As any artist knows, having experience in a range of media can open up new avenues of expression and allow you to explore new techniques and concepts.
Let’s look at how traditional painting techniques can be combined with digital art techniques using graphics software Clip Studio Paint to create a detailed and lively painting. In his previous illustration series on Japanese landscapes, including “Scenes of Japan” and “Tokyo at Night,” artist Mateusz Urbanowicz used watercolor, colored pencils and pen to create scenes of Japan. For his latest series, “City in Paint,” the artist turned to digital painting in order to capture details of the atmosphere, such as the play of light and temperature. The flexibility and control of digital tools helped Mateusz explore this new concept.
To create this illustration, Mateusz used Clip Studio Paint, a drawing and painting app designed with artists in mind. Clip Studio Paint is available for macOS, Windows, iPad, Android, and even smartphones, so you can draw and paint wherever you are, whether in the studio or on the go.
Clip Studio Paint Step by Step
To begin the illustration, Mateusz sketches out a thumbnail draft on paper, then scans the draft and imports it to Clip Studio Paint.
Mateusz creates a refined sketch over the imported pencil sketch, using the Colored Pencil default tool. This tool has a pencil-like texture and pressure sensitivity, so you can draw while varying the stroke thickness and density, just like you would with a normal pencil.
While sketching, Mateusz draws on different layers, adjusting the opacity of each layer, and edits the layers independently to see how each element fits on the page. When the sketch is finished, the layers are merged.
Then Mateusz adds the final pencil lines, using the same pencil toolset in a smaller size for detailed areas.
After lowering the opacity of the rough sketch layer, Mateusz sketches on top of it. Once the final lines are done, the sketch layers can be hidden.
Next, Mateusz blocks in the values under the sketch using a custom thick paintbrush. Although this value sketch won’t be used in the final artwork, it is an important step for checking the composition and lighting concept.
This gouache-style brush allows you to build up pigment and blend naturally like traditional paints.
For the next stages, Mateusz paints each element of the artwork separately, while referring back to the value sketch. He starts off by blocking out the base color, then painting the details on top.
While working on each element, Mateusz uses clipping layers. These bind the painting area within the area painted on the layer below and prevent overflow.
Once the base painting is finished, he works on separate layers to paint the atmosphere and make delicate adjustments. On the buildings, he uses blue and brown tones for the shadows to keep them neutral, then adds an air layer for a smokey city effect.
For difficult-to-see overlapping sections, he blocks out the shape in a bold color, then uses edit tools to change it to the final desired color.
Although drawing software might tempt you to use hundreds of brushes for different effects, Mateusz uses just three to four brushes, switching between tools as necessary. A pencil tool for sketches, a gouache-inspired brush tool for painting, and a pen tool for small details are enough to create this bright illustration while keeping a painterly feel.
Using the timelapse feature in Clip Studio Paint, you can even record a process video of your artwork from start to finish. Check out the full video of Mateusz’s process with his commentary!
Why not try adding digital art to your creative practice?
Painting digitally allows you to focus on the atmosphere and the details of your artwork. By using layers, you can adjust the shadows, lighting, and depth, even if you change your mind at a late stage of your painting. Parts of your artwork can be kept on separate layers and edited later, allowing you greater freedom over your composition.
Meanwhile, the natural blending and pen pressure sensitivity of Clip Studio Paint means that you can still paint in a loose, organic style while enjoying the benefits of digital painting. You can also easily incorporate aspects of traditional art, such as scanning pencil sketches or even creating custom digital brushes from traditional paint swatches.
Whether you prefer to draw from scratch digitally or combine traditional and digital techniques, Clip Studio Paint is a great addition to any artist’s toolkit.
Try Clip Studio Paint for up to 3 months free on your preferred device, whether Mac, Windows, iPad, Android, or smartphone.
Sketchbook: MD paper cotton sketchbook
Pencils: Blackwing pencils
Software: Clip Studio Paint PRO
Drawing tablet: Wacom Intuos Pro M
Desktop computer: Mac MINI M1 16GB
About the Artist
Mateusz Urbanowicz is a Polish watercolor and digital painting artist working in Tokyo, Japan. Known for his “Tokyo Storefronts” watercolor artbook, Mateusz also works as a background artist for awarding-winning animated movies such as “Your Name.”
You can find the brushes used for this painting here.