dropdown menu, but we can just as well create our own.

To create a new set of colors you have to click on the wrench that is in the upper right part, clicking on it will bring up the following window where various options will appear to create, modify, duplicate or delete a set.

Once a new set has been created, we can save all the colors we want there, either by right-clicking on an empty space and choosing the "Replace color" option or by clicking on the drop with the plus sign that is in the part lower right.

► Tips for planning colors

Beginners often have trouble visualizing their illustrations with the colors they want, which is why I advise having a semi-clean sketch where we can add the colors. With any brush quickly apply the colors below the sketch. If the composition convinces us, we will be ready to move on to the next step.

Now, if it turns out that we don't like the composition of colors, it would be tedious to delete everything and start over; luckily there is a function within the program that will make it easier for us to change the color without deleting anything. CHAN CHAN CHAN... And the tool is it? Tone/ Contrast/ Brightness.

We can find this tool in the following path: Edition > Tonal correction > Tone/ Contrast/ Brightness. As its name says, with its controls we can change the tone, contrast and saturation of the colors that are in the currently selected layer. If we place each color on a separate layer we can modify them separately.

I really like this tool, I love it because it allows me to do thousands of color tests without wasting unnecessary time.

2. Tools for the model from scratch

Now yes, we will start with the central focus of this tutorial, the different functions of the program that will make it easier for us to add color to the illustrations. This second section will specialize in the classic model of illustration, that is, starting from the sketch. In section three we will cover the functions with which color can be added to a grayscale illustration.

► Fill

We will start with the fill method. The tool will allow us to apply colors extremely quickly.

RECOMMENDATION: As a first piece of advice, I recommend that you first change the background from white to gray, this will allow us to see the colors better, see which parts were not painted, the parts that are still blank, areas that we would not notice with a white background.

Although the brightness indicated in the image below is pure white, it still has to be painted white, but we do not notice that it is not because of the white background that prevents us from seeing, however, when we change the background to gray we notice the lack of color in that glow.

Now, first we'll locate the fill tool, it's on the toolbar, it's the little bucket.

Fill has four functions: Refer only to edited layer, refer to other layers, close and fill, paint unfilled area. Although there are four, I will only cover three of them, the ones that are the most useful for me to establish the base colors. Step one to color with this tool is to refer to multiple layers. We will just see it below:


To start we will check the reference layer icon in the sketch folder or layer, this will allow us to apply the colors in separate layers without painting the entire canvas as seen at the beginning of the GIF when the option is not yet checked. We will mark it in both, both in the properties of the fill tool (all four functions have that option) and those of the layer.

As you can see, folder 01 contains layers with the sketch, I will mark this with the reference layer function, once this is done I will move to folder 02 where I will put the colors. In this way, the fill tool, taking the selected layer as a reference, will know what the limits are to fill.

In the refer to layer settings of the fill tool we can find different options to exclude characteristics of the layers from references, for example, let's say we have a text within the folder that we are using as a reference and we want it to take as a reference all the layers from the folder, but ignore the text layer. We mark the option to exclude text in the exclude section.

Within the layers that we can exclude we have: Sketch layer, text, Selected layer, paper layer and locked layers.


Once having the referred layers, now it's the turn of the fill tool. With this function we can fill closed spaces and by modifying some settings, even fill spaces with slight openings, but we will see that in the next point. For now I will only explain the use of three of the sub tools.


This function is the one of use, conventionally, I use it to fill large spaces. Also, you can hold the click and drag the cursor to fill multiple spaces without having to click multiple times.


This function is the same as the lasso, we select and what is inside the selection will be filled with paint. Because it follows the pattern of lines, it is best used with areas of the artwork that contain many lines.


In a practical way, this tool will help us to fill those pixels that the other functions cannot fill along the lines of the lineart. Its use is like that of a brush. It is a tool that knows how to fill inside the lines.


Any of the three previous functions has the following settings that, when controlled, will allow us to modulate the tolerance and limits of paint overflow. In this way we can, for example, paint a section that does not have a continuous line without spilling the paint outside the part we want.


When this function is on, it will detect line segments that are open and treat them as if they were solid lines.


This option modulates the number of similar pixels that fill the cube. Let's see, in a gradient, for example, if the tolerance is low the amount it will fill will be small, the larger it is, the more pixel intervals it covers and it can even cover everything.


This option moves a few pixels forward or backward to go over the line or in other cases, not touch it.
Note: In the sub options I recommend having it set to "Until the darkest pixel" because if not, otherwise the color will go outside the limits of the line.

With this knowledge we will now know how to handle the tool wisely, we will be able to apply solid colors easily, uniformly, without leaving the edges and above all quickly.

Before I finish this section I'll present my settings for the fill tool for reference, but it's best to try attaching it to your own style.


