Detailed review of the Wacom Cin

Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″ Review

The new Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″ (non-touch) is the perfect tablet for digital artists.

Detailed review of the Wacom Cin

The new Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″ at home in my studio

About the Cintiq Pro

I have been using the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″ extensively since early April 2018, and I absolutely love it. I’m upgrading from the Wacom Cintiq 24HD, which has severed me well for over six years (and is still ticking). I had high expectations for this digital drawing tablet, and it exceeded them all.

What’s new with the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″

The Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″ is the newest digital drawing tablet for artists developed by Wacom in early 2018. It is essetnailly a monitor that you draw on, and it is not a standalone computer with an operating system (though Wacom has created an addon that will allow for this). Here’s what’s new:

  • 8,192 pressure levels using the new Pro Pen 2, 4 times the levels as my previous Wacom Cintiq 24HD.
  • 4K high-resolution screen, making it the highest resolution digital drawing tablet that I’m aware of, allowing you to fit more on your screen and providing a crisp and clear display.
  • 98% Adobe RGB color performance, making color matching and calibration a joy.
  • Reduced size (though not screen size) in all the right places and much lighter design makes the Wacom Cintiq 24HD look like one of those old projection tvs you see on curbsides.

What I’m comparing it to

I’ve used all these drawing tablets in the past, and all have their own unique strengths:

Wacom Cintiq 24HD, Wacom Cintiq 13HD, iPad Pro 10.5 and 12.9, and the Surface Pro.

I have not tried any of the Cintiq’s most direct competitors, including the Dell Canvas (which is only available for Windows, which means it’s not even a possibility for me as a registered Mac FanBoy).

What I love about the new Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″

So let’s get down to the review. There’s a lot to love about the new Cintiq Pro 24″.

1. The Most Accurate Pen Display Experience I’ve Ever Had with the new Pro Pen

This is what it’s all about, and this is what Wacom does best. I’ve loved my old Wacom Cintiq 24HD because it replicated drawing on paper so well, and have used it every day for the last 6 plus years. Because the pressure sensitivity levels had been increased four-fold, I was expecting the Pro Pen 2 to be better than my older version. But as soon as I started drawing with the new Pro Pen on the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″, it was better than I could have ever hoped.

Detailed review of the Wacom Cin

The Pro Pen 2 is an enormous improvement over its predecessor in every way

Improved Pressure-Sensitivity

I was skeptical at first of Wacom’s claims that the Pro Pen 2 had 4X the pressure sensitivity levels as my previous pen – it was already so great, how could it be better? Well, they figured it out somehow. Is it actually 4X better? Probably not. But in a side-by-side test, I was able to draw smooth, sweeping lines in a much more accurately responsive way than the older Wacom 24HD. This is really noticeable when you taper a line down to it’s most narrow point with very light pressure – the increased control was definitely noticeable to me, and was exactly what I was hoping for.

Improved Pen Design

The pen is now (in my opinion) half the weight of the old pen, which makes it more comfortable to hold. It keeps all the great features of the Wacom Pen, namely the rubber grip, eraser tip, and the two toggle buttons, which I use constantly, and really find myself missing when I use the Apple Pencil. A small minor improvement: they’ve added a plastic bevel around the toggle buttons to separate them from the rubber grip, which would sometimes slide around and pop the buttons off on my old pen.

2. Virtually No Parallax

The space between the glass and the screen (which was noticeable but manageable on earlier Cintiqs) is virtually nonexistent now. It no longer feels like I’m drawing on top of a monitor on top of my artwork. For the first time ever, there’s no separation between my pen and my artwork, and it’s an amazing feeling. I would say that it matches the iPad Pro’s accuracy in terms of pen-to-screen distance.

3. Smooth, Crisp Lines with No Lag

Just like the Wacom Cintiq 24HD, there is no lag or slow-down when you are drawing lines. A lot of this may be more dependent on your hardware (I’m using a late-2015 iMac), but I think it’s worth mentioning. The rendering of the pixels themselves is incredibly sharp and smooth. It rendered the lines as fast as I could throw them, even at enormous sizes (40″ x 40″ canvas at 300 dpi).

