❖ Cyberpunk 2021 | Design Guide ❖

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[ + ] Preface / Disclaimer

Hi there, welcome to my Clip Studio Paint tutorial. My name is John, and this is my first time creating tutorial with video on YouTube! Inspired by my fiancé, who also have the same hobby: doodles like me. She's creating cute artworks whether traditionally with drawing pens, color pencils, watercolor paints, and digitally using Clip Studio Paint.

For those who familiar with me & my tutorials, I've been set up my tutorials exclusively on Clip Studio TIPS from the very first beginning (I believe it's on May 2019) challenge. But I never try to use YouTube to share my knowledge before - since I thought it's impossible to do that with my poor video editing skills. But she proved me wrong with her first ever YT video tutorial and even another one on previous challenge.

So here I am, trying my best to share you how I create my newest cyberpunk design guide from thumbnails, atmospheric painting, to my own photo which I modify it into cyberpunk vibe. Please apologize if I sounded weird using YouTube tutorial-!

[ 1 ] /// Thumbnail Creation

When starting a character, a quick and efficient way to begin talking visually is by doing thumbnails. They allow you to rapidly create a wide range of possibilities for your character.

I begin my canvas with 1080 x 1920 with 300 resolution. I'd like to make it portrait so that I can use it for my mobile phone wallpaper once finished.


Photos, sketches, doodles, thumbnails from all viewpoints and poses are all useful as long as they contribute to make your ideas clearer and easier to explain to your audience (friends, teachers, also clients for those work as a concept artist).

Clip Studio Paint comes with its versatile yet efficient tool to help you create a quick and easy way to pose your character. Yes, using its default 3D built-in 'mannequin'.

In order to access it, you can go to:

Window --> Material --> 3D --> [ Body Type ]

Then choose between [ Male ] or [ Female body ]. For me, I choose [ Male ] since I would like to make it basically the same gender as me.

Next step, simply [ Drag & Drop ] to your canvas and it will be there with standard pose just like image below. Now you'll have your own 'mannequin' or 3D model to be controlled.

There will be buttons on top of your 3D mannequin's head to take control of its position and also composition. The first 3 buttons will be useful for Camera: Rotation, Movement, and also Position (to make it closer and further away from canvas).

Please try it by yourself even with a mouse operation outside those buttons function:

[ Left Click Mouse ] as Camera's Rotation.
[ Middle Mouse Click and HOLD ] as Camera's Movement.
[ Right Click Mouse ] will be used as Camera's Distance & Angle Position.

The other four buttons shall modify your 3D Model instead Camera. Try them by yourself.

I make my 3D mannequin's character to face a quarter to the right.
Then I open my [ Pose ] --> [ Entire Body ] --> I choose [ Stand Firm ] rather than [ Rise to Full Height ] position because you'll be able to see the reason why after you scroll down a bit.

In this stage, simply click on your mannequin to make sure the 'dots' appear around, those are joints of your 3D Model that can be easily manipulated and already had the inverse kinetics installed on (so when you move those blue dots; everything nearby it will be moving also.

For example, I click and move the 'direction of eye' (the one in yellow) and the neck will also moving towards the direction fluidly. Try those out, I promise it won't be a frustrating way to pose your character and choosing the 'RIGHT STARTING POSE' will have a huge impact for you to play around the desired pose as well as efficiency on the get go.

/// TIPS: you can use [ Ctrl + Z ] to undo unintentionally moving parts.

Click the 'blue dot' to move within kinetic; click onto the PART OF BODY, will not showing dots, instead the AXIS CONTROL as shown below:

If you're aware of 3D AXIS that comes with X, Y, and Z before, you'll find this 'handle' easily to control. [ Yellow ] for the left and right rotation, [ Green ] for the up and down, [ Blue ] for the side to side rotation. Just... Experiment on them. It would be fun experience, but again be mindful for the 'realistic rotation or movement', don't overdo it or else it would be weird.

