Astropad and Clip Studio Paint for the Tattoo Artist

Guest Author: Russ AbbottOwner of Ink & Dagger Tattoo & Founder of Tattoo Smart



Work-in-progress: Tattoo design created in Clip Studio Paint by Russ Abbott


Final design: Tattoo Smart brushes were to layout the snake scales

About 4 years ago, I completely ditched my sketchbook and bought a gigantic Wacom Cintiq tablet. Designing tattoos that my clients would proudly wear on their skin for life was too important of a responsibility to leave up to a simple sketch. During the course of the next year, I learned to create full color renderings of my tattoo designs using software called Clip Studio Paint.

My clients LOVED seeing a digital rendering of what their tattoo would eventually look like. I LOVED knowing that I had a solid plan in place, and in less time than it would have taken me to generate this level of illustration with my antique drawing devices (pencils and paper). With Clip Studio Paint, I was able to create perfect line art for my tattoo stencils. Then I could take the whole drawing to a full color rendering with all of the freedom to change the colors around until my client and I were happy with them. I even figured out how to make custom brushes that make instant snake scales, chains, ropes, banners, and countless other elements.

iPad Pro Brings New Trends to Digital Design

I became so interested in digital design techniques for tattoo illustration that I felt a calling to create a platform for sharing the knowledge and tools that I had discovered. In early 2016, my company Tattoo Smart was born. In just a few short months, I had gathered together a community of tattooers, designers, and craftspeople who were also curious about what a digital workflow could offer them.

One of the major trends we witnessed in our community of tattoo artists was the monumental arrival of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. While we were busy developing workflows and products that worked great on computer programs such as Clip Studio Paint, a large percentage of the first-time digital users we were hoping to cater to were buying iPads instead of Wacoms. This meant they weren’t going to be able to use what we were making, since iPads use apps – not computer programs.

We were forced to pivot immediately and we found comfort in an iPad design app called Procreate. We started re-making our custom brush sets in Procreate, which quickly became our most popular offerings. However, we always wished there was a way for our iPad users to take advantage of the power of computer programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint. These are the more professional applications that currently only work on computers.

Astropad Saves the Day!

About 9 months ago, we got word that there was now a way to connect our Mac computers to our iPads. To be honest, our first impression was a bit disappointing: Astropad worked, but the latency ( a slight delay in rendering a brush stroke) was annoying. Not only that, but our favorite software, Clip Studio Paint, was not yet fully supported. We decided to keep quiet about Astropad and wait for future updates to solve the problems.

Well my friends, I’m happy to tell you that the day has come where Astropad has finally begun to live up to it’s promises. Astropad is just a small team of five people that have achieved a pretty amazing feat. The latest updates have reduced the latency issues to a minimum and the Clip Studio compatibility is pretty much at 100%. We are happy to tell all of our friends with iPad Pros that they can now reliably connect to their Macs and take full advantage of all of the features contained in Clip Studio Paint.

To our friends with Mac computers and iPad Pros, Astropad does what it promises.

Russ AbbottOwner of Ink & Dagger Tattoo & Founder of Tattoo Smart

Using Brushes in Clip Studio Paint with Astropad

Clip Studio Paint is a great tool for illustration, manga, and comics publishing. With a wide variety of settings possibilities, it’s easy to fine-tune features for a better toolkit. We put together a mini-guide to help you get started with brush adjustments for use with Astropad.

Tablet Settings

Clip Studio Paint has a way to accommodate for different tablet use called, “Tablet Settings.”

To access Tablet Settings, first go to “Preferences.”


Clip Studio Paint Preferences

Select “Tablet” to see options for changing both the Priority for Process number setting, and Precision. Priority for Process should be set a number that feels comfortable for drawing speed and stroke quality. If you’re using Apple Pencil, we recommend the number be set to 5.


Clip Studio Paint Tablet Settings

For Precision, it depends on individual preference – “Recommended” is the default setting; “Prioritize for Speed” will keep up with faster drawing; and “Prioritize for Quality” focuses on the stroke quality.

