Tag Archives: manga studio 5

Manga Studio 5: Minecraft Brush

I’m doing a Doctor Who/Minecraft mashup drawing, and colouring in Manga Studio 5.

In order to create some of the textures minecraft-like textures, I created a spray brush, and, though I’ve visited this topic before on the blog, thought it’s wort a refresher.

Step 1 Grab your wacom by the hand

Create a brush shape to spray with. The spray can effect sprays an image on the page, you can either select a circle to spray or have multiple shapes. I was being lazy, so only created a single block shape. I created it on a greyscale layer, and drew a rough square…

Screenshot 2014-06-17 09.50.00

Step 2 Round it up

Using the marquee tool, I selected the entire square, and selected “Register Image as Material” – the Material Property dialogue popped up and I set the “Use for Brush Tip Shape” and set the Material location to “Material/Image Material/Brush”.

Screenshot 2014-06-17 09.52.00

Step 3 Dosey do

Again, lazy, I copied an existing Air Brush tool (in this case the “Spray” Air Brush) that did the job I wanted, calling it “Square Splatter” – and altered its  settings.

Screenshot 2014-06-17 09.53.22

In the Brush Tip, I selected “Material” and loaded the single image I’d created (at this point you could have loaded multiple “materials” introducing a lot more randomness into the air brush spray).

I set the Brush density to RANDOM (this looks like a line with a little squiggley line beside it in the image above), this ensures that each sprayed block isn’t uniformly dense (ie, not the exact same opacity). Then I stored this as the brush’s default settings.

Step 4 And that’s a square dance.

USE IT!

Screenshot 2014-06-17 09.55.50

That’s it, creating a new spray brush is actually pretty simple in MS5.

And here’s what it can look like…

Screenshot 2014-06-17 10.02.19

Manga Studio 5 Layers a primer

Here’s some things you’ll need to know about layers.

Manga Studio 5 has six different type of layers, they are:

  • Raster
  • Vector
  • Gradient
  • Fill
  • Tone
  • Frame Folder

Raster Layer is what you’ld consider your drawing layer. Lineart here is stored is a bitmap (a set of dots on a grid) and, zooming in, this grid like nature will be very obvious.

Zoomed in the grid nature of the Raster Layer is obvious

Any scanned artwork will be in the raster format (and, in fact, most image formats are raster). The size of that grid (or the dpi – dots per inch) will dictate how noticeable those blocky shapes are. At 600dpi, they’re pretty much invisible to the human eye.

A Vector Layer is layer where you can zoom in indefinately. Marks on the page are actually stored more like coordinates in a map than they are marks on paper – so, for example, a circle on a raster layer – when zoomed in, will appear to get blockier and blockier, a circle on a vector layer can zoom in indefinitely. Each zoom level is recalculated by the computer and re-presented as a super sharp drawing. Some people prefer this for inking (and manga studio allows you to use this inking layer almost as though it’s a raster layer) this allows them to go in and grab a line and move it around – an impossibility with raster images. The drawback is that some features – like filling black in an area aren’t possible in raster layers. And, occasionlly, results can be a little unpredictable. (Plus: who wants to go in and alter drawn lines? that way lies madness).

Gradient Layer this applies one of the three types of gradient to the entire layer – and, subsequently all layers below it. You can mask off the gradient as you see fit (ensuring you only get the gradient where you want it) and you can set the gradient to either use solid colours (red to blue, for example), use tones (which will create a gradient using black dots – regardless of the colour you’ve set) and to use a layer colour – which is applied to the whole layer (and can be applied whether you’re using solid colours or tones)

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 10.40.32

Fill Layer. This creates a special layer which is filled with a single colour. Again, you can mask this off as you need it,  and everything that applies to Gradient layers similarly apply here.

Tone Layer allows you to add letratone/zipatone like effects. Big in manga, and, ironically, used due to the limitations in print technology, you have to be careful with tone when using it for digital media – like comics in the comixology app. Tones can be fairly seriously customised, the key thing you want to watch is the “Number of Lines” – the smaller this number the courser (ie larger) the tone shapes are (often these shapes are circles, but, again, they can be one of large variety of shapes).

