# How to build objects & scenes using primitives

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## Introduction

In this guide, we’ll see how useful 3D primitives are, how to recognise them “inside” everyday objects, and how to create and manipulate them in Clip Studio.

I’ve divided this guide into several chapters. This way, if you already know a particular topic, you can skip it and go to the next section.

This guide is intended for everyone, so even if you’re a complete newbie to Clip Studio you should be able to follow it with ease!

## How to draw anything: or learning to see the basic forms behind objects

Welcome to the “theory” section of this guide. Don’t worry, it’s short and (hopefully!) not too boring!

So, when you ask an artist the question: “How do I draw object X?”, you’ll often get this reply: “Start from the basic shapes and then add details”. But what does that even mean?

It means that every object (or even living creatures!), no matter how complex it may look, can be simplified to more or less four basic shapes. Let’s see how.

Can you draw a cylinder? A cube? A sphere? A cone or a pyramid? Of course you can! Then, you can draw anything.

The trick is to learn how these basic forms are “hidden” inside the object you’re trying to draw, to find its “geometrical essence”. In short, learning to identify shapes in complex objects.

Look around you. You may have some books on your shelf. And what is a book, in its essence, if not a flattened box? The shelf itself is probably a box as well. Even the room you’re in, it’s more or less a box. Maybe even the house!

In fact, we’re surrounded by boxy shapes. Tables. Monitors. Skyscrapers…? Yes, they often are tall, squashed boxes. Jerry cans? Boxes with handles. And so on.

Cylinders are also everywhere. A glass, a bottle, a cut-off tree trunk, a barrel, a bucket: they’re all composed of cylinders.

Same goes for the other shapes.

Don’t believe me? Here are some visual examples!

CUBES

SPHERES

CYLINDERS

CONES

As we have seen, these basic shapes are everywhere – and are incredibly useful. That’s why Clip Studio has a Material section dedicated to them! To access them, go to the Material: Primitive tab (by default, on the right of the screen, near the Navigator):

And there you have them:

TIP! 💡

If you can't see them, go to Window > Material > Material: Primitive.

As you can see, they’re:

This is our cylinder! It has six divisions by default, but that number can be increased to make it more cylindrical (we’ll see how in a bit).

Our cone! As with the prism above, we can increase the number of divisions to “transform” it into a cone. More on that later.

Believe it or not, this is all we need to create everything!

Remember playing with building blocks as a kid? Well, consider these primitives as your building blocks, only much more flexible (and without the need to clean up your room after playing with them!).

Clip Studio Paint also includes a Plane and a Polygon. You can consider them as flat versions of the Cube and Prism respectively.

They have their uses but, for now, we’ll concentrate on the other shapes.

## How to manipulate 3D objects in the program

Now, the fun part: using these primitives!

Let’s start with a Cylinder. Create a new Illustration (File > New…), and from the Material > Primitives tab, drag and drop the Cylinder onto your background.

TIP! 💡 Drag & drop

To drag and drop the Cylinder, click on its icon in the Material palette and while holding the left mouse cursor, drop it on your white canvas.

A 3D cylinder will appear on the screen and the Object Tool will be automatically selected.

With the Object Tool, click on the cylinder once, to reveal all its controls.

Manipulating objects and cameras in Clip Studio is very intuitive. For this very reason, we’ll only look at them very briefly, as this isn’t the main purpose of this guide. But you can find plenty of information about them online and really, it’s mostly self-explanatory. Experiment with them and you’ll see how easy they’re to use!

1️⃣ CAMERA CONTROLS: at the top, in light blue.

They can be used to rotate the camera, move it and dolly it. Also to move the object around, or rotate around its axis. The last icon is a magnet symbol, which affects how the movement is made.

TIP! 💡 Keep the magnet on!

While working with primitives, keep the magnet option on! It’ll help you align and stack objects more precisely and will make your life much easier. When the magnet icon is darker, it means that is activated.

2️⃣ OBJECT CONTROLS: all the controls needed to shrink, expand, rotate and move the objects.

Each colour has a meaning. Red and Green are the X and Y (horizontal) axis respectively, Blue is the Z axis (vertical).

Specifically, this is what each control is for:

• Inside curves: rotate the object.
• Arrows: move the object.

• Squares: resize the object in a particular direction.

To resize your primitive while keeping its proportions the same, use the big grey ring around the controls.

