2000AD Manga Studio Page Size

I know other artists work at print size in the digital realm, but I like to work at actual art[*] size – it gives me a flexibility to print and rescan and redo artwork and work in both digital and traditional media (I don’t subscribe to the idea that one is better than the other, though I – personally – do prefer the satisfaction of a good page drawn on paper).

Anyhue, rather than copying down the settings, here’s a screen grab of my setup. You’ll note “Basic Expression Color” set to Monochrome, this makes all new layers default to monochrome. Number of Basic Lines kicks in when you’re using the letratone/ben day dots and I never use it, so 60 is fine. There’s lots of settings I ignore, Bleed width, X offset, Y offset, story information, folio (A think I’ve never adequately figured out) and MS has this annoying habit of “correcting” numbers for you as you add new settings, so if you’re trying to replicate these settings to create a new document make double sure you’ve got them right.

Hopefully this is useful to one or two people!

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 20.03.26

[* edited, when I originally wrote this I wrote “I like to work at print size” making everything that followed look like the ravings of a mad man. So I’ve fixed it.]

Drawing Panels in Manga Studio/Clip Studio Paint

Ok, let’s deal with some nomenclature first…

Panels or frames or boxes or … those, often rectangular like shapes that house the contents of one part of a comic – I’m calling those panels (and the lines around them panel borders). I’m from the UK and it’s what we call them.

Manga Studio IS Clip Studio Paint. I’ll refer to it usually as Manga Studio, because it’s what I’ve been used to for years. But you may also see me refer to it as MS, or MS/CSP. But be aware: they are the same software with two different names. No difference. All the same things apply.

Ok, words settled, let’s get in to some basics.

Manga Studio has some pretty cool tools for drawing panel borders. One thing it defaults to though is to create a new layer for every panel that you create. Personally, I hate that. I like to keep my folder count down to single digits (a pencil, an inks, a panel border layer – and sometimes a colour flats anda  colour render layer).

You create a panel border frame from the layer menu.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 11.45.27.png

This creates a new folder layer – anything dropped in to this folder will, cleverly, ONLY show the the contents of the drawing.

For this example I’m going to use a page from Monsterology Book 2: Sabbaticals. (You should buy this from your local comic shop, it’s ace…)

Here’s my sloppy pencils


Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 11.49.41.png


So, step one is to create a new frame folder. This will pop up some useful defaults. The folder name (I rarely change this, as I only tend to work with one folder, so I keep the default..)

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 11.53.02.pngA check box, “Draw Border” – since I’m only doing this to have panel borders, then yup, I’ll make sure that’s checked. And Line Width can be set as you feel appropriate. I like big chunky panel border and use 1.40mm (I get asked in mm here because my entire document is setup for metric, yours may be in inches) I also have a rotring 1.4mm pen that I’ve used for decades for drawing panel borders, so that also plays in to the choice I’m making here. Anti-aliasing here is disabled because my default layer type is black and white, so anti-aliasing (which is the process where it uses grey tones to “fake” a higher resolution) isn’t offered.

This creates a new folder with a mask – a folder mask contains opaque and transparent areas where any art in folder will only show through the transparent areas. Personally, I find it a little limiting when I’m setting up pencils, but it’s useful for keeping your art clean and distraction free.

My folders now look like this:

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 11.59.35.png

And my image looks like this (the blue area is the mask, which isn’t hiding the artwork yet because the artwork isn’t INSIDE the frame folder, it’s below it, so the mask isn’t effecting it)


Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.00.40.png

Now to begin slicing up the border!

Manga Studio/Clip Paint Studio has a number of useful “subtools” for slicing up panel borders

Here’s mine (including a new one I created which is very useful!)


Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.01.45.png

A sub tool is basically a tool that’s had various settings applied to it and those settings have been saved, so you can create lots of different little versions of the same tool specific to jobs or your perferences.

The main, most useful tool though, is “Divide Frame Folder” this lets you split the current panel frame in an arbitrary manner (handily, if you press shift while slicing the panel it’ll rigidly snap to either horizontal or vertical)

If you’ve ever read the 2000AD 10 commandments, you may want to stick to panel borders that have a 5mm gap (as I do) and “Divide Frame Folder” has a setting that lets you specifiy both the horizontal and vertical gap for panel borders (I set both to 5mm, for some weird, probably manga related reason, it defaults to a larger vertical than horizontal gap – I find that … unsettling)

By default the divide frame folder tool will actually create a new sub folder for each panel, so if you slice and entire page into two panels you’ll actually end up with two seperate frame folders – each with their own mask, and art placed within each can then be moved around without interefereing with other panel borders, the mask constantly clipping out the pieces of artwork that you don’t want the reader to see. Which I can see being useful if that’s how you work. It’s not how I work though, so the first thing I do is change that default behaviour like so…

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.01.59.png

(It’s at this point you might start to find yourself thinking “the english in these menu options can be pretty … weird…” yup… I concur…)

UPDATE: It’s been pointed out, correctly, that the settings I’ve changed basically turned “Divide Frame Folder” into the extant tool “Divide Frame Border” – which I’ve never noticed before. So you can choose to change the settings or just use “Divide Frame Border”… 🙂

So, now, using this tool, I slice and dice as I like and end up here…

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.10.59.png

(as a quick tip: if you hold the shift key and click in roughly the middle of where you want the panel border to be and move ever so slightly up or down, the entire panel will slice perfectly from where your mouse is, so you can do this in literally seconds)

Now, it’s not quite where I want it, for eaxmple, I’d like panel one to be open at the top, and I’d like our vilains head on the last panel to pop out of the last panel a little and for the panel borders on the bottom, left and right, to go off the page.