For print, I tend to use 60 Lines, that way the dots are large enough to be visible by a reader (rather than, say,  invisible and merging into one big grey colour). For digital, I’d be tempted to go around 30lines. Unfortunately, it’s all play be ear for this stuff. (Or, more accurately, play by eye.)

Happily though, you can easily go back into a tone layer and tweak those settings as much as you like.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 10.43.43 Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 10.43.51 Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 10.43.58

MASKS can be applied to any layer, a good protip here is that if you create a selection and THEN create a new Gradient or Fill layer, it’ll automatically create a selection based on your selection area.

And, finally, a Frame Folder. A Frame Folder is a slightly magical form of folder (rather than layer, but since it’s in the new layers option we’ll talk about it here). The frame folder can be cut up using the Divide Frame folder rule allowing you to slice and dice a page until you get the panel shapes you want. Once you have them you can then, if you want to go further, render the the frame folder- this changes the nature of the folder into a normal folder (albiet one with a mask, which is applied to any layers contained within the folder) and creates a layer above the frame folder which has panel borders drawn on it where the frames panels were cut. Personally, I find this system pretty horrible. So, almost immediatly after rendering a frame folder, I delete it, and then going to the layer above (the one the rendering creates) I fill the gutter area of this folder with white, this acts as a mask on the layers below and gives me the advantage, that now, if I want, I can cut bits out of the panel borders so art can escape the frame.

MS4, you also had ruler layers, in MS5, rulers are associated with specific layers – though they can be set to be used on all other layers (or only layers within the same folder as the ruler) or simply their own layer.

Depending on the ruler tool, create a new ruler will also create a new layer for it (this can be turned on and off, but I find it useful on things like the perspective ruler, where I often want to draw a perspective drawing on a separate layer anyway)

I tend to lump all of my pencils in a single folder (allowing me to set the draft option on all of those layers at once) and my inks in their own folder (allowing me to hide the inks if I want to see the pencils) and all rulers in their own folder. Though I have to fight with MS5 to do this, as it likes to create new ruler layers on the bottom stack of layers outside any folders.

And that’s the basics. Happy to answer any questions, and if you’re wondering what’s with all the monsters in the above gradient illustration, can I draw your eyes to my new Book coming in October – The Dept of Mosnterology.

Manga Studio 5 Draft Layer

Manga Studio (MS) 4 had sketch layers, MS5 has draft layers.

When you mark a layer as a draft layer, instantly, you get a little pencil icon beside the layer to indicate as such. But now, the drawing tools are subject to slightly different behaviour on a draft layer.

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 08.05.30

Tools like FILL, which can apply to multiple layers, can be told, specifically, to ignore any draft layers. Similarly, Magic Wand (to select).

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 08.07.57

A great little protip here is to create a draft folder – create a new folder, and, as with a layer, mark it as a ‘draft layer’. Then, any layers created within, or moved to, this folder will automatically will have the same layer settings applied to them as the folder. This way you can keep all of your pencil layers in one place.

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 08.13.19

The individual layers can also be set to draft, but this setting is overridden by the parent folders settings (including the line art colour, if set).

One of the big strengths of using draft layers (aside from the advantages of the tools which can ignore them) is that draft layers, whether they’re visible or not, can be ignored when you export or print art. This means that, for example, unlike photoshop, you don’t need to go through and hide all of those layers before doing a quick export.

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 08.15.40Here’s the export dialogue, and you can see the option (boxed in red) to output ‘Draft’ layers (along with ‘Crop Marks’ and ‘Default’ – ie a box around the ‘live’ area). Unticked and, draft layers aren’t output at all. Ticked and you’ll get them.

And now  a little plug: my new book ‘Dept of Monsterology’ is coming out in October, but you can preorder from comic shops now! The diamond order code is AUG131432 and you can read more about it here.

