Coloring In Manga Studio

Many users of Manga Studio don’t even realize what a powerful coloring tool it can be. It is slightly different from PhotoShop or Corel Paint, but for comic strip artists, Manga Studio proves to be a worthy coloring tool.

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you the basic steps of coloring as I do it. With any tutorial, there are many ways to skin a cat and this is my way of doing it. So if you know of other tips or suggestions, leave them in the comments section for all to share.

Let’s get our crayons out and see if we can color in the lines!

Alrighty then… you’ve just finished inking your latest masterpiece and it needs some color, shading and highlights. No problems. On your Layers tool box, click on the New Layer button. See the reference image below.

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You will want to name your Layers as you go along or else you’ll loose track of which layer is what color. I am starting with Lorraine’s base flesh tone, so I name the layer Flesh as shown in the sample below.

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Make sure this new Layer is *below* your inking layer, I will show you why in a bit. See the sample below.

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The trick is now you have to tell Manga Studio you want this new layer to be Color and not Grayscale which is used for inking or penciling. Go to the task-bar and click on Window, the scroll down to Properties, if your Layer’s Properties window is not open. You will see two radio buttons next to the title Display Color. Click the radio button next to Color and now your Layer will display in color. See the sample image below.

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To set this Layer’s color, click the blue box labeled “Alternate color of black” and you will see a typical palette appear. The nice thing about Manga Studio’s palette settings is you have the Basic Settings and a savable Color Set as well on the color picker. Really handy if you have a color palette for your comic. If you don’t, then this is a great time to make one! See the sample image below.

Click Image for Larger View

Click Image for Larger View

So, where’s our crayon? Welcome to the 21st Century Duck Dodgers! It’s now called a Marker Tool. Click in your Tools bar and select the Magic Marker tool. This works and feels like Magic Marker. It flows very quickly and you can adjust the “tip” of your marker to be narrow, wide and even change the thickness. What I like about the Manga Studio marker tool is once you finish an area and need to touch it up, it is not additive like in Photoshop so you do not get overlapping areas. I know real markers do this, but I think this is a great feature and allows you to touch areas up without having to worry about changing the density of the color.

LET’S COLOR! As you’ll see in the sample image below, I’ve outlined an area I want to be filled in with the Flesh color. Note I’ve left her eyes blank. If you forget and color over something you’re not suppose to, don’t worry, Frankie Says Relax and simply use the Eraser Tool to get rid of any area you mistakenly colored in. This is one of the many advantages to doing each color on it’s own layer.

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Once you have the area outlined, grab the Fill Tool in the Tool bar and simply click inside the area you outlined. Bingo! Her face is now filled in! Easy as pie, and I can’t even cook! See the sample image below.

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Now here’s one of my tricks to coloring Manga Studio. I use three shades in coloring. The base color, a Shadow Color which is a darker version of the base and then a Highlight Color which is merely a lightened version of the base. To get these colors quickly, simply *duplicate* the base color layer. Once duplicated, select the entire layer and hit delete. Now the layer is blank. Go to this duplicate layer’s properties, click on the color (next to the words “Alternate color of black”) and use your color picker to darken the base shade. The great thing is, since this color is on it’s own layer, you can come back at any time and adjust the color for the entire layer and it will change that quickly. Very handy once you’re done and you suddenly think the shadows are too dark. Easy. (See the sample image below.)

Click Image for Larger View

Click Image for Larger View

Now, as before, grab your marker tool and start putting in your shadows. Think of your image’s “light source” and where the light will be coming from (upper left or right, or from below, etc.) and draw your shadows on the opposite side. In my drawing of Lorraine, the sun would be in the upper right of the drawing so the shadows will fall to the lower left, or Lorraine’s right. See the sample image at left. This gets easier as you practice it. My years of doing lighting for photography, videos and stage presentations has given me a good eye at seeing where the shadows should fall. Use your desk lamp on your hand if you can’t visualize where a shadow should go.

For Highlights, you would do the exact same steps as above except when you change the color, you would pick a significantly lighter shade of the base color.

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This final image shows how the layers stack up. Your Ink Layer is on top, followed by the Highlights Layer, then the Shadow Layer, then finally the Base Color Layer. It takes a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of this procedure, it moves along quickly. I sketched, inked and colored this image of Lorraine in a Saturday afternoon. The only thing I did in PhotoShop was add in the clouds and vapors behind Lorraine. I did this only because I know these techniques in Photoshop. I’m sure in a year or so, I’ll be doing it all in Manga Studio EX as I learn more about the program. I hope you enjoyed our little venture into basic comic coloring! Until next time when I will share some more Manga Studio tips for you!

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