In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how I create my panels using the Panel Tool in Manga Studio. For this tutorial, version EX4 was used. As with any tutorial, there is more than one way to skin a cat, so experiment with the method I use and see what’s best for your style!
Open up Manga Studio. Click on “NEW” and then “PAGE”. Click image below for an example.
Then, in Page Size, enter in 14 inches for the width, and 5 inches for the height. A standard newspaper comic strip is about 13 inches by 4 inches and this give you a ½ inch boarder around the drawing.
For the sake of this tutorial, the assumption is you are creating a strip to post on your webcomic site. If doing it for print, consult the printer for exact dimensions and specifications. I do all my comic strips at 600DPI, but 300DPI is the norm.
Once you click okay, you will see that, by default, two layers are created. One is already set to “Color View” and the default color is blue, just like a blue pencil. I love this mode and do all my sketching in this mode.
You can easily switch back and forth from Color Mode to Grayscale by hitting the CRTL & B keys while the Layer is selected.
In the Layers Window, turn on GRID. The image below is what you will see.
In the TOOLS selection window, click on the “Rectangle” tool. Now, in the Tool Options window, you will want to click on “New Panel” mode under the General Tab. (See yellow arrow in sample image)
This mode automatically creates a Panel Folder and Layer for you once you have drawn your desired shape. Easy!
I use the Grid to help me make a nice, wide rectangle. I space it off three (3) grid spaces all around. The image below shows the shape as I drag it out.
The finished Panel Layer will look like the image below once you select the Layer itself. The Red Border tells you which panel you have selected. Since we have not yet divided up this panel, the entire panel has a red border.
Okay, now I’ve done some basic layout sketching on my Sketch Layer (the layer with the Color Mode turned on). Now I’m ready to create some more panels to fit the comic. Here’s where the Panel Tool comes in real handy!
Select the Panel Layer again inside the Panel Folder. Then, in your Tools Window, select the Panel Ruler Cutter tool as we get ready to perform some surgery on our original Panel Layer.
Select the Panel Layer, and you will see the red border re-appear. Now left-click and hold the button down anywhere inside the panel layer where you wish to create a new panel. I usually click near the top of the outer panel line just to give myself a visual reference.
Once you left-click, a set of double lines will appear and as you move your mouse left or right, you’ll be able to set the angle of the panel you wish to create. Most times, it will be vertical, but you have the option of making it any angle you wish. Nice.
Once you’re happy with the location, release the mouse button and your panel will be created. A whole new Panel Folder and Layer will be made and it will now be highlighted red. See the example below.
So, Manga Studio gives you a visual reference of which Panel Layer you have selected by outlining it in red for you! Handy feature.
By repeating this process, you can create as many panels as you wish. Typically I create three or four panels, but you may be as creative as you want and Manga Studio will create the exact panels you want!
Below is an example of a finished comic before I do the coloring. I have set up a standard comic file that has a single panel in it along with simple word bubbles so all I have to do is copy and edit the layers as I need. This is a handy thing to set up as it will save you a lot of time recreating these panels each time you want to draw a comic.
With a little practice and time, you’ll be cranking out your comic strips in no time at all. I do all my sketching, lettering, inking, coloring and shading in Manga Studio. It allows me to maintain my 3-times a week webcomic schedule while still being able to do other freelance work and help with my family. I hope you found this tutorial helpful! Any comments may be sent to Byron@1977theComic.com!