Major realization regarding Manga Studio EX 5

Hey everyone,

Most of you have probably tried at least one version of Smith Micro's Manga Studio series.  I personally own Manga Studio 4 EX and absolutely love it; the tools for drawing are far and above what you get in Photoshop as they're geared specifically for illustration.  With a Bamboo tablet (and especially a Cintiq, which I'm fortunate enough to own) you can draw as naturally as you can on paper with a bit of practice.


Recently Smith Micro announced Manga Studio 5 and EX 5, the latter of which I'm already planning to snap up ASAP (by the way, if you own MS 4 or MS EX 4 you can get a much-reduced "upgrade" price for 5 and EX 5 at their website).  What this version brings to the table is a true game-changer: the ability to color (with full CMYK capability for those who wish to print their work, no less!).  That's right, at full price MS EX 5 retails for $299.99 ($149.99 for the upgrade), which is less than half what Photoshop goes for and yet TONS more efficient for a comic artist's needs (and no, I don't work for these guys; I've just used their software and love it).

Something I may well have missed in Manga Studio 4 EX (since I color in Photoshop) is the addition of Layers in Manga Studio EX 5, which could be a game-changer from a productivity standpoint.  It's not that switching between programs is difficult at all, but once my files are in Photoshop I generally limit myself to coloring whatever I imported (occasionally tweaking a line here or there).  The most important thing I use Layers for in Photoshop is duplicating/multiplying so my colors don't bleed, but I've often thought of other more complex uses.

With MS EX 5 having everything in one place, hypothetically you could use Layers to create a background, color it with a base color, and then create another layer to draw and color foreground/detailed characters and objects. And then yet more Layers in front of/behind that one for any effects you may need (particles, etc.).

It may not sound like much, but I can already see how it would be a huge help to me.  The single biggest reason I stepped away from my comic was the fact that as I was learning more complex uses for Photoshop it was actually slowing me down due to the transition from Manga Studio (which can't be reversed after you color).  This realization has me seriously debating whether to continue with my online novel idea or give the webcomic another go.

Any thoughts from you guys on how much MS EX 5 might help you (or not) from a productivity standpoint?  Anyway, I wanted to share this in case anyone here hasn't yet heard about the release.


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  • Please, definitely let us know how the new version goes, D.L.! If it's as easy to work with as 4 EX it'll be my go-to illustration tool from here on.
  • I recently purchased MS 5. (5 days prior to the launch of MS Pro/EX the IRONY!). I watch some of the tutorials and attended the Webinar. It looks like it has some good upgrades. I have yet to install it. I plan to get into it this week and will give you my detailed rundown on it once I have played with it. But I must agree, MS is a far better tool than photoshop. But what most artist must remember PS is a photo rendering application that artist have forced into becoming a painting program. I have reviewed a lot of comic artist's work flow and found that its best to draw in MS and color in Sai, or SketchBook Pro, and use PS for special effects. But according to the webinar MS 5 has made some great innovations in coloring and supposedly a game changer making MS nearly a one stop shop.

  • @Lisa,


    I looked over the information at their site but haven't yet been able to determine whether brushes are automatically imported when upgrading.  However, the site does say your MS 4 and MS 4 EX Story files can be carried over, so it's certainly possible.  They have live chat available weekdays starting at 8 am Pacific Time in case anyone would like to inquire further.

  • thanks for the info

  • I briefly looked into the upgrade and wasn't sure if it would help me much since I also color in photoshop and didn't have a problem exporting. Since I still mostly hand draw comics and illustration work, I find using the pen tools mainly for corrections helpful enough (VERY helpful!). Can you import brushes into MS 5? Also does the upgrade come with more materials for toning? That may be a big personal reason to upgrade.

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