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.

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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.

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

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.

Step 3. Layers are key to building up your compositions. Go to Layer, New Layer and, for a bitmap image, set the Layer Type to Raster. Set the resolution to either 300 or 600 dots per inch (dpi) if you intend to print it. Use the Layer palette to move individual layers up and down; the eye icon can be used to hide them.

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Step 4. The Sketch tab offers a number of drawing tools; its marquee and ellipse tools can be used to select parts of the image to work on. The most useful line tool is the pencil, which operates as it would in a vector-drawing program. Lines can be smoothed automatically. Various styles can be selected from the menu below.

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Step 5. Once you're happy with your basic outline it's time to start inking in. Select the pen tool from the Draw tab and choose a suitable nib. As with the sketching pencil, lines are automatically smoothed out. Different wash effects can be applied by selecting the Gray nib. This is useful for adding volume to your images.

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Step 6. The Character tab lets you add speech balloons, and these use differing designs to convey various emotions. If you'd prefer to add your own, click one of the sample balloon styles and use the Character Settings and Dialog Balloon Settings tabs in the Properties palette to modify the font, colour and style.

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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.


Creating a cartoon strip in Manga Studio Debut 4.0

Step 1. In this workshop we will dismantle and rebuild a Manga Studio sample to demonstrate how you might go about creating a more complex cartoon. We are working on a single page; you can add more pages by going to File, New, Story. Each page can then be built into a comic strip.

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Step 2. The Panel tab offers templates for your page; for example, two horizontal panels divided into two and three boxes - as illustrated above. Drag-and-drop one of these templates on to the project area. Alternatively, the panel-cutting tool can break up boxes diagonally and let you create something more dynamic.

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Step 3. We now want to add the drawing to our panel. It's important to note how different parts of the drawings are built on separate layers. Rather than concentrating on the whole image at once (and having to delete it all if you make a mess of one part), this allows you to work on each section until you are happy with it.

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Step 4. Using a combination of brushes helps to build volume into your drawing. Another trick is to alter each layer's opacity (double-click an individual layer to bring up the option). Fading out some parts of your drawing will move the focus to darker, more vivid areas and will prevent your artwork becoming static.

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Also see: Sketching and drawing in Manga Studio Debut 4.0

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.

Step 5. Click the Tone tab to add texture to your sketch. Several backgrounds, effects and patterns are available that can be used to add body to your drawing when used carefully. Create a new layer where you wish these effects to appear, then simply drag-and-drop your chosen tone into that layer.

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Step 6. With a drawing inked and tonal effects added, it's time to add character settings such as dialogue balloons. Do this from the Character tab. Drag-and-drop your chosen dialogue balloon on to a new layer, then double-click it to start adding text. You can use the Settings tabs to modify text styles and other elements.

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Step 7. Now that you've created your first panel, you should repeat the steps above to complete your strip. Remember to use a new layer for each object or style that you add to your project. As well as making your drawing more manageable, using different layers makes it much easier to correct any mistakes.

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Step 8. Once it's completed, you'll need to export your project. To do so, go to File, Export. Various options can be altered here, such as the number of dots per inch, the colour depth and the size and format of your final cartoon - if your comic will be published online you may wish to reduce its size.

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