 

Manga Studio 5 Word Balloons

So, I’m going to have a quick blitz post about Manga Studio Word balloons. Like all the tools in Manga Studio, it’s pretty flexible in many ways (and surprisingly rigid in other).

Let’s start with the basic set of sub tools for “Text”.

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.34.28

 

You’ll see here I’ve already customised a couple of text styles – Dialogue 8pt CCWildwords, Dialogue 12pt CCWildwords and Caption 12ptWildWords. All I simply did with these was altered the default text to include a font of my choosing and set the size of the text suitable for lettering (and altered the line height for the font to ensure it was nice and neat).

The only difference between ‘Dialogue’ and ‘Caption’ here is that one is aligned left and the other is centre aligned.

You can easily add a whole set of sub tools for, for example, Creepy Character Dialogue (using a font that’s suitable) or Robot Voice (again, suitable font).

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.39.39

The text can be set to take on the ‘main’ colour (usually black), the ‘sub’ colour (usually white) or a third, user defined colour – so, if you wanted all your robot dialogue to be a dark blue, that’s a thing you can set up and it will always be dark blue regardless of your colour set up (assuming, of course, that your default layers are set to show colour).

So, moving on to the panel shapes.

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.43.27‘Ellipse’ balloon. This is a little bit of a misnomer. This balloon, can be set to either Ellipse (or, if you hold shift while drawing it, you’ll get a circle), a rectangle (again, shift will make that a square) or a polygon – ie, a shape with a fixed number of sides (holding shift here will constrain your aspect ratio so it’s same height as width).

Text and balloons try and be on the same “text” layer. When multiple balloon shapes are placed on the same layer and they overlap, they appear joined – so that, for example, two ellipses can look like this…

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.45.22 Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.45.29

 

This, obviously, is extra useful when you’re adding things like balloon tails, or multiple sets of dialogue joined together.

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.47.16 Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.47.32Ellipses, when placed, have multiple edit points (too many, if you ask me). And you can tweak those shapes – though, really, if you’re after organic shaped word balloons, probably the best way is to go a little old school.

I would pencil a balloon shape, then, using the “Curve Balloon” draw a curve shape that does the job.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.49.32

Here’s a bit of dialogue with a blue lined balloon shape (obviously, this step isn’t necessary, but I find it helpful to roughly know the shape of the balloon I’m going for…)

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.51.49So, using the Spline option on the curve balloon, I place check points and draw the shape of the balloon (leaving the tail, because I can then use Manga Studio’s balloon tail tool to just add that on quickly).

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.54.40 Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.54.54Adding the tail.

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.55.53 Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.56.04

 

Once done, you can, using the object selector tool Object Selector Tool move the text and balloon around (one quick word on that, if you move the balloon the text it’s linked to will move too – resizing the balloon will NOT resize the text.)

Now, that’s the basics covered, if you’re into fancy dialogue shapes, it’s fairly easy to do that, you could for example alter the style of line on the balloon (but that’s a lesson for another day)

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 09.00.14

 

It’s not got the rich set of features that, say, Adobe Illustrator has for drawing objects for lettering. But I expect the feature set here to grow and in many respects it’s a much simpler tool for lettering. It’s also a whole heck of a lot cheaper!

Please consider this post a bit of a rough draft, written early in the morning. Let me know if I’ve typos all over the place and if anything is unclear in the comments: I’ll be happy to fix it!

Here’s some fun examples of what’s possible:

(note: Manga Studio 5 has a bug where it’ll chop off some elements of some fonts, so, for example, in the the line “DEATH!!” it’s obviously chopped off the top of the exclamation points, but, less obviously, it’s also chopped off the top of the letters)

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 09.41.48

And now to pay the piper, I have a comic coming out this month “Numbercruncher #2″. Issue 1 has, I think it’s fair to say, been a hit with critics, and if you’re interesting in reading it, you can buy online from Comixology here. And I have a another coming coming out in October, called “Dept of Monsterology” – which you can read all about here.

 

 

 

Colour Holds in Manga Studio 5

I wrote a previous blog post on creating colour holds in Manga Studio – but that was version 4. Version 5, is a whole other beast.