Just play with these controls until you get the hang of it.

3️⃣ BOTTOM CONTROLS: these buttons allow you to access more settings for the single object and for the scene in general.

• These two arrows allow you to move between all the objects that you have on a scene. Useful when you have overlapping objects that you can’t easily select.
• The wrench gives you access to 3D settings (super useful! more on this later).
• The camera icon allows you to select preset camera angles.
• Center objects: moves the camera near the object you currently have selected.
• Place model on ground level: puts the selected object to the ground. Useful to instantly move models to the floor, or to check if a model is floating.
• Reset model scale resets the model to its original form, while maintaining other manipulations you may have done to it.
• Reset model rotation: resets the model to its original rotation, while maintaining other manipulations you may have done to it.
• Save 3D primitive to material palette: allows you to save the current shape you’ve modified for future uses.

If you haven’t used them before, experiment with these tools until you’re comfortable with them! There’s no way to mess up, as you can simply delete the layer and create a new one, so experiment as you like.

Now that we know how to use 3D objects in Clip Studio, let’s get creative!

## Divisions: or how to create cylinders and cones

Divisions allow you to add more faces to your primitive. With them, turning a prism into a cylinder and a pyramid into a cone is super easy!

HOW TO DO IT:

Create a Prism or a Pyramid (drag and drop from the Material tab to your image).

Select your newly-created shape with the Object tool. Click on the wrench icon that appears at the bottom.

It will open the SubTool Detail window. Go to the Primitive tab and change the Number of divisions (X) until you find a number that does it for you.

This works with every primitive, although it has different effects on different shapes. We’ll see more uses for this function later!

☝️ On the left, 6 divisions. On the right, 30. They’re starting to look more like cylinders and cones, aren’t they?

TIP! 💡 Wireframe & opacity

When you create one of the default primitives, it has several lines drawn over it that divide it.

If you find these lines distracting, you can uncheck the button Show wireframe (Primitive tab) to make them disappear!

In the same window, you can also change the colour and texture of the shapes, as well as make them transparent (Alpha > Semi-Transparent > change the Opacity to below 100%). Super useful if you need to overlap different shapes, but you still want to see behind them.

## Combining shapes together to create more complex objects

Now that we know how to recognise simple shapes in complex objects, let’s try to combine primitives! Here are some examples of what you can do:

• A fire hydrant can be made by using cylinders (prisms), with a sphere at the top.

• Not only small objects, but entire buildings are made of simple shapes: this house was made from a bunch of cubes. The roof is composed of a Prism with its number of divisions lowered to 3.

• A cylinder can become a tree trunk (and its roots also could be made out of cylinders!). The axe is made of a cylinder/prism (handle) and a cube (head).

• Another big object, a water tower. The top is made from a cylinder, the round bottom from a sphere.

• A lamp, made entirely from cylinders.

• A sofa composed of four cubes.

• A bell tower, made of cubes, with a pyramid as its pointy top.

• Even an object as complex as a car, can be reduced to its simple components to make it much easier to draw! Once you have the basic shapes, it’s only a matter of adding details.

• The beach umbrella is another example of ways in which pyramids can be used (again, with the number of divisions higher than its default settings). The beach chair? Just some flat cubes.

TIP! 💡 Combining primitives in Clip Studio is easy!

After you’ve created the first primitive, you can make another simply by dragging and dropping it over the scene, in the spot where you want it to go. Once there, you can move and scale them, until they’re in the right place.

IMPORTANT! 💥 Make sure that the 3D layer is selected while adding new models to the scene, otherwise Clip Studio will create a new 3D scene and the two shapes won’t be able to interact with each other.

You can repeat this operation and add as many 3D objects to a scene as you need.

You can also copy and paste the same object, if you need it multiple times (for example, for a fence).

## How to quickly prototype scenes using primitives: interior scenes

If you’re making a comic, you may want to have multiple panels set in the same location. The hard part is keeping the environment consistent from panel to panel.

To solve this problem, you can build the skeleton of the scene with primitives! Let’s see how.

INTERIOR SCENE

It’s really fast and easy to build a small interior scene with 3D primitives. A few cubes here and there can really help to get a sense of the scene and to know where things are! You don’t need a lot of details; consider them as placeholders that you use to know where things are, to achieve a coherent look between panels.

