Manga Studio (or Clip Studio Paint as it’s now called) has a very versatile brush engine. We can customise our own brushes too, so that we can “paint” with our own images – just like the ones above, all of which come with the app.
The process is less than intuitive, but once you’ve done it a couple of times it grows on you. I tend to forget how these things work pretty much instantly, so here are some notes on how to create a brush from a seamless tiled image in Manga Studio.
In my previous article I’ve explained how to use Radial Symmetry in SketchBook Pro, and because I can never remember how to use it it Manga Studio (or Clip Studio Paint as it’s now called), I thought I’d explain it here for future reference.
The Radial Symmetry feature has been part of Manga Studio since version 5.0, but it’s slightly complex to get started with it if you’ve never used it before. Radial Symmetry is created with a Ruler Layer, so I’ll explain how to create and use one.
Manga Studio has a nice feature that makes colouring areas on another layer a breeze: Reference Layers. The idea is that you draw your line art on one layer, but fill in your colours on another layer.
The concept is the same as the Colour Drop feature in Procreate, but Manga Studio has a few more options up it’s sleeve.
Here’s how to do it:
draw out your line art on Layer 1
select this layer and click on the little lighthouse icon
create another layer for your colours
select the Fill Bucket tool and pick a nice colour
make sure the bucket’s Tool Settings are set to acknowledge the Reference Layer (tick Multiple Referencing, then select the lighthouse icon)
fill in those closed spaces
Bucket Tool Settings
If the bucket tool keeps filling your entire layer, make sure those gaps are closed properly – or play with the Close Gap value in the bucket’s Tool Settings. A higher value is more forgiving, a lower value is more strict when looking at those gaps.
Another interesting feature in these settings is the Area Scaling option. When enabled, a value of 0 means the fill stops at the border of the reference layer’s line. A negative value will make the filled area smaller by n pixels (see below), while positive value will fill in n pixels more.
I’ve been very happy with the performance of Manga Studio 5 on my Surface Pro (1st generation). Today I’ve discovered that there was an upgrade to to Manga Studio 5.0.6 available and installed it. All is working fine on Windows 10!
So I thought, perhaps I’ll try it out on my Mac too. Admittedly it’s been a while since I’ve used it on my desktop, simply because it’s just not as enjoyable to draw on my Wacom Intuos than it is to draw directly on the screen of my Surface Pro. But with a bit of practice I’m sure I’ll soon get back into it. Besides, Manga Studio is an awesome weapon to have on your graphic arsenal.
To my shock and surprise though, I’ve discovered that Manga Studio (before AND after the update to 5.0.6) had a huge brush lag problem out of a sudden! Where did that come from? Last time I checked, my hardware was working perfectly fine with Manga Studio!
By brush lag I mean, “make a stroke on the tablet, and see a line appear 1-2 seconds later on the screen”. Yes, it was that bad. Unusable is the word I’m looking for.
So what changed if it wasn’t my hardware?
I tell you what’s changed: El Capitan has been released, and being the avid geek that I am, I’ve updated my quad core Mac Mini to the latest and greatest OS X. El Capitan has been very good so far… until I’ve tested Manga Studio today! Yikes! I certainly had no such issues when I upgraded my Surface from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. There had to be a way to get rid of that brush lag on my Mac too – and I think I’ve figured it out.
There is a (completely undocumented) way of importing 3D objects into Manga Studio 5 scenes. While you won’t find this described in the handbook, or even anywhere on the menu, it does work – if you know how. This works with both the EX version and the non-EX version of Manga Studio 5.
It’s as easy as drag-and-drop: OBJ, LWO and FBX files can all be dragged in to the current panel and will materialise just as if you had dragged in an object from the Manga Studio Materials Library.
If you say “hang on a minute, this looks rubbish” then you’re absolutely right: we have no light source in our scene, hence we can’t see any details. Let’s fix that!
Make sure you’re on the 3D selection tool (cube icon) and that the Tool Properties Palette is showing (under Window – Tool Property (Object)). Find a little box entitled Light Source and tick the box. Now we can see our 3D object!
What a difference a tick box makes 😉 I never knew it was there – had it not been for Doug Hills and his video that explained this to me. You adjust the object scale and width while you’re here too.
