Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Making Manga With Medibang



I have not been this excited about art creation software in a while. Anyone who is thinking about investing in Clip Studio Paint or EX (used to be Manga Studio) should probably check out Medibang first.

Here's how I came across Medibang. The other day, my tablet updated to Android Lollipop, and after the new upgrade, I decided to see if there were any new Google Play apps I could install on this version of Android.  While looking at some drawing apps, I found Medibang. It claimed to have manga and comic making tools, the ratings on it were high, and it's free. I decided to give it a try.

It didn't take me long to fall in love with this software. Although it is a tablet drawing app, it's almost as full featured as a desktop version. Even print quality tone can be added to artwork.

As I played around with it, I wondered if there could possibly be a version of Medibang that I could install on my computer. After some quick Googling I found that there is a pro-version of it for Windows and Mac. And it's free too.

With Clip Studio Paint EX going at around $200 at this time, I kept my expectations for this free software very modest. Overall, Medibang works well.  There are a few things about it that I don't like, but the good outweighs the little stuff that annoys me. In fact, I'm seriously thinking about making it my Manga Studio replacement.

What's Great about Medibang

It's free

I would be willing to give a donation for it if they had a button for that. It's so worth it.

It's simple

One thing that bothers me about Clip Studio Paint/EX is how complicated the layer structure is. With Manga Studio 4.0 EX, I had no problem with keeping my frames, tone, and speech bubbles in order, but with Clip Studio my layers become a confusing mess. For me, Medibang is back to simplicity. Creating panels is ridiculously easy, and I finally got a true understanding of how to use snap rulers. With Manga Studio EX 4, snap rulers seemed so intimidating, I didn't even try them.

Cloud collaboration

What makes Medibang stands out is how it is designed for collaboration. Manga stories are stored in the cloud, making it easy for Medibang users to invite other Medibang users to work on their comics with them. The shared comics can be accessed from the "Open From Cloud" feature. Something like this can probably be done with other programs using Dropbox to sync, but I like how collaboration is built in.


Work on art anywhere

Since Medibang has a cloud storage option, I can work on manga on my computer, and then switch to my Android tablet. I've been waiting for something that would allow me to do that for a long time. The downside to working in the cloud is that an Internet connection is required for syncing. So if there is no wifi for my tablet, I can't work. I've also noticed on the desktop version it takes longer to save when syncing to the cloud.



Little Stuff I Don't Like

  • Although they do have an English version of their site, the account verification email is in Japanese.
  • I do like a dark working environment sometimes, but it would be nice to have a light theme to change to.
  • The extra time it takes to save to the cloud is a little annoying. I can't be in a rush to go anywhere.
  • The tone selection is a little bit limited when compared to EX versions of Manga Studio and Clip Studio, but it has way more choices than Clip Studio Paint. 
  • As far as I have seen, there is no way to open up a Photoshop document in Medibang. This is not a deal breaker for me, but I think it could be for some people.


Tips for Comic Artists

Fonts

Medibang uses what's called "Cloud Fonts." This takes care of the problems that happen when people  with different fonts installed on their computers are collaborating on the same project. It also makes it possible to keep the fonts consistent from the desktop version to the tablet version. However, sometimes when using the desktop version, I really wanted to use the fonts that are installed locally. To use local fonts, uncheck the box labeled "Use cloud fonts" in the font properties box.

Importing Scanned Art

There is no scan or import button. To bring outside art into the program, open the art in Mediabang, copy the layer (it's easier if the art is only one layer), and then paste the layer on the page where the artwork needs to be added.

Speech Bubbles

There is the option to make speech bubbles using the premade screentone, but I like the effects of using a snap ruler for creating speech bubbles more. To see how to do that, check out the video tutorial on the Medibang website.

Select Tool and Transform 

There is also not "crop" or "resize tool". All cropping is done by using select tool+delete. Resizing is also dependent on the select tool. The tutorial videos are great for seeing how to get the most out of the select tool.

When new to Medibang, I highly recommend watching these training videos before getting started. Scroll down the page to "How I Made This Manga"  for the videos.  I found that they helped me to understand the software better. 


To download Medibang, click here. It's also available for IPad, and should be coming to IPhone soon.