Finally, I will present the process I do with this tool. The following GIF shows the process I did to add the base color, the process is very simple, once I have the sketch in its respective folder, which I point to as a reference, as explained in the first step. Later, in a new folder I created different layers where I added the colors separately with the "Fill" tool, "Refer to other layers" and "Close and fill". I changed the area and tolerance settings of the refer to other layers tool as I needed to fill in the spaces that could be left white, and finally I used the close and fill tool to paint the spaces that the previous one could not fill.

This is the result of the first phase using the fill tool. It's a quick and clean way to add solid colors.


Another use beyond solid colors is to be able to paint the lines without much effort. The process is very simple, first we will create a layer above the lineart, we will adjust it to the lower layer and now with the fill tool we will click anywhere on the sheet. Optionally, later we can join the layers to not have so many. The advantage of this method is that we can paint the entire lineart in one click. Later we will see another method to paint the lineart.

Note: To do this you do not have to have the reference option activated in the layer.


In addition to using it as a means to paint, we can also use it to erase; very useful for deleting large segments. This can be done with any fill tool. For this you have to click on the transparent color option found in the color circle.

► Layers

The layers are not exactly tools to apply color, but rather they contain them, but by using their functions we can have more control when we apply the colors, and for example, the opacity can allow us to give a certain effect to the colors as is the transparency effect. So, he considered that the management of the layers is essential to give color. Next I will explain some functions of the layers that will help us with the color. We've already covered some of them (reference layer and blend modes) before so they won't be covered here.


We find this function in the layer options, it is the immediate icon on the far left. This function is extremely useful because it gives us a non-destructive method to apply colors, so we can modify specific parts without damaging the rest, but of course, for this you have to have everything separated by layers.

Its function is to create a false cutout, that is, what is drawn on it will only be visible with respect to the limits of what is drawn on the layer to which it refers (the lower layer). If you remove the clipping, everything you've done will become visible, you can also apply multiple clipping layers to the same layer.


We find this function in the layer options, it is the square icon with a small padlock.

It is similar to the previous one with the difference that this is a destructive method. With this function new layers are not created, but when activated in that same layer you can only draw on the pixels that have color, the transparent ones are completely ignored.


As we saw before, using the fill tool we could paint, but there is another method and that is to use this function. The advantage of this method is that we can paint parts of the lineart with different colors, unlike the other one, where we could only paint it all in one color at a time.

If we lock the layer with "Lock transparent pixels" we only have to paint the parts of the lineart with a brush.


The last function in this section is opacity, this is found in the layer option, it is the slider bar.

This function is very easy, using the scroll bar we can make a layer less or more visible. When it is at 100% the objects of that layer are opaque, but when it goes down and it becomes 0% it becomes transparent.

In the flan I used this function to lower the opacity of the layer where I have some highlights to obtain a translucent effect.


Mostly, I use the layer functions to apply colors within the bounds of my lineart or apply colors on top of other colors without going beyond the first. For example, I have my base colors of the candy and now I want to apply the highlights, but I don't want to go outside that section, so I can create a new layer above the base color and adjust it to the layer below, so I apply the lights without going outside my base.

In summary, these layer functions help me to control the colors, to maintain order in the layers.

► Blend modes

Blending modes are functions with a series of mathematical operations through which the program combines a layer with the ones below it, creating an interaction between them that generates various effects. This allows us to subtly adjust the tone of the colors.

There are 28 blend modes, these can be found in the layer options. It is possible to set a blend mode for each layer and layer folder. The method of applying it is to have to select the folder or layer, display the blending modes menu and select the one we want.

These options can be grouped by the similarity of their characteristics. Some brushes also have the option of blending modes. They both work the same way.

The groups are divided into darken effect, brighten effect, contrast effect and color change effect, the groups are as follows (normal effect is excluded from this division):

1. Darken.
2. Clarify.
3. Contrast.
4. Component.

Next, I will present some examples that better clarify the effects of each of these groups. Each effect has its own peculiarity, but I will only present one for each section; which is why I advise you to try each one to see its potential first hand. Starting to use the blend modes on any layer we can use them.


These modes turn the colors applied on those layers one darker than they are in their normal form. The most used modes in this group are: "Multiply" and "Burn (Linear)", often used to render shadows.



Well, we can create reflective shadows very quickly with this function, for this we will create a new layer that we will adjust to the layer below, after that we will change the blending mode to "Multiply", now, with a brush we will paint the shadows. When we have it, we can apply a Gaussian blur so that the edges are not so rigid and lower the opacity as much as we need.


You can also change the atmosphere of an illustration, this is useful to convey feelings of sadness, calm or to show a different time of day such as dusk, sunset. I recommend using gradients.

To make this change of atmosphere we will create a new layer to which we will change the blending mode to "Multiply", after that we will apply a gradient in the direction that suits us best and finally we will lower the opacity of the layer as much as we like.


