10 Tips for Better Character Design in Clip Studio
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Research your character
  2. Sketch out ideas
  3. Use reference images
  4. Create a character sheet
  5. Use the right tools
  6. Experiment with shapes and sizes
  7. Consider the character's background and personality
  8. Play with colors and textures
  9. Revise and refine your design
  10. Get feedback on your character design

Whether you're just starting out or looking to improve your digital art skills, getting better at character design in Clip Studio Paint can open up new possibilities for your creative projects. This software offers a host of features that can help you turn your ideas into fully realized characters. But, as with any tool, mastering it takes practice and a bit of know-how. That's why we've put together this list of 10 practical tips to help you get the most out of your character design process in Clip Studio Paint. So, let's dive right in, shall we?

Research your character

The first step in designing a character is getting to know who they are. This might seem obvious, but it's easy to skip this step and jump straight into sketching. However, spending some time doing a little research can pay off in spades later on. Here's what you can do:

  • Study the genre: Is your character from a fantasy world, a sci-fi universe, or a slice of life story? Each genre has its own conventions and understanding these can help guide your design decisions.
  • Understand their role: A protagonist might need to be more memorable and detailed compared to a side character. Similarly, a villain might have certain traits that make them stand out.
  • Know their personality: Is your character shy, outgoing, quirky, serious? Their personality can influence everything from their clothing style to their posture.
  • Consider their background: A character's history and environment can greatly influence their appearance. Someone who grew up in a desert environment, for example, would have a very different look compared to someone from a bustling city.

By taking the time to research your character, you're not only setting a solid foundation for your design, but you're also setting yourself up for success in the later stages of the process. Remember, getting better at character design in Clip Studio Paint isn't just about mastering the software—it's also about understanding who you're bringing to life on the screen.

Sketch out ideas

Once you've done your research, it's time to let your imagination run wild. Sketching out ideas is a key part of the character design process, and Clip Studio Paint offers some fantastic tools to help you with this. Start with rough sketches—don't worry about getting things perfect at this stage. Your goal should be to explore different shapes, poses, expressions, and clothing options. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Use various poses and angles: Try to capture your character in different poses and from different angles. This can help you understand their three-dimensional form and how they move.
  • Focus on their key features: What are the defining characteristics of your character? Is it their hairstyle, their clothing, their body shape? Sketching out these features can help bring your character to life.
  • Play with proportions: Experiment with different proportions to see what works best for your character. Maybe they have a larger-than-life personality that's reflected in their exaggerated features, or perhaps they're more down-to-earth and have more realistic proportions.
  • Keep it loose: Don't get too caught up in the details at this stage. Keep your sketches loose and fluid. You can always refine them later.

Remember, the goal of this stage is to explore and experiment. Don't be afraid to make mistakes—that's part of the process. The more you sketch, the closer you'll come to finding the perfect design for your character. And, of course, the more you practice, the better you'll get at character design in Clip Studio Paint. So grab your stylus and start sketching!

Use reference images

Another step towards getting better at character design in Clip Studio Paint is to make use of reference images. These can be anything that inspires you—photos, illustrations, or even objects in the world around you. Here's how you can use them effectively:

  • Study the details: When you're looking at your reference image, don't just glance at it. Take the time to really study it. Notice the small details that make the image unique. This could be the way the light hits a certain object, the texture of a material, or the subtle colors in a landscape.
  • Use them for inspiration, not duplication: Reference images should serve as a guide, not a blueprint. The goal isn't to copy the image exactly, but to take inspiration from it. Maybe you love the way a certain fabric drapes in a photo, or the expression on a character's face in a movie still. Use these elements as a starting point for your own unique design.
  • Collect a variety of images: Don't limit yourself to just one type of image. The more diverse your collection of reference images, the more ideas you'll have to draw from. Try to include a mix of photos, illustrations, textures, and colors in your reference library.

Remember, reference images are there to help you, not hinder your creativity. They're a tool you can use to enrich your designs and make them more realistic and detailed. So next time you're working on a character design in Clip Studio Paint, why not try incorporating some reference images? You might be surprised at the difference they can make.

Create a character sheet

Once you've got a solid idea of your character, it's time to start creating a character sheet. Think of this as your character's identity card—it's where you'll record all the information about them, from their physical characteristics to their personality traits. Here's what to include when creating a character sheet in Clip Studio Paint:

  1. Physical attributes: What does your character look like? Include details about their height, build, hair color, eye color, and any distinguishing features. It's also a good idea to draw your character from different angles to get a complete picture of their appearance.
  2. Personality traits: Is your character shy or outgoing? Are they serious or fun-loving? Make a list of their key personality traits and think about how these might influence their actions and reactions.
  3. Background information: Where does your character come from? What's their family like? Do they have any hobbies or special skills? This background information can help add depth to your character and make them more believable.

By creating a detailed character sheet, you'll have a handy reference to turn to whenever you need to remember a detail about your character. Plus, it's an excellent way to keep your character consistent throughout your story or game, which is an essential part of getting better at character design in Clip Studio Paint.

Use the right tools

Just like a carpenter needs a good set of tools to build a house, an artist needs the right tools to create compelling characters. And when it comes to character design in Clip Studio Paint, there's a whole toolbox waiting for you to explore.

First off, you'll need to get familiar with the painting tools. These include pens, pencils, brushes, and erasers. Each tool has its own unique properties and can be customized to suit your style. For instance, you can adjust the brush size, opacity, and blending mode to achieve different effects.

Next, let's talk about layers. Layers are like transparent sheets stacked on top of each other. You can draw on each layer separately, which makes it easier to make changes without affecting the rest of your drawing. You can use layers to separate different parts of your character, like their clothes, hair, and skin.

