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Manga Studio is known around the comics professional world as the go-to comics art application. Why? Unlike Photoshop, which is geared toward all around image manipulation, Manga Studio is designed from the ground up with the comics artist in mind. It includes numerous tools for toning, speed lines, lettering, and perspective. Those who master Manga Studio in their comics creation can often reap enormous timesaving and quality benefits. There are two Manga Studio variations: the inexpensive Manga Studio Debut 4 for beginning artists, and the full-featured Manga Studio EX 4 for the hard-core professional. This review is for the Debut version.
New to Manga Studio Debut 4 is full color support, something lacking in the previous versions due to manga's usual black-and-white nature. Previous versions of Debut also fudged the lettering support, forcing you upgrade to the $300 EX version to letter correctly. Debut 4 now has full access to text and preset word balloons, though you can't make your own balloons in Debut.
Webcomics artists who create their work from the ground up digitally with a pen tablet (that is, they don't pencil traditionally and then scan in) will find the $50 Manga Studio Debut 4 a huge bargain compared to Photoshop, which can run hundreds of dollars.
If you're an established comics or manga professional, though, there are several limitations to the Debut version compared to the full EX version. You can't import anything but BMP or JPG images, both of which are useless for publishing purposes, as they don't support layers or lossless images. Also, you can only export in those two formats plus Photoshop format, and the point of Manga Studio is to avoid using Photoshop when at all possible. This is meant as a replacement, not a supplement. Debut also doesn't support 3D objects, converting 2D images to line drawing, and many other features in the full EX edition.
Those looking to break into professional manga print publishing will want to spring for the full $300 Manga Studio EX. However, hobbyists and webcomics and webmanga creators will feel right at home with Debut, and will save a lot of money in the process.
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