After done with rotating and moving, depending on what you need and wish to do with the 3D model, it's time to CLICK on that ICON for more settings; basically this 'mannequin' only serve as positioning; the great parts will begin shortly!

Since some of you might already know about this method, BUT here I go again; share this TIPS with you! It's quite exciting to start a thumbnails for concept art character design.

However, if you see from my video; I click on the [ Sub Tool Detail ] through [ Object List ] tab and UNCHECK THAT PARALLEL LIGHT 1.

And BAM! You will have a SILHOUETTE instantly!

After you've done with that, you can consider to duplicate it with this following keys:

[ CTRL + C ] and [ CTRL + V ] or just holding [ ALT ] key on your keyboard and [ DRAG TO LEFT / RIGHT ] with [ Left Click Button ] mouse.

/// On the above image, I duplicated the 3D model 2 times, then turn off the original 3D model as the 'backup' in case I wish to change the pose and other things in mind.

||||||| [ OPTIONAL STEP! ] |||||||

So the next move, I put those two into [ Folder ] and lower the [ Opacity: 25% ] and this is OPTIONAL. Because I like to create soft silhouette (light gray) to add some details for the outfit later with darker gray or any others.

NOTE: I use light gray that automatically can be picked with [ Color Pick ] on 25% Opacity from 3D model's folder using [ Alt ] and [ Left Click ] on my mouse.


With [ Create a NEW RASTER LAYER ] then using this [ Pen ] to start creating or 'modifying' things for the character design. As you view the video (even though it's fast-forward) you probably and hopefully can learn something from it; any insights or pick up new things along the way. Actually; it's time for you to be creative! :)

Whenever you've done with the first design, you can try the same method with the other design.

I prefer to work with light gray because using black on white can be a bit aggressive to the eye. I like to save a good number of basic silhouettes on my 'backup'. That habit avoids me losing too much time doing simple anatomy and poses all over again.

Once I make the folder to [ 100% Opacity ] you'll notice that the additional shapes were having difference in color (light gray) to the 3D models (dark gray).

In order to fix that, simply check the [ Lock Transparent Pixels ] then color pick the dark gray (that I pick from the 3D Model's color) then press [ Alt + Backspace ] to auto fill it.

Below is the result of 'silhouette' mode:

Actually, you can see from the video that I'm editing a bit of the shapes here and there because these two designs were my rough sketch; so many asymmetrical shapes that needs to be corrected (especially for the legs) but I'll fix that outside my recording because I think you will definitely create things on your own.

||||||| [ DEFINING FEATURES ] |||||||

I'm focusing to the eye and make it more 'human-like' and the other one like 'predator type' although it seems more to villain character design for some reason, I kind of like it. Apart from that, to be frank; I'm still having zero idea of what this design going to be. Is he even a heroic type of 'humanoid' or a military tech grade modification assassin?

So that's it, my first part of thumbnail creation! I hope it will make you even want to explore the endless possibilities of using 3D 'mannequin' into silhouette design approach.

You can save image above as .PNG file, drag and drop into your Clip Studio Paint.

Feel free to practice for that little challenge of mine.

[ 2 ] /// Sketching From Thumbnail

OK, now that I've done with the thumbnail creations, I pick this one with [ Selection Area] then choose [ Rectangle ] before crop it.

After done cropping using the icon above, I create a new document with this setting:

Width x Height: 1080 x 1920 and 300 resolution (I leave everything else just the way it is).

If you're making the same thing like me, from previous work; I have layers combined into one group. So with this new canvas, I merge selected layers in order to make my working layers efficient.

///TIPS: do this if you wish to have a clean and organized layers, but if you prefer to have tons of layers to get back to; I suggest have a duplicated / backup file elsewhere.

Above step is self explanatory, since I duplicate the silhouette layer, flip it to face to the left and I'm ready to begin my sketch with [ New Raster Layer ] on top of this thumbnail.