Brush Settings

Like any tool, not every artist uses an identical set in the same way. To better smooth out line quality and improve overall performance, brush tool properties will need to be adjusted.

Here are some recommended settings when using the G-pen:

– Gap set to “Narrow” (3 dots together setting)

– Brush Stroke set to middle or maximum

– Stabilization settings vary by tool. For G-Pen, closer to the  minimum works better


To go into advance property settings for your brush tools, click the little wrench icon at the bottom right corner; this opens the Sub Tool Detail menu. In the Sub Tool Detail menu, you have access to further customization options and are given brief descriptions on the functionality of each setting.


Please note, these settings vary with different tool and brush types. For example, the Watery watercolor brush has different setting than the G-Pen; like “Amount of Paint”, that will work fine on default settings.

It’s best to experiment with your brushes and see what works best for you!


Optional: Adjust Pen Pressure

Clip Studio Paint has a feature that lets you change the Pen Pressure curve. It’s not necessary to adjust this, but it’s worth checking out if, for example, you see some of your strokes aren’t showing up properly; or you draw with a lighter hand. Nice thing is, it can always reset back to the default curve.


Pen Pressure Settings

To use this function, click “Adjust” and draw with different degrees of applied pressure on your iPad. Then it will automatically adjust the pressure curve based on this range. Make sure to restart after making this setting change.


Adjusting Pen Pressure curve

If performance seems a little slow –

Along with adjusting the Tablet Setting, there’s another option that can help in the performance department, lowering the amount of Undo history. In Clip Studio Paint’s Preferences, select “Performance”,  then lower the “Undo Count” number. We would recommend trying this if you’re experiencing any delays with use.



For more information on working in Clip Studio Paint, check out the Astropad Community Forum.

How to Organize an Illustrator Workspace for Astropad

Illustrator is the standard for vector work – it’s a great tool for illustration, typography, and many other uses. In this quick step-by-step guide, we’ll help you organize an efficient workspace for using Illustrator with Astropad.

Rearranging panels and tool bars

One of the nice things about Illustrator is that individual panels and tool bars are rearrangeable to either side of your canvas, or anywhere in the working space.  Place any panels that you use frequently in an easily accessible spot for your stylus.

For example, the Layers panel can be kept in any space outside the Artboard for conveniency. Or extra tools can be lined up right beside the main tool panel, as a single column or multiple.

Any type of rearranging works with Astropad, since the shortcuts sidebar can be placed to the right of the iPad screen –



Tool panels set to the left, and Astropad shortcut sidebar to right

Or to the left of the iPad screen –


Tool panels set to the right, Astropad shortcut sidebar to the left

The shortcuts sidebar can be hidden anytime by tapping the on screen white ring button.


Tool panels set right with some cascaded, Astropad shortcut sidebar hidden

Shortcuts in Illustrator

Astropad’s shortcuts are preset for Photoshop, so you will need to change them to accommodate Illustrator.

On your Mac, go to Astropad’s “Preferences”, it will open a window with editable shortcuts for the sidebar.

Click “Set” and type the command on your Mac, and it will register.

Recommended shortcuts for Astropad’s sidebar – 

  • P  :  Pen tool
  • –  :  Delete Anchor Pen tool
  • A  : Direct Selection  (white cursor)
  • V  : Selection (black cursor)
  • Command Z  : Undo
  • Shift Z : Redo
  • B  :  Brush
  • Shift E  :  Eraser

Anchor points and handles

It’s best to use a more accurate stylus, like the Apple Pencil, to control anchor points and handles more easily.

Touch panning and zooming

Astropad’s touch gestures, panning and zoom, are supported in Illustrator. Using two fingers, pinch to zoom, and place together to pan on your iPad. This way, you won’t need to keep the scrollbars in view when you set up your ideal workspace.

How to set pressure sensitivity for strokes

The iPad is unable to be recognized as a drawing tablet in Illustrator. Pen pressure in Illustrator does not enable pressure options unless a Wacom driver is present.