To attach a character to its background we can use this function, for this we will create a new layer above the character, we will adjust it to the lower layer, then we will apply a gradient or solid color, as the last we will lower the opacity to the layer to our liking.


They result in an opposite of the previous one. Colors appear lighter than they are in their normal form. The most commonly used modes in this group are: "Screen" and "Dodge (Linear)", often used to represent a lighting effect.


We can use it to give brightness effects, such as the surface brightness that occurs at the limits of light and shadow.

To do this, it is as easy as creating a new layer whose mode we will change to one that gives us the brightness we need, then, with the airbrush, paint the edge of the shadow.


It combines the above modes in such a way that it darkens or lightens as needed, thus increasing the contrast, in simple terms bright colors become brighter and dark colors darker. The most used mode of this group is: "Overlay", they are often used to represent an effect that helps improve the color impression.


This function, on the other hand, can be used to give highlights, such as hair or some ornaments.


These blend modes change the hue, saturation, and brightness. They're also useful for coloring grayscale artwork (we'll cover that in the grayscale to color section).


One of the most common uses of this group is to make a color change, if we used the "Hue / saturation and luminosity" function to change the color, the shadows would also vary, it does not give a credible effect, but if we do it with blend modes "Hue" OR "Color" the result is uniform.

Later I will show one more way to use the "Color" mode, for a grayscale illustration.

With the "Saturation" mode we can change the saturation. On the other hand, brightness is one of the functions that I hardly use, so I don't have a specific example for what it can be used for. I am sorry.


Essentially, I use this feature to add the highlights and shadows, as you can see in the GIF below. Once I have the base I create one or several layers on top with different modes, in most cases I use the multiply and add brightness modes, but I also test which ones will be better for each situation.

Since I have the layers with the modes set to the bottom layer, I add the highlight and shadow colors, this can be with any brush, but in my case I use the airbrush for the caramel, the shadows and the lights of the plate; Finally, for the edges of the flan that touch the caramel I did it with the tempera brush and then I blurred it with the blur tool.

As you can see, with the fill tools, the blending modes and the layer functions we can add colors that achieve such realistic effects, it is enough to know how these tools work to start using them. With trial and error we can give color to any type of illustration.

In this particular case, I used four tools to make this realistic illustration of a custard, these are: the fill tool (for the base colors), the blending modes (for the highlights and shadows), the blur, and the layer options. As brushes to add color details use the airbrush, the G brush and the tempera brush.

As a result we have...

These same processes can be done for any type of illustration, any type of style, they are universal tools that you can use to add color to a realistic illustration, cartoon, anime, etc.

3. Grayscale to Color

There is an illustration technique that consists of making the illustration in grayscale and then adding color to it, and that is precisely what I will explain below. There are methods to color a grayscale illustration. We will see these methods below.

► Tonal correction layers

Using the functions of the "Tonal Correction Layers" tool we manage to color our illustrations in a short time, in addition, it is an easy-to-use tool, the greatest difficulty will fall on ourselves, on our eyes when it comes to varying the settings. The nice thing about this method is that it's non-destructive, the adjustments become a new fully editable layer, and even blend modes work on them.

To begin with, Tonal Correction encompasses several functions that we will only use for this method: "Level Correction", "Tone Curve", and "Color Balance".

The functions are found in the following path: Layer > New Tonal Correction Layer.

To go from a gray scale to color in this first method we have three tools that make it possible, these are: "Level correction", "Tone curve" and "Color balance". All three are essentially the same.

When we open any of the functions, we will close them immediately after to adjust the layer that was created to the lower one, if we do not do it, what we have done in this layer will affect all the ones that are below it.


This function allows us to edit the shadows, midtones and highlights. What this tool gives us is basic tone editing.

The interface is as follows. The first thing to note is that the left side is the dark side and the right side is the light side.

As for the input area, the arrows at the bottom are the controls for this area. The left slider controls shadows, the middle slider controls midtones, and the right slider controls highlights.

As for the output area, if you drag the left controller to the right, everything will turn white, conversely, if you drag the right controller to the left, everything will turn black.

When displaying the top menu we find other options such as: RGB, red, green and blue. When changing the option we have to:

RGB: Controls the white/black tones.
Red: Controls red/cyan tones.
Green: Controls the green/magenta tones.
Blue: Controls blue/yellow tones.

With the input and output controls we can modify the values of any of these options.

To use it we will place ourselves in one of the layers to which we want to add color, then we will open this window and we only have to move the options to our liking. We do the same with all the layers to have a complete color illustration. This is a good tool, but a bit basic, in the next tool you can add colors more precisely.


It has the same functions of the previous tool, but more detailed. The constant is repeated, the left side is dark and the right side is light.

The interface is as follows. As we can see, the output is on the left and the input is at the bottom, this means that the curve represents the shadows, midtones and highlights. By creating points on the curve and moving them to the left we will get shadows, and lights to the right. The center is the halftones.