Honestly, I'm comfortable to work with my right hand to the character drawing that will go, stand, face, or pose to the left. But it's only my habit; naturally you should work with whatever angle you enjoy the most.

My #1 chosen Sub-Tool will always be: [ DESIGN PENCIL ]

As if it's running on my nervous system already, every time and unconsciously I chose the same Sub-Tool from [ PENCIL ] -> [ DESIGN PENCIL ] whenever I start to design something.

Image above shows you that sometimes I turning off the silhouette layer to see what I've been doing so far.

And also a solid reminder for myself, by pressing a bit of [ DESIGN PENCIL ] for its default textures or tones; effectively it can help me determine light sources by making shadows.

[ 3 ] /// Coloring

Now move into coloring parts, after done with adding shadows here and there, also a bit of highlights; we can move to create a [ New Raster Layer ] then with the same brush but different [ Blending Mode ] let's get started!

I use the [ CLIP TO LAYER BELOW ] as one of my quick to do character design process, especially when it comes to color. I don't change the [ Blending Mode ] at this time and leave it as [ Normal ] in order to see what color drops should fit into the design.

As you know, I told you before from my video introduction that using [ Red ] and [ Blue ] which coexist together can illuminate and create strong vibes of Cyberpunk world. So let's stick into that idea and move around quickly with only [ Design Pencil] as our brush.


As usual, some areas that I'd like to give more impact of colors, more 'cutting edge' strokes and hard-edge design approach: [ PEN ] and its variant will be my top choice!


And in order to create a glow; my chosen brush will be [ Airbrush ] and [ Soft ] obviously since it's very simple and pretty straightforward Sub-Tool.

In order to make the 'intense glowing' like L.E.D white outshines others; stroke it with [ Pen ] and [ Mapping Pen ] after that brush it around with [ Soft ] Airbrush.

Try to use the combination of both [ Airbrush ] and [ Pen ] to create other glowing parts such as the weapon; laser blade. The crisp color (especially with adding white) the sharpest it's going to look and feel. I've been using those kind of combinations before with my other tutorial to create Visual Effects (VFX) with Clip Studio Paint. Here's the link:

||||||| [ BACKDROP ] |||||||

Now, let me skip through colorization of our character and move into backdrop first, since it will help me (and probably you) to see better from the video. Using standard [ Gradient ] and I choose [ Night Sky ] into the [ New Raster Layer ] below my character's silhouette.

NOTE: I use the term 'backdrop' since there will be another tutorial to teach you how to create stunning background with Clip Studio Assets!

You can try to experiment with anything, but as I am doing mostly for fun for the 'backdrop', I could care less with how it looks at first and just drop colors and colors and colors until I feel satisfy with it. Sometimes I use [ Blend ] or [ Blur ] in order to make a good blending.

You can either play with another color but as for me, red (dark pink) and also blue (ultramarine) will play a major color schemes for my design.

Adding [ Running Color Spray ] and [ Tone Scrapping ] will also create dynamic 'textures' for the entire backdrop creation.

||||||| [ DUST & PARTICLES ] |||||||

[ Droplet ] can also be a good addition in order to spice things up for the floating particles - usually if the background later will be a scene of factory or wasteland with industrial dust and speckles.

||||||| [ BLURRY EFFECTS ] |||||||

[ BLUR ] either [ GAUSSIAN BLUR ] or [ MOTION BLUR ] will be optional for you to create content of your backdrop looks interesting and somewhat cool.

Be careful while applying this method as if it's too much blur, it defeats the whole purpose of 'texturing' but if it's too plain, it will never be a good backdrop to showcase your character design or else make it pops.

||||||| [ BACK TO CHARACTER ] |||||||

Adding [ Mapping Pen ] to create reflective material on the character's glasses will be focus point as we - human tend to see eyes to eyes when looking at someone else as well as character design.

