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.