To move the object into position, or to move the current camera, use the (abysmal) 3D controls that light up blue when you hover over your object. It takes a little practice and patience to say the least. Left-click on any of the controls and move the mouse.
Notice that the object isn’t textured. Manga Studio isn’t really designed with a fully fledged and memory efficient 3D engine in mind – but you can create a ZIP file of your object and your texture and drag that into your scene instead of the 3D object. Believe it or not, but this may retain the textures on the object (or crash Manga Studio – depending on how lucky you are).
In my tests I thought it wise to leave the texture experiment for another time. These objects are meant to be drawn over rather than used as is (otherwise, why not just use something like Poser).
Rigging information is lost with OBJ and LWO files, but I hear rumours that it is retained with FBX files. I’ve not had any luck bringing a rigged figure into Manga Studio though, and my version 5.0.5 (non-EX) chooses to crash instead.
Saving 3D Objects in Manga Studio
You can add your new 3D object to the Materials Library too: head over to Edit – Register Image as Material.
Give it a name, some tags, and choose a category and Manga Studio will add it to its mysterious library somewhere on your hard drive. Next time you need that object, simply drag it in from the library like any other pattern or drawing doll.
Manga Studio has a great feature called Materials. These are akin to Photoshop’s Patterns, but I find they are implemented so much better in Manga Studio.
In the olden days, traditional Manga tone artists would cut out small pieces of a pattern out of a larger piece of paper, then stick it to the coat of a drawn figure. That way the coat looked like it had texture (without distortion mind you).
This is how Materials work in Manga Studio: create a selection (say around the coat in question), then simply drag in the material it should have. Once in place you can scale and rotate it. All this happens on dedicated Material Layers.
Let me show you define your own pattern images as Manag Studio Materials and where to find them on your hard disk.
Open the image you’d like to materialise, then head over to Edit – Register Image as Material. This will bring up the following dialogue box:
Now you can give your Material a name, define if you’d like it to be scalable and if it should be tiled when repeated (and if so how). For seamless tiles, choose vertical and horizontal. For larger images which are not meant to be tiled simply unstick the tiling box.
Manga Studio will display your Material alongside its default arsenal which is huge – therefore it’s important to pick a category for your Material from the list on the left. Click the disclosure triangles to see sub categories. You can also give your Material tags to aid searching (click the little icon at the bottom right to add a tag). It’s great to know you’ll be able to find your treasures again in various ways.
When you’re done click OK and your Material is now available for use. Huzzah!
Exporting and Importing Materials
As much as I love Manga Studio and its versatile interface, there’s one thing that the team have missed: adding an option to export such things as Materials and Brushes.
Hence there is no way to import or export Material Data to and from Manga Studio.
And believe me I’ve tried: First I figured out where your data is stored on the hard disk. On both Mac OS X and Windows, Materials are saved in /Users/you/Documents/Smith Micro/Manga StudioCommon/Material.
This folder has sub-folders consisting of random two digit numbers. Each folder can hold similar sub-folders (again made up of two digits). One folder down from there we find the actual database entry for your Material, in a folder named with what appears to be a 32 digit hex code, decided into groups of 10-4-4-4-10. Don’t ask…
In this ultra cryptic folder is a thumbnail in PNG format by which you can determine what Material you are looking at. So far so good.
It stands to reason that you could simply move materials using this folder, but remember this is just data on a hard disk, NOT a database entry to which it correlates. To make matters worse, one computer may save a Material in 42/27/xxxx, while another one may save it as 92/14/xxx. You get the picture.
After moving a folder the Material is ignored on the destination device. Even with the options “Install Material”, “Organize Materials” and “Reset Installed Materials” the new data is not imported. If you find a way to do this please let me know (all this has been tried and tested in Manga Studio 5.0.5 non-EX in Windows 8.1 and OS X 10.9.5).
I can only recommend to save your tiled patterns and re-create them on your other machine.
Today’s creative project was a Business Card Layout for Oliver Spanuth.
I’ve made sure to keep in line with his website layout, again using Carrara Pro to create the 3D caustic glass letters. The backside is a picture of Oliver’s set, which he took on his Nokia mobile phone while shooting a video for San Glaser in front of an infinity cove. I added the comic-like background with Manga Studio EX. Here they are. Please keep in mind these include a 5mm bleed on all sides.