I’m finally beginning the process of illustrating my “State of Mind” graphic novel in Manga Studio Pro EX5. There is a lot to like in this application, and it has overcome many of the issues that I had with the previous version. Having the capacity to completely illustrate and lay out a book in one application minimizes the need to jump into other applications. It allows you to see your story in entirety all in one space.
A restructured interface and the addition of significantly improved drawing tools has made great strides in making Manga Studio Pro EX5 a blessing . Going into creating my first official page, I wanted to have a solid understanding of what this application offered. I spent a lot of time digging around the various palettes with the intent of revealing the applications full potential.
I chose to build my book in greyscale, more so because of the end cost related to printing. When I get to the end and I don’t have a publisher, it is more cost effective to print black and white. So within the application, I stuck with purely chromatic colours. Although, I did work with a blue layer to draft out the page in rough. The layers menu is similar to Photoshop, so using it for me was fairly intuitive. It took some time to determine how the frames plugged into it, but once I had a grasp of its functionality, it all came together very quickly.
The new drawing tools are clearly laid out and responsive. Added features provided just enough flexibility to modify and adjust the brush where necessary. Raster brushes worked well, although I did find the vector brushes to be a bit erratic. Especially if vector elements needed to be erased. But knowing this, I stuck with raster tools and more so, it fit well with the way I worked. The big plus was blending, which has to be by far more efficient than the typical blending process normally done in Painter or Photoshop. In this case, it makes sense because turn around time per page should be quick if you are illustrating a book that is comprised of several hundred pages.
Overall, my impression of Manga Studio Pro EX5 is that if your intent is to create graphic novels, I can’t see any better option than what this application offers.