Clip Studio Paint EX Review

If you are already familiar with Adobe Photoshop or other digital painting software, Clip Studio Paint EX, previously known as Manga Studio, will be very familiar to you.

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Our Verdict

This program’s advanced brush and drawing tools make it ideal for artists who seriously want to draw and create their own characters and backgrounds.

For

  • Clip Studio Paint EX has more illustration tools than any other comic software.

Against

  • It doesn't have many script tools available.
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When you open Clip Studio Paint EX this window pops up, giving you access to drawing assets, the FAQs page and tutorials within the program.

When you open Clip Studio Paint EX this window pops up, giving you access to drawing assets, the FAQs page and tutorials within the program.
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Clip Studio Paint EX's interface gives you access to layers, drawing tools and plenty of additional comic book assets.

Clip Studio Paint EX's interface gives you access to layers, drawing tools and plenty of additional comic book assets.
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Clip Studio Paint EX allows you to determine the size of your canvas along with the color and resolution so you can create professional-level artwork.

Clip Studio Paint EX allows you to determine the size of your canvas along with the color and resolution so you can create professional-level artwork.
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I counted 36 different comic panel layouts within Clip Studio Paint EX.

I counted 36 different comic panel layouts within Clip Studio Paint EX.
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The brushes and pencils responded really well to my Wacom and made my images look like they had been drawn with pencil and paper.

The brushes and pencils responded really well to my Wacom and made my images look like they had been drawn with pencil and paper.
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Clip Studio Paint EX's premade comic panel layouts make it easy to start working on your comics. You can also create your own comic panels from scratch.

Clip Studio Paint EX's premade comic panel layouts make it easy to start working on your comics. You can also create your own comic panels from scratch.
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Clip Studio Paint EX allowed me to access all of the fonts previously downloaded on my computer. I was also able to change the color and size of my text. Once you get the layout sketched out, you can use the balloon tools to create professional-looking word balloons.

Clip Studio Paint EX allowed me to access all of the fonts previously downloaded on my computer. I was also able to change the color and size of my text. Once you get the layout sketched out, you can use the balloon tools to create professional-looking word balloons.
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Clip Studio Paint's website gives you access to plenty of tutorials, both in written and video format. Since this is a relatively popular program, you can also find plenty of user-created tutorials on YouTube.

Clip Studio Paint's website gives you access to plenty of tutorials, both in written and video format. Since this is a relatively popular program, you can also find plenty of user-created tutorials on YouTube.
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Clip Studio Paint EX's tools allowed me to blend colors and tones together very easily. You can also adjust the opacity of your layers and brushes in this software or apply mask layers.

Clip Studio Paint EX's tools allowed me to blend colors and tones together very easily. You can also adjust the opacity of your layers and brushes in this software or apply mask layers.
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Clip Studio Paint EX gives you access to hundreds of graphics and 3D objects for you to use.

Clip Studio Paint EX gives you access to hundreds of graphics and 3D objects for you to use.
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Clip Studio Paint EX also gives you access to a fully posable 3D model library so you can get the exact angle and gestures that you want for your comic. Simply draw over the figure once you're done positioning it.

Clip Studio Paint EX also gives you access to a fully posable 3D model library so you can get the exact angle and gestures that you want for your comic. Simply draw over the figure once you're done positioning it.
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Clip Studio Paint EX also offers a decent library of backgrounds.

Clip Studio Paint EX also offers a decent library of backgrounds.

If you are already familiar with Adobe Photoshop or other digital painting software, Clip Studio Paint EX, previously known as Manga Studio, will be very familiar to you. It is primo comic book software since it has more tools and features and supports more file formats than any other software we reviewed. Professional artists will feel right at home with this program, but novice users can easily become proficient with it as well. If you can afford it, Clip Studio Paint EX is simply the best comic book software for creating comics, anime and manga.

Comic Book & Manga Tools

If you have used Adobe Photoshop, then the tool layout of this program will seem pretty familiar; some of the hotkeys are even the same. This program is a bit of a mix between Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop – minus the photo correction tools – since it allows you to use vector and raster layers in the same file, while also giving you organizational tools to arrange and work on your comic book's page layout within one program. Hallelujah! I was able to use this program to make beautifully smooth strokes that widened and thinned where I wanted them to. If you’d prefer a simpler program that isn’t drawing-intensive, you might be interested in Pixton.

Clip Studio Paint EX has premade page templates to spark your creativity. I counted 36 unique comic panel layouts, but you can also use this program to create your own from scratch. You can even peel away each layer and work on various parts without disturbing other parts of your images. Since this comic maker focuses on illustration, it doesn't have many script tools. The program let me add word balloons and text super easily. However, it lacks a spell checker so you’ll want to double check your text before publishing your comics. The program accesses the fonts already on your computer, and you can also change the color and size of the text.

Clip Studio Paint EX includes a page organization feature that displays thumbnails of all the pages you have worked on. It also lets you flip through them without needing to close or minimize the current page, and you can check out a full-page view to see everything all together. If you want to zoom in on an image you are working on, you simply hover over the area and scroll your mouse wheel. I also discovered that you can create animations using this program, which takes a little more time and dedication.

This software also allows you to organize and arrange multiple pages in one project, much like desktop publishing software – a feature which is especially helpful if you are creating your own comic books. This feature isn't found in Clip Studio Paint Pro.

Digital Painting Tools

I absolutely loved using Clip Studio Paint EX and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for comic book software or digital drawing software in general. This program comes with plenty of brushes along with pencil, pen and marker tools for you to use. If the cost is something you’re not ready to swallow yet, you can purchase the more budget-friendly Clip Studio Pro and upgrade at a future date.

You can import and adjust most files of your previous artwork. For instance, I imported a PSD file and was able to access the same layers I’d created previously, as well as paint on top of them. This software responded beautifully to my drawing tablet, showing just a hint of a line when I gently pressed and drawing bold, thick lines when I pressed down hard. I even found the brushes to be a little more tuned and focused for drawing than Photoshop. It sounds blasphemous, but it’s true. I was glad to see that Clip Studio Paint lets you import and even create your own custom brushes.

In addition to the drawing tools, you can also find premade backgrounds, props, characters and special effects under the Assets tab. An aspect that blew me away was Clip Studio Paint EX’s 3D models. These full-size figures are posable so you can get them into complex positions and then draw over them to help your scenes and characters look more proportional and believable.
Images made with this comic software can be saved, imported and exported in the most common image files available. This means your images can be recognized and opened in different viewing programs without worrying about compatibility. Clip Studio Paint files can be saved as BMP, JPEG, PNG, TGA, TIFF and PICT formats. You can even export your work to be compatible for specific Kindle formats. Unfortunately, this software doesn't support PDF files. However, PDF files are not commonly supported by comic book software.

Tutorials & Support

This comic book software is compatible with just about every operating system, including Windows 10 and 8 and Mac OS X. This program is big, though, and we highly recommend more than 1GB of RAM to run it smoothly.

Technical support is available on the CELSYS website if you need it, but it is limited. You can email support personnel, but there is no live chat or phone number for you to utilize as the company is based in Japan. A FAQs section and a video tutorial page is also available to browse through, and you can find additional user tutorials on YouTube.

Clip Studio Paint EX is the best comic book software available on the market and is perfect for both experts and novice creators. It has many tools and effects to foster your creativity, including brushes, vectors and raster tools. It also lets you edit in layers. You can use predesigned page and character layouts or pose 3D models if your imagination hits a roadblock or if you simply want to make comics faster. Clip Studio Paint EX also lets you easily create word balloons and has some text editing functions for changing font styles and sizes.

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