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Manga Studio tutorial: Life in cartoon motion

Create your own cartoon strip

We don't believe drawing on a PC should be limited to dull presentations. Here, we show you how to create your very own comic strip using Manga Studio Debut 4.0.

Osamu Tezuka had little more than pen and paper when he created the legendary ‘Astro Boy' character in 1952, but contemporary Manga artists have come a long way in terms of the tools they use. Even if the originals are still created traditionally - as is the case with Masashi Kishimoto's ‘Naruto' series - digitising the final drawings is a necessary part of producing a comic book. Indeed, many artists prefer to work with a PC from start to finish.

Manga Studio Debut 4.0 is an entry-level package that makes it fairly straightforward to get started creating your own cartoon strips and books. There's also a professional version, Manga Studio EX, for more experienced artists. With this program, you can sketch your own designs with a mouse or tablet before inking them into a final composition. Alternatively, you can scan in drawings and use these as the basis for your design.

The Debut version provides a Beginner's Assistant, grouping together the various tools that you will need in palettes alongside your composition. Dynamic help that displays above the main drawing area also tells you what the different options do.

Creating a comic book requires more than drawing, however. The layout of the page adds to the sense of excitement and dynamism, and here, too, help is at hand. Different layouts can simply be dragged-and-dropped on to the drawing area to organise the various cells in which you will create your designs.

Here, we'll guide you through the basics of using Manga Studio to sketch and draw onscreen, and offer tips and tricks for bringing your comic book to life. Combining text with your images in exciting ways is a key element. Here, the program makes use of ‘Characters' - different styles of dialogue balloons that convey emotions such as anger with a bang.

What's more, subtle effects can be conveyed by the use of more than 2,300 tones and textures. These can be dragged-and-dropped on to your project and combined to create atmospheric effects. With a little care and application, you could be making your own versions of Naruto or Astro Boy in no time.

Sketching and drawing in Manga Studio Debut 4.0

Step 1. Install and launch Manga Studio (click here for a 30-day free trial). Use the main drawing board on the left to lay out pages and collate them into a story by clicking each tab at the top of the window. To the right, various tools are grouped on tabbed palettes, with layers displayed above these and colour swatches below.

Manga Studio Debut 4.0 Step 1

Step 2. The easiest way to start creating a sketch is to scan in or import an existing drawing. Go to File, Import and click the Image Adjustment tab. Now select Gray, 8bit or 32bit if your original is a pencil sketch (2bit black and white is fine for a pen drawing). The drawing will now load in the main drawing area.

Manga Studio Debut 4.0 Step 2

Also see: Creating a cartoon strip in Manga Studio Debut 4.0


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