Manga Studio 5 Review

What Manga Studio 5 Does Better Than Adobe Photoshop

I’ve been using Manga Studio 5 for over a year now, and I love it.  I set out to make a quick YouTube review of it, and “quick” quickly turned into over 15 minutes of me rambling.  There are so many cool new tools and features in MS5, that it was really hard to fit them all in.

If you’re considering purchasing new art software, you’ll definitely want to check this out.

 Watch the Full Video Review:

In Summary:

Manga Studio 5 Compared to Adobe Photoshop:

There are a TON of things that Manga Studio does better than Adobe Photoshop.  Can it replace it?  Maybe someday – but for now I think Adobe Photoshop is irreplaceable.  That being said, I use Manga Studio for 90% of all the artwork I create.  I usually use Adobe Photoshop for any work involving text, and for certain filters.

Manga Studio 5 sets out to out-shine Adobe Photoshop as a digital painting and drawing software, and in my opinion, it does that beautifully.

I find it far more enjoyable to use than Photoshop at painting, drawing, and especially inking.  It blends the intuitive painting and blending engines of Corel Painter with Adobe Photoshop’s intuitive interface and power.

Here’s a sample of some of the artwork I created in Manga Studio 5:

What’s Totally Freaking Awesome About Manga Studio 5

Features that you won’t find in Adobe Photoshop

  1. It’s CHEAP!

    1. It’s hard to compile a benefits list without mentioning the fact that it’s butt-loads cheaper than Adobe Photoshop.
    2. I’m currently using the Adobe Creative Cloud, Photographer’s bundle, which is only $10 a month (hard to complain about that).  But even at that price, it still ends up being $120/year.
    3. Manga Studio 5 is currently only $35 on Amazon.com:  Purchase it Here
  2. Paint with Transparency – my favorite feature

    1. Manga Studio 5 easily lets you switch to transparency as a color on the fly, making any brush instantly into an eraser.  Great for cleaning up linework, inking with “white,” and “erasing” away paint strokes that you laid on too heavy.
  3. Reference layers – extremely helpful tool when coloring

    Reference layers are an incredible concept, that I’ve never experience before in any other program.  It works like this:

    1. Choose any layer (or even a group of layers) to act as the Reference Layer by clicking the lighthouse icon in the layer menu.
    2. Now select a different layer.
    3. Choose a tool such as the magic wand, paintbucket, or eye-dropper, and make sure it is set to “Refer To Reference Layer.”
    4. Now, watch in amazement as the paint bucket fills, the wand selects, the eyedropper… uh, drops using data not from the layer you are editing, but from the reference layer!So what is this useful for?  I use it all the time when coloring artwork.  I create a flat color layer under my lineart, with no shading.  Comic book artists refer to these as “Flats.”  Then I create a new layer above the Flats, and set the Flats as a reference layer.  Now, as I color, I can quickly switch between the magic wand and my brush, and the magic wand makes selections based on the Flat layer.
      In Adobe Photoshop, I would have to constantly hide my color layer, switch to my flats layer, make the selection, unhide my color layer, switch back to the color layer, and paint.  Reference Layers in Manga Studio save me so much time.  And the same concept works for the paint bucket, along with other tools.
  4. Lasso Fill Tool

    This tool can be a free-form lasso, a polygon lasso, or a specific shape.  As soon as you are done drawing the shape, it fills with your foreground color automatically onto the canvas.

    1. Great for making smooth, irregular shapes when the Stabilization is set very high.
    2. Great for blocking in large areas of black or color.
    3. Great for quickly deleting large areas (when painting with transparency).
  5. Selection Pen Tool

    1. This is a special brush that instantly makes your stroke (or strokes if you hold down shift) into a marquee selection.  Great for painting lots of tiny highlights (when coloring with comic book style).
    2. You can configure this brush just like any other, with different brush shapes and pressure settings.
  6. Symmetrical Rulers!

    Similar to Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Manga Studio 5 has some great symmetrical rulers.