4. Higher Resolution means more room for artwork

Even though the new Cintiq Pro 24″ screen is technically the same size as my old Cintiq 24HD, I can fit much more on the screen because of it’s higher resolution (perhaps as much as 50% more?). I’ve jacked mine up to 3008×1692, compared to my Wacom Cintiq 24HD’s 1920 x 1200. Note: In the Mac OS, I had to adjust the resolution higher than the default for that display in the Display Preferences to take advantage of this. But as soon as I did, the Layers pallets and other menus become much smaller, while still remaining perfectly legible. I can easily work on a t-shirt design while viewing it in its entirety, rather than having to zoom in and out constantly.

5. Brighter Screen

Compared to the Wacom 24HD, the screen brightness has been drastically improved. In fact, I ended up turning the brightness down to 60% or so, for fear of burning out my retinas.

6. Smart Remote

I wasn’t expecting to love the Smart Remote as much as did, because I am accustomed to using a Razer Orbweaver Gaming keypad by Razer for all my keyboard shortcuts. While I still prefer the gaming pad, the Smart Remote is a huge improvement over the previous models’ shortcut buttons.

It attaches to either side of the screen with a magnet (which is perfect for you left-handed abominations), and its rubber backing means that you can place it anywhere on the screen and it won’t slide off for the most part. I found myself often just holding it in my hand down off to the side. Being able to place it anywhere severely cuts down on any arm/wrist strain, which I used to get after long hours using the previous shortcut buttons.

Detailed review of the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24"

The New Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″ Smart Remote

There are over 17 programmable buttons and a scroll wheel. The scroll wheel can be programmed to control three different parameters (such as zoom, brush size, etc). However, I haven’t been able to get used to this, so I’ve largely ignored it and use button presses for those functions instead.

The battery life on the remote is fantastic, and it shuts itself off when idle. It can also be plugged in permanently into one of the four USB slots with a supplied short cable to charge it continuously. I’ve been using it for several hours a day for weeks, and the battery meter has barely moved.

7. Great Color Calibration right out of the box

Right out of the box, the colors matched my iMac screen nearly perfectly (which had already been color calibrated). I don’t know if that was just a lucky break, or if its software automatically matches existing color profiles on the connected machine. Previously, I had to view my artwork on my iMac screen (and not the Wacom Cintiq 24HD when careful color proofing was needed – but now I feel confident that what I see on the Wacom screen is what will print.

Wacom claims to be able to display 98% of Adobe RGB color gamut – I have no way of testing this, however, I can say that the color representation is much improved in comparison to the Wacom 24HD.

8. Textured “raspy” Paper Feel

This is where Wacom, in my opinion, really has an edge versus other pen displays. The textured feel of the etched glass, without any kind of protector or cover, is just perfect. It has just enough tooth and resistance to it to really trick you into believing you are drawing on paper, and not some soulless chunk of glass. The Cintiq 24HD had this great paper-textured feel to it, and I daresay it’s gotten even better.

9. Slimmer, Lighter, More Elegant design

Lower Weight and More Compact Design

The Wacom 24 HD looks like one of those giant CRT monitors now compared to this thing. It takes up so much less space on my desk and is easier to move around.

Bevel Size

Even though the Cintiq Pro 24″ has the same screen size as the 24HD, it takes up much less space on my desk. The bevels around the screen are just the right size. I’ve heard some complaints that Wacom should eliminate the bevels completely, but I strongly disagree. I use this thing like a drafting table, and I like to lean in on it with all my weight, resting my forearms on it. I don’t want to be doing that directly on the screen. The bevels also give you space to keep the Smart Remote, and additional keypads.

What I like about the new Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″

1. Tons of USB 3.0 ports (4 total) plus an SD card slot

The previous model had just one USB port, which I used for my gaming keypad for shortcuts. Having four makes this essentially a giant USB hub (and probably the most expensive one ever), and cleans up my desk big time. Works great with an external microphone.

