August 8, 2011
I just noticed that gfxinc.com was really nice and added a link to my website for giving them a nice testimonial. I did really like their service etc. They have me listed as a manga artist, and it isn't the first time I have seen that. I do use software called Manga Studio. I still love using it. More than any other drawing software I have EVER used. Including all the big names. I am, however not a manga artist. Whoever is coming to my site looking for manga will be largely disappointed, although I am grateful and happy to have the link to my site none-the-less.
So, apologies for any confusion. My guess is this post isn't going to help me...I said the M word too many times.
I might as well use this opportunity to also update you on the software itself. I am still learning how to get the most out of it. Rulers still have me flummoxed. I have become AFRAID of them. But I haven't spent much time trying to figure them out and how they work with the other layers. I have always hated using rulers or measuring things. I was terrible at pattern-making at fashion design school and I can't bake because I like to freestyle it. The slightest challenge using them and I become intimidated by it. All that to say, it may not be the software - it might be me.
There are little things that drive me nuts too. I find that it sometimes switches inexplicably to Gray - a halftone dot brush - and I don't always notice it right away - which means I have to redo the line. I thought it was because my palm kept hitting it (I use a tablet-computer) - but now I am not so sure. Still trying to figure that one out. (update: I figured it out and it is very easy. Haven't a clue as to why I couldn't figure it out before!)
I'd like to see a few things added to the software. Additional brush styles - watercolour would be nice.
I'd like it to be easier to move pages around in order. Right now I can't seem to do it at all without completely messing up the folders and making it impossible to go through the whole document afterwords in Story view - or print it as a complete story. I have to assemble it page by page if I want to change the layout and need to reorder the book. That is a big one for me.
Another big problem is I can't select all layers at once. If I need to move something - I have to move it one layer at a time - then realign it all, then merge the layers onto their proper layer. Aaargh! I keep trying to find a way - it shouldn't be that difficult. Please fix that!!!
Otherwise, the software is a dream to use, very responsive. I feel like I am using my watercolour palette whenever I use the beginner's assistant - and it feels very natural. I haven't used Photoshop or Painter on this tablet - but I can tell you Corel is absolutely useless. I used to be a fan. This version of Corel Photopaint and CorelDraw was supposed to be made for the tablet especially. It is slow, complicated, and nowhere near as natural and easy a feel. I bought it and it was a complete waste of my money. I never use it.
With Manga Studio I use identical methods that I used when I did watercolor inks. I no longer have to buy and go through sheets and sheets of tracing paper. I have no mess to clean up. My arms and nose aren't covered in pencil smudge anymore, and it has sped up my process a thousand-fold. I would recommend it to anybody. And it is an incredibly affordable price for the artist. I bought the EX version ($299) which does Vector within the same software. However, I could have just as easily bought the 49$ Debut version since everything I have done so far has been with the tools available in the Debut version. ALL the work on this website was created using Manga Studio. Although there are a few things that REALLY need tweaking, it is so worth the workaround that I am prepared to deal with it for the pleasure it gives me to use everyday.
Update (shortly thereafter) by little jo
Well, ask and ye shall receive...I had asked for a watercolour brush and what do I discover today?! That the pencil brush can have many of the same effects as a watercolour brush if you de-select the Compare Darkness Compositing button and set the pencil to taper at both ends. It will layer just like a watercolor brush. At first, I didn't see in the Draw Layer section - probably because I used the beginner's assistant a lot and for some reason it isn't there. They could easily modify it - or add that button to the other brushes and pens. That would be great. It also can have a similar effect to a chalk pencil or pastel depending how you do your strokes. The finer the brush - the more it seems to resemble a chalk pencil. I think I am going to play around coloring with this technique. Think I might use it for the next WIP.
Update April 24, 2013 *Please note these prices above are for Version 4. They have just come out with version 5 and I can't wait to upgrade to it. Even the Debut version of version 5, at only $79.99 for new purchasers has nearly everything the previous EX version had - plus a few other things I had been hoping they would provide like a 'multiply layer' feature. You could always do several layers - but now you can integrate the layers as in Photoshop.
