Atom Eve has red hair and no black outlines

3 Ways To Color Lineart (Color Hold/Knock Out a Color)

What you want to do here is change the lineart color. That’s also know as a color hold. Or, if you prefer, knocking out a color. Basically, you want the easiest way to color in the black lines so they look like another color other than the black you originally drew them with.

You’ve seen this in action since Disney movies thirty years ago. You’ve seen in in J. Scott Campbell’s work. You see it in every cartoon today. How do they get the black lines to be in color? Do they use different colored pens to ink the lines?

You could zoom way far into your line and pick a very small brush and painstakingly fill in the black areas with a new color of your choice.

But that would be silly. Clip Studio Paint has three tools that can help you automate this process.

Technique #1: Clip At Layer Below

The first tool is called “Clip At Layer Below.”  It’s a mouthful, but it’s very handy.

With this method, you’ll be able to change the line art to all the colors you can imagine.

Click on your inks layer where the black lines you want to knock out reside.

Click the NEW Layer button, or make a claw shape with your right hand and mash down on SHIFT-CMD-N. Same thing either way. That’ll create a new layer just above the inks. For later sanity’s sake, you might want to give that layer a name now before we get ahead of ourselves. Click on the text in there and type your new name.  I usually go with “Holds”.

Clip Studio Paint Clip At Layer Below

So long as your new layer is selected, click the little icon at the top that looks like two foreshortened circles on top of each other.  If you hold your cursor over it, the tool tip will show you “Clip At Layer Below.”

What does that do? It makes it so that this layer will only draw on things that are on the layer below it, basically. In this case, it’ll only draw over the linework. Now you can color in your lines and not worry about about those new colors landing anywhere else.

The lines you’re making are still happening, but unless they appear over the marks on the previous layer, you won’t see them.  If you turn off the Clip At Layer Below button, you can see all the lines you made that the “Clip” button hid away on you.

Super simple, super powerful.

Warning: It’s important that you isolate your line work in its own layer for this to work.  If you also colored stuff inside the lines on that same layer, your “Holds” layer will paint over those colors, too.  It’ll paint over ANY marks made on the layer directly below it.

Extra tip: You can use more than one color on your hold.  I didn’t do it here so I didn’t distract from the tutorial, but I have used brighter and darker colors in the hold to help approximate the lighting situation.

Bonus Exercise: After you hold the hair, the black lines around the face are going to stick out.  As will the nose.  Now you’ll be wanting to hold those lines, too.  It’s a vicious cycle…

Summing It Up

  • Click on Inks layer
  • Create New Layer
  • Click “Clip At Layer Below” button.
  • Color your lines

Technique #2: Lock Transparent Pixels

This is a simpler version of the above, but it also works on the same layer. The colors you’re about to lay down will happen on the original lineart.

Be sure you have the lineart layer selected that you want to color in. Then, just above the list of layers, click on the button that looks like a checkerboard pattern with a lock in front of it. That’s the “Lock Transparent Pixels” tool

The Lock Transparent Pixels tool in Clip Studio Paint

That locks down all the transparent pixels on the layer so you can’t touch them. Whatever you draw next will only apply to places on the layer where there is lineart. This allows you to color in the line art by coloring right over it.

This is useful if you want to use a variety of colors for your lineart, but it’s also relatively simple to take a really large brush and draw over the layer’s line art, too.

If you want to set everything back to the black lineart you started from, you can hit Undo a bunch of times, or you can just pull out a black brush/pen (or use whatever the original lineart’s color was) and color the lines back in.

Do NOT click the Lock Transparent Pixels button again to erase it. That will only expose all the brush strokes you made. They’re easy enough to erase, but I think you’d be surprised at what you see.

Technique #3: Adjust the Lineart Layer

With this method, all the lineart on a single layer will change immediately to a new color of your choosing. If you were planning to do something with more finesse, more shades of a single color, etc., then this way won’t work for you.

If you just want to change all your line art on this layer from jet black to a lighter gray or perhaps something like a non-reproducible blue, then this is the way to go.

First, select the layer with all the lineart on it.

Change Layer Color tool above the layers list

Then, use the tool helpfully named “Change Layer Color”. It looks like two overlapping squares with an up and down chevron next to it. It’s just above the list of layers.

If you click on the squares, it’ll change the lineart color to the color you see on that tool selector.

If you want a different color, click on one of those chevrons and select the “Layer Color” option.

The color selector tool of Clip Studio Paint

That will cause a color selector to appear. That’s where you can decide which color to change all that lineart into. It has all the tools in it that you need to get the right color, from a color wheel to a color square to saved palettes, HEX numbers, etc. The works!

Pick a color and click the “OK” button and your lineart will magically change.

Image of the Elixir Drop before color layer adjustment in Clip Studio Paint
Image of the Elixir Drop after color layer adjustment in Clip Studio Paint

Now you can have characters with red hair that doesn’t have a black outline around it, or detail work that you don’t want people to focus on blend in better with the rest of the art. Or you can just make your goofy cartoon drawing look like it was done in a classic animator’s blue pencil.

Credit: The drawing at the top of this article is of Atom Eve from “Invincible,” a character who is likely (C) and (TM) Robert Kirkman.

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  1. I guess if you were inking vector style, you could change the line colour that way but that’s tricky with overlaps. Do you prefer inking on a raster layer or a vector layer? I’m in love with the vector eraser so I tend to ink with vectors.
    Also, any plans to discuss aligning objects in CS? There’s no simple way (that I can see) like in Photoshop or Illustrator and I use those alignment tools A LOT.

    1. I haven’t played much with vectors yet, to be honest. I’ve been doing everything on raster layers, aside from obvious things like text/balloons stuff which is vector only. (Until you want to manipulate it more and so you rasterize it and– well, that’s a tutorial for another time. )
      Vectors are on my list of things to play with and learn, but right now it’s not on the plan. Sorry to say.
      The one thing that frustrates me the most with CSP is that it isn’t Illustrator. There are a number of features missing from CSP from AI that would help it greatly. I have a list I will share someday. But I’m always experimenting and trying to find the best way to mimic those things. Alignment is one of them. Haven’t cracked the nut yet, but I’m trying.
      Stay tuned — you never know what might come next. And neither do I. 😉

      1. I find vector inking to be smoother (personal preference) and I like being able to adjust the vector points slightly when needed without erasing and redrawing. Also, resizing the image to any resolution.
        The best way I could find to align things is the grid option. Turn on grid and align to that. Not perfect but it’ll do in a pinch. Perhaps sharing that list of points will be good. Other people may have found ways around things. I really hope they attend to the align tools soon.
        Enjoying the site, always good to learn!

          1. Yeah it does. You can turn off or set the level of smoothing as well, in case you like the effect of drawing on a boat during a storm. Plus, the ability to go in afterwards and shift vector points around rather than erasing and redrawing the guilty lines is a massive time saver (to me, at least). If you’re used to Illustrator’s vector inking, it’s not AS intuitive as Illustrator but they’ll hopefully build on it. Let me know what you think. I’m keen to get other opinions, I just went straight for the vector inks, haven’t tried the raster inks.

  2. Great article, so glad I found it.
    There’s another way to do it, which is to click the icon 4 over from the one you circled up top, it’s a small lock next to an image of the colorless background, if that makes sense. Just click that on the your Outline Inks layer and start painting. It’ll only paint on the areas of that layer that already have paint on it. I usually just duplicate my inks layer (so that I have a full black ink layer, just in case) and paint on the dupe.

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