A Wacom tablet is not needed to install the driver. We’re currently looking into a workaround for this.

The latest Wacom driver will need to be installed, like an Intuos Pro driver; you can get from here:

  • After adding the driver; brush option settings will need to be manually adjusted in Illustrator


Change “fixed” to “pressure”


Also adjust desired variations to the stroke.


Drawing seems slow in Illustrator CC?

Try turning off GPU performance. In Illustrator’s “Preferences,”  go to  “GPU Performance”. Then uncheck “GPU Performance”.


For more information on working in Illustrator, check out our Community Forum.

Artist Showcase: Jenna Freimuth

Regal Cat Lady

Citrus Pattern

The Hierophant Taurus

Jenna Freimuth

Where do you live?

I have lived in Minneapolis, MN for almost 7 years.  I am in love with this city and I’m starting to plan a day to celebrate our anniversary together.

Where do you look for inspiration? 

I’ll page through surface design books or browse online for a bit, but I can always count on epic movie soundtracks to stir up some inspiration. There is so much emotion to build from in there; spin your own stories.

Does your art follow a theme or motif? 

A good deal of my work tends to showcase my love for cats. It sometimes feels unavoidable. They are a constant source of joy for me and they find their way into my whimsical and sometimes metaphysical drawings.  If cats aren’t the main focus, one could nearly always discover a pattern, some foliage, or a shade of olive green in my work.

How does art challenge you? 

I think the loveliest challenge is the process of bringing an idea to life and deciding how that final piece is going to be done. I tiptoe between analog and digital, so sometimes my final pieces have a wide scope of applications.  I’d like to maintain consistency from one piece of work to another, but the constant pull to test new things and discover new techniques often keeps the ball rolling in several directions at once.  It can be discouraging, sometimes, merely to keep the ball in one court.

What words do you live by? 

Hustle + Glow: Work hard, be nice, and stay grateful.


Instagram: @jennafreimuth


Astro’s Next Frontier

Our top Astro dogs have been exploring uncharted terrority to make even more powerful tools for artists. We want you to know that the next frontier is coming soon! We’ll be launching some out-of-this-world stuff in the coming months. 🌎

But while we’re still preparing for takeoff, we’re wondering: What does “the next frontier” mean to you? How are you pushing boundaries with your art? What uncharted territory are you exploring? We want to know what inspires you.

*Next Frontier* Design Contest

1. Create: Design a work of art (illustration, comic, painting, hand-lettering, sketch) around the theme The Next Frontier: Exploring Uncharted Territory. 

2. Share: Post your work on Instagram and tag #NextFrontier and @astropadapp. Or, upload it to the Astro CommunityNote: The artist will maintain ownership of all artwork submitted.

3. Win: We’ll select a winning design to be printed on an official Astropad t-shirt, available for sale to the public via Cotton Bureau. The artist will receive 100% of profits from t-shirt sales, along with a ParcSlope and HiRise2 from Twelve South. We will also select 2 runner-up winners to each receive the ParcSlope.

The deadline to submit artwork for consideration is November 4, 2016. You can check out a gallery of the submissions at

Best of luck! And stay tuned for exciting updates from Astro HQ in the coming months. 😉

Digital Tattoo Design Using Astropad

Since the release of iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, tattoo artists have envisioned the potential for a more digitized workflow. Turned off by the high price tag and single-use functionality of the traditional Wacom tablet, the iPad Pro is a more accessible tool for tattoo artists. Alex Ellis — owner of Forget Me Not Tattoo Studio & Gallery in Ocala, Florida — shares how he has integrated Astropad into his business.

Do your tattoo designs follow a specific style or theme?

My style of work is more on the traditional side. I like bold, clear imagery that is easy to read from across the room. That being said, I also think it’s important to be open to other styles as well. As an artist it can be very inspiring to dabble in other styles and incorporate a little of your own flare.

What’s your design process like? 