Also, since writing the previous blog post, I have got a real good handle on rulers, symmetry rulers which are great for making patterns, logos, and various designs (I used them to make the art nouveau covers for Paris Ballad), and I am beginning to get a handle on the perspective rulers. The amazing thing I also found is you can get your tones to follow your perspective rulers, so floor tiles, wall papers in scenes easily look accurate. This software is the best value out there and I really highly recommend it. Better than ANYTHING out there and more comprehensive than Adobe. You get so much in one very reasonably priced program.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Getting the right tools. It is so important. Certainly, once you have them, suddenly they are critical. Like having a great knife if you are a chef. For myself it comes down to the right computer and the right software. And I think I finally found all the right tools. Thank you technology!
I just got my brand new HP TM2 2050 tablet computer
and though there have been, and continue to be a couple of quirks, namely when I shut down in tablet position it stays there when I relaunch - so that at first, everything is upside down. That is easily fixed by putting the tablet back in tablet position and then back in computer position again. Another quirk that I haven't found an easy fix for is the pen sometimes goes in the opposite direction than the way I am moving - I found just closing and opening the program resets it...but I do wish it wouldn't do that.
I would like the descriptions in the 'context' menu for tools to show up above the tool rather than below as my pen and hand block the descriptions. I hope I can find something that will adjust that.
Otherwise, it is a dream machine and everything I hoped it would be. The learning curve on the new Windows 7 is a bit of a challenge. It would have been nice if they included more tips and instructions - especially for tablet users - as some things don't work the same way in tablet position.
Now, for Manga Studio.
I purchase the EX Hybrid version, which is the full professional version good for Mac & PC and it is priced at 299.99
Right out of the box this software was immediately useable and useful. The very user friendly beginner panel is right there. With a number of different tools and layer options to work with, I can create a sketch in 'blue pencil' and then when I am ready...the magic begins with inking. Now inking has thus far been my least favorite thing to do prior to getting this software. Now I think it is my favorite thing. All my lines are smoothed and perfected. The range of tools and the beautiful pressure-sensitivity I get from my pen tablet on the screen is amazing. It just looks so professional and better than when I draw with pen and paper. Editing is easier and no more smudgy pencil on my face, arms, hands etc. I may never use pencil and paper again to sketch - this program is that good. I should add that the tools will, for the most part, be identical to those you are used to in Photoshop and that alone shortens the learning curve quite a bit. The language is familiar (nodes are called vertices though).
It will provide a number of layers and options (though it will allow only 2 colours plus transparency per layer) convert photos into tone images for use in drawings, and has a 3d design element as well - which I am not at all familiar with yet. It handles full color in CMYK or RGB. It also, within the same program, does VECTOR! It is like having illustrator and photoshop in one little compact and beautiful program. update: actually it does as many layers as I want and unlimited colours per layer. again - (what was i thinking when I wrote this?) You can also save to Photoshop PSD layered file with a limit of 5 layers exporting and it seems unlimited importing.
So far, I have done sketching with amazing results, imported line art I did by hand and re-inked it so that now it is MUCH better. You can set it up like a proper book with pagination, doublepage spreads, a variety of layouts for comics and manga, and add text and more to it.
This program is fully compatible with Photoshop and I expect Corel Photopaint as well, since it will import and export all layers (if selected) as a PSD or TIFF file.
I look forward to sharing with you shortly some of my new work created with my new awesome tools.
Update April 25, 2013: I have been using this computer for nearly 3 years now and must say I have been totally thrilled with it - which is why I am a little disappointed that I won't be able to buy it when I am ready to get a new computer. At least that is what it looks like. To get even comparable to what I already have from HP, I actually have to pay nearly $1000 dollars more than I paid for this one. i don't get it. Very likely I will be moving to Asus which seems to be developing quality pen-enabled and pressure sensitive tablet PCs. I do hope that HP gets it together and realizes that they have a real market here if they just do it right. I could have sold thousands of these computers as people were amazed with what I was doing on it and how affordable and flexible it was. Seems a shame that they will be losing a customer that was a huge fan of their tech.