    1. Draw a ruler anywhere that will mirror the image in real-time.  This doesn’t appear to slow down my machine at all.
    2. You can even draw up to 8 symmetrical rules at once, which can create some really cool Spiral-Graph-style designs (warning: this will probably slow down your machine a bit).
    3. Huge time saver (50%!).
  7. Gradient Layers

    1. This tool allows you to create a gradient that you can edit and resize (similar to Adobe Illustrator) in real-time even after you’ve laid it down.
    2. Change the size, add/remove colors, and change the spacing of the colors easily until you rasterize the gradient.
    3. You can also use gradients the traditional way if you choose.
  8. See flipped canvas in mirrored window

    1. One of my favorite features.  A trick I learned a while back was to constantly flip my canvas horizontally or vertically, which will make any errors you’ve made stick out like a sore thumb.  But flipping the canvas in Photoshop can take a little while to load (especially if you’re working with a large file), because it actually is transforming and flipping all the pixels on the canvas.
    2. Manga Studio does this in a much cleaner way – it is flipping the view, not the canvas itself.  So the result is instantaneous, and the result isn’t saved in the file.
    3. What’s even better, is that you can draw with one window in the original orientation, while having a second window open with the view flipped, and it’s updated in real-time.  This way you can spot errors as you make them.
  9. Half-tone Layers

    1. Easily editable at any time.  Great for setting up silk-screening artwork.

    2. In Adobe Photoshop, it’s very tedious creating halftones for silk-screening.  You have to output the layer, convert it to a bitmap, then choose a halftone pattern and size (if you don’t like it, you have to repeat the process), then copy and paste the pattern back into Photoshop for each screen.
    3. In Manga Studio, you can instantly change any layer in your document to a half-tone layer, and continuously adjust the size and shape of the halftone pattern, again and again.  You can even paint directly onto this layer, and watch it convert your airbrush strokes into solid dot goodness, with no lag at all.
    4. When you’re done, just rasterize the layer, and you’re all set!
  10. 3D poses

    1. Manga Studio comes with a library of 3D objects and mannequins which can be posed for reference, and dropped right into your artwork.
    2. I find the 3D engine in Manga Studio much more flexible and responsive (although it is suitable for reference only, not rendering – Photoshop takes the cake on that one).More Illustrations I created using Manga Studio 5:
  11. Can create full-color brushes

    1. Similar to Painter and Adobe Illustrator, the brushes you create can have full-color (not just a black and white imprint).
    2. In Adobe Photoshop, all the brushes you create can only be one solid color.
    3. This is great for creating custom textures, repeating icons and elements.
    4. There are also many ways to make the image curve with your stroke, so creating things like chain and rope brushes is very easy and effective.
  12. Better (in my opinion) organization and customization of brush palettes

    1. You can easily create and organize your own groups of brushes on the fly, and add them to your menu, or as a tabbed list.  I find this much easier than saving each brush group, and then replacing or appending it to the current list of brushes (as in Photoshop).
    2. HOWEVER – exporting brushes from Manga Studio is very cumbersome, and definitely needs an update.  While you can upload many brushes at once, you can only export one at a time.
  13. Color Wheel

    1. I have never liked Photoshop’s color picker, and have always preferred Corel Painter’s color wheel.  Manga Studio’s color picker is almost identical to Painter’s.  I find it much easier to quickly pick and adjust colors.
    2. In Adobe Photoshop, I use a plugin called Magic Picker (http://anastasiy.com/colorwheel) which is a great way to emulate a Corel Painter style color picker.  But it would be nice if this feature was built into Photoshop.
    3. NOTE:  Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 finally introduced a Color Picker palette that is similar, but I think it still falls short, because there is no color wheel.
  14. Image movement isn’t LOCKED in a window

    1. When working with two or more windows at once, Photoshop won’t allow you to pan beyond the document bounds unless you are zoomed in to the point that the document bounds exceeds the size of the window.
    2. This is very annoying when working with a Cintiq, because I often like to have the part of the image I’m working on in the center (where it’s most comfortable to draw), so I pan the canvas around a lot.
  15. Smart Paint Bucket

    In Adobe Photoshop, the paint bucket in my opinion was so useless that I simply forgot about it.  In Manga Studio, I actually use it quite frequently, because it’s so much more effective and customizable.