The artwork here is from my new creator owned work “Dept of Monsterology” which you can preorder from all good comic shops now, using the code AUG131432.

First off, a colour hold is the act of turning normally black line art into coloured line art – common examples would be if you were colouring the human torch and wanted the black line art to be a fiery hot red. It’s most often seen in animation, and in comics is commonly used as a special effect. (Though I like it, so tend to colour using it a lot).

Step 0 (optional)

Duplicate the lineart layer you want to create the colour holds on, then hide it. That way if you fubar the colour holds you can always return to pure b&w.

Step 1:

Select the line art layer. (I’m assuming your line art layer is either pure b&w or greyscale).

Step 2:

Convert the line art layer to colour (Layer->Convert Layer… and set the Expression Color to Color)

Screen Shot 2013-08-11 at 15.13.24  Step 3:

Load a selection using the current layer. (Layer->Selection From Layer->Create Selection)

Screen Shot 2013-08-11 at 15.13.49

Step 4:

Convert the selection into an Layer Mask. (Layer->Layer Mask->Mask Out of Selection)

Mask out of Selection

Step 4:

Reselect the artwork part of the layer, and now youcan … Colour!

 

Protip: Once you’ve selected the art for the layer, if you Select ALL in the layer, delete the contents of the layer (remember: the layer mask is still in effect so you’re not really destroying the lineart) and then fill with black, the layer becomes much easier to colour – you can use the lasso tool to select a group of fiddly lines and the paint bucket to simple fill with a single colour. The mask will ensure only the fiddly lines show through…

 

Bleed

Look, there’s no two ways around it, once you get out of the comfy confines of photocopying zines you’ve got to start dealing with some hard numbers.

Specifically hard numbers relating to Bleed, Trim and Live areas (and Jim Campbell has those things covered, if you don’t understand them go to Jim’s blog read up and come back. I’ll wait.)

Now, back to me. Having used Manga Studio for some time, I’ve always struggled a little with how exactly Manga Studio maps those industry standard terms to its own terms.

 

Screen-Shot-2013-07-30-at-23.23.46

IN Manga Studio 4, I roughly map Page Size to Bleed, Trim Size to Finish Frame and Live Area to Basic Frame.

Of course, this left me with some baffling questions – like, what exactly does “Offset X”/”Offset Y” do and why do I need to specifiy a “Bleed Width” when I’ve already specified a Page Size (ie “Bleed“).

But, leaving offsets and Bleed Width set to zero, let me off the hook, and it works lovely.  Except when I started fiddling with having each page display story settings (basically youre story pages can display author info, page numbers, etc, which is useful if you’re printing so you can remember in 10 years time what the hell that thing was and what page that print out is).

With a zero bleed, the story info was pushed into a very awkward, not quiet fitting spot, half on the page half off. Another manga studio mystery – but, as it was non-essential, I pretty much ignored it.

Now, though, we move to the all new, all awesome manga studio 5 EX. Here I’ve decided it’s time to do things properly, this, unfortunately, hasn’t been helped by a slightly obtuse manual and a Japanese to English conversion that has missed a spot, there and there – and I think you missed a bit over there too … oh never mind.

Here’s that menu in Manga Studio 5.

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 23.31.15

Now we have to contend with some extra names for these things. So, roughly, here’s what I’ve translated these as:

Page Size  the is Bleed (in MS4: Page Size)

Binding (finish) size is the Trim (in MS4: Finish Frame)

Default border (inner) is the Live Area (in MS4: Basic Frame)

(It should also be noted in MS4 “Inside Dimensions” became the slighter more prosaic “Manga Draft Settings” in MS5.)

Now, that’s fine but there’s still that pesky Bleed Width, and X Offset (formerly Offset X) and Y Offset (formerly Offset Y)

So I finally had a tiny eureka moment. In Manga Studio there’s an EXTRA Bleed area – one JUST for Manga Studio’s own use – i.e., your use as an artist. This bleed area can be chopped off on export – so your publisher never has to see it, and THIS is the area where your story details go.

