How did you find out about Manga Studio?
I watched a Dave Gibbons tutorial around the time the "Watchmen" film came out. I bought the Debut version with a special offer, drew one line with the pen tool and was hooked.
What software did you use before that?
I have been using Manga Studio for two years. Before that, I used Photoshop but not to draw with. As an artist I'm very hard on myself and find it hard not to concentrate on the flaws of every drawing I do. Like most people I started using software to fix my drawings, retouching and altering the composition. I then started working on separate pieces of paper and assembled the image in Photoshop. I did this so I could change my mind as much as I needed and avoid the pressure of anything being "final." I'd resize and redraw hands, feet, eyes, whatever didn't work.
I tried drawing straight into Photoshop, but found the tools to be very cold and alien no matter how I adjusted the settings. I tried other packages but nothing clicked. The first time I drew a line with the MS pen tool, it was the line quality I'd been trying to get all this time and it just felt so organic. I still keep a sketchbook but I haven't drawn on paper for a job since Manga Studio.
What software do you use with Manga Studio? Where does it fit into your workflow?
I still use Photoshop when coloring my work. I'll often do the basic coloring in MS, but I'll do all the final adjustments, tone work and overlays in Photoshop.
When I have to letter and color the comic book pages as well as draw them I use Illustrator for letters. Then I collate in InDesign, so I can make pdfs and organize the document.
What was your first experience with Manga Studio?
I think it was an illustration of a woman surrounded by paparazzi. It developed organically as I was messing around with the tools. I loved the result and felt like the quality of the work had jumped a level or two. I got a great response when I posted the work online as well.
I loved the quality of the "ink" line and the way the pen and pencil tools layered very organically so I could sketch very freely. Unfortunately nothing else about the application seemed organic! I found the interface quite confusing and all the grids and guides very complicated. With the exception of the main page guides and the 3D frame tool I still draw all my guide lines with the drawing tools.
What was your inspiration for this art?
Over this summer I was working long hours on a comic book with a very tight deadline in my boiling hot flat in central London. I was dreaming about escaping the city and blowing off some steam... and owning a hot rod! I did eventually escape the city for a few days but the hot rod will have to stay a dream for the moment.
What is one of your favorite features of Manga Studio?
I guess I use the application very simply. Other than the 3D frame tool to help with perspective, I just layer up and draw away with the wonderful pen tool. I'm always adding new layers and trying stuff out. I mentioned this earlier, but drawing in MS feels very organic. I also love working back into my drawings with white, something that never works for me that cleanly on paper. That could just be my lack of skill of course... MS just saves my butt all the time!
A simpler type tool with pdf vector output would really improve my work flow.
Can you give an example of how Manga Studio made a project go smoothly?
On a comic I worked on recently the client changed the look of the main character after the entire 98 pages had been completed. I simply duplicated the layer on every page and redrew the new character over the top using the old image as a guide.
Is there anything else you would like to tell me?
Being a genetic mutant isn't all adamantium claws, telepathy and the power of flight. All I got was red hair.
You can see more of James' art at his website.
Read More User Stories