    1. You can make the fill area expand or shrink by a certain number of pixels, which is very helpful when coloring underneath lineart to avoid ghost outlines where the anti-aliasing of the lineart meets the color fill.
    2. You can control the sensitivity of what the bucket considers a closed area.  This is the Close Gap feature.  This is extremely useful, because I often don’t enclose my shapes completely with lineart.  If there is just a tiny gap, it will still fill the area as if it were closed.
    3. Very useful when set to reference layers, because you can use data from a layer that is out of sight.
  16. Smart Magic Wand

    The same goes for the magic wand.  It’s extremely customizable and flexible compared to the two parameters Adobe Photoshop offers.

    1. Can also be set to automatically expand or shrink the selected area immediately after clicking.  This is useful because I would often make a selection in Adobe Photoshop, and then go to Expand Selection by a couple pixels to make sure my color and lineart overlapped.
    2. Can also close gaps.
    3. Can select from layers other than the one you are currently editing.
  17. Layer Property menu

    1. You can change the entire color of a layer’s contents easily.  This is particularly useful when designing artwork for silk-screen applications.  Each layer can be painted with black, but it can appear on screen as a different color.  You can apply this effect to an entire group – which allows a quick way to make sure every layer in your group is the same color.

    2. Great for turning pencils into “non-photo” blue when inking.
  18. Edit/delete from multiple layers at once

    This is something that I’ve waned in Photoshop for quite some time.  If you make a selection in Manga Studio 5, and then OPTION+CLICK each layer that you want to delete from, and then hit delete, it will delete content in that selected area from ALL those layers at once.  In Adobe Photoshop, you’d have to hit delete individually for each layer you want to delete from.

    1. Can even make a whole group into a clipping mask.
    2. Easily delete a selection from a multiple layers at once.
  19. Copy/Paste from multiple layers

    Even better is the ability to copy and paste from multiple layers at once.

    1. You can make a selection with the lasso tool, then highlight multiple layers, and copy (or cut) and paste the artwork into new layers in one action.
    2. The only way to do this in Adobe Photoshop would be to put the layers into a group, and mask the group.
    3. Copy Merged is also a solution, but this is only useful if you don’t mind the layers being merged.
  20. Smaller File Size

    1. A PSD saved in Manga Studio is about 30% smaller than the same exact file saved in Photoshop.  I’m not sure why this is – perhaps Photoshop is saving a lot of extra data that I don’t usually use.
      More Illustrations I created using Manga Studio 5:
  21. Subview window for reference and color picking

    This is a cool tool that I think is exclusive to Manga Studio.

    1. It’s a palette that opens a preview of any image without actually opening the file, and keeps in on display for reference or color picking.

    2. Also, you can open many files at once in this window, and just flip between them.
    3. Your cursor instantly becomes an eye-dropper tool when you hover over it, making it a virtual palette.
    4. This is very useful when working on something like a children’s book or comic book when there are a lot of the same characters that you need to redraw with the same colors.
  22. Mesh Transform multiple layers at once

    1. Manga Studio’s mesh transform tool is better (in my opinion) than Photoshop’s Warp Transform tool, because you can transform an entire grouping of layers at once.  In Photoshop, you can only Warp Transform one layer at a time.  This usually forced me to merge layers when I didn’t want to.
    2. You can also add mesh points (similar to Adobe Illustrator) to give you more precise control over your transformations.
    3. However, it falls short when compared to Adobe Photoshop’s liquify tool.
  23. Periodic Backups

    1. The program automatically saves iterations of you file as you work on it, just in case the unthinkable happens.  If, for example, you accidentally flatten your image, you can then go into the Manga Studio Library folder (on Mac) and find your file.
    2. It only keeps a certain number of backups total as temporary files, so you don’t have to worry about managing these files to manage space.
    3. Adobe Photoshop CC saves backups – however, these are only saved and accessible if the program has crashed.
  24. Undo whole group of strokes in one “Undo” action