So,  how to use that fact.

Ok, this will get maths-complicated, so stick with me:

Basically, we add an extra 2 times the size of the Bleed Width to the Page Size. So, if we want a nice 1cm bleed all around the artwork, which is already set with our Publisher set Bleed area, we add an extra 2cm to the height and to the width, then tell MS we have a 1CM Bleed width.

Then, on export or print, we simply tell Manga Studio to crop the artwork to offset of crop mark.

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 23.43.56

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 23.44.19

Now, to let you see how this works in practice, here’s the same image – I’ve drawn a big thick border over the Live Area. The Trim area is marked with lines, and I’ve set the page size to be my intended page size plus twice the bleed width (and set a bleed width). That way I have, effectively two trim areas – one for me as the artist and one for the publisher. (And you’ll see some entirely illegible text at the bottom within MY bleed area – which is the story title. It’s perfectly readable when printed, but not when exported at this tiny size.)

 

So, image one is a proper full page export - this includes all of the bleeds.

full export

 

Now this is fine for your use, and for sending preview jpgs to people – because the extra info at the bottom is useful when you’re dealing with jpg previews (how many times have you sent multiple pages in the wrong order? I have – loads).

Ok, this next image is cropped to the “Offset of the Crop Mark” – this is Manga Studio bleed trimmed off, but leaving the “Page Size” – ie a safe bleed area for the publisher to trim.

to offset of crop markNow you’ll spot there’s a few extra lines at the side – which is actually my fault – I added those lines by editing by eye and didn’t quiet get it lined up. But it doesn’t matter – what’s important is that when you export for the publisher to print you export with the option “To Offset of Crop Mark”.

And, finally, “To Inside of Crop Mark” will trim off the publishers bleed area – marked above as the white area labelled “Page Size”.

to inside of crop mark

Look if all of the above it way too confusing, just play safe – keep bleed width to zero. One day I may even figure out what offset x and offset y do. In the meantime, I’ll keep then zero too…

Via twitter, Stephen Downey suggests:

The bleed offset could be for longer form graphic novels with a deep spine. *caveat: it’s an educated guess.

I think he’s spot on. I suspect, Manga Studio is actually aimed at being part of the workflow all the way through until publication – whereas every time I’ve used it, I’ve actually sent artwork to the publisher who then just drop pages in to their dtp software of choice, making the offset x/offset y an non-issue for me (and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone…)

Having just set up a page for someone with a very specific problem, I ended up solving it with the “Y Offset”. The Live area of the page is assumed to be in the dead centre of the “Finish Area” (aka the Trim area). It’s possible – as recently just happened – your publisher will want that live area moved further from the bottom (for example, if they want to put page numbers or such there). In the example I had, they wanted a 15mm margin at the top (from the trim to the live area) and a 20mm margin at the bottom. By setting the Y Offset to -2.5 (MS will try and place the live area dead centre, which means it’ll actually give a 17.5mm margin at top and bottom, if we shift the Y offset by -2.5 it gives 15mm at top and 20mm at bottom).

And that, is that.

Process

Sometimes the mantra “there is no one way to make comics” was wrong, and that there was only one way to do it and then I would know if I’m doing it wrong or right – as it is, it feels like I’m some sort weird petri dish of various experimental processes for making comics – some work, some don’t. (And every time I think I’ve cracked it, something in my brain breaks that process and I have to start all over again).

Anyhue, here’s my current methodology…

Pencils by hand on paper, as god and nature intended. My cintiq is too small to give me a sense of the overall page balance – and while I have pencilled and inked on it, I actually enjoy pencilling on paper.

Inks in Manga Studio 5. I have two pens that I’ve been mostly using, they are:

“Nowlan Inking Nib” – basically the basic G fine tuned to give super fine lines (until you lean heavy then a real thick one).

