Painting a Paladin

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In this tutorial, I will be using various Clip Studio Paint techniques to create a painting of a classic fantasy paladin.

1. Set up 3d drawing figure with prop

Clip Studio comes with 3D drawing figures by default, and the Assets database has a large variety of props to make the reference even more complete.

In the folders menu, navigate to 3D > Body Type and pick a drawing figure.

In the tool menu on the left, you can select from one of many presets, which serves as a great starting point especially if you’re doing a character piece or portrait. Just below, you can also find a lot of adjustments for the size and proportions of the figure. Adjust these based on what kind of character you will be drawing.

At this stage I want to bring in a spear, so I bring in a prop from Clip Studio Assets. There’s a ton of different 3D models, but it’s not always possible to find the exact thing you’re looking for, although this was pretty close. I just have to download the spear and drag it into the scene.

2. Draw character on top of 3d drawing figure

After some adjustments to the body, including adjusting the height and build, I have a more adult warrior type looking man. The pose was tweaked to my liking simply through clicking on a section of the body and moving it around with either the move or rotate tool.

Lower the opacity of the reference layer and use it as reference to quickly and accurately set up the base figure. Use Shift+Brush to draw a straight line for the spear, for example.

3. Draw armor using layer mask

Using the body sketch as a base, draw armor on top. At this point I recommend finding some photo references of real armor as well as fantasy armor in paintings.

I use layer masks to hide parts of base character or other parts of outfit. That way you don’t have to re-draw parts if you move or change them, just the mask. Click on the layer mask icon to add a mask, then you can fill or paint parts of it with the transparent color (under the foreground/background color in the color picker) to make parts of the drawing layer transparent. I use this to hide the spear behind the character.

Here’s a comparison of the base figure and the armor on top.

Before I start painting, I use the layer mask again to put down a base color for the character, separately from the background. What I do is fill the whole layer with the base color, then use the layer mask again, and use the Fill tool to fill transparent color ‘outside’ the character, resulting in the base color only inside the character.

4. Color with gradients

After I fill in the base color, I think about the light direction so I can start laying down some shadows and colors as well. For this painting, the main light will be coming from the right, with a weaker light from the left.

First, create custom gradients that match the colors for your metal of choice. Most armor tends to be a silver or steel, which means a mix of blueish and grayish colors, though you could go with copper or gold as well. Use the advanced settings in the Gradient tool to create your own gradients and makes sure to save them.

Using the lasso and polygon lasso tools, select different areas of armor and apply the gradient tool in the direction from shadow to light. You may need to reverse the gradient depending on how you’re applying it, which you can do in the Edit gradient window next to the delete button.

Clip the gradient to the base layer created earlier. For long shapes such as the shield, I use a Straight line gradient shape, but for rounded armor parts it makes more sense to use the Circle shape.

This is the result after filling in all the different sections with gradients.

5. Paint in base metal

After laying down the colors, I use a reference with similar lighting to paint in the details. It’s easy to get the color variations I need using the eyedropper to pick out different parts of the gradient colors that I laid down in the previous step.

I only use the basic round watercolor brush for this. When I want to blend, I paint on the same layer, and when I want a sharp edge or strong highlight, I add another layer on top.

6. Add textures with layer blend modes

Adding chain mail texture with layer mode set to overlay or soft light, then painting on top. You can use any texture that you have permission to use online, but for this one I actually made my own in 3D software. Erase the extra parts of the texture or use a layer mask, and paint some soft highlights on top so the texture doesn’t look too flat.

7. Add finishing touches with clip studio assets

Since this is a paladin, I wanted him to look more ‘holy’, so I will be adding a glowing mist to the background. Using a textured watercolor brush, I painted with a white color on top of a black color with the layer blend mode set to ‘glow dodge’. Put this layer above the background but behind the character.

I thought the character could use a little more magic, so I used the Sparkle A effect to add a few dots here and there. I also increase the contrast slightly in the final image to really make the character stand out.

8. Final Result

And that’s it! Hopefully you found this helpful, if you did feel free to check out my other tutorial on how to draw a cyberpunk character! And i you'd like to see more of my art, follow me on twitter or instagram @gracezhuart where I'll be sharing WIPs and future tutorials.