It’s like building a basic set for a film. You are the director and decorator, so you get to decide where objects and actors are positioned!

So, this is our example scene. A sofa and an armchair built from cubes, a small table made of cylinders, some simple objects on it, and a bookcase. Now that we have the scene, we can experiment with camera angles.

TIP! 💡 Use camera angles to tell a story

Different angles can convey different feelings to the viewer. The same scene can look comfy, eerie, warm, lonely, or cold, depending on the angle it’s seen from. An angle from afar can highlight how lonely the place is, while an unusual angle can give the image an unsettling feeling.

Use this to your advantage to tell a story without the need for words!

☝️ Same scene, different angles!

After finding the right camera angle for your scene, you can use the 3D image either as a reference or as the basis for your illustration.

You can tweak the 3D layer’s opacity and colour to make it less visible, then create a new raster or vector layer to draw on.

All it’s left, now, is drawing the actual scene.

☝️ A quickly made scene: before and after.

TIP! 💡 Keep a human model as a reference for size

To get the dimensions right for your room, make sure to put a model of a man/woman somewhere in the scene. To access them from the library, go to Material: Body Type.

☝️ Check the size of your objects next to a human figure!

TIP! 💡 Saving cameras

Imagine you’ve just found the perfect angle for your scene, everything is ready to go… and then you notice that one of the objects is misaligned, or is floating. Now you need to move the camera to be able to fix it and your perfect angle is ruined!

Or is it?

Thankfully, Clip Studio Paint allows you to name and save multiple cameras. To do it, while working on a 3D scene, with the Object tool selected, click on the “wrench” icon to access the Sub Tool Detail window.

In the Camera section, you can see all the settings to tweak the camera (very useful!) and, more importantly, to save it!

You can assign a custom name to each camera, to make it easier to work with them.

Keeping multiple cameras can make your work easier: you could have a camera you use to work on the layout, to set things up, and multiple other cameras with the angles you want to use in your illustration/comic!

## Outside scenes: big buildings

The same process we’ve used for the interior scene above can also be applied to outside scenes as well. In fact, the same four basic shapes can also be found in big, even huge buildings! Some examples.

• Houses and churches, can be done with cubes, prisms, and pyramids.

• Factories are usually shaped like big boxes.

• Even complex architectures, such as domes, can be reduced to their basic forms.

• Remember that often trees and bushes can look like spheres! Use it to your advantage.

Building an outside scene like a street, or a square, with these shapes is really easy!

## Rulers: or how to get the perfect lines

When you create a 3D layer (by dragging and dropping a model on your image), a ruler is created alongside it.

You can see its icon here:

Clicking on it will activate the layer’s Ruler.

If you now create a new Raster/Vector layer and draw some lines over it, you’ll see that the ruler constrains the lines using the 3D scene’s perspective! In fact, it works the same as a perspective ruler.

By using it, you can be 100% sure that your lines are straight and that the perspective is right! It’s really easy to achieve a clean, technical look in your work this way.

To deactivate it, either press Shift+Click on the ruler icon, or click on the “Snap to special ruler”.

## Texturing

You can apply textures to 3D primitives!

To try it out quickly, you can use a pre-made pattern. Go to Material > Colour Pattern, and drag and drop it over the primitive.

Then, access its settings to tweak it (the Wrench icon).

Here, under Texture settings, you can tweak the scale and position of the texture.

Even better, you can create custom textures for your primitives!

To do that, in the same window, go to: Primitive > Map > Export.

The current texture will be saved as a .clip file that you can open and modify as any other image.

☝️ The default cube texture, now ready to be modified. For example, you could draw simple windows and doors on it if the cube is going to be a building.

## Use divisions to help with precise detailing

Changing the number of divisions of a 3D primitive can help you add details regularly to the surface of a solid, or “cut it up” in pieces. As we’ve seen before, you can access division by clicking the Wrench icon > Primitive > Number of divisions.

Here are some examples of how you can use them:

☝️ Divisions on a cube = instant skyscrapers!

☝️ Divisions can make it easier to put regular details, like the windows on this building.

## Final words: even characters and animals are made of primitives!

Here we end where we started, with the idea that by learning how to identify shapes in complex objects, you can draw anything! Even people and animals!

Using primitives in Clip Studio has helped me speed up my workflow tremendously!

Hopefully, this guide has been useful!

Happy drawing!