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This review is from: Manga Studio EX 4 (Software)I work as a graphic designer for a living, and my typical tools of the trade are illustrator and flash. I've also used photoshop and opencanvas, opencanvas being my usual tool for digital painting. Being that I'm always drawing for others, I never have the time to do any drawing for myself, which includes figure drawing. If I happened to have the extra time to spend on drawing for myself, that time was spent sketching the figure and inking it, which took many hours and usually resulted in me never getting around to getting past the sketch phase.
BUT this program, I've discovered, is a MASSIVE time saver. If I don't want to sketch out a figure (laziness)or am struggling with a perspective, all I have to do is use the 3d model option in this program, tweak it as I please, and then trace over it (for people who aren't used to working in 3d, it may be somewhat frustrating at first to pose a figure yourself. For beginners, the program comes with many preset poses). Of course you won't find any sort of muscle tone on the 3d models (aside from a few arms and legs that cannot be posed), and the anatomy is pretty much anime, so if you want a realistic figure you need to know a thing or two about anatomy. Draw just anime? I's already poifect!
Using a 3d model as an aid, I was able to sketch out an accurate figure in under a half hour. It ordinarily might have taken me two or three hours with constant erasing, considering the difficult perspective I was using. You can also tweak your light source, which aids in shading while using weird perspectives.
And then of course the inking tools are AMAZING! The strokes produced are absolutely beautiful, look real, and it auto corrects, too, which is great if you don't have a very steady hand. This results in very little erasing. Another excellent feature is a tool that allows you to draw a straight line and then bend it to exactly where you want it over your sketch lines. This tool is perfect for drawing long flowing hair or folds in fabric It literally saves HOURS. Do some tweaks with that tool's settings and you can make it look like real ink strokes. Also, don't like a line width and want to tweak it? So long as you inked using vectors, you can use a tool to adjust the line's position or width. It's awesome! And if you don't like hard lines and prefer a pencil-like feel but still want to have the control? You can simply reduce the opacity and apply a blur to the outlines, making them look like gorgeous pencil strokes.
The only major downside with this program is that digital painting can be somewhat difficult, since it really seems to lend itself to cel shading. You have to be extremely careful and liberal with layers (which is okay because they are unlimited) to get the painted effect you like, in addition to turning the opacity of the brush tool way down. Patience is an extreme virtue, especially if you use the blend tool on your colors, which will muck your work up fast if you don't pay very close attention. It's the one thing that annoys me, since in other programs I've used, painting is easier. And I've seen many people export their line art into other programs just to paint them. However, once you get the hang of the tools, you can do some gorgeous shading. Also, you can do selective gradients with COMPLETE EASE, a feature that I've never really gotten the grasp of in other programs; it adds richness to all of your shading and highlights, lemme tell you.
I have yet to use any screen tones or a lot of the tools for the use of making comics or manga, but I suspect they are very good.
Oh, and this program comes with a perspective ruler that'll give you your horizon line and all of that other good stuff, so if you are doing backgrounds containing stairs or whatever you please, you don't need to go through the trouble of measuring things out. It does it for you. SAVES HOURS.
All of those features and more allowed me to complete a very intricate digital painting in 8 hours as opposed to 20+. If you want to be efficient, I suggest you buy this program, because it'll pay for itself in the long run.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 26, 2010 6:50:43 AM PST
Thanks so much for your insightful and thorough review! I have a question. I have two teens with bamboos on different computers. Do you know if I have to buy two copies of the software or can they both use the one copy on different computers? (Can you tell I'm a tech-challenged mom??) :)
Posted on Jan 29, 2011 2:09:57 PM PST
J. FELLA says:
Wow, great review. I had no idea about the 3d model thing. So if I'm understanding you correctly, it comes with a 3d model of a person you can actually pose and trace over, so you don't need another 3d program in addition to this (as far as posing and tracing anyway)? If so, wow, what a nice extra feature!
Posted on May 5, 2012 9:55:28 PM PDT
I was curious as to if there were any tutorials to the inking features you spoke of. Your review and discussing the ease of inking really nudged me to purchase this product.
Posted on Mar 16, 2013 4:45:46 PM PDT
Thanks for your review!
I, too, am a graphic designer and work primarily with Photoshop and Illustrator. I also have a certificate in Children's Book Illustration, and find Sketchbook Pro very helpful with that. I have been looking into a product that will aid me in transitioning into comic books and graphic novels. I had my eye on this software for that very purpose and your review has made up my mind for me.
Posted on Nov 27, 2013 7:13:53 PM PST
I got Manga Studio EX 4 and mine look completely different from the previews here.. D:!!
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