Although I strive to keep my digital setup as simple as possible, I’ve found that there’s no single program that meets all my needs.
Clip Studio Paint
This is a fully equipped visual artist’s studio in digital form, and it makes drawing, coloring, and painting genuine pleasures.
The brushes respond beautifully to the touch, and the brush engine is extraordinarily powerful. In fact, it adds what seems like a million potential tweaks to every brush. And that enables me to either customize existing brushes to my exact needs, or create unique brushes from scratch.
Changing brushes, and changing brush size and opacity on the fly, is a breeze.
Selecting colors, or selecting variations of a particular color (hue, value, or blends), is a simple process and very visual.
Overall the program is totally immersive and a delight to use.
I use it for all my preliminary brainstorming sketches, layouts, line work, and value and color studies. It is an invaluable aid in refining my ideas to the stage where I’m ready to begin painting in earnest.
Link to software: Clip Studio Paint
Here is where I do the bulk of my painting. Painter allows an artist to emulate real-world brush strokes like no other software.
I start by transferring a finely detailed line drawing from Clip Studio Paint, and then begin painting over it. For reference, I keep the value and color studies I previously created in Clip Studio Paint close at hand.
I use a set of customized camel hair brushes exclusively, slowly building up form, tone, and color with multitudes of overlapping, semi-transparent brush strokes. This painting stage takes quite some time to complete.
Link to software: Corel Painter
Lazy Nezumi Pro
This strangely named but extraordinary program boasts a unique and powerful brush stabilizer. In addition, it has an impressive collection of drawing guides. The guide I use the most often is the perspective ruler.
Although Clip Studio Paint has a built-in perspective ruler, I find the Lazy Nezumi Pro version provides more flexibility and power.
Link to software: Lazy Nezumi Pro
This small program overlays the digital canvas with adjustable grids.
These grids are variations on the classic Golden Ratio proportions and are most helpful when I’m in the brainstorming and layout phases.
Link to software: PhiMatrix