Manga Studio: Not to be outdone, SmithMicro has developed some very powerful and cutting-edge software that totally compete in Adobe’s realm. Manga Studio has become very popular with a lot of artists that work digitally, whether they be professionals in the comic industry or art students. With Manga Studio you get the best of both worlds from Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as the fact that it was specifically tailored to make comic books, meaning that it has more useful comic themed features than Adobe’s software. In the case of Manga Studio, you are able to create images and artwork that are rasterized and use the same layering system as Photoshop, however without leaving the software, saving, or opening a new file, you can create new vector layers on top of your images and do all of your lettering and image work right there in the same spot on the same file with the same software. It’s just a matter of ease and convenience. Manga Studio also has a number of comic book specific tools such as panel layout, some page designs, word balloons, as well as the ability to create a book file where you can assemble your pages into one file like a digital book without having to leave the software or use a layout program. They also offer a special software specifically for making motion comics and another program that allows you to create 3D model characters and environments that you can turn into animations or illustrations. On top of that, SmithMicro’s software is much more affordable, with Manga Studio ranging from $50 for the basic version to $200 for the full-featured Professional Edition. I have not yet heard of any mobile app version of Manga Studio, but who knows what the future holds, right? More details and software can be found at smithmicro.com.
ArtRage: I mention ArtRage as well because it is something that I’ve really been enjoying to use. ArtRage is a software that allows you to create digital paintings as naturally as you would on canvas that also mimics the look of real paintings on canvas. I even use a brush stylus when I’m working in ArtRage, so it feels authentic, like I’m painting on the screen of my tablet. There’s a wide variety of tools and media, from watercolor, to oils and acrylic, colored pencils, fine point pens, and art markers are all simulated to realistic perfection. The brushstrokes look like real brushstrokes in real paint. You can even take an imaginary tube of paint, squeeze it on your canvas, and flatten it with a palette knife. You will see all the ridges, air bubbles, shapes and edges that you would in real life. This is a great tool for any art enthusiast or someone who wants to paint a comic book or their own cover. ArtRage ranges at around $50. This lower price point makes it so much more affordable than other software. Also they have released a mobile app version of ArtRage at the very affordable price point of $2 for mobile phone platforms, $5 on tablets such as the iPad or Android devices, and $10 for the Windows touchscreen operating system. ArtRage is developed by Ambient Designs Inc. More details can be found at artrage.com.
There are a number of other digital painting software, such as Corel Painter, PaintTool SAI, Sketches, Fresh Paint and even Photoshop. For more details do a simple Google search for any of these software names and keep an eye out for a future installment in this series dedicated to digital painting.
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