Jun 30, 2010

Why Manga Studio

Like many of you, I started creating comics the traditional way. With pencil and paper and allot of ink spills. I still do that on occasions. But, I've also transitioned from the traditional way (analog) to the modern way (digital). Now, I create 95% of all the comics and illustrations I do on the computer.

While many think this is "not art", I beg to differ. It's the same exact thing as creating in an analog way. The ONLY thing that has changed is the tools. And the tools, as we all know, do not make a better Artist.

The one question I constantly get is, why Manga Studio? I know of Creators who use Photoshop to create their comics and they do an amazing job on it. While others use Corel Painter and even Adobe Illustrator. 

Personally, I've tried all of them and found that all of them come short when compared to Manga Studio. And again, this is my personal opinion.

This is why.

Adobe Illustrator is a vector program. My problem with it was simulating analog inks. My goal, with ALL of these programs, was to get my digital inks to look as close as possible to my analog inks. Illustrator was not cutting it for me.

I did not get deep into Corel Painter because the interface and "way of doing things" in the program just felt so alien. And, at the time, I felt the tools available for digital inking were limited. Not sure about the new versions tho.

Photoshop is a power house no doubt. Again, I've seen creators like Freddie E. Williams II create their comics with Photoshop and they do an amazing job. Brian Bolland also creates using Photoshop and, well, he's just out of this world. I admire them.

My problem with Photoshop, like all the others, was the inking (you can tell I'm very anal when it comes to inking). I hate the fact that in Photoshop, if you want a specific brush, you have to get into the internet and hunt for it, or fuzz around with the brush settings until you get what you want. To me, this is counter productive. Especially if you're on a deadline. 

I look at it this way. If I'm inking in analog and I want a dry brush look, where will I go, to my Hunt nibs? No. I'll grab my Raphael Kolinsky 8404's, dip them in ink and well, you know the rest.

So shouldn't the same apply to digital? Shouldn't I be able to go into one of my already predefined digital brushes and get a dry brush look when I want it without fuzzing for hours with the settings to get the right look?

This is where Photoshop (and Painter and Illustrator) fail and Manga Studio comes out on top. 
Again, my personal opinion. 

Another Artist could say that getting the look you want out of Photoshop brushes is easy. 
Fine. Sure. 
If you know what you're doing, almost anything becomes easy. I'll give them that. But me, I like things to run the way I expect them too out of the box. That's why I'm a huge Apple fan. Because their products run as expected to right out of the box. There's no configuration of third party programs or no figuring out how to make this or that work, it just works. And that's what I like about Manga Studio, it just works.

Granted, Manga Studio does have a learning curve (so in reality, the "works out of the box" idea does take a hit on this one). And the Manga Studio developers know this. That's why they've included the Beginners Interface in the software which makes everything easier for the beginner. Most of everything you will need to create a comic will be right there for you to grab and use without getting into the menus. But if we are going to talk about Manga Studios learning curve, doesn't Photoshop, Painter and Illustrator have a learning curve too? I think so.

But this is just a brief idea of why  choose Manga Studio as my #1 tool to create comics. The purpose for this is to give any of you who might be thinking of giving this program a try a clear direction. Manga Studio was created for and by comic Artists. It's basically a comic Artists tool.  Photoshop was created for Photographers. Artists have adopted it. Painter was created for digital painters. Illustrator was created for graphic designers. But again, if you're a comic Artist looking for comic creation software, in my personal opinion, you can't go wrong with Manga Studio.

Ok. Enough of this infomercial like post.


Bellow, I've included my process in creating the Gambit pin-up I did a few months ago in Manga Studio.

In Manga Studio, you have a PENCIL TOOL you can use which simulates the look and feel of a pencil on paper (even the graininess of it). I use this tool often, but sometimes, especially for basic structure building, I use the MAGIC MARKER TOOL. The reason is that the Magic Marker tools doesn't break up into bits when you zoom in close (see example bellow). This helps when you want to get in and do some small details work.

In Manga Studio, I opened up a new document (I have templates already set up for comic book standard sizes) and on a sketch layer began to work out the structure of the sketch using the Marker tool.

Next I began to refine some of the more important areas like the face.

Once I felt my pencils were done I moved to inking using a G pen. One of the things I often do is set the G pen to a 7 point size. That way, I can get a huge thick line if I press down hard and a thin line with minimal pressure on my Cintiq. Gives a more inking with brush/pen feel to the whole thing.

What you see here is me covering the outer areas of Gambit in order to use the flood (bucket) tool to fill the background with black.

And the final step was the background, along with my signature

Hope this helps a bit in your decision of whether to try manga Studio or not :)


Tomas Bjornsson said...

Hi Eric,
A very insightful article, I must admit that i haven't got the time to learn new programs at the moment and photoshop works fine for me. I do most of my illustrations traditionally and the tweek them in photoshop. But what I don't understand is, why don't you just do the line drawings with real brushes and then scan the piece, it easier, and your lines looks more alive - in my humble opinion


Eric Merced said...

Hey Tomas, thanks for reading. I use to work exactly the way you do, ink traditionally, then scan in Photoshop for tweaks and colors. Despite the fact I work in digital now, I still love the feeling and look of traditional inks. Why I don't work this way anymore? Well, I feel I can get the same results in digital and, one thing I have seen is the speed I have gained in digital. I am capable of doing much more work then when I work traditionally. Also, nothing really beats that UNDO option :)

Ian Summers said...

I need a Cintiq! Nice work.