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How does the new Smear color mixing mode work? CLIP STUDIO PAINT adds Smear, better Surface touch gestures, multi-DPI support on Windows. Smaller file sizes? (Update 1.11.0)

Here’s an update that won’t affect everyone but has a little something for different pockets of users.

Hot on the heels of Dual Brush, the 2021 Fall Update for Clip Studio Paint was released on September 28, 2021, and adds even more brush engine features: a new “smear” mixing mode which now allows color mixing for dual brushes.

Merge selected layers can now merge non-consecutive layers.

It also includes separate interface improvements on Windows, MacOS and iOS/Android.

Something that should affect everyone is their improvement of the file format. Clip Studio Paint (.clip) files should now be smaller compared to previous versions—but I’m not sure under what circumstances.

There were also a number of important fixes to crashes, and the usual minor fixes to bugs here and there.

See the details below.

Smear Mixing Mode

Clip Studio Paint originally had two brush mixing modes: Blend (which picks the average color under the brush and applies it to your active color) and Running color (which applies a blur filter to the pixels under the brush, and also takes copies of the region of pixels under the brush). Both are different ways of smoothing away hard edges when you paint over them.

Using either of these mixing modes specifically defines the way it interacts with pixels underneath, and disallows you from choosing other brush blend modes.

The new brush mixing mode (official video) is called Smear.

You can imagine Smear as a combination of a regular brush and the area color picker. Unlike the other brush mixing modes, there is no manipulation of the pixels underneath: No blurring or cloning or pixel nudging. Smear mode just color picks, and then paints normally in one go. This makes it compatible with other brush blend modes, so you could use Smear mode with a brush set to [Multiply] or [Color Dodge] if you wanted.

Just like classic Photoshop color-picker-and-paint techniques, a smooth blending effect comes from soft brush shapes, painting repeatedly with lowered opacity, and selecting a color between two colors. The added benefit of Smear mode is that it can fade out the influence of the blending color by itself.

You won’t see the benefits of it elsewhere unless new brushes start using it or you change the brush settings of your brushes yourself. So I’ve compiled a list of some things I noticed while trying to figure out how it works.

I think the original Japanese name of the mode 「色重ね」 (iro kasane – “color overlap“) better describes some aspects of how it works, so it can help to keep it in mind.

Notable behaviors of Smear mode

  • Like other brush mixing modes, Smear only uses the colors on your current layer. It will ignore colors from other layers.
  • With Smear selected, the Density of Paint slider is disabled. This is because the way it manipulates transparency on pixels is similar to a brush that doesn’t have mixing. It uses the regular brush opacity + density dynamics to determine its transparency. This also means Smear works with opacity dynamics, unlike with brushes that use the [Blend] or [Running color] modes.
  • If you switch to [transparent color], the brush will just erase normally like a non-mixing brush. No extra mixing happens.
  • Lowering [Amount of paint] increases the influence of the colors it picks up underneath. Setting [Amount of paint] to zero will cause it to fully use the color underneath to paint. But smear will not color-pick transparency. Painting over a transparent area will cause it to paint with your primary selected color. This makes it less-suited for having separate flats and shadow/lighting layers compared to [Blend] and [Running color].
  • Changing the brush size changes its color pick radius. A bigger brush color picks a larger area. A smaller brush picks from a smaller area. If you mix over an entire rainbow, it picks up a gray color. This is similar to the [Blend] mixing mode.
  • Because Smear mode doesn’t blend the transparency of pixels, it doesn’t have the tendency to accidentally disrupt and “eat into” shapes. This makes it better-suited for carving out shapes when painting on separate layers.
  • Smear is the only mixing mode currently compatible with dual brushes. Turning on Color mixing for a dual brush will automatically use the [Smear] mixing mode.
  • You can enable [Blend brush tips with darken], but it causes strange clipping and hard color edges. This is especially noticeable when your brush has significant opacity dynamics. If the brush mode is set to [Normal], some of the clipping can be avoided by just using a large number of small strokes instead of a long continuous stroke that overlaps with itself.
  • Because the [Compare density] brush blend mode works similarly to [Blend brush tips with darken] except it works across multiple strokes, the Compare density brush blend mode may also cause strange clipping and hard color edges.
  • It seems to slows down large brushes only about as much as the [Blend] mixing mode does. If it’s slightly faster or slower, it’s not noticeable.
  • The color influence caused by Smear also seems to work with colored brush stamps. This is true despite the colored brush stamps not being tinted by the primary selected color or by [Blend with sub color].