I first take a tracing and photos of the area I will be tattooing. With the iPad Pro I can now draw directly onto the photos to get a better idea of how the tattoo will fit the body. Not only are there some quality native drawing apps, such as Procreate and Sketchbook, but with the Astropad app and my MacBook I can use programs like Photoshop and Clip Studio.

How did you decide to get an iPad Pro? 

When I was making the transition to digital art I was torn between the iPad Pro and the Wacom Cintiq. I liked the portability of the iPad, but the idea of being able to draw directly into Photoshop (a program I had used for years and was comfortable with) was very intriguing. After some research I came across the Astropad app and it was a no brainer for me at that point.

What has been the biggest changes to your workflow? 

Switching to digital design in my shop has made things run more smoothly and efficiently.  It allowed us to be able to make multiple color studies and variations in a fraction of the time. It’s also great for saving supplies. Before, I drew with markers and went through many rolls of paper — which added up. And it’s not always easy to find a big, flat surface to draw on comfortably.

Being able to draw at any size on a device that fits in a backpack is definitely a game changer for the on-the-go artist. I spend multiple hours a day drawing for appointments, so I like that I can rely on Astropad to function smoothly through my design process — especially since the most recent updates!

Do you think that the digital design process helps to prevent tattoo remorse?

I definitely feel like it has helped in situations where a client may be unsure of a placement or color.

What’s the most satisfying part about being a tattoo artist?

The reaction on a satisfied client’s face. It’s a great feeling to have someone so into your art that they want to put it on their body for the rest of their life.

More insights into digital tattoo design: The Tattooers Guide to the iPad Pro

Instagram: @alexellistattoo / @ipadprotattooteam

Artist Showcase: Adolfo Correa




Adolfo Correa

Where do you live?

I am originally from Santiago de Chile but I’ve recently moved to Spain looking for new challenges in Europe. I love traveling and learning from different cultures. When I feel that I am not learning and working at the level that I want, I know it’s time to go higher and move on.

What inspires you? 

Lately my inspiration comes from the current world sporting events. I’m not a sportsman but I admire all of the effort that athletes put forward to reach their goals. I’m inspired by the athletes that gave everything during the Olympics and the World Cup. I like to imagine the discipline that is behind the drive of these athletes. Also art and everything around the internet is very stimulating.

What emotions frequently show through in your art? 

I always try to transmit the energy, positivity, power, and elegance from the human disciplines. Every piece I make takes me a lot of time working with the details. I love when people take a closer look and spend time noticing the intricacies of my work.  I’ve always thought that design with art is a powerful tool for communication. Big brands know that, so I strive to be a part of that.

What words do you live by?

Family & Design.

7 Instagram Accounts to Follow for Creative Inspiration

If you’re looking for inspiration, Instagram is the art gallery at your fingertips. Here are a few of Astropad’s favorite Instagram accounts to follow:

1. Typography:  @zacharysmithh

A cohesive blend of encouraging words and intricate hand-lettering

Hope you all are having a great day ✌🏼️ I did this quick piece this morning while hanging in @theparismarket

A photo posted by Zachary Smith (@zacharysmithh) on

2. Photography & Fashion: @iGNANT

An unpredictable, yet carefully curated gallery of design, photography, fashion, and architecture

3. Illustration: @dailydoodlegram

A whimsical collection of black and white doodles

@goumiyagi @asafweit

A photo posted by dailydoodlegram (@dailydoodlegram) on

4. Comic Art: @kuvshinov_ilya

Beautiful manga-inspired illustrations

Morning Study

A photo posted by Ilya Kuvshinov (@kuvshinov_ilya) on

5. Up & Coming: @jimmyturrell

He’s the brain behind Beck’s lyric video for “Wow” 

6. Something For Everyone: @juxtapozmag

Covers everything from street art to gallery openings

@conorsaysboom opens a new show at Heni Gallery in association with @pacegallery London on September 14th.

