Getting Started with Manga Studio

What’s that one hurdle you face when trying a new piece of software? Yep, the darn manual.  Hundreds of pages of really cool stuff; none of which you know how to use.  So, where to start?  I’m going to help you past the first hurdle with today’s tutorial.

Okay, what are we?  Artists.  What do we do?  We draw.  Let’s draw.  Forget inking.  Forget word balloons.  Forget story.  You’re hear to pick up your “pencil” and draw.  Because all comics start off as a pencil sketch.  Whether you’re Stan Lee or a budding newbie, all comics start off as doodles.  Let’s doodle together.

Manga Studio comes in two flavors for your enjoyment: Debut and EX. Debut is a great way to get started with the software.  You can use either version for this tutorial.  I use EX so if you notice some differences, that’s the reason.  I also use a WACOM Intuos 3 tablet on a simple P4 Windows XP Pro system with 3.5Gb RAM.  Nothing fancy.

Posted in Drawing, Featured News, Tutorials and tagged , , .


  1. Interesting… it looks like freehand drawing in manga is way more free flowing than using photoshop or illustrator? I ask it as a question because you are used to the program and were doing it effortlessly, is it as free flowing as it appears Byron?

    • The number one reason I use Manga Studio is that it “feels” like I’m drawing on paper. Yeah, yeah, it’s a tablet and there are differences, but for an timer like me, this was the best “feel” I could get. There’s no delay and it flows just like a real pencil.

      I know sound like a walking Ad for this software, but when I find something that works, I like to pass it along.

      • I need to try it someday to compare to Illustrator with a Tablet laptop. I feel as though the flow is very natural, but maybe it could be better & I dont even now it!

      • My experience with Adobe Photoshop wasn’t well received by me, even after getting a handle on it, it just took to long to create something because it didn’t feel remotely natural. I went back to conventional drawing after months of doing it digitally with no improvement in time management. I may now reconsider and go get manga to see if it can give me what Adobe couldn’t! Plus the tutorial proved it wasn’t that difficult a program to master, which for me, learning new software is about as much fun as getting a wedgie in a crowded room!

        Another question and you aren’t the first I’ve seen do this, but why 600dpi and not 300 dpi? Is that so you can size it down and tighten up the linework? Or is there another purpose to using such a high dpi? I thought after 300 dpi for print work, anything higher wasn’t useful? Much like anything over 72 dpi for web wasn’t useful and file heavy? You may have said why in the tutorial and I apologize if I missed it?

        • For me, there’s no comparison drawing in Photoshop to Manga Studio. I *hate* the results in Photoshop. Not knocking Photoshop, I make a ton of money with it in my freelance business, but *not* for drawing, I just don’t see it. I have Corel Draw as well and it was better than Photoshop but seemed more for painting then drawing.

          600DPI vs 300DPI

          I was told that doing Fonts at 600DPI then shrinking it to 300DPI for print would give me a sharper result. I do not know if that is true, but even my old system can handle the files at 600DPI, so I just do it that way.

          It also let’s me use thinner pencils without having to go to like .1mm and thus a bit more latitude in the drawing process. I will at times increase and decrease my pencil size depending on if I’m doing hair or facial details like eyes.

  2. Thanks Byron!

    I have been contemplating a purchase of Manga Studio (mostly due to the fact that even with my wife’s student discount CS5 is too expensive for a starving artist) and your tutorials should give me a taste of the app.

    • I will post something here on the Webcomic Alliance website, but I’m going to do a series of videos on how I do a comic for 1977. Not necessarily tutorials, but just “Here’s how I do it.” type of presentation.

      I think once you see me do an entire comic, you’ll see many benefits to Manga Studio (there I go sounding like an Ad again… sorry).

  3. I’m a recent convert to Manga Studio, so I am no expert but thus far I am loving it. Mostly for the inking actually, for the pencils it’s really no better for than Sketchbook Pro. But the inking, now that is much better. Also the ability to letter and add word balloons without switching to photoshop is a nice feature.

  4. Byron, I’m really glad you’re walking us though your process. I’ve had Manga Studio for a few months now but have yet to fully convert to it from Photoshop, simply based on the comfort level I’ve developed with Photoshop over the years. That being said I’ve noticed the limitation of Photoshop, especially when it comes to drawing perspective. I’m looking forward to your future videos and hope they can aide in my transition to using Manga Studio as my primary drawing program.

    • I heard this from a lot of people. It is hard to transition from something you know, but doesn’t quite work right, to a newer, slightly more complicated program.

      I’m doing these in simple steps so you can watch one at a time and get that part down. I hate tutorials that cover 8 things and don’t cover any of them clearly. So, I’m glad you liked this!

  5. Thanks for the guide. What I have been waiting for. I might dig out my copy and try again now that the frustration of getting started may be overcome.

  6. I downloaded the demo a few months ago and I definitely wanna pick it up when I have the extra funds. Much, much easier than drawing in flash (yeah, i’m straight up ghetto, what of it 😛 ). The different pencil and pen settings made me drool alone….mmmm mechanical

  7. Great primer, Byron. Thanks! Having just purchased MSP EX 4.0, I’m looking forward to learning more about the tool. There’s a 3-day special price $99 running now on the pro version, if you want to save $200 off retail.

  8. Oooh thanks for the tip Krishna! I may get it myself at that price!

    And it’s cool to see you comment here!

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  10. The grammar nazi in me forces me to point out that it’s not “you’re hear to pick up your ‘pencil’ and draw”, but “you’re here to pick up your ‘pencil’ and draw”

  11. When I’m using the sketching pencil in manga studio, it’s all dithered black when I’m looking for flat grey. How do I tell it that all that pattern is distracting when I’m just trying to get a sketch down?

  12. Very useful video, thanks! A friend of mine just gave me Manga Studio, and the documentation just sorta drops you in with nothing. This video taught me more in 10 minutes than I learned all the rest of the night put together!

    -The Gneech

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