And

“Textured Pigma Pen” – this has a little bit of give on the pen size when you hold the pen down, but it’s largely the size you use it for. This has a little bit of pen bite (which, to be honest, isn’t even noticable when you print – though you can see it when you draw). You can hold shift down with either of these pens to draw straight lines, but the “Pigma Pen” gives a line thickness that’s almost identical to it’s set size, whereas the Nowlan pen can be very thick when you do this.

(Also: did you know holding shift while drawing allows you to create straight lines, BUT you can keep shift held and just draw normally ? Super useful if you’re drawing some shapes with sides that aren’t straight, or that you’d like a little bit of an organic feel to, say, a building…)

So, inked, I can now print this out at A4 (printing in MS5 is MUCH improved over MS4) and add to my ref folder so I can start the next page.

And as a special treat, here’s those two pens in a ZIP file: Download

Long leaded pencil tool in manga studio 5

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 21.05.04

A little while ago I blogged about using Manga Studio 5 to create a more lifelike pencil tool. If you were using a cintiq, it allowed you to hold the pen at shallow angle and rub the screen as you would with a pencil and get broader strokes (just as you would if you did the same thing). It didn’t occur to me to export the pencil tool at the time (because… well, sometimes I can be thick). But, I thought I’d revisit it and export the pencil.

I’ve made one tiny alteration which has made a big difference to how convincing it is as real world pencil -by changing the nib shape from a circle to a sort of flattened ellipse, the pencil shading effect is now much more intuitive and natural. Here’s an example:

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 20.59.38

(in this drawing, the blue line is the orientation of the pen as I was drawing.

You can download the brush tool here: Long Leaded Pencil.sut. This works fine on a cintiq 12″ – honestly no idea how it’ll perform on other devices (the cheaper wacom tablets may not be able to detect the orientation/angle of the pen).

 

If you don’t have manga studio 5 you can buy it via amazon (boxed pc/windows is currently £55 and I’ll get a bit of kickback via the affiliate program) or via Manga Studio where you can buy it digitally (and I’ll get a kickback there too! please don’t hate me!)

Digital Greywash in Manga Studio

I’ve been doing some new greywash pages for numbercruncher. These have been done in manga studio 5 – entirely digitally (previously, I inked and greywashed the pages the old fashioned and somewhat fraught way).

Here’s how I’ve been doing it:

(Step 0: Ink a complete page – this works better when you’re using the greywash under pre existing lineart)

Step 1:

Create an underlying greywash layer. Fill it with about a 25% shade of black, then use the splatter tool, apply a whole bunch of random splatter ove the page. Alternatively, you could just greywash a piece of paper and then scan it in.

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 10.35.55

Step 2:

Mask off this entire layer – so that nothing shows through (there’s a “create layer mask” button). Unlike photoshop, layer masks in manga studio rely on the transparency you draw on them (photoshop you’d use black and white and every shade in between to effect the transparency). So you can fill the layer mask with the ‘transparent’ colour to hide the entire layer.

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 10.24.43

Step 3:

“Paint” away the layer mask. You can use whatever tool you want to do this, I find using a brush that’s just a little bit random wobbly gives the best look of a natural brush. This should give you a pretty convincing natural greywash look.

Step 4:

Add some dark – I use the “India Ink” tool “Darker Bleed” which, I’ve set to Combine Mode of “Darken” (which means that, say, if you paint 25% grey on top of 40% grey it won’t change the darker colour – but if you paint 40% grey over 25% it’ll get darker – essentially it works like a natural india ink being used as a greywash, which is you can’t lighten, only darken when you use it.

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 10.27.48

I paint that onto the artwork of the greywash layer – so it will only show up in the areas that have been masked to show it. Previously I used this tool on its own without the mask, but the mask affords far more control – especially since the “Darker Bleed” brush has a straggly quality to its edges, which is nice when mixed but doesn’t allow neat sharp brush strokes.

Step 5: There is no step 5. Though, if you like, you can then go a use some white on a normal brush tool to pick out highlights. And then, you might get something that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 10.34.04

 

If you haven’t got Manga Studio 5 you can buy it here! (I get a 20% kick back if you do!)