In addition to that, [ Mapping Pen ] can also create some 'rim lighting' behind the head of the character, just to improve the mood to overall design.

[ Design Pencil ] also help me to create smoke out of the character's cigarette. With the tip of it sparks with a bit of yellow with [ Soft Airbrush ] and [ Mapping Pen ] to give idea where the lights coming from.

In order to make the smoke looks natural, I often use a bit of [ Blend ] Tool and [ Finger Tip ] then smudge the smoke in the natural way without even erase parts of it.

[ Mapping Pen ] with a bit of [ Soft Airbrush ] can be applied to the reflective or shiny parts of the outfit. Just make sure to practice doing it several times then you're the master of 'lighting up' your cyberpunk character design from a get go just like those picture above!

But for the cloth itself, I'm using [ Oil Paint Flat Brush ] so the blending can be clearly visible and has a bit of textures all over it with the help of [ Design Pencil ] or any other brushes.

Finally, the body of character has been installed with 'system lines' which capable of superhuman strength, nimble and swift like a ninja. Just with the [ Mapping Pen ] lining the entire body, it gives you the idea of humanoid upgrades.

[ 4 ] /// FREE 3D ASSETS for Background

Now after you've done with the character, it's time to add some background (because I told you before, backdrop only a placeholder before we create awesome Night scene with Futuristic Cityscape!) and Celcys with Clip Studio Assets already giving you a starter pack! Don't believe me? Let's go to check it out!

Yes, you can search ALMOST ANYTHING FOR FREE from Clip Studio Assets! But please do understand that I'm showing you how to decorate the background from 3D assets that belongs from other artists, of course thanks to these two assets that I can save times!

Show some respect by downloading and also giving them LIKES (HEART) and FAVORITE (STAR) buttons!

///TIPS: You can probably search any other with English and Japanese because sometimes the Japanese words could actually show you more items because the original creator of assets mostly from Japan.

Just as you find the [ Material ] provided by default by Clip Studio Paint, alternatively you can search your newest downloaded materials over there on [ DOWNLOAD ] tab.

Drag and Drop casually and you'll be able to manipulate those 3D objects you've just obtained or purchased if it's with Gold or Clippy Points.

As usual, the materials dropped from [ Download ] will be various to be manipulated. Some are images while I'm suggesting you to find [ 3D objects ] as it's going to be interesting to be moved around; observe with different angle and also lightings; you'll be surprise of how it's going to save you a lot of time if you know how to use them wisely!

Even with another 3D objects:

Changing its [ Blending Mode ] would be my first attempt to look at the entire image or within 3D objects that I've been playing about - please take a look at the video on how I (although speed up to 5 times) try to see which blending modes suitable to be applied onto the background.

This is why I create 'backdrop' first in order to create the mood or color schemes, then starting with this 3D objects, I start to drop the real colors for the whole illustration!

[ 5 ] /// Neon City Lights

Using [ Text ] tool will be my next step in order to create 'Neon Lights' scattered around the Cyberpunk world.

/// TIPS: You can find many FREE FONTS or type faces around searching engine. Just type 'TECHNO FONT' and there you go. Mine is a bit of 'you know what's sci-fi movie' was about but I like its BOLD typography design that comes with OUTLINE VERSION of its typography family. So do yourself a favor by finding best FREE FOR PERSONAL USE fonts out there.

/// HINT: SF DISTANT GALAXY & RUSSEL SQUARE <--- two fonts I've been using for this entire tutorial (from layout to final image composition).

Good luck!

After finding suitable font, your next job is manipulating it to your own will! Yes, but FIRST:

1. RASTERIZE, you won't be able to edit the text but you can play around with it
2. DUPLICATE in order to create some glowing effects manually to step 3...
3. FILTER --> BLUR --> GAUSSIAN BLUR for the glowing effects underneath it!
4. PAINT, optional but for being creative, GO FOR IT

Use either or combine these two brushes: [ Mapping Pen ] and [ Soft Airbrush ] so you can get the best results - authentic and unique as well!