    1. Often, you might make a whole series of quick strokes with the brush (say for example, 10 brushstrokes), and then decide you don’t like what you’ve done.  In Adobe Photoshop, you’d have to hit Undo 10 times.  In Manga Studio, it sees these quick strokes as one action, so it will undo the whole series.
    2. You can adjust how Manga Studio groups the brushstrokes (as well as turning this feature off).
  25. Convert Brightness To Opacity

    1. In one step (accessed from the Edit menu), you can cleanly remove the “white” or light areas and turn them into transparency.
    2. This is very useful for extracting flattened lineart from scans.
    3. In Adobe Photoshop, I normally did this in the Channels palette – but I find that Manga Studio does a much more accurate job.
  26. Draw straight lines while holding shift

    1. Unlike Photoshop, this feature shows you a preview of where your line will be as you hold shift, which is very useful.
    2. Stroke is unaffected by pen pressure (won’t get smaller toward the end), unlike Adobe Photoshop (which I always found annoying, because if I’m drawing a straight line, I usually want it to be the same thickness throughout).
  27. Rulers!

    1. There is an incredible number of rulers you can use in real-time on your canvas.
      1. Curves
      2. Parallel lines
      3. Ellipses
      4. Concentric circles
      5. Focus line
      6. Perspective Rulers (awesome!)
    2. The rulers are easily moveable, adjustable, and resizable, just by holding the CMD key as you hover over a ruler.  No need to switch tools.
    3. You can also easily toggle them on and off just with a keyboard shortcut – so it’s easy to flip back and forth between free-hand drawing and ruled-drawing.
    4. You can even draw your own rulers using the Ruler Pen!

Improvements made from Manga Studio 4

  1. Overall better User Interface
    1. The MS4 interface was a bit clunky, and felt like Windows 2000, with palettes floating everywhere.
    2. The new interface combines the best things of both Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter.
    3. You can now rearrange and dock palettes, and collapse menus.  This is the most customizable interface of all the other software I’ve mentioned so far.
    4. You can now save different Workspaces.
  2. Improved file-handling

    1. Fixed strange file saving structure (used to be in a folder)

    2. You can now work on documents as large as 166 inches square (the limit was only 16 inches in MS 4).

  3. Much improved brush engine

    1. Tons of options (maybe too many)

    2. Lock editability of brush

  4. Much less limited image size

    1. In EX4, you were limited to 16 inch documents, which becomes tricky when designing T-Shirts.

  5. Ruler system greatly improved.

    1. EX4’s rulers were complicated, and difficult to edit.

    2. Now you can easily turn on and off a ruler, or move it to other layers.

    3. Perspective rulers also seem easier to use.

  6. Coloring greatly improved

    1. Import color swatches from Photoshop, and save them.

    2. Tons of new painting tools similar to Painter

    3. Active color wheel like Painter

  7. Added blending modes similar to Adobe Photoshop
    1. Nearly all the blending modes (for both layers and brushes) you’d come to expect are now here.  There are a few additions too that Photoshop doesn’t have, such as Glow Dodge (which is similar to Linear Dodge in Photoshop).
    2. My only complaint is that a Color blending mode appears to be missing – Soft Light works well as a substitute.
  8. Much improved layer and layer group system
    1. I found MX4’s layer system to be too complicated.  The new system mirrors Adobe Photoshop in all the good ways.

 

Thanks for reading!  If I’ve missed any features, or if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section.

To check out more of my work, or to hire me:

https://www.flylanddesigns.com

60 replies
      • Brian Allen
        Brian Allen says:

        Pretty close.It does have vector layers, so your brush strokes and shapes can be resized without loss. Also, you can add images and photos that aren’t rasterized right away, and can be edited and preserved similar to smart objects.

        Reply
  1. Louis Browne
    Louis Browne says:

    When you say, “Undo whole groups of strokes in one “Undo” action?” are you not talking about the history panel are you just the ability to hold down the undo button?
    It true that Manga Clip/ Studio is far better equipped for the common everyday linear tasks.
    But a huge point in Photoshop favour is it’s brush engines. Even disregarding the impressive 3d brushes, charcoal sticks, air brushes and graphite pencils Photoshops brush settings allows for a much more impressive array of natural looking brush strokes which is a monumental big deal… Though it’s certainly not the only stock +1 in adobes favour. I’m not saying it’s better only that it’s not the 1 no. widely used arttool simply because it was here first.