A photo posted by Juxtapoz Magazine (@juxtapozmag) on

7. Wild Card:  @velvetspectrum

Like digital cotton candy

"Chrysalis" #thought_bubbles

A video posted by Luke Choice (@velvetspectrum) on

And of course, don’t forget to follow the Official Astropad Instagram account to see featured Astro artwork. 😉

Artist Showcase: La Scarlatte




Pauline Teunissen (aka La Scarlatte)

Where do you live?
I live in the center of Amsterdam, looking out over the ships in the harbor.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Almost everywhere, but nature is what I love most. So when I get the chance, I go to the dunes and the beach which are quite close to Amsterdam (and where I grew up), and I wander around the woods and little lakes there photographing everything that might come in handy one day. Traveling is a great inspiration too – I’ve been to lots of great places like Costa Rica, Iceland and the Galapagos Islands. But the city of Amsterdam has great stuff as well; I live really close to the zoo and the Hortus Botanicus, so I’m there almost every week to look up something I want to investigate for a project. And when you take a stroll or a bike ride around the canals, you can discover lots of things like small statues on facades of canal houses or antique bookshops.
What emotions do you hope to evoke with your art?
Everybody experiences art differently. I hope they enjoy it in their own way and maybe see different layers in it than I expected myself. And I hope my work conveys the joy and patience I have in creating it.
How do you find the beauty in both life and death?
I think my artwork has a serenity about it. And even though I am very interested in duality and the darker side of a beautiful scene, somehow when I try to create more edgy artworks it still has that calmness about it. Maybe it’s my color choices or my pencil strokes, the end result is always a space where things are delicate and movement like the wind is softly blowing. Most testimonials I get about my work is that people find it gives them a sense of daydreaming.
What words do you live by?
Keep curious. I try to constantly keep curious in everything I do, the way I work, how I spend my spare time, how I interact with family and friends. And whenever I find that something is out of balance, I find new ways to get there. So maybe “never give up” is also a good one. 🙂

How to Organize a Clip Studio Paint Workspace for Astropad

Clip Studio Paint is a great drawing program to use with Astropad. It’s versatile for both illustration and creating publisher-ready comics, with features that accommodate every step of the comic-making process: layouts, perspective rulers, sketching, inking, coloring, and captions.

In this quick step-by-step guide, we’ll help you organize an efficient workspace for using Clip Studio Paint with Astropad. For the best experience, we recommend the latest Clip Studio Paint version. 

Arranging Panels

It’s easy to arrange and resize Clip Studio Paint’s tool panels. Just click the top of a panel and drag it anywhere on screen. They can be resized at the sides, corners, or completely hidden to the side of the screen. We recommend having at least the following panels arranged on your screen:

    • Subtool [brush]
    • Tool property (for easy stroke adjustments)
    • Color wheel
    • Layers

Materials Panel: If you plan to use features such as 3D posing, screen tones, and textures, you will want to keep the Materials Panel close by. We suggest that you leave the collapsable Materials toolbar on your screen near the color palette or main toolbar so that you can easily access features without taking up a lot of screen space.

Setting Menu Shortcuts

Astropad’s sidebar shortcuts menu is preset for Photoshop, but it can be edited for Clip Studio. You can do this by going to “Preferences” then “Shortcuts” in the Mac app. 

We recommend placing your most used shortcuts in the sidebar. It’s totally customizable, so add whatever works best with your work flow! Here are some suggestions: 

      • P – pencil/ pen
      • M – marquee
      • G – gradients
      • J – blending tool

Sidebar Placement

You may need to move the shortcuts sidebar, depending on whether you are right or left handed. Just use your finger to drag the sidebar to either side of your iPad. You can also move the white ring around the screen to create a comfortable placement for your drawing style.

Touch Panning & Zoom

Even though you can’t use gestures on the Mac trackpad, Astropad supports touch panning and zooming for Clip Studio Paint. Use two fingers to pinch, zoom, and pan on your iPad. This way, you won’t need to keep the navigator panel or scrollbars in view when you set up your ideal workspace.

For more information on working in Clip Studio Paint, check out the Astropad Community Forum. ✌🏽

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