Let’s deal with bleeding the panel off the page first. Selecting the Select tool (see what I did there?) – or, more specifiacally the Object Select tool (which looks like this: Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.14.02.png) and can be had roughly here:

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.14.27.png

(One frustrating note is that the tool bar on the left shows the most recently used subtool of that tool – making it sometimes almost damn impossible to find your tool of choice if you have a LOT of subtools… for example, that menu can also look like this:

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.15.37.png

It’s why people frequently complain that they can’t find a particular ruler – it’s because the ruler is a subtool of a set and the tool bar is currently showing the icon of a different toolbar. One day someone smart will add a search feature to the tool menu just to find those millions of amazing drawing tools that I bought off frenden…)

Ok, I digress. Having picked up the Object Selection tool (remember, looks like this: Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.14.02.png) you can now select the frame you want to extend. There’s actually a few ways to extend the panel borders and I’ll run through them quickly:

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.22.59.png

There are two sets of handles for moving the frame, the outer set rigidly connects snaps to other frames or the side of the page. The inner set is more flexible (for example, you can take inner most top left corner handle and stretch just that up, like so:

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.24.57.png

Moving the outer most top left handle will actually simply stretch it up without distorting:

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.26.05.png

If you’re sticking to fairly straightforward square/rectangular shaped panel borders then outer handles will do the job (though, like me you may find yourself never even thinking about those outer handles and just using shift to constrain how things are stretched – to be honest, after years of using MS, this is the first time I’ve even needed to think about what those outer handles are for…)

So I grab the outer handles and stretch the panel until the panel borders are off the hook. I mean page. Off the page.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.28.20.png

I usually drag those handles way off the page. You can leave them flush, but depending on how your page is setup when you print you may find the edges of the panel creep in to the page. Much better to yank them off into the grey-never-to-be-seen-area.

Moving panel borders around can be a little fraught, Manga Studio has some great tricks for dealing with it, but there’s also frustration to be had. In the select Objects Properties you’ll find a few useful checkboxes..

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.36.37.png

Snap to Another Frame Border – actually snaps to both the frame border and to the invisible set distance between them (in my case that 5mm gap)

Work with another frame border allows you to, for example, move one frame folder and have another frame folder keep it’s distance (inching away from your movement and keeping that 5mm gap you’ve set earlier). If you want overlapping frames though this can be a bit of a pain, so I often have it unticked.

Frame Border / Draw Border – yes please. Except when you don’t want the panel border…

and Snap. Turning this off frees you up to place your panel borders as you see fit, rather than keeping to those rigerous self-imposed 5mm rules.

Ok, we’ve covered bleeding a panel border. Since this has gone on far longer than I anticipated, I’m gonna come back to this tomorrow when I’ll cover Breaking the frame – having artwork outside the panel frame. There’s a clever way to do this that doesn’t involve printing out and tippexing the borders you don’t need and rescanning. I just wish I’d figured it out sooner…



Zoom Zoom

Hey all, it’s a Manga Studio tip week!

Let’s talk zoom levels. Like most drawing programs you can arbitrarily zoom in on MS pages to whatever zoom level you like, but if you use the little Magnifying plus and minus icons (Screenshot 2015-10-19 11.11.39 or the keyboard shortcut: – and + ) MS will jump to fixed zoom levels, which, handily you can set yourself.

Here’s my setup:

Screenshot 2015-10-19 11.03.19

This can be found in MANGA STUDIO->Preferences->Canvas

A little explanation – I work at original art size, about 40% bigger than print – I do this because I still like working on traditional pencils/inks sometimes and so if I keep my digital file sizes the same size as my actual art I can round-robin pages – scanning in to alter pencils, print out, ink, scan in again with ease. Working all digital you could easily work at 600dpi print size, and I sometimes do that, but I’m used to drawing at the larger size now.

Here’s how the zoom levels breakdown – now these apply specifically to my 27″ cintiq (I KNOW!!!) and you should probably measure sizes out based on the screen resolution you’re working with:

5% – this is a tiny thumbnail of the page and gives me a quick distant glance at a page to make sure it’s working small (more important than most realise, if it works at this level it’ll work at all levels)

12.9% – this is roughly print size (I measured it against the finished comic) and gives me a sense of how it’ll work in print.

18.3% – is art 1:1 size on my old cintiq 12″ (which had a higher resolution than the 27″ cintiq). I could literally lay the art on top of the cintiq and it would match line for line.

20.8% – this is art 1:1 size on the new Cintiq 27″ (and why you should check your resolution to make sure it matches – you can do this using “Display Resolution” which lets you tell MS the res of your monitor by displaying a handle adjustable ruler which you set can measure against an actual real physical ruler- you’ll feel like a prat for a minute but once done it’s done)

Screenshot 2015-10-19 11.23.49

After this the sizes are mostly arbitrary:

33.3% – 1/3 zoom level. What I ink at most of the time, a little closer than 1:1

50% – occasionally go in to this detail if there’s some odd little detail I want to work out.

75% – this is too close to zoom, don’t do this (unless you’re flatting and need to make sure you’re not missing a bit)

100% – THIS WAY LIES MADNESS. Seriously, don’t ink at this level, that’s insane, bro.


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.


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…



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.



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.


Sometimes I wish 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).


“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