Early 2014 I checked out Manga Studio 5 EX and wrote a rather glowing review (9.5/10) but even though I found it great, I set it aside. My graphic design is best suited to PhotoShop and because of this, Photoshop remained as my default software for everything. Over the last couple of months our studio has been in the transition of being transferred which means that my nice beautiful baby (a.k.a. my Apple Cinema Display) is still in it’s box– leaving most of my work to be done on my Cintiq 12 WX. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Cintiq but the monitor is way too small for my daily Photoshop workflow. So I decided to move all unnecessary PhotoShop graphic design work, i.e. character design, over to SketchBook Pro. Finding software to match my needs and currently reduced workspace (monitor wise) put me in the shoes of Goldilocks. Photoshop gave me too many options to juggle on the screen and SketchBook Pro gave me too little. Now if I could only find something that was juuust riiight. What a minute, didn’t I review Manga Studio 5 EX about a year ago? newmangastudio_screenshot-100025310-large After spending a month with Manga Studio I found my porridge bowl that is “just right”. The screen layout mimics  what I love about Photoshop but it goes an extra step by rubber-banding to fit my screen. This has been an issue with PSD (note: I use CS5 so this might not be an issue with a more current version). My new found love here goes beyond an interface that fits. I absolutely love the drawing tools. Even more so than last year! I love being able to draw 100% in vector which helps streamline rough character sketches. No more deleting lines or anything of that nature. Instead, I can reform the line as well as straighten it if need be. What about inking? Normally I do all sketch work in Photoshop and then bounce it over to Illustrator to do line work–then sometimes bounce it back to Photoshop to paint. That’s a lot of hopping back and forth! Inking in Manga Studio is beautifully done and it has completely streamlined my entire experience. Creating beautiful lines with a stroke of a pen and adjustments are done just as easily. I’m not fussing with the line tool that is way to common in Illustrator. In addition to this, I really love the painting tools. They look extremely natural and fall in-between Painter and Photoshop–something that I can easily live with. Plus there’s no bouncing from software to software. kungfupose_ms_screenshot-100025311-large The New Bottom Line: I am so glad that I decided to go back and re-check out Manga Studio 5 EX. My workflow is much smoother and it’s easier to achieve the line work that I desire. I don’t see any software replacing Photoshop when it comes to do doing any graphics with photos. Nonetheless, Manga Studio 5 EX has officially taken over as my new tool when it comes to character design and it’s my new digital sketchpad.

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