    Reply
    • Brian Allen
      Brian Allen says:

      Thanks for the comment Louis. The Undo multiple strokes is different than what you’re referring to. Since it groups multiple strokes made very quickly (and you can change how quickly) as one movement, then you only need to press undo once to delete all those strokes. I find this really useful in the way I work.

      About the brush engine being better in Photoshop, you might have to give Manga Studio’s brush engine a closer look. It actually has more configurations than Photoshop, and you can create some really authentic looking natural brushes. And the thing that makes it look even more natural is that you can change the way the colors blend together as you brush (similar to Corel Painter).

      Photoshop is still a powerhouse though, and I use it every day.

      Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Manga Studio actually has a the more advanced brush engine- and I am a long time PS user. I think you need to explore the settings a bit more. You get a great deal more control. I still use PS for photographic work – nothing beats it there.

      Reply
      • Brian Allen
        Brian Allen says:

        I agree – one of the coolest things about how it handles brushes is that it saves the color information as well. I recently made a seamless rope brush from a photo of real rope. Painter does this too, but I think Manga Studio does it better. Shame on you Photoshop for only creating black and white brushes!

        Reply
  2. Marcel Hoekstra
    Marcel Hoekstra says:

    Hello Brian! great work! Can u tell me how to access a short way to the menus in clip studio? I think I saw it in one of your videos (sorry I can’t find it
    anymore), where u clicked ‘something’ and a quick menu around the cursor was shortly visible, a quick menu. I hope this is clear… thanks in advance! best regards, Marcel

    Reply
    • Brian Allen
      Brian Allen says:

      Thanks for watching Marcel – That is actually the Radial menu by Wacom – it comes with the Cintiq, so it doesn’t have anything to do with Manga Studio 5. I actually stopped using that – forgot all about it actually!

      Reply
  3. Tyler
    Tyler says:

    Hello, Brian! I was curious, as it is a large part of my particular style of drawing, how well does shading work? If I shade by hand, is there a feature in this program that can make it any easier than Photoshop’s Burn and Dodge tool? If you mentioned it, I may have missed it.

    Thank you for your time,

    Tyler

    Reply
    • Brian Allen
      Brian Allen says:

      Hi Tyler – I don’t use the burn and dodge tools much in Photoshop. But you can use a soft brush set to Multiply or Screen to get a similar affect. There are some great brushes that simulate real pencil shading, so the further you tilt the stylus down, the fatter and flatter the stroke gets.

      Reply
  4. Revius
    Revius says:

    Hey, I was wondering…. manga studio seems to have a setup for the default brushes that tries to imitate real painting mediums. Are you using them like that ? I want to approach painting but I am slightly confused for two reasons… one of them is that there are barely any tutorials on how to approach painting in Manga Studio (if any at all, while there’s a ton for PS) and they seem to me entirely different in the way they work so I can’t apply what I see/learn from PS stuff. What would you recommend me to do ?

    Thanks ! Your work is very awesome btw !

    Reply
    • Brian Allen
      Brian Allen says:

      Thanks for the compliments! There are a lot more tutorials on Photoshop simply because so many more people use it. Manga Studio can handle painting differently by setting the brushes to actually mix the colors on screen, similar to Corel Painter. This is good for some things, but since I was trained on Adobe Photoshop, I actually prefer having the colors mix by overlaying transparent strokes on top of each other, like Adobe Photoshop. If you are more comfortable with that, then in the Ink section of the Brush Properties window, uncheck the Mix Ground Color box.