At each end of the curve there are two points, the first point is the brightness (top right), if we drag it down it will start to darken. The bottom left point is dark, if we drag it up it starts to lighten.

As for the RGB pull-down menu, it works the same as in the previous tool, with the only difference that the origin of the colors is changed, red, green and blue on top; below cyan, magenta and yellow.

You can add as many points as you need, the more the better, so we have greater control of the tones.


The interface is as follows. This tool has the same principles as the previous two, this tool is intuitive, very easy to use. In addition, the luminosity can be maintained, something that the previous ones cannot.

In color balance, on the sliders we find the colors cyan, magenta, and yellow with their respective opposites on the other side, red, green, and blue.

As for the delay balance section, we have the option to control the shadows, midtones and highlights. Keep Brightness keeps the light of the illustration if left selected.

► Blend modes

Blending modes have already been covered in a previous section. As I said in the "Component" group explanation, the "Color" mode is useful for coloring grayscale illustration, plus they are extremely easy to use.

The process is very simple, first, we will create a layer above the gray layer that we want to give color to, we will adjust this to the layer below, then we will change the blending mode to color.

With the brush of our choice we will add the colors we want, just like in a normal coloring process.

The weakness of this method is light and dark colors, they cannot be seen well. Midtones are effective.


Each of the methods to color a grayscale illustration has its pros and cons, but don't let that limit you, you can also change the tools, combine the best of each tool. When you have applied the colors you can create new layers to correct details manually to have our perfect coloration.

► Gradient Maps

Gradient Maps is a tool that makes coloring easy, and its use is easy to understand. If we download the gradients of the Clip Studio assets we can obtain color palettes, one less step to create our work.

The function is found in the following path: Layer > New Tonal Correction Layer > Gradient Map.

When we open it, a new layer will be generated above the active one when opening the map window. We will close the gradients window to be able to adjust this new layer to the lower one. If we don't do this, the gradients will affect all layers below them.


We can download gradients from Clip Studio assets; when we already have them, we can integrate them by clicking on the wrench, a series of options will appear that will allow us to add, delete, duplicate and change a gradient or a set, but in this case we will use "Add gradient set".

Now a window will appear where we will select the gradient sets that we want to add, keeping the CTRL key pressed we will be able to select several gradients at the same time. At the end of the election we will click "Add" so that the materials are loaded.

In the drop-down bar we can see all the added sets.


To create our own gradients we will go back to the wrench, choosing the "Create new set" option. A box will appear where we can name the set. We will accept.

When we have created a new set, in the immediate lower part of the gradient bar there is a series of arrows (nodes) that we can create, move and delete, we can also invert the order of the general gradient.

Choosing a node we can change its color with the "Specified color" option. A window will appear where we will choose the color, we will accept and then, in add gradient (the square with the cross sign at the bottom), we will name it. Done, we already have our first gradient, we can do this "n" number of times.


We will open a new layer of gradient maps as explained at the beginning, we will adjust this layer to the lower one. Clever.

Although we already have a gradient applied, it may not be enough for a complete image, sometimes the illustrations are so complex that several gradients are needed, as applying various will be the next thing to see.


If we have our illustration separated by layers there will be no major problem, we create a gradient layer and adjust it to the lower one, in this way the gradient will affect that section, so we can apply as many gradients as we want.


Another way is using the layer mask. The layer mask is the white thumbnail that appears on the right side of the layer.

If we click on the white thumbnail we can delete sections of the gradient; depending on the type of eraser we can obtain hard or soft edges.

We add new gradient maps and delete, until we get what we want.


The advantage of this tool is that it makes the colors more vivid, but for example in the case of this flan, the colors are so bright that they are annoying, which is why we can use previous tools to correct it. We can use the tonal correction tools to dull the colors, blend modes, or layer opacity a bit.

To tone down that color vibrancy, employ two tonal correction layers, the "Brightness and Contrast" layer along with "Hue/Saturation/Lightness". Also, I lowered the opacity of these layers along with the caramel and custard gradient.

The following comparison is to observe the difference between the gradient alone (left), and the other (right) is a gradient accompanied by other tools mentioned above.


Coloring is an important process in an illustration, in most cases it is like its soul, which is why knowing tools that facilitate the process is essential. This TIPS has been full of food, pure sweet, although I'm not really a fan of this one, but I love flan; Someday I would like to try the Japanese-style flan, they say it's delicious. Someday.

I hope that what you see in this tutorial is to your liking and that it helps you. Well, with nothing to say. Thanks for coming this far! ପ(๑•̀ुᴗ•̀ु)* ॣ৳৸ᵃᵑᵏ Ꮍ৹੫ᵎ *ॣ

Vibrate high!!! We don't see another time ( •⌄• ू ) ✧



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