Cons: Only two features difference between cheap standard version and expensive EX version. Smith Micro has released Manga Studio 5 EX, the pro version of its popular comics creation app, Manga Studio.
With the introduction of the starter edition of Manga Studio 5, Smith Micro took an already excellent digital comics creation tool and made it better by building it again from the ground up. In Manga Studio 5 EX, not only are the inking and coloring brush engines better, but the entire user interface feels smoother and easier to grasp. All of these issues and more have been addressed in version 5 for a more refined user experience.
So right now, when you buy Manga Studio 5, you're buying the pro EX version, with those two features locked. If, like me, you depend on creating comics longer then a single page, then you will need the EX version. Without the Story file system, in order to take a look at page 25 of your comic, for example, you'd have to find the file and double click on it to open it.
Zoom into any page in the Story Editor window to see a full-size view for easier referencing of multiple pages. Not only can you browse, view and find your comic pages much easier with EX5's Story Editor, you can also set a defined template to use with all of your pages, as well as automatically number each one, and add story information like the name of the author, artist, comic and issue number. Exporting multiple pages in EX5 is made quick and simple with Batch Export or Batch Processing. The second feature which sets EX5 apart from Version 5 is the ability to open EX4 story files. Whether you opt for Manga Studio 5 or EX5, you're getting a worthy upgrade to EX4 that isn't just a powerful tool for creating comic book art – but, as many artists are proving, is powerful for creating amazing digital art in general.
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Colouring in 4 EX was a bit tough because of missing features such as layer blending modes – and creating layers was confusing at times. Most of what made Manga Studio 4 EX better than the standard version has been added to the standard version of Manga Studio 5.
How much you will need those features will factor greatly in your decision to upgrade or not. This not only helps you keep your pages organized in one single area, it also aids in finding pages for reference or correction much easier.
Manga Studio 5 is a powerful,  worthy alternative to Photoshop for narrative- and character-led illustrations. As it stands, the only things that makes Manga Studio 5 EX different from the standard version is the ability to create multi-page Story projects – and to open Story projects from version 4 EX. But again, if like me, you've been using EX4 for a long time and have created comics more then 1 page long using the Story file feature, you will want the option to open those files in Version 5. Over the years it has become an application not just for creating Comics, but also full-colour professional digital paintings.
All the main Photoshop elements are there such as the ability to create layers of various types and the overall tool set looks the same, at first glance at least.
But it is within these tools that MS5 begins to separate itself from Adobe’s product. For a start there are various brush and pen settings that allow for a more hand-drawn artistic style to take effect. The ability to change the nib on the pen means that you can get a very accurate hand-drawn look to anything you create.
It certainly has impressed the artist Kris Hazard from Gobsmack Comics whom I brought in to help me test the product. This model can then be posed into any position, using some pre-installed poses as a starting point if you wish.


You can move every part of the character including its fingers into whichever pose you like and then use this as a template for your drawn character. The model also doesn’t allow you to move limbs out of the range of natural motion, meaning your character will always look real. If, like me you are a complete novice, you can also use one of the pre-rendered characters (as seen above) as a starting point.
On top of this you can edit the perspective to get some really nice natural-looking and consistent characters for your artwork. The program also features whole heap of speech bubbles as standard and all of which can be manipulated and individualised. All of this can also be added into pre-rendered 3D backgrounds that can be rotated and adjusted to suit a scene. Again this is an excellent tool for the amateurs amongst us.Talking of perspective, MS5 comes equipped with a brilliant perspective ruler. This allows you to select a vanishing point, up to 3 points are available on the selection menu but you can add as many as you wish.
You draw your your perspective lines and then any line you draw after that automatically snaps to these lines.
Meaning what you draw on the page is faithfully recreated on the screen.The Manga Studio website contains loads of free online tutorials (here) to help wring every last drop of your creativity onto the page.
The tools have been well honed to give you exactly what you need to produce stunning works in a user-friendly and time-effective way.
Whether you are a digital artist or a comic creator I would suggest that this is fast becoming an essential tool.Below is a gallery of images followed by the score.



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