      Reply
      • Revius
        Revius says:

        Sorry for bothering again but… since you’ve mentioned you were trained in Adobe Photoshop… I have a question related to that program. Did you ever have or have heard of anyone having an issue with strokes always appearing “glazed” in it … as if opacity was set to 70% or something like that although the settings are perfectly normal ? It used to work initially but after a while it kind of just “broke down” (resetting/reinstalling it/my system or even getting a new pc didn’t work). The only things left out to blame are my tablet or photoshop. Manga studio seemed to work as usual but then again I hadn’t used many of it’s tools to notice a difference in the before and after…. so to be completely sure if It’s not or if it is my tablet’s fault I’ll have to ask you kindly to tell me if the Darker pencil tool in Manga studio has a glazing effect ? If it doesn’t… it means my tablet is broken somehow. That and if you know anyone that has had my problem and solved it.
        Thanks a lot again !

        Reply
        • Brian Allen
          Brian Allen says:

          Sorry, I wish I could help, but I haven’t had that issue. The Darker Pencil in MS5 is usually sold black if I recall. I would check your Wacom tablet settings, and adjust the pressure sensitivity and see if that does anything. In Photoshop, just make sure the Opacity and Flow are 100%

          Reply
  5. kely
    kely says:

    Hello there.. I was actually searching for someone who had used manga studio to its peak capacity.. I hope you are someone i can get my answers from. In manga studio I dont know how to make those strokes more realistic like Photoshop.. You can see my painting or anything I draw is kind of okay with the grayscale layer but as I try colouring( beleive me I have tried overlay glow dodge and everything there it is in manga studio.. I can’t make it more realistic like Photoshop.. I frustrated actually i try so hard and try to make it so detailed..but end up with a not so good “just ok” colouring.. Help me if you know any way out.

    Reply
    • Brian Allen
      Brian Allen says:

      I share your frustration – I actually prefer to paint in Adobe Photoshop, I think it handles color mixing and soft pen pressure better than Manga Studio. But I still prefer Manga Studio for drawing and inking. My advice is to try all the different software and see which ones click, then focus on that one and hit it hard. Once you master it, you can go back and try the others.

      Reply
  6. Shawn
    Shawn says:

    Really helpful review… thanks. For item 14, Overscroll was added in CC 2014 (I think that is what you are referring to) and may help you.
    Edit > Preferences > Tools > Overscroll (allows scrolling past normal bounds of window)

    Reply
  7. Bridg
    Bridg says:

    I just got Manga Studio 5 and I love it for the most part but the undo is driving me crazy. I always want to delete just my last stroke, not my whole sketch. I set the “delay before recognizing new object” to 0 and still does it.
    I use mac, if it wasn’t for that, I’d be using SAI. which is way less bloated and has a better vector workflow IMO.

    Reply
  8. Aby
    Aby says:

    Hey thank you for this comparison. Very helpful especially seeing what you were able to accomplish with the software. I just want to know where I can actually learn to use the software because right now I am playing with it but have no idea what I’m doing. Thanks!

    Reply
  9. Dave Nalesnik
    Dave Nalesnik says:

    Brian,
    Thank you so much for this review! I was researching buying the Manga software, and was trying to see how it differed from Photoshop (which I have) and Corel Painter (which I am unwilling to shell out for right now).
    You outlined those differences in a concise and entertaining way, with a much higher degree of professionalism on the Youtube video than one often sees in that arena :).
    I think you best summed it up when you said (and I am paraphrasing here) that at this price, you’re pretty much a dumbass not to pony up for it. Wise words, people! The software publishers should be paying you for this kind of thing…you are a great spokesman.
    The next time I get around to my blog, I will definitely be talking about Manga Studio, and pointing folks to your awesome info on it. I will also be giving your work the mad props it deserves, it is uhhhh-MAAAAY-zing!
    cheers,
    Dave N.

    Reply
  10. Konstantin Pogorelov
    Konstantin Pogorelov says:

    Oh yeah man, Manga Studio has never ceased to amaze me and put a smile on my face by how thoughtfully it is designed. It seems as if artists who actually know what theyre doing and understand the workflow were allowed to contribute to its design process!!! (lol thats right im lookin at u Adobe) Anyways, you have just revealed to me a bunch of other awesome things about this program that I had yet to discover so CHEERS TO YOU!