Finally, don't forget about the selection tools. These tools allow you to select specific areas of your drawing to move, resize, or transform. You can use them to tweak your character's proportions, adjust their pose, or experiment with different styles.

Mastering these tools is a key step towards getting better at character design in Clip Studio Paint. So take your time to learn how they work and practice using them regularly. Remember, it's not just about having the right tools—it's about knowing how to use them effectively.

Experiment with shapes and sizes

Have you ever noticed how different shapes can evoke different emotions? A character with a round, soft shape might come off as friendly and approachable, while a character with sharp, angular shapes might seem more intimidating. This is why it's important to experiment with shapes and sizes when designing your characters in Clip Studio Paint.

Start by sketching out your character using simple, basic shapes. Don't worry about the details yet—just focus on getting the overall shape right. Try different combinations of shapes and see how they change the character's personality.

For example, you might start with a circle for the head, a rectangle for the body, and triangles for the arms and legs. Then, you can adjust the size and shape of these elements to make your character look taller, shorter, thinner, or bulkier. You can even play with the proportions to create a stylized character.

Once you're happy with the basic shape, you can start adding more details, like the facial features, clothing, and accessories. Remember to keep experimenting with shapes and sizes until you find a design that fits your character's personality.

Experimenting with shapes and sizes is a fun and effective way of getting better at character design in Clip Studio Paint. It pushes you to think outside the box and create unique, memorable characters. So don't be afraid to shake things up and try something new—you might be surprised by what you come up with!

Consider the character's background and personality

Imagine you're meeting someone for the first time. You'd probably want to know more about them, right? Their likes, dislikes, where they come from, and what their story is. It's the same with designing a character in Clip Studio Paint.

Every character has a story. And this story— their background and personality— should be reflected in their design. From the clothes they wear to the way they carry themselves, every detail matters.

Let's say you're designing a character who's a seasoned detective. How would you show that through their design? Maybe they wear a trench coat, have a stern expression, or always carry a magnifying glass. These details can tell a lot about who they are and what they do.

On the other hand, if your character is a bubbly and outgoing teenager, their design might be entirely different. Bright colors, trendy clothes, and a cheerful expression could be the way to go.

So, when designing a character, take some time to think about their background and personality. Write down their story, their traits, their quirks—everything that makes them who they are. And then, incorporate these details into their design. It's a surefire way of getting better at character design in Clip Studio Paint, and it will make your characters feel real and relatable.

Play with colors and textures

Remember when you were a kid and you'd get a new box of crayons? The excitement of seeing all those colors and the endless possibilities they represented? Designing characters in Clip Studio Paint can be just as much fun, especially when you start playing with colors and textures.

Color can say so much about a character. Red might represent passion or anger, while blue can suggest calmness or sadness. Green could stand for nature or envy, and so on. So, think about what your character's colors might say about them. Are they fiery and passionate? Cool and collected? Earthy and grounded? The right colors can help convey this.

Then, there are textures. A character dressed in rough, worn-out clothes will feel different than one in smooth, shiny armor. So, consider what kind of textures would suit your character. Are they rugged and outdoorsy? Sleek and futuristic? Cozy and homely? The textures you use can help to communicate this.

And the best part? Clip Studio Paint comes with a vast range of color palettes and texture brushes for you to play with. So, don't be afraid to experiment. Try different combinations, see what works and what doesn't. After all, part of getting better at character design in Clip Studio Paint is about being willing to take risks and try new things.

Revise and Refine Your Design

Great character design is rarely a one-and-done deal. More often than not, it's a process of revision and refinement. Think of it as sculpting: you start with a rough block (your initial idea) and gradually chip away at it, shaping and smoothing it until you get your final piece (your completed character).

Clip Studio Paint's multitude of tools can aid you in this refinement process. Maybe your character's eyes need to be a bit larger, or their posture a bit more imposing. Perhaps the color scheme doesn't quite match their personality, or the texture of their clothing needs some adjustment. Even small changes can make a big difference, and the more you revise, the more you'll find yourself getting better at character design in Clip Studio Paint.

Remember, though, that revision doesn't mean endlessly tinkering until your character is "perfect". After all, perfection can be subjective, and what one person loves, another might not. Instead, aim for a design that feels right to you, that embodies your character and tells their story in the way you want it to be told.

So, go ahead and refine your design. Experiment with different elements, try new approaches, and don't be afraid to make changes. After all, every revision is a step towards creating a character that's truly unique and truly yours.

Get Feedback on Your Character Design

Alright, you've completed your character design in Clip Studio Paint, and you're pretty proud of it. But before you call it a day, there's one more step that can help you in getting better at character design: getting feedback.

Sharing your work with others can provide fresh perspectives and new insights. Maybe someone will notice a detail that you overlooked, or suggest a change that takes your design to a whole new level. It's all about harnessing the power of collective wisdom and using it to refine your skills.

So, where can you find people to critique your work? Well, you could show your design to your friends and family, or share it on social media. Or, you could join online communities of artists and designers for more professional feedback. Clip Studio Paint also has a thriving user community where you can share your work and get feedback from fellow users.

Remember, not all feedback will be positive, and that's okay. Constructive criticism is an invaluable tool for growth. It's not about pleasing everyone, it's about learning and improving. So, take each critique with an open mind, see what you can learn from it, and use that knowledge to keep getting better at character design in Clip Studio Paint.

With these tips in your toolbox, you're ready to create characters that are as unique, intriguing, and dynamic as the stories they inhabit. So go ahead, start designing, and let your creativity take flight!

If you enjoyed these tips for better character design in Clip Studio and want to further improve your skills, don't miss out on Rory Duke Stewart's workshop, 'Drawing Compelling Expressions in Character Design.' This workshop will teach you how to create expressive, dynamic characters that truly connect with your audience. Dive deeper into character design and take your art to the next level!