Manga Studio 5 FAQ

Hey chums, I am often asked about Manga Studio, probably cus I come across as a know-it -all. So here’s some thoughts on it:

As of right now (Sunday 30th December 2012) Manga Studio 5 is available to buy as a physical copy only – no digital downloads. It was made available exclusively to people who subscribe to Smith Micro’s email newsletter (the US/UK distributor). Some lucky people (myself included) where sent a digital copy a week or two before this, so we could knock it about a bit and give some early feedback and help anyone else who would want to be an early adaptor.

As it happens – the exclusivity – is fairly open, and if you’re bursting with anticipation to see what MS5 does you can buy it at this link. Couple of caveats: postage and import duty will strike you hard. I’ve been told by those that have bought it, it practically doubles the price of software, also just remember that this isn’t an official Release just yet, so, if you’re gonna gripe – keep that in mind!

So, to round up some questions I’m asked:

Is MS5 the equivalent of MS4 Debut or MS4EX?

There’s no straight ahead answer here. MS5 includes some features of MS4EX and many features that don’t exist in either. Smith Micro are placing it as an upgrade from MS4EX (and it almost certainly is) but it’s missing a couple of the key MS4EX features that power users will want. MS5EX will be out in the summer (when they will also be making it available to download for digital purchase). The headline missing feature is Story Mode – the ability to have more than one page in a document. (The minor missing features are symmetry rulers, and a number of filters – most noticeable, for me, is the lack of a “Dust Filter” feature – a brilliant way to clean up digital scans).

Where MS5 is leaps and bounds ahead of MS4EX is in the colouring. It seriously out clasess MS4EX/Debut and is, as far as I’m concerned, a solid replacement in my workflow for Adobe Photoshop.

Where’s the Import->SCAN?

There is NO File->Import->Scan in MS5. I’m not sure why this is. My suspicion is that, in line with Adobe Photoshop, when it went from 32bit to 64bit, twain support (Twain is a universal standard for scanning, but requires hardware manufacturers to create twain drivers, most of which are only 32bit) was dropped leading to a lack of direct import for scans. It’s not a great loss for me, though it does add to the inconvenience factor a little bit. My scanning software includes the ability to scan and send images to software (though, your milage may vary). This is true on the Mac, and is almost certainly true for windows pc (though I can’t verify that).

Can you run MS4 and MS5 at the same time?

Yes! In fact, I’m doing that right now. I’m actually running MS4Ex, which I still use, the multi page support is essential to my workflow. MS5 though, has totally knocked photoshop out of my workflow. Any colouring/image editing/ etc happens in MS5. As of this writing, the files between MS4 and MS5 are NOT compatible. But you can use a file format like PSD as a bridge between the two.

Wait, the files aren’t compatible?

Nope. Interesting fact: MS5 ISN’T an update of existing software MS4, it is in fact, a completely NEW bit of software that’s been renamed and had features of MS4 added to be the new MS5 (Manga Studio 4 was actually called Comic Studio in Japan, and Manga Studio 5 was actually a bit of software called Clip Studio, and, as near as I can tell, Comic Studio was designed for B&W and toned comic work, while Clip Studio was geared towards fully painted comics – or rather, painting work drawn in Comic Studio. Manga Studio 5, scoops up features of Comic Studio, but is built on Clip Studio).

All of that said, they’re addressing the issue, and I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t part of a .1 release either before or during the summer when it’s officially available for sale.

Should I buy this now or wait for the summer (when MS5EX /Digital downloads are available?)

Down to you, personally, I’d wait. The money you save on being able to buy a digital version as opposed to buying the physical version can be poured into buying the EX version (remember, right now, you can ONLY buy MS5 and NOT MS5EX).

That said, if you’re the sort of idiot that gets overly excited about new software and digital drawing and colouring on the computer, then go ahead. I’m just glad they sent me a freebie otherwise that’s exactly what I would have done.

And that’s it. If you’ve anything to add, or what to ask anything, then please ask away.

-pj