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Russ Cox, a member of the KidLitGN team, is kicking off day four of our pitch event countdown with tips on Clip Studio plus a chance to win a 12-month license for CLIP STUDIO PAINT EX, a value of $219 (see here for more details) . Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win. Thank you, Russ!

Hello, and thanks for joining our KidLitGN Blog. I am asked at school visits how I create my graphic novels. The answer is simple: I use Clip Studio (EX edition). Here’s a quick rundown on a few of the many reasons why:

I prefer Clip Studio over Photoshop and other software because of its ease of use. A book can be created in Clip Studio without exporting it to other software for layout purposes. For example, when I worked on a dummy for a book that I wrote, I sketched out all of the pages in CS. With the Page Manager setting, I can set up my pages as spreads or individual pages and set page size, bleeds, page numbers, etc. This saves so much time from having to jump between software. I can also export the completed print-ready books as a pdf.

The Sub View window allows you to keep your characters and colors consistent. You can sample the colors right off the window by simply importing the images, pallets, and characters you are using, a time saver!  

I also like CS for its natural drawing look. It’s made for illustration and comics. The software has a flow more in line with traditional media, coming with an array of tools to use. You can also import Photoshop brushes and find an assortment of free brushes on CS website. Many of the well-known digital brush makers are now creating brushes for the software. Building illustrations and comics in layers helps me go back and tweak anything down the road. I am now using CS for my picture books too.  

One of my favorite time-saving features is the speech bubble tool. With this tool, you can create a variety of speech bubbles and tails in a matter of seconds. If you want to keep your look consistent, this will do the trick. You click on the tool icon, draw the basic tape, add the tail, and done. Like working in vector software, you can click on the bubble and modify it to the desired shape. I cannot comment enough on how I love this feature.  

Clip Studio has many of the same layer features as Photoshop, Affinity Photo, and others. If you’re thinking about the learning curve, it will not take you long to get up and running. I watched a few tutorials to locate where certain things were, but was using the software in no time.

I could go on and on about the other merits of Clip Studio. For me, it’s the best option out there. Great support, online tutorials, a variety of brushes and tools, and they are continuously improving it. Go to this link for a free trial of Clip Studio:

Time to get back to my book creating!

Meet Russ

Russ Cox was raised by a pack of crazed hillbillies in the backwoods of Tennessee. Without much in the way of modern conveniences, like television or running water, he spent his time drawing, whittling, and throwing dirt clods at his cousins. With the bulk of his life spent in Pennsylvania, he met his wife; became a graphic designer; played in punk, alternative, and surf bands; had two kids; and started his own illustration studio, Smiling Otis Studio (named after one of their enormous cats). 

Russ creates his art using digital software, primarily Clip Studio and other digital tools. He works in traditional mediums, often with a mixture of paper, pencil, pen & ink, gouache, and watercolor. 

Russ lives in Maine with his wife and three cats. Follow Russ on his site:, on Instagram:, on Facebook:, or on Twitter @

Russ has arranged for a lucky reader to receive a  CLIP STUDIO PAINT EX-12-month license for 1 device (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android), a value of $219. Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win:

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