Verdict: Clip Studio Paint is a universal graphic package for those who are taking the first steps in drawing and illustrating comics or those who need to prepare a professional project in a short time.
It has an expanded drawing toolset and application options (concept art and painting, character art, illustration for design, comic and manga, animation) with appropriately configured panels and templates, access to a free library, as well as ease of use if you are familiar with Photoshop.
If you are just getting a hang of a new image editor, you will have to spend some time mastering it. Besides, the premium EX version is expensive as a one-time purchase.
Clip Studio Assets library grants access to numerous ready-made resources, including brushes, patterns, 3D models, backgrounds, props and effects that you can add to the panels. You will find 10,000+ free assets, many more available for a dollar, all ready for download and commercial use.
The power and customizability of this program, combined with the low subscription cost, makes it one of the best free manga drawing software.
With specialized comic book features (panel splitting, speech bubbles, effect lines for visualizing dynamism and sounds, matrix pattern in a classic Ben-Day dots style) and a natural drawing feel, Clip Studio Paint is used by professionals and studios around the world to create comics.
Use hundreds of pre-installed decorative brushes, or choose from the Clip Studio Assets’ ever-growing range of unique custom community brushes to match your personal style. The program offers pens, markers, airbrushes, shading tools, several types of brushes (ink, watercolor, oil), as well as the Pen tool to draw any shape.
Each aspect can be customized according to style and technique. It is possible to change the shape of the brush print, the thickness of the pen line, the feel of the analog, the texture, control the direction of the stroke, the gap, scattering, density, anti-aliasing, opacity and blending capabilities.
Draw repeated textures (flowers, grass) in one motion. You can apply multiple images to a single brush and randomize them to achieve a natural result. Clip Studio managed to control the blending of brush strokes and textures more precisely while maintaining a deep level of Photoshop brush customization for a greater variety of shapes. Clip Studio Paint EX lets you import and even create your own brushes.
Clip Studio Paint is optimized for use with a mouse or digital pen. It makes the most of your device’s capabilities to reflect all the nuances of your pen, even up to the 8192 pen pressure levels detected by Wacom tablets.
According to many Clip Studio Paint reviews, the tracking and precision of the sensitivity settings are impressive, and it makes natural changes to movement, just like when working on paper. Feel free to work with PSD files containing up to 10,000 layers without any problems thanks to the 64-bit OS and support for multi-core processors. The layers folder function simplifies the process of managing files with a large number of layers.
Since you can use raster and vector layers, the workflow in Clip Studio Paint vs Photoshop is smoother, because it is a kind of mix of Illustrator and Photoshop without photo correction tools.
It means that you can draw pixels and vector lines in the same picture editor instead of switching between programs. Clip Studio Paint lets you draw as usual, even using vectors. This supports a regular workflow while still providing scalable images.
Move, thicken, tone, selectively erase individual strokes before intersecting or view them in 4K without compromising quality. You can tweak vector parameters to create smooth, bold strokes in sketches.
Also, take advantage of the Clip Studio Paint features to increase (or reduce) certain areas of lines and make your drawings look more artistic. Unlike regular layers, vector layers let you easily change the size and edit lines, which is necessary for professional graphic design.
Clip Studio Paint offers an interesting artificial intelligence technology based on deep learning that does everything – from coloring pictures to automatically filling animations with closing gaps in lines. Drawing precise lines can be challenging, but you can make it easier with the stabilization and correction features.
By reducing wobbly and wavering lines, as well as automatically narrowing the beginning and end of strokes, Clip Studio’s lines appear almost natural. Use your stroke drawing or take into account color hints for amazing results.
With integrated perspective rulers that snap brush strokes and shape tools to vanishing points, symmetry and perspective become easier. Draw buildings, interiors, intricate patterns or complex backgrounds manually using perspective, symmetrical, concentric circle, and other useful technical tools.
Besides, it is possible to directly import your own 3D materials into existing advanced rulers and guides. Take advantage of smart anti-aliasing to enhance resolution: resample images and eliminate jpeg noise to use past work in a larger format for printing and high-resolution screens.
With Clip Studio Paint full, you will get access to the features of three-dimensional models. Import fully customizable 3D shapes and models and use them for drafts, drawing any pose and angle, complex gestures and body positions.
The program offers 3D models of characters, objects and backgrounds that can be posed, tilted and placed directly on the canvas as a visual reference. With customizable body shapes and angles, they are ideal for hard-to-reach pose standards. Don’t forget to test the new features for extracting poses from photos and using a 3D link for accurate composition.
When placing 3D material, you can view from four angles simultaneously, change the camera position and focus point on the 3D layer. When you change the camera position on the view palette from all sides, the model is also adjusted on the canvas.
Import your own 3D models or upload architecture, furniture, people and cars to create a vast array of scenes. It will be even easier to add details by converting images and 3D materials into line drawings, then adding lines and color. There is another magic tool worth mentioning in this Clip Studio Paint review – converting photos to animation or 3D.
Take your own animation studio with you wherever you go, and then export the finished animation as an MP4 video, animated gif, or a sequence of PNG, BMP, JPEG or TIFF flipbook-style images. You can add timelines, camera movements, customize and mix multiple music tracks, sound effects and voices. Set the time and order of each frame on multiple tracks. Then adjust the playback speed if necessary.
Take advantage of a light table to freely reference specific keyframes during the intermediate, as well as onion-skin features to view adjacent frames, overlay previous and next frames for refinement with full control over color and number of layers. Create a thumbnail grid or export frames of the entire animation as a flattened sequence of images with control over zoom and frame rate, adding images and reference data to the same layer or to individually masked panels.
With multiple interpolation options, you can set sharp or smooth curved movements and check the movement by displaying the camera path. Transform grayscale concepts with gradient maps and explore the mood and lighting for projects. Apply color variations to the entire image or individual layers.
Clip Studio Paint offers a generous but complex and unobvious system of trial versions (up to six months), subscriptions and purchases, partly because the developer CELSYS is based in Japan. The purchase page will introduce you to a one-time purchase of the PRO (standard version of the product) and EX (premium version for Studio production) versions for $49.99 and $219.00 respectively. Judging by the prices, I wouldn’t call this system a very generous one.
Here you will find discounted upgrades from DEBUT, an early version of the product that often comes with drawing tablets, to PRO and PRO to EX, taking into account the cost difference. From this page, you can proceed to the monthly subscription offer, where prices are more than reasonable and start at $0.99/month for the mobile application.
There are many discount options: depending on the number of devices, an annual discount, as well as options for businesses and training programs.