    Reply
    • Brian Allen
      Brian Allen says:

      Thanks! They definitely have a crop feature. Just go to Canvas Size in the menu, and then you can move the handles on the top and bottom to crop the image however you wish.

      Reply
  11. Phil Griffiths
    Phil Griffiths says:

    Wow, very nice! I had heard of Manga Studio before but until now, I did not realise how powerful it was!

    Is there any forecast of a version 6 any time soon or is it best to get version 5, and do they offer upgrades?

    The UK version is only £22 right now on Amazon so I am very tempted to get it!

    Reply
    • Brian Allen
      Brian Allen says:

      Just grab it! You won’t regret it. Even if you don’t use it as your main application, there are still enough features to make it worth that small fee. As far as Manga Studio 6, I haven’t heard anything – but I certainly hope they keep moving forward and getting bigger and better.

      Reply
  12. Zack
    Zack says:

    Brian- I understand this review was written to compare Manga Studio to Photoshop, but you mentioned Corel Painter several times throughout as well, and seemingly in a positive way. Without having to go into too much detail, how do you think it stacks up against Painter?

    Reply
    • Brian Allen
      Brian Allen says:

      I haven’t used Corel Painter since 2010, so I’m guessing that since then they’ve made huge improvements. But my impression with Painter at the time was that although it did some things really really well (like mixing paint), it was also extremely buggy. A couple times the image I was working was completely lost while I was working on it because it crashed, and then corrupted the file. That only needed to happen a couple times for me to be totally done with the program. Also, it’s pretty expensive compared to Manga Studio and some other alternatives that have popped up, so I haven’t seen the need to give it another try.

      Reply
      • Zack
        Zack says:

        Thanks for the response! I have been using Painter X3 (educational version). I haven’t had any problems with crashing, although I just work with it in my free time as a hobby, so I’m sure I’m not pushing the limits like you would be. My main issue has been color consistency. It doesn’t matter how I save or export the files, they never translate to Photoshop, any other program, or print the way they look in the native Painter file. Does Manga have any issues like that?

        Reply
  13. Ed
    Ed says:

    Man I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but I can’t get the wand to play nicely with the reference layer. I made a flats layer copied it. Set the original as a reference under the new layer and then use the “from reference layer” wand setting. It selects but as soon as I paint on the layer above, if I try to reselect it acts like it’s referencing all layers and won’t select the newly painted part. Going to try it on a different machine to see if it’s just my settings/my copy of manga studio.

    Reply
    • Brian Allen
      Brian Allen says:

      Make sure that it isn’t referencing the editing layer. You can change that in the options. I think there is an option like “don’t reference editing layer.” That will prevent it from referencing the layer you are currently on.

      Reply
  14. Draylynn
    Draylynn says:

    Since I switched to Manga Studio 4 (which was included in my now old Cintiq tablet, have upgraded to EX 5) I haven’t really touched Photoshop since, for illustration and general doodling, I find Manga Studio superior in most all fashions, in Photoshop large canvas’s will often lag you down, in Manga Studio, large canvas’s only seem to be slow when applying effects and even then, it seems to apply similar effects faster, but doesn’t have a ‘huge’ list of effects per say, not that you need many with this software.
    I have a high end system, loading a 10000 x 10000 pixel canvas and trying to draw a line through the entire thing will kill Photoshop’s performance , Manga Studio barely a dent in performance… at 1200 DPI too.
    As I’ve grown older and carpal tunnel kicks in from years of PC abuse, keeping a steady hand has become a challenge, pen stabilisation is a-m-a-z-i-n-g, especially for long lines in line art, I’ve seen this in other programs, but performance of it in Manga Studio is far superior to anything I’ve played with to date, it barely lags, if at all for me – unless its’ on 100%, then it has to catch up a little. I use it up to 75% with no issues and still does the job. <3
    Blur tool, Photoshop's blur brush tool has always been a pain in the backside, it doesn't seem have much strength to it and can lag… Manga Studios blur tool has varying presets for different types of blur and I've never had an issue with it. Fibre-Blur is especially handy for a quick blending of colours without it seeming too 'digital'.
    The pencil tools are fairly similar to Artrage's pencil tools which I always liked, more natural feel. Never liked Photoshop's brushes, not to rip on Photoshop, but they do have a rather 'mechanical' feel to them.
    The UI isn't intrusive like say Gimp or Open Canvas, it all slots neatly into the side (or dragged to a second monitor~!).

