Water Ripples

Water Ripples

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Hello! My name is Liz Staley and I’m a long-time user of Clip Studio Paint (I started using the program back when it was known as Manga Studio 4!). I was a beta-tester on the Manga Studio 5 program and for Clip Studio Paint, and I have written three books and several video courses about the program. Many of you probably know my name from those books, in fact. I write weekly posts on Graphixly.com and on CSP Tips, so be sure to come back every week to learn more Clip Studio Tips and Tricks from me!

I had so much fun painting and writing about water last week that I thought we should do some more water this week too. This time, let’s paint some beautiful water ripples. These can be the basis of an illustration of rain falling onto puddles or a pond, or show characters throwing rocks into water, or whatever else you may need a water ripple for!

In this article we will cover the following topics:

Painting a Water Ripple

Let’s dive right in!



Painting a Water Ripple


To start off, I created a canvas and put down a base gradient layer. I used a radial gradient with light blue in the middle and darker blue around the edges.



To keep the shape of our water ripple consistent we’ll be using a Concentric Circle ruler. To find this ruler, click on the Ruler icon in the toolbox, then select Special Ruler from the Sub Tool window. Finally, in the Tool Property window select “Concentric Circle” from the Special Ruler dropdown menu.


On a new, empty layer, click and drag with the ruler tool to create the shape you want for your ripples. The size of the ruler won’t matter, because the Concentric Circle ruler allows us to make circles that are, well, concentric! So each circle we draw with the ruler will be centered on the same point.



Because we’ll be using a few layers to paint our ripples, we want to be able to see and use this ruler while on a layer that the ruler isn’t on. To do this, we simply have to click the “Set ruler range” icon in the Layer palette and set it to “Show in All Layers”. This icon is shown in the red box in the screenshot below.



Before we start painting our water ripple, we need to select the brush we want to use and then double-check that our “Snap to Special Ruler” icon is active. The Snap To Ruler icons can be found in the top bag of CSP, beneath the menu bar but above the area where your canvas displays normally. There are three of these icons, “Snap to Ruler”, “Snap to Special Ruler” and “Snap to Grid”. The Concentric Ruler is a special ruler, so make sure this icon is turned on for the tool we want to use.



Speaking of tools, what you use to create your ripple will depend on the look you’re going for. I’m going for something with a little bit of texture, so I’ll be using the Watercolor Blend soft brush from the Graphixly Superhero Brush Pack (which is becoming my favorite set of brushes ever!)



However, this particular brush isn’t automatically set up to respond to pen pressure for the brush size, so each stroke is the same width the entire way across despite how hard or soft the stylus is pressed. But that’s alright because we can adjust this in the Tool Property window.

To the right of the Brush Size slider is a button with a downward arrow. Click this to open the Brush Size dynamics menu, then click the checkbox next to “Pen Pressure” to make your current brush tool pressure sensitive. This is a handy trick to know for whenever you’re working with tools that you didn’t make yourself!



Now it’s time to start painting. On a layer set to Multiply and with a darkish gray tone, make a few circles in the center of the ripple, making two opposing sides of the circles with thicker painted lines than the other two.These will be the starts of our shadows. Further out from the center of the ripple, paint some broken random lines. These are where the ripples start to dissipate and get weaker.



Next I’m choosing a dark blue color and, still on the same layer, adding some additional shading. I concentrate mainly on the areas of the ripples at the top and bottom of the ripple to suggest shadows and the light source.



I’m liking how the colors are placed, but now it’s time to blend these together to make it a bit more “watery”. Click the Blend tool in the toolbar, then make sure that the Blend subtool is selected.



This tool will make some beautiful blended colors, but there’s one issue at the moment - it won’t snap to our concentric ruler, even if the “Snap to Special Ruler” icon is active! So we’ll have to make a change to the tool quickly. Click on the “Show sub tool detail” icon (it looks like a small wrench) at the bottom right of the Tool Property palette.

In the left-hand menu of the Sub Tool Detail window, select the Correction options. Then locate the “Enable Snapping” checkbox and click it to turn the option on. This will make our blend tool snap to active rulers.



We can now blend our shadows while keeping them aligned with the concentric circle shapes. I blended a bit, then added some more darker areas and blended some more to make the shadows a bit deeper and add more contrast.



With our shadows blended a bit, it’s time to add highlights! Create a new layer and set the Blending Mode to Color Dodge. Because we set the ruler to show in all layers, the concentric circle ruler should still be visible when this new layer is active.



Using white, paint highlights between the areas of shadows and in a few other select areas. With Color Dodge as our blending mode, we can build the white highlight up in the center of our lighter areas.



Blend out the white areas a little bit. You can blend and then add more white back into the center. I made sure while blending my shadows and my highlights to keep a little bit of the texture of my painting brush in some areas instead of blending everything out smooth.



And here’s what the ripple looks like without the ruler showing in the image!



I even created two water ripples using two concentric circle rulers together.



When creating multiple water ripples, keep in mind that when ripples overlap they tend to cancel one another out, so make sure to break them up in the areas where they intersect.



This two-ruler method worked out alright, though I did have to activate and deactivate the rulers I wanted to use when switching from ripple to ripple, which was a little annoying.

I think if I was creating lots of water ripples on a large water surface, I would individually paint a few ripples of different sizes and then copy them randomly across the water, then use a soft eraser to adjust some of the intersecting areas.





These water ripples are beautiful and relatively easy to paint with a bit of know-how and by using the tools available in CSP. Happy drawing!

For more information on CLIP Studio Paint, please visit https://www.clipstudio.net/en or https://graphixly.com