Manga Studio 5 released, though the pro EX version won't be here til the summer | 30 January 13

Many of Manga Studio 4 EX's features have been pulled into the standard version 5 release, but some are missing.

Artists have long depended on Smith Micro's Manga software to draw, lay out, illustrate and publish comics in styles from Japanese manga to British indie. The new Manga Studio 5 claims to offer an even greater degree of creativity and functionality – though current users should note that this is just an upgrade to the consumer-level Debut version. The pro-grade EX version won't be out til the summer, according to a pre-launch review.

Manga Studio 5's screen tones enable users to add styles and effects to their projects and create backgrounds with the pattern brush. Artists can customize projects with the program's large collection of special effects.

Manga Studio 5 is a 64-bit application with multi-core CPU support, which means it can handle high-definition and multi-layered art projects more smoothly than previous versions. Its interface overhaul and new graphics engine lets artists draw and paint more naturally, the company says.

A new, customisable interface lets artists set up a personal workflow that best fits their projects. Users can set their own brush shapes, canvas textures, and paint expressions, and save them as personal settings.

With this new version, and for the first time, users can incorporate colour into their projects, so they no longer need to rely on other drawing and painting programs to professionally color their work. Within Manga Studio 5, you can choose from an assortment of preset colours or create custom colorus and colour sets. Users can quickly switch back and forth between colors or blend them. The update also sports new vector, vector-snapping, and antialiasing tools.

A new dedicated airbrush facilitates multiple effects. The tone brush creates a wide array of visual effects, and it's easy to create and share brush patterns.

New support for 3D objects lets users manipulate 3D figures and objects directly on the screen, use preset poses, or drag and drop 3D objects onto the canvas.

While Manga Studio 5 includes many features previously found only in the EX version of Manga Studio 4 – including vector and 3D layers, custom tools and Actions,  a Brush Pen and Perspective Rulers – from Smith Micro's comparison guide, it's apparent that some haven't: including spreads, raster-to-vector conversion, tone distortion, the symmetrical ruler, some filters and the Story Editor. Scanning of images – which was in version 4 Debut – appears to have been removed, as has page numbering and support for artwork over 600dpi.

Manga Studio is $80 (around £50); upgrades from the previous version are $50 (£30). Manga Studio 5 runs on both Mac and Windows. Mac users need at least an Intel Core 2 Duo running OS X 10.6, 10.7, or 10.8. Windows users need a 2GHz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent running XP, Vista, 7, or 8.

Additional reporting by Neil Bennett.


Jerome Vernell Jr said: Hi Hideki. I am considering purchasing 4 EX because 5 doesn't support my 64 bit Windows Vista. My concern is if 4 EX can paint just as good as Corel Painter or Artrave. I have downloaded the trial for 4EX and I noticed that that the paint brush looks really pixelated. Maybe I need to adjust the dpi. Anyway, do you have a portfolio so I can view what you've done in 4 EX?Thank You.

James Nakakihara said: We've created some tutorials for ms5. See them at http://www.mangastudiosensei.c...

Hesa said: Does anyone know if this program will work with my dell inspiron 1720?

jackson said: thanks

LA Stone said: I would highly recommend this software, and anything from Adobe to anyone. These two companies make the highest quality and most trouble free graphic software I've ever used. I can just work freely without crashing and without fear of crashing and without weird and unexpected things.There are many mind blowing features that are so one-up on any other similar software. One would be the incredibly custom key modifier section. Anything you want, not just custom key commands like other software, but total customization of tool toggles. Adobe now calls them "spring loaded" keys. That's very cool, but what if the toggle I want is not what Adobe had in mind? What if when using a vector brush, you want to hold Control + Shift to temporarily toggle, very specifically, the path smoothing tool? In any other program I've ever used, you just can't do it. You'd have to make a trip to the toolbox and select that tool. In Manga Studio, there's a settings section for both normal key commands for and surprisingly, for key modifiers where you could simply make that very specific assignment. I've never seen this before and it is amazingly thoughtful though a little confusing at first. The more you use the software, the more ideas you have to work faster, the more you tweak it, the better and faster you work.I do have a few complaints. Some are probably typical. Creating, importing, and sharing brushes requires a "tutorial". They didn't make that easy for some reason. And while painting and drawing with vector brushes is wonderful, the vector editing tools are pretty slow. I'm impressed in the fact that they even exist, but they are not fast. But in it's current state, this is a huge advantage over Photoshop and other similar programs.

Nicole said: Thank you very much for your recommendations :D

schmuck said: 1st of all, there are portable/external CD/DVD drives out there. You can get one cheap. It doesn't have to be from the Apple store to work with an apple product. I spent around $60 CAD and it works great with my Macbook Air. They are great to have on hand for rare occasions, regardless of what you're using.Secondly, Smith Micro offers Digital downloads 'or' a physical shipment for their software. You have a choice. Most companies have been doing this for some time. This eliminates the need for an external drive. I'm not fond of digital downloads as there are generally unfair restrictions and if you lose your download or it becomes corrupted later on, you are out of luck.Thirdly, if you know someone else with a Mac that has a drive, create a dmg with the Disk Utility and save it to a portable hard drive. This way, you will always have your image on hand, and you will never need to use a CD/DVD drive again. This method creates a faster install as well.Bottom line: The choice is yours. There is no need to use a CD/DVD to install Manga Studio, or most software for that matter.

Nicole said: Just wondering, how can I download it onto Macbook air, when it doesn't have the place where you insert the CD?

Memag said: Get Celsys Clip Studio Paint EX , right now.Same program with more updates than MS5.There are english translation files on the SAI forum.

Marcusart said: I've been working on a graphic novel for a while now and moved from traditional media to digital. This was a process that I had put off. I used a combination of Painter, Gimp and Inkscape. They did different jobs but I did not feel confident enough to just use digital. Now I've got Manga Studio 5 I'm loving it. Everything I need is in one place. And as I'm used to Photoshop and a wide range of applications I can see that considerable thought has gone into the user interface as I feel I know instinctively where things are. There are a few minor niggles - I would live to have more digital paint tools but I know I've yet to exhaust all its features.The bottom line was that I needed to get a page done in a short space of time. Traditional watercolours and pencils with ink was taking me a week a page including digital effects. Now I can do a complete page with lettering in a couple of days even a day and feel happy with the end product. I feel comfortable with this tool and it lets me make pages how I want them to look.I find the layer nesting so easy to use and I don't have the lag I get in painter and I have the current version of Painter. Manga Studio is responsive, flexible and full of features. The price makes it a 'no-brainer' purchase choice. Hope that helps.

Hideki Ito said: I've been a user of version 4ex since it came out, and the new improvements in 5 are pretty awesome. The 3d models are the best part. Makes it super easy to set up perspective shots!

Janin242 said: i just buy it yesterday ... and that will took time for me to understand it.... its not easy like they said... just make a panel is tricky so... and in the the page setup the higher definition is 600 dpi... mean not to go over or what... when i made dialogue balloon my cpu want to cry.. and its really slow.. and for made the tail curve is really hard ... some bug in it...