2. On-Screen Menu

Detailed review of the Wacom Cin

The New customizable on-screen menu is extremely helpful in keeping your mind on your drawing, and away from your keyboard

The software comes with so many customizable options – one of my new favorites is a customizable App Shortcuts menu. This is essentially a moveable palette that you can toggle on and off. You can program any combination of keyboard shortcuts or other functions. When I used the Wacom 24HD, I had attached a small keyboard to the top of it for when the shortcut buttons just weren’t enough. But now I no longer need even that. I’ve packed it full of items I use constantly (such as Deselect, Flip Canvas Horizontally, Copy, Paste, Hue/Saturation adjustments, and even my own actions). What I love about it is that unlike other customizable in-app menus, this stays in place when I press Tab to hide all menus (which I do often), and is the same across all apps (which is great for me because I jump between Adobe Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint often).

3. Lower Fan Noise

The Cintiq 24HD had a noticeably loud and constant fan noise, especially toward the end of its life. The Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″ is nearly silent. Every once in a while the fan will kick on, but it’s much quieter than its predecessor.

4. Included Adapters and Cords for different display connections

I appreciate that Wacom included many different adapters and cords for all the possible ways that you can hook this up to your display port. There’s nothing worse than having a $2K device delivered, and discovering you don’t have the right adapter. I remember having this problem with the Wacom Cintiq 24HD, when I discovered that I didn’t have a DVI to Thunderbolt display adapter. Point to Wacom for being proactive and shipping it with all the different adapters one might need (now if they can only apply this methodology to the release of their stands!).

5. Pen Holder

The Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″ has a small plastic pen holder that attaches to the back of the screen. Might be a trivial thing, but I love being able to pop my pen in there and not having to search for it all over my desk every couple hours.

Detailed review of the Wacom Cin

The detachable pen holder is a helpful (though simple) new feature

6. No Wacom Driver Issues with the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″ (so far…)

To date, the updated drivers (since early April) have worked fine with the programs I use most: Adobe Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint. This was actually a pleasant surprise for a product this new – I hope this continues.

What I don’t like about the new Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″

1. No Ergo Stand Included

Not including the stand, or even the option to buy one is like selling me a bicycle without a seat. The Cintiq 24HD came with a highly adjustable stand that allowed you to hang the Cintiq off the desk to mimic a drafting table, as well as adjust it to stand 90″ just like a traditional monitor. I love that stand, and it’s what sets it apart from other tablet displays. Other tablets are just a device you put on your desk, while the Cintiq with the stand is your desk. This makes it much easier on your back and neck when you’re putting in 8-hour drawing sessions.

So I was really disappointed to learn that the ergo stand for the Cintiq Pro not only does not come with the unit but that its release date is still to be determined. Mobile Studio Pro users had to wait over a year for their stand to be released. I’m hoping I won’t have to wait as long.

However – being able to buy the stand and tablet separately is a nice option. Previously the Cintiq 24HD was only available with the stand, which made it cost $2400. The Cintiq Pro 24″ costs $2000, and the stand will cost around $400. For those not interested in the stand, that’s a significant saving.

The included 20-degree legs just aren’t a steep enough angle for me, and my neck started bugging me pretty quick. My elegant solution so far has been to stack a couple Directory of Illustration’s underneath the legs to prop it up, which works well enough for now.

NOTE: No, the old 24HD or 27QHD stand will NOT work with the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24. I spoke with Wacom about this, and did some measurements on my old stand. The screws are in totally different places, and since the sizes are so different, it wouldn’t work without some serious DIY.

2. The Price might be too high for some

I personally believe the price of the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″ is well worth it, though one of the most common complaints about Wacom products is the high price (compared to its direct competitors). A high-definition monitor alone with this high level of color accuracy can often cost $1000 (thinking of high-end Dell or Apple monitors). Plus, if the Wacom Cintiq’s 24HD long 6+ year life is any indicator of how long this thing will last, I’m sure I’ll get my money’s worth.

This thing is the backbone of my freelance art business, so for me, it pays for itself immediately. If you’re just starting out as a professional artist, or art is a hobby and not a career, then I would recommend starting with the 13″ or 16″ models.

