10 Reasons Switching to Manga Studio Will Improve Your Comic
After 25 years of using Photoshop, this was a huge decision. I’d tried several times to make timid forays into Manga Studio, but each time, I got frustrated.
“It’s nothing like Photoshop!” I would exclaim, rage-quitting the software to run back to Photoshop.
Finally, after Lar deSouza offered to spend a few hours via Skype with Dave Kellett and me, walking us through the software. He (and others) generously offered to help troubleshoot issues that might arise while we were making the switch.
Finally, one weekend, I decided that the only way I was ever going to pull this off was to jump in with both feet and commit to creating an entire week of strips in Manga Studio.
It took me an entire weekend — with frustration, more rage-quitting, and a lot of expletives — just to build my standard comic-strip template. But once I got the hang of using some of the basic tools, I started drawing my first strip.
And I’m never going back.
I hated Manga Studio: “It’s nothing like Photoshop!” Now, I’ll never go back. Why? …Same reason. http://wp.me/p4lKly-331 via @Webcomicscom
Here are ten reasons I think Manga Studio EX will improve your comics:
I switched to drawing digitally about a year ago. (In much the same “jump in with both feet” commitment.) I’ve been drawing in Photoshop with a Cintiq 12WX for over a year. Manga Studio inks like a dream. If you’re using a digital drawing implement — like a WACOM tablet, a Cintiq, a Surface Pro, etc. — you’re going to notice the different as soon as your stylus hits the screen. There’s no comparison, the quality of the lines I’m creating in Manga Studio are light-years ahead of what I was doing in Photoshop. Throw in Manga Studio’s unmatched line stabilization, and the quality of my lines shot up overnight.
Rulers! Rulers! Rulers!
This is what brought me to the table in the first place. Manga Studio has a compliment of special rulers that helps make a whole slew of drawing challenges much easier. The perspective rulers simplify three-point perspective to the extend of being almost child’s play. And special rulers — like the concentric-circle ruler — make drawing easy-to-botch images like eye glasses (or Captain America’s shield) a true joy.
Photoshop can’t touch Manga Studio in this regard. The closest you can get to perspective rulers is a sorry work-around.
Kick the bucket
You probably already know what happens if you use the Fill Tool in Photoshop. In an anti-aliased image, you’ll get a subtle border around the area that you were filling. In an aliased image, the effect was downright pronounced. Photoshop users have to use a script to do a simple fill without the mess.
In Manga Studio, this is a default setting.
See, part of the joy of digital art is that you really don’t have to redraw the same background over and over again. And, when I was working in Photoshop, I would make it a point to draw background on a separate layer so I could go back later, isolate the layer, and save a new file containing only that background to a folder that I kept on my hard drive.
And, if I was very careful in how I named the files, I might even be able to find them when I needed them later.
In Manga Studio, this is a built-in feature. With the flick of a wrist, I can save an image on the fly. And I can add tags to that archived image so I have a better chance of finding it later.
Of course, what happens if I want to take one of those archived images and use it much smaller than it was originally drawn? The lines are going to get too thin, right? Or they’ll get too thick if I enlarge the image?
Believe it or not, Manga Studio actually has a line-correction tool that will make lines thicker or thinner — to address this very situation. And the quality of the altered drawing is quite high.
The only way you’d get infinite scalability would be to leave the pixel-based raster environment entirely and draw in vector (which created images based on math).
Drawing in vector
Guess what, buttercup? You can do that, too.
You can draw part — or all – of your image as a vector image. That awesome-but-highly-detailed sword your character has? Make a vector image of it and store it in your Materials Library. After that, it doesn’t matter whether you’re pulling in for a close-up or panning back for a long shot, you’ve got this.
And that line-correction tool…? Downright miraculous on a vector image.
Word balloons (1)
Furthermore, even if you’re working in raster, there are certain things — like text and word balloons — that behave like vector objects nonetheless. Stop for a moment and think about what that means. When you’re at the part of your workflow in which you tighten up text and word balloons to fine-tune your composition, you’re not constantly darting back and forth to select the correct Photoshop layer. No matter which layer is active, when you click on text or a word balloon with the Object Selector, that object becomes selected.
That’s a monster time saver.
Hold that pose!
These include full-figure models as well as hand models. There’s a host of pre-posed samples — plus each is posable.
That’s a particularly nice shortcut to your workflow. Instead of starting from scratch to create a model to draw from, you can choose one that’s close to what you need and fine-tune it from there.
Remember: Manga Studio is software designed specifically for comics work. So take some time to learn how panels — the software refers to them as “frames” — are handled in Manga Studio. It’s not particularly intuitive. And — truly — you could draw comics perfectly well in Manga Studio without ever drawing a single frame.
But they are useful, once you get the hang of it, and they’re quite versatile. And the more layers you tend to use as a digital artist, the more you’ll rely on frames to help you stay organized.
Word balloons (2)
My main gripe in switching to Manga Studio was the lack of text boxes. Simply put, you can’t draw a text box and then write several lines of text that break according to the boundaries of the box. Instead, you have to manually break every line with a hard return. And if that doesn’t result in a block of text that has the correct shape for your composition, you have to manually re-break every line.
I didn’t like that.
Ironically, it solves one of my longstanding thoughts that text boxes were introducing bad design into novices’ word balloons. This is from a post I wrote waaaaay back in 2009:
Keep the interior border consistent
I blame computer typography for this one. Most applications flow text into a rectangular box. But cartoonists place their text into a circle. As a result, there is often more space above and below the text than there is on the sides — which looks awkward. Luckily, if you’re setting type digitally, you have a simple fix for this problem. Just move the type up and key in a hard return after the first word or two, forcing the rest of the copy below the first line. You can even place a strategic return near the end of the text to force one or two words into the bottom of the balloon.
While I’d still like to see text boxes introduced in a future upgrade, I’ve made the transition rather smoothly. And, truthfully, now that I’m in the swing of things, I really don’t mind working this way.
Listen, I’m not a critic of Adobe’s Creative Cloud initiative. Right now, I pay about fifty bucks a month to have access to a full compliment of Adobe software — from Photoshop and InDesign to tools to help polish the audio of a podcast, fonts, and more. It’s really not a bad deal.
But, honestly, the Big Draws (pardon the pun) are Photoshop and InDesign.
And I just cut my need for Photoshop by about 90%.
If I find a cost-effective replacement for InDesign, I’ll easily rationalize leaving Creative Cloud.
That’s going to put more than $600 a year back into my budget. And that’s money I can use in all sorts of ways to improve my comic, my business, and more.