Utilizing Blending Modes to Paint Hair - Clip Studio Paint Tutorial

Dec 25, 2022 • edited Dec 26, 2022

I wanted to create something special for Christmas, so I’ve come up with my first Clip Studio Paint tutorial. This is the technique I used to paint my latest piece of Violet Evergarden.

Disclaimer: This is a Layer Blending Mode tutorial rather than a hair painting tutorial, and therefore does not cover fundamentals of painting hair. If you are in need of filling the gap on fundamentals I recommend that you check out this tutorial by mint-tan.

Preparing Base Layer

It is generally standard to fill in the base color rather precisely with only one color, either using paint bucket or lasso tool. However, to truly take advantage of the layer blend mode technique, leave some gaps to take advantage of the paper color underneath. Alternatively, color pick the paper color (soft beige is recommended), and fill it up as part of the filled base. Select the Color Pencil brush from the Pencil section and switch between the lighter and darker base color of your choice to quickly block in the light and dark parts of the hair, instead of using only a singular color.

Defined Shadows Using “Difference” Layer Blend Mode

Pick the shaded color of choice and start applying it in areas opposite to the direction of the light source. The area where the gaps are visible will leave a color difference calculated from the paper’s beige color, instead of the chosen hair color, which creates a dual colored shading effect.

Here is an example of how it would work on different types of hair colors not just yellow. Mix and match colors and see what you like!

Subtle Shadows Using “Exclusion” Layer Blend Mode

For softer shading of a stronger color (ex. green on yellow), use Exclusion instead of Difference to lessen the intensity of the shading, and also chose a low opacity to imply the shade’s color.

Glow Dodge Time!

To accentuate the colors of the shadow, light is applied at the opposite side, usually light is best applied with the soft round airbrush from the airbrush section, with the Glow Dodge layer mode. Color Dodge can also serve as an alternative, with slightly different adjustments.


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. It’s rather simple, and you can instantly upgrade your hair painting in less than 5 mins in your next artwork! I am proud to have came up with the technique myself, but since there are so many artists in the world, I suppose it might have been invented by somebody else already. If you know any artists who abuse the Difference/ Exclusion blend mode, make sure to let me know! I’ll be happy to learn from them too. Until next time!

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