3. Poor Availability – Wacom Cintiq Pro 24 sold out almost immediately

My only gripe with Wacom is that their product launches often don’t seem to roll out like they should. I’m sure there are aspects to this that I don’t understand, considering I draw pictures for a living. But I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of this product since summer 2017. The release date kept getting pushed and pushed – and when it was finally announced on their social media that the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24 would be released first thing 2018, it seemed that the units were sold out immediately. I was able to track down a few from an authorized dealer in New York called Adorama just by sheer luck (they only had 5 left, they said). As of this review, they are still not available on Wacom’s website. I have no idea what is behind this, but it just seems to me like a missed opportunity.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Should I get the touch version?

As of April 2018, the touch version is not available yet. However, I find the touch option to be more of a distraction, and I’m happy without it (which saves you $400 at least). There are some reviews about the Wacom Cintiq 27QHD touch having issues, so I’d rather shy away.

Should I get the 32″ version?

Wacom will be launching a 32″ version fo the Wacom Cintiq Pro tablet soon(ish). But it’s not clear when. The price tag on this will be close to $3k. While I would love to try one, I personally don’t think I would enjoy working on something that enormous on my desk. I’m guessing that your computer and graphics card would have to be an absolute beast to handle a high-res display that size.

Is it better than the iPad Pro?

I consider the two devices in completely different categories. For me personally, the iPad Pro 12.9 (which I own) is too small to do professional work on day to day. A lot of artists have found a way to make this work, but for me, I like to work zoomed in with lots of palettes opened and different previews of the work, so I need a bigger screen. I also prefer the way the Wacom Pro Pen 2 draws versus the Apple Pencil. I have a review that compares the Mobile Studio Pro and iPad Pro 12.9 on my YouTube Channel.

What is that weird glove you’re wearing?

It’s made by Smudgeguard, and it helps reduce the friction of your hand on the screen, which allows for throwing smoother lines. Warning: if you wear this to the office, you will be made fun of.

Where can I buy a Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″

Conclusion

I highly recommend the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″ to any professional illustrator, animator, or graphic designer. It’s the best digital drawing tool I’ve used by far.

Detailed review of the Wacom Cin

Another Wacom Cintiq Pro 24″ glamour shot. Work it.

About the Artist

Brian Allen is a professional freelance artist and creative director who occasionally talks about himself in the 3rd person. By dumb luck, he’s had the opportunity to work with many cool clients like Harley Davidson Motorcycles, Hulk Hogan, Adult Swim, Hard Rock Cafe, Chick-Fil-A, Activision, and Epson. His art style tends to be humorous and quirky, and sometimes a bit odd.  This makes sense, because his wife says he is humorous and quirky, and sometimes a bit odd. You can check out his work at https://www.flylanddesigns.com

photo of Brian Allen drawing on the Wacom 24HD

Brian Allen. Artist. Goatee-Grower.

Review of Vinyl Disorder custom stickers

Review of Vinyl Disorder stickers of my artwork

My in-depth review of the custom stickers I ordered from Vinyl Disorder, custom car and wall vinyl graphics

Dark illustration of a skull, crow, and zombie for an album cover

Speed-Inking Tutorial in Manga Studio for Album Cover Illustration

Speed-Inking Tutorial video I created for the process of digitally inking an album cover for the Brazillian band John Wayne in Manga Studio 5 (Clip Studio Paint) with a Wacom Cintiq 24HD.

The album cover I illustrated was for the Brazilian heavy metal band John Wayne (named after John Wayne Gacy – not the other guy). It was a great pleasure working on this with the band, as they gave me a lot of freedom, and I set upon the design without much planning, and tried to let it flow. This album cover is the first in a set of two albums, that when placed together will form one cohesive image. This album represents the dark side, while the following album will have a similar design, but mirrored, and “lighter.”
You can purchase the album here:
https://www.facebook.com/BandaJohnWayne


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

Follow me on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/brianallen.flylanddesigns

On Instagram:
http://instagram.com/flylanddesigns_brian_allen

On YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/user/flylanddesigns

On Twitter:
https://twitter.com/flylanddesigns

On Behance:
https://www.behance.net/flylanddesigns

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

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