Here’s some things you’ll need to know about layers.
Manga Studio 5 has six different type of layers, they are:
- 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.
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)
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.
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.