In many ways, Manga Studio is similar to other drawing programs available, such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel Painter. Each of these programs is good in its own right, but because Manga Studio is first and foremost a comic creation program, it has a few functions that set it apart from other drawing programs — and that help make your life as a digital artist easier.
Don't let the name fool you!
The one critique I have about the program is that its name was changed from the original Japanese name of Comic Studio to Manga Studio here in America. I'm not really sure why the name was changed, aside from catching the eye of manga fans and artists. The problem with this name change is that when I talk to my Western-based comic book artist buddies, they think that the program is for the production of manga only. Far from it.
So let me reassure you — you can use Manga Studio to draw manga, superhero comics, or any other style or genre of sequential art. In the following figure, you can see three different styles of comics, all done in Manga Studio. The thing to keep in mind when using this program is that it's a tool to create art. It's no different than using traditional pens and pencils.
Finding out u/hat Manga Studio can do (or you
Over the years of producing art digitally, I've tried out a lot of different programs. Each program would get the job done for me in one way or another, but many times I would find myself feeling very frustrated while working with them. Don't get me wrong, 1 think there are some flat-out awesome art programs on the market. The problem that I was having was while they're good art programs, I didn't find them to be very good comic drawing programs. As I experimented with these programs I could never find a good comfort level to create my work digitally from start to end. More often than not, I found myself working with multiple programs just to get a page done.
What I found when working in Manga Studio is that comfort level. It was the first program that I felt let me take advantage of the digital medium, while also having the "real world" feeling 1 normally had when working with real pencils and inks.
So, 1 thought I'd list a few features of Manga Studio that I found to be the most helpful to my work, and possibly will help you out as well.
Adding a personal touch to fine Work With custom rulers and guides
When using a program such as Photoshop or Painter, your ability to draw straight lines or custom curves can be a bit limited. You can always use the Line, Curve, or Pen tools, but because the lines all end up uniform, there's definitely a loss of personality. What you need are virtual rulers that can guide you in creating and adjusting straight edges, curves, and polygons of any size and shape. Then all you need to do is draw on them, much like their real-world counterparts, adding your own personal touches to the line work as you go along.
Manga Studio provides such a feature with its Ruler Layers feature, which lets you create as many rulers as you need for your page. Straight or curved, rectangular or polygonal, you can make any kind of ruler you need. In addition, you can scale and rotate the rulers. Do you find that your curved ruler isn't quite how you want it? Grab an endpoint and adjust it. It's just that simple.
To me, the best part is that when the ruler is set, you can vary your line weight as you draw along the ruler. It probably doesn't sound like much, but it's a great thing if you want to be able to add a bit of a personal flair to your technical line work. (See Chapter 8 for the details on using the Rule Layers feature.)
If you've ever tried drawing or inking in Photoshop at anything less than 200/6 zoom, I'm sure you've noticed you need unnatural steadiness to draw anything resembling a straight line. Even at your steadiest, you notice some wobble to your line work. The only way to remedy that is to zoom in close to the page, but you risk losing sight of the picture as a whole as you work.
Manga Studio provides the ability to set a variable correcting to the line work. What this means is that as you work, the line adjusts itself to reduce or eliminate shakiness. The setting is variable, so you can make the correction as strong or as light as you like.
If you like to work while zoomed out but have been unhappy with how your line work has been coming out, this function may be just the remedy you need. (I tell you how to use this feature in Bonus Chapter 1 on the CD.)
Manga Studio comes preinstalled with thousands of screentones (patterns of dots or other shapes that are used in black and white artwork to represent shades of gray) that you can't get with other drawing programs. In addition, these tones are vector based, which means that you can adjust the size of your finished page to any size you want, and the quality of the tones remains the same. This is something that even the Computones package for Photoshop can't do. (Incidentally, EX users can use Computones in addition to the program's main tones, so there's another advantage.)
Chapter 11 covers all you need to know about adding screentones to your work.
What if you could contain all of the pages in your story or chapter in one place, which you could then easily preview as you go along? Manga Studio provides that with its story files. Here, you can create as many pages as you'd like, and they're organized in one location. You can then rearrange the pages, add new ones, or remove excess ones. And because all the page files are collected within one story file, all you need to do to view your story is just open one file, instead of several. Chapter 4 discusses how to work with these files.
Manga Studio EX users also can combine two consecutive pages into a spread — for those large action pieces you want to draw. (Conversely, you can split a spread into two separate pages.)
Knowing your page dimensions With print guides [preinstalled and custom)
Manga Studio includes page templates of various shapes and sizes that are useful if you're planning on printing your comic. In addition, for several of those templates, a set of print guides is included.
The print guide helps you keep track of what areas of the page are safe and what areas are cut off by the printer when preparing it for the final book. It's a very useful way to make sure any important artwork or dialogue isn't accidentally cut because you didn't keep track of where the cut-off points were. I go over the basics of the print guide in Chapter 4.
Creating custom Word balloons (EX only)
Many programs offer the ability to add text to a page, but Manga Studio EX provides you the option of adding word balloons as well. These vector-based balloons can be squashed, stretched, and fitted to whatever dialogue you want to add. EX comes with a wide variety of balloon shapes to choose from, but if you don't see what you're looking for, you can always create your own! Check out Chapter 12 for more information on how the word balloon function works.
Knowing vOhat Manga Studio can't do (easily )
The one thing Manga Studio can't do, at least as easily as other drawing programs can, is color work. That's not to say it's impossible to do, it just isn't really as intuitive as your traditional digital coloring programs. The reason for this is simple — at its heart, Manga Studio was designed for black-and-white use. While it can convert a layer from black and white to custom colors, the intention is more to adjust your draft work color to differentiate it from your finished work.
You can do simple cell-shaded-style color work, as well as some airbrushing, to add highlights and shadows to a drawing. However, you can't alter a layer's settings like you can in Photoshop. This means you can adjust only the layer's opacity; functions like multiply or overlay don't exist in Manga Studio. The other thing to keep in mind is that each color has to be on its own separate layer. This can certainly bloat the size of your page file if you're planning on doing detailed color work.
In Chapter 14,1 go over how you can do some simple color work in Manga Studio. It's a fun little trick that you can experiment with. However, if you're looking to do some serious color work for your comic, this is the one area that Manga Studio lacks, compared to other programs.
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