As useful as they may be, not everyone has a wacom, huion, gaomon or xp pen tablet and this often holds back many aspiring artists from getting into the expansive world of digital art. But it doesn't have to be this way!
Truth be told, for drawing, especially character drawing, a tablet is not absolutely necessary, and with the right tools, sometimes a mouse is even preferable!
Today I'm going to show you the magic of the curve tools+vector layers in Clip Studio Paint.
So, here's the thing: There are only two situations when a pen is almost essential: Painting and sketching. Let's focus on the latter.
Sketching is a very important part of the art creation process, it's when you'll determine what to draw, the proportions, the shapes, the pose. In traditional art, you'd usually do this with a pencil, before going for ink. But how are you supposed to do that with a mouse? Dragging brushes over the screen? Oh no, no sir, that's too much, I quit. No, wait! This is where the magic of digital art starts to shine!
You see, with digital art, you don't have to worry about how you'll make your sketch or even if you'll have one at all! You can be free to sketch traditionally and take a photo of it, or even use a photo of a real thing or a 3D model as reference!
On this tutorial I'll use a photo of the adorable hamster Ponchan as reference and show you how to easily draw any character!
The Curve Tool!
Alright, so take a look at the picture above. Now back to the text.
First things first: Open a picture of your sketch, a 3D model or just a photo on CSP. On top of that, create a new vector layer (1).
Ok, this is straight forward, but here is where the magic of CSP starts: Activate "change layer color"(2) this will make your lines take a different color (default blue) so you can easily see as you draw. I greatly recommend this for most situations.
And finally, select the Figure tool (3) the default keyboard shortcut for it is "U"and it comes with some pretty great utilities.
For this tutorial, we're going to focus on a few of the figure tools: The curve, the continuous curve and the bezier curve, all while highlighting the great advantages of the vector layer.
So without further ado, let's start with the curve tool.
The curve tool (1) is quite simple to use. But first, look at how you can adjust the size, opacity and hardness of it.(2) You'll probably want to change these for different parts of your drawing, but it should be pretty straight forward.
Now, for the fun part! Click where you want a curve to -start- and don't let go! Hold your click and drag it to where you want the curve to end, only then you release the mouse button! It will look like you're making a straight line, but after you release, you'll see that when you move the mouse, it creates a curve!
Just position the line where you want, you'll see that you have plenty of control over it. My advice is to always do this for any full curve you want to make. That is to say, if you want to make a circle, that will be four curves, if you want to make an S, that is two curves! Try to think of it as separating your shapes in bundles of C's. Anything that makes -one- arch is ok.
Here we can see how the curves and vectors go so well together. By activating the option vector magnet, you can make your different curves connect on their extremities (1) or even in the middle. (2)
The difference here is that on situation one, this tool will turn both curves into one, situation 2 will not. So you may want to activate or deactivate this option depending on the situation, but in most cases you'll want to leave it on.
Now, this -may- all sound a bit confusing and challenging, you may be afraid to make mistakes with the curves and get things wrong. Do you want to make your drawing session more relaxing? Don't worry about the precision of your curves. Or of your starting/ending points. In fact, you don't have to worry about anything at all! On this phase, just make curves that at least loosely resemble what you want. Drop your points, make the curves and forget the word precision. Just do it all.
Why do I say this? Well, take a look at this picture:
Notice how on the first situation, the lines are wrong? But more importantly, see the controls around the curve? Oh yeah, you can control the curves as much as you want! That's why I recommend doing a first phase of just setting up the curves without any care about precision and then having a step of just fixing and adapting. You may have different ideas or change your mind as you draw, so being able to just edit your lines and curves is a great thing.
And how do you do this? Simple, just hold the ctrl button (on the bottom left of your keyboard) and click on a curve! You can move starting and ending points, have complete control over the curves and even move, resize or rotate the whole thing by clicking and dragging the line or using the controls on the edit box! It's just that magical. You can literally turn a circle into a heart with this!
Do you want to add more points for even bigger control of your curves? Just right click (while still holding down the ctrl button) and add a control point! (see picture below)
And better yet, you don't have to be on the figure tool or even the same layer to use this option! Noticed something wrong with the lines while you're painting on another totally unrelated layer? Just hold control, readjust your points and curves, release control and bam! You're still on the same unrelated layer, with your brush tool still active. It's -really- practical!
Now, this sounds all nice and all, but what if I want to draw some grass or, in our case, the fluff of Ponchan's fur? Well, am I glad you asked!
With the continuous curve tool (1) you can just keep going, adding more and more curves in sequence. As you can see, there are quite a few options for this tool (2) but since we're talking about curves, we shall focus on the last three: The spline, the quadratic blezier and the cubic blezier.
You see, with any of these tools you can draw by either clicking, holding and dragging (like we did on the simple curve tool) OR simply by clicking where we want the start and ending of the lines to be. To complete a line you can simply double click or press enter. If you don't do that, it won't complete the line!
The difference between those is in the controls. The spline option will let you control the starting and ending points, but not the curve! This may be useful if you don't need to change these curves later, as in this case, drawing Ponchan's fluff for example, but it is quite limiting indeed. The quadratic blezier works almost exactly like the simple curve, with one simple difference: You don't click where the curve ends or starts, you click where it bends... It's a bit complicated at first, but it can be quite useful in certain situations and once you get the hang of it, it's quite interesting to play with! Also, don't forget that you can change these curves and points later, so relax and enjoy the process.
Lastly, one of the best and newest tools added to CSP: The cubic blezier! With this tool, each starting and finishing point will have its own, two sided control lever. You can push and pull on any direction to adjust the curve in any way you want! And if you want to turn a corner into a sharp angle, just select a dot by clicking it (As always, editing is done by having the ctrl button pressed during the whole process) and then right click to select the option "switch corner"
As you can see, these tools give you a lot of control! you can create whatever you want, and better yet: You can EASILY create whatever you want. Having no tablet is not a problem.
And to make it better, the curve tools have different shapes! Want to make a dashed, dotted or waved line? You got it! How about a line of spray dust, stars or even a music sheet? Yes you can!
Now, here you are, drawing without a care in the world because you can just adjust your curves later, but your art is getting quite complex.... Some overlapping is bound to occur and this can be pretty annoying.
But as I said before, you don't have to worry. Continue to vibe to that lo-fi hip hop radio, relax and overlap those lines to your heart's content! In fact, you can make it as crazy as you want! Make a mess of lines with so many overlaps that even you will have a hard time understanding, but once you're done, select the eraser tool (or better yet, just hold the key "E" on your keyboard to temporarily change to the eraser tool for as long as you're holding it) select vector eraser and just click anything you want gone. Want to turn a # into a square? Just click and drag on those lines around it and bam! It's gone! Made some fluff over the leg of your cute hamster drawing? Just click on those inner lines and they'll disappear like it's no one's business.
With these tools and all of this control, there's absolutely no need at all to let the lack of a tablet hinder you from drawing anything you want! From cute animals to huge castles, from mythical creatures to space ships it is all not just possible, but easily achievable!
I hope this tutorial will help you not only understand some of the tools in CSP but also to find the motivation to just start drawing.