Even you can try to use SHAPE:

[ FIGURE ] then choose any shapes you desired!

It can be rectangle, oval, anything as long as its great to be there as NEON SIGN.

/// TIPS: You can even use [ VECTOR LAYER ] before rasterize it. So you can edit its thickness, it's shape with points, etc.

Now it's your time to TRY and DECORATE YOUR CITY INTO THIS:

[ 6 ] /// C Y B E R S E L F

As promised, I'm using my photo as reference to be modified. Actually because time is running out, I don't have enough luxury to show you the entire body changing into Cyberpunk Character with Military Grade equipment.

I admit, I took a lot of time to finalize the first character design and I did this image only 20 minutes from the video capture straight to Clip Studio Paint.

[ Filter ] --> [ Effect ] --> [ Artistic ] will be my best friend for quick character concept art with my personal photo. I know it's NOT the best method but it's a prove of simple and quick turnaround just to get things done as a speed painting!

I play and stick with [ COLORS ] only sliders. I don't do lines since it will mess things up.

So just leave the lines, you can focus onto [ COLOR ONLY ] adjustments. Of course it's depending on your own picture, mine is a bit dark, so I increase the density of colors with [ Screen ] blending mode then merge it down before using the filter.

OK! Now I'm using [ DESIGN PENCIL ] as my first and foremost Sub-Tool! By clicking onto nearest bluish color, I continue to create the blue lights reflected onto my right arm. Then continuing with slightly skin colors and a bit of metallic shading.

You either need to have reference from other sources or just like me; doodling it away to create the robotic joints into my arm. Glowing parts, numbers, and any elements of Cybertech.

The only tip I can give to you: LOOK AT MORE references while drawing. Having three monitors at the same time will be my best assets to assist my workflow, but not everyone has the capability of doing so.

Books, movies, screenshots. Use the knowledge and everything wisely.

H U D Glass will be my 'shortcut' to add into the picture as I'm wearing sunglasses everyday and I was hoping that my real life glasses here can have the H.U.D with hi-tech interfaces all over it.

In order to do that, simply:

1. Create [ New Raster Layer ] and fill it with cyan color
2. Change the [ Blending Mode: Overlay or Add Glow ] or lower its [ Opacity to 50% ]
3. Create another [ New Raster Layer ] on top of the first layer
4. Install those things you wish to be there with creativity!

As always, in between [ Mapping Pen ] and [ Soft Airbrush ] can help you get things done!

You've learn how to use [ Airbrush: Droplet ] before? Then you can create those flying particles away onto the backdrop of your photo.

Now, it's nearly done...

This is a bit tricky part, as I've been using the help from [ Ruler ] and [ Special Ruler ] in order to enhance the boring background a bit with some kind of different textures: not only droplets and dusts, but also LINES!

Take a look on image below:

Using Sub-Tool: [ DECORATION ] and go to [ HATCHING ] tab, you can find [ DIAGONAL LINES ] and I use it to create those straight lines with the ruler on. So everything's going to be straight, no misaligned, it's perfect to create quick effects.

Finally, with the [ Soft Airbrush ] and also [ CHANGE THE BLENDING MODE: ADD GLOW ] you can have them looks as its from the infamous game when you enter the DATA WORLD.

Yes, I am unable to mention it furthermore, but hope you get the idea. :)

And that's it!

[ 7 ] /// Outro

Thank you for the time and also patience to read until this far. I hope you can learn something along the way and might pick anything useful to your own knowledge, tricks, tips, and please feel free to share and express your thoughts or feelings onto the comment below!

Have a safe & safety as always, dear people of Clip Studio Paint World!

[ ... /// TRANSMISSION OUT \\\ ... ]


I check the [ VIDEO TIPS ] from PROCESS.



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