I’ve been using Manga Studio EX4 for my comic pages.  Pages and layouts are more manageable in Manga Studio than they tend to be in Paint Tool Sai or Photoshop; however, the coloring tools could be a lot better.  Most users I’ve spoken to tend to use Manga Studio to create their line art, and then export the page for coloring in another program.

Manga Studio 5 was released recently (at the end of last year), and it attempts to fix issues with coloring by adding in more standard coloring tools, as well as more detailed brush settings.  Most of the features from EX4 are still here, though moved about in the switch to a new UI.  The only two major features that appear to be missing are story files, and the ability to draw pages at greater than 600 DPI.

It’s easy to get confused, even if you’ve used previous versions of Manga Studio, since panel rulers are now hidden under the Figure drawing tool, and perspective rulers have been moved under the Layers menu.

The new UI for Manga Studio 5.

Even with the slight confusion, it does look more standard and comparable to other art programs.  The addition of a color wheel is nice.  Of course, all the windows and tools can be rearranged to suit any preference.

The most visible new feature included in this version is the ability to take a 3D reference model and drag it onto the page.  It has a set of prearranged poses, though you can position the arms, head, legs, and fingers however you like.

The ability to drag-and-drop in 3D models can be pretty handy.

Overall, I’d say it’s worth the upgrade from EX4 right now, especially since that is $30 off from the full price.  Apparently, Manga Studio 5 is the equivalent of a new Debut version, while Manga Studio EX5 is due for release this summer.  That version might add back in the handful of missing features from EX4.

Personally, I don’t miss having story files that much, since I already organize everything into folders, and it’s fairly easy to add in my own page numbers.  For those who actually draw comics for printing though, it could be worth waiting until EX5 comes out.

Manga Studio 5 is available on Amazon.