Some possible uses for Smear mode

  • Lowering the brush opacity can improve its ability to soften edges.
  • Using a softer brush shape can improve its ability to soften edges.
  • Smear works well with splatter-y, grungy brushes, where you do want to blend the colors a bit closer together but don’t want to completely lose the details.
  • Smear works really well for painting spray brushes, keeping the particles at the intended opacity.
  • Most brushes that didn’t look good when enabling either of the older mixing modes (Blend or Running color) now at least have a measure of blending possible using [Smear] while retaining its look. This is especially true for hard-textured brushes.

This new Clip Studio Paint version also includes updated the default settings for the built-in Wet wash and Thick oil paint brushes which now use Smear. If you’re updating from an older version, you’ll have to add the new versions of these brushes manually. Here’s the official article on Smear, including how to add the new official brushes:

Smaller file sizes

According to the release notes, the file size of the Clip Studio format (.clip) is reduced compared to previous versions.

However, opening old large clip files and just saving them again will not result in smaller .clip files.

I’m assuming the claimed size gains has at least partly to do with the timelapse feature previously not being efficient at storing old frames under certain conditions. But we’ll see.

I’ll be updating this section as I find out more details.

Merge non-consecutive layers

When you wanted to merge layers, Clip Studio Paint used to require those layers to be next to each other in the layer list. This is no longer the requirement.

You can select non-consecutive layers by Ctrl/Cmd + clicking on different layers in the Layer palette.

Just select different layers, then choose Layer > Merge selected layers, or Merge selected layers in the layer context menu. Merging the layers will place the new merged layer in the position of the highest selected layer.

Interface improvements for Windows

Clip Studio Paint on Windows now has improved touch gestures (official video). Pinch-zoom, rotate and pan can now be done in the same action. Three-finger tap is now supported (redo by default).

The new gestures have to be enabled under a new category named “Gesture configuration” in the Preferences window.

Switching to “Clip Studio gestures” will allow you to customize three-finger tap on the canvas. By default, it does a “redo” command.

This functionality doesn’t seem to work well with Wacom drivers and Windows Ink disabled. Maybe this was really meant for use on Surface devices.

HDPI interface improvements.

Clip Studio Paint now having a multi-monitor setup that involves different DPI settings per screen.

Some parts of the interface that weren’t optimized for high-resolution displays were also updated to look better.

Interface improvements for MacOS

You can now use application frames on MacOS (official video), which lets you combine having detached panels and a singular window for Clip Studio Paint. You can enable it through Preferences > Interface > Use application frame

Interface improvements for iOS and Android

They added a Show explanation when tapping icon feature which shows a description of the functions of various buttons in Clip Studio Paint. This can be useful where your touch device may not have cursor-hover.

Push notifications from Clip Studio Profile are also now available. I’m not sure what notifications you’d want from there unless you think your clippy points are an urgent matter. Still, it could be an okay thing to add combined with iOS 15’s new “scheduled notification summary” feature.

Notable bug fixes

Some notable bug fixes include:

  • Fixed CSP freezing when you copied text with the Text tool.
  • Fixed CSP crashing with onion skin when you use Clip to Layer Below without any layers below.
  • Fixed CSP crashing when you try to import an invalid MP3 file.

Download and Release Notes

As usual, this was just a quick rundown. You can find the more-complete list of updates, improvements and fixes in this new version in their official Release Notes page.

On Windows and MacOS, Clip Studio Paint doesn’t automatically update. So you have to download the new version from the official website. Just install it normally and it will update your version. Your settings will carry over normally.


One response to “How does the new Smear color mixing mode work? CLIP STUDIO PAINT adds Smear, better Surface touch gestures, multi-DPI support on Windows. Smaller file sizes? (Update 1.11.0)”

  1. Best description of the blending brushes on the web. Finally having the ability to make a brush thats opaque with hard pressure that blends with low pressure is possible, but being unable to sample transparency is annoying lol. Hopefully one day we will get multi layer sampling like painter.


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