First Impressions of Manga Studio 5

Manga Studio 5

I was one of the lucky few who received an advanced copy of Manga Studio 5 (MS5) earlier this week. Now that I’ve had a few days to play with it, I wanted to share my thoughts on the Mac version of the program, as well as address a few questions on the new version that I’ve received from my fellow artists on Twitter.

I’ve been using MS4 on and off for almost two years. My usage of Manga Studio up until version 5 has largely been limited to digital inking (honestly, the other aspects of the tool were too daunting for me to explore). When I received the invite to test MS5, I kept my expectations low.

So how does version 5 compare to version 4? Let’s find out…

First off – MS5 is a 64-bit application. While its interface isn’t going to win any design awards from Apple, it is a big, BIG improvement over Manga Studio EX4. The install process was painless – and the ugly icon of yore (in MS4) has been replaced with an icon that looks every bit at home on my desktop.

The new tool layout in MS5 gives it an underlying cohesion that wasn’t really there in version 4. That’s in large part because version 5 is a complete overhaul of the CelSys produced app.

If you’re moving over from Photoshop, you’ll find some similarities in layout, but the keyboard shortcuts in MS5 will throw you. Thankfully, you can customize the keyboard shortcuts for all the basic features (Brushes, Saving files, etc.) to match that of Photoshop.

MS5 has a comprehensive array of brush controls that let you tweak your digital brush as you like it. The inking engine in MS4 was already superior to any of the other digital tools I’ve tried, but MS5 takes its brush engine to a new level. You can airbrush and paint in MS5 – you’re not limited to line art alone.

Layer modes (similar to the ones you have in Adobe Photoshop) are also another new (and needed) addition to MS5. The pencil tool in MS5 is on par with Sketchbook Pro – making it increasingly likely that I’ll now begin to use MS5 for both penciling AND inking. I haven’t had a chance to put MSP to the test when it comes to digital coloring – but I hope to do that in the next few days or so.

I’m still learning my way around the program, but I’ve been very pleased with what I’ve seen so far. Would I upgrade to MS5 if I didn’t get a free copy?

Without a doubt – YES. To get the full package you’ll pay $79.99 – to upgrade from version 4 to version 5, you’ll have to pay $49.99.

Questions? Hit me up and I’ll do my best to field them.


These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

  • odiolitos
    December 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    This sounds like the Sketchbook Pro killer! (Aside from Autodesk’s customer “care” policies, that is…)

    I’ve toyed with the idea of upgrading, but then read I couldn’t get a digital copy (S&H to Spain is REALLY expensive for a box I’ll just chuck somewhere and forget) and the upgrade to EX5 would cost the same for both EX4 and 5 users… Sounds like a very rushed release, doesn’t it? That, and the lack of compatibility with EX4 projects is why I’ll wait for EX5. I’m pretty sure it’ll be great.

    On a different note, just how different is the drawing experience from EX4’s? The video seemed to show vector- like editing of lines, and that really made me curious…

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your impressions!

  • Krishna
    December 6, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    I haven’t used any vectors in my drawings within Manga Studio 5 – but the inking and penciling is very responsive – there are more brush options to tweak, should you need to. Fairly certain that at some point MS5 will be available as a download.

  • odiolitos
    December 7, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Anyway, the more I look into it, the more I want it!! I’ll just wait for the downloadable version. ^__^

  • Will Terrell
    December 11, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    I’m thinking of upgrading. I read somewhere that “story mode” isn’t available on this version yet though. I really liked that feature in previous versions.

    • Krishna Sadasivam
      December 11, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Good news, Will – story mode will be available in the EX5 version… I love the regular version – it’s a very robust and intuitive drawing tool.

  • Griffonnet
    January 25, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Looks like my comment hasn’t been sent, doh !

    I wanted to ask your opinion about new painting tool in manga studio :). I heard some good things about this software and I’m quite impressed by the inking it provide. I’m a photoshop user and still not at ease to paint with it, I’m looking for a software more sketch/paint oriented.
    I managed to try an old version of illustudio, but sadly it’s laggy (probably my version is kind of odd, but it provide a good idea), is it close to it ?
    Thanks :)

    • Krishna M. Sadasivam
      January 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      I haven’t tried Illustudio (never heard of it, to be honest) – MS is really responsive and fast when drawing and painting.

      • Griffonnet
        January 25, 2013 at 10:03 pm

        Hehe, I found it at a forum corner while searching an “alternative” at MS5 to get an idea about how it work. I think it’s an old software but it did a proper job, it’s simple but effective.

        I’m happy you speak about MS, not a lot of people know it exist… (well, around me, nobody) I will wait until they release a trial for the last version, I’m really exited now :)

        Thanks for your review and answer !