    The only downside to Manga Studio, the one complaint I ever had, is when I bought MSEX5, I got the physical copy… which took a while to deliver (few weeks) and landed me with import taxes – if you got the net for it and want it ASAP, get the digital download version.
    Just a few more reasons to snap up this software, totally worth it~!

    Reply
  15. Annie
    Annie says:

    How do you use the symmetrical ruler where it allows you to create radial patterns that mirror? (the one where you had 16 different lines to it) When I tried it, it would create each “mirroring line” and treat it separately, not as a whole pattern but as 8 individual lines with their own 2-sided mirror. (does that make sense?)

    Reply
  16. Benjamin Weiler
    Benjamin Weiler says:

    Hey Brian!
    Thanks for this in-depth review, greatly appreciated! While reading the listing I noticed a few things that Photoshop can do for you:

    2: Paint with Transparency. It is a little obscure but when you have the brush tool active, go to the Bush-Mode-dropdown and select the forth entry from the top titled “Clear”. That is exactly what Paint with transparency is.

    14. Canvas Movement locked to Window. To break this restriction, simply press F, this enters full-screen mode which disables the window lock and gives you a few extra pixels of screen-space to boot.

    Reply
    • Brian Allen
      Brian Allen says:

      Wow, thanks! The ability to quickly paint with transparency is something I didn’t realize existed in Photoshop! I just wish I could assign it to a simple shortcut so I could switch back between Normal and Clear with one button – but I can’t seem to figure that out.

      Reply
      • Benjamin Weiler
        Benjamin Weiler says:

        I have written a script that toggles between eraser and brush. You can keep your hand on one key and just switch back and forth. Tell me, if you want it.

        Reply
        • Brian Allen
          Brian Allen says:

          That’s really cool! I think the problem with that though for me is that I really want the brush and eraser to use the exact same brush shape, just like when you’re painting in Manga Studio, and switch between painting normally, and painting with transparency. You’re using the exact same brush, only now you are using it to erase. In photoshop, when you press “e” for the eraser, it switches to the last used eraser preset, which is often a totally different shape than your brush. Does that make sense?

          Reply
  17. ValiTyr
    ValiTyr says:

    I agree with everything but the Brush Engine. While Manga Studio has some fantastic features like individual pen pressure customisations, while adobe are busy crawling up their own assess instead of introducing sensible features for pen and brush inclined artists, manga studio cannot match one feature of adobes brush engine yet. One of the most fantastic photoshops brush engine features is “Dual Brush” that enhances the brushes to a new level, and thats what im really missing in Manga Studio. Hope they can elevate in that respect. As much as i try i cannot mimic the brush behaviour i can do with photoshop in manga studio. The brushes are just too simplisticly static for me for now. I’ll keep experimenting creating brushes and looking what others have made in hopes i missed something, but that doesnt seem likely so far.

    That said im all for Manga Studio taking a slice of the cake from adobe, they have admirably made artist life easier with simple but necessary features and transitioning from photoshop to manga studio is incredibly user friendly and possible. I switch between the two depending if i need those brushes or not.

    Reply
    • Brian Allen
      Brian Allen says:

      I agree that the Dual Brush is a great feature in Photoshop – but have you tried using several different brush tips in a stroke in Manga Studio? In the section where you select the image to be used as a brush tip, you can click to add a second one, or a third, or a fourth, and so on. Plus, you might want to play around with the texture settings as well.

      Reply
  18. Julia Lee
    Julia Lee says:

    Very nice review! I used Manga Studio until recently, then I turned to Corel Painter. I wanted to do that earlier but it was a bit overpriced for my budget, until I found here http://www.painterartist.com/en/pages/coupons/ some discounts for the software and got it for a much lower price, the price that I could afford at the time 🙂 That came as quite a help, and Painter suits me more :))

    Reply

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