A while back I mentioned that I use ArtRage to draw “Chicken Outfit”. While this worked well for the first issue, it was a bit troublesome when it came to layout. Finally, Smith Micro had an insane sale on some of their comics related software, so I scooped up Manga Studio 5, Anime Studio and MotionArtist to give them a try. I am beyond pleasantly surprised. Here’s the initial results and findings:
1. Drawing tools are very nice. You can control them to the point that I sometimes lost the feeling that I was holding a Wacom pen and drawing on a tablet. I even imagined pencil sound effects after extended use. (No, my days of hallucinogens are long gone.)
2. Layout is a breeze. No more doing individual panels and having to line them up. The program even pushes the adjoining panel away from the one you’re trying to resize to even everything up. All panels are self contained and masked so you can draw like a madman without worrying about bleeding into the surrounding panels.
3. Dialogue bubbles are sharp and highly customizable. Like the fumetti app Comic Life, it’s so great to be able to have professional bubbles with clear text – I’ve always despised hand lettering and it bored the bejesus out of me as it had to be done four times in the analog world (write/thumbnail/sketch/letter). The only grouse I have here is that the line spacing is limited. It will not allow you to get any closer than something that looks double-spaced. Once again, I’ll be using Photoshop for this task.
4. Rulers and perspective are quite easy to use and lines magically snap to chosen ruler lines. Wowzers. I need work on drawing buildings, cars or anything non-sentient, so this is a boon to helping create a space for the characters that works. The program also provides you with shapes and various other guides. It’s like getting Illustrator and Photoshop in one app.
5. Wacky extras: If you install the Manga Media you’ve got a pantload of cool manga style expression line, cross-hatching, 3D poser characters, objects and sound-fx (though, the soundfx set is all in Japanese). I normally don’t rely on a lot of these things, as it looks a bit too slick, but I do like the expression lines (again, straight lines are my achilles heel) and having 3D characters to pose is great for brushing up on your anatomy or getting you through a tight spot when your brain just won’t allow you to get an accurate pose.
I should mention here that I am not using Manga Studio to paint. I have tried the tools briefly, but not extensively enough to do a full comic. Also, Given RAM and CPU (New iMac) I surmise that this app is sluggish when it comes to laying out facing pages and colouring the entire thing, as it’s crashed on a few occasions trying to push the envelope. I am far more used to Photoshop anyway and CS6 is as smooth as glass. Also, I tried using it for a full color cover and my CPU shat all over that idea – so I’ll continue to use ArtRage 4 (even smoother and tighter than v.3) for larger pages/projects then finish painting and polishing in Photoshop.
Well folks, there you have it. I’m sold on Manga Studio for the sketch, line-art, balloon and text work and layout. It’s fairly easy on the learning curve and I highly recommend it for all comic artists.