Saturday, 26 November 2016

Review: MediBang Paint

First impressions review: MediBang Paint.

A fellow artist recommended to me this program. He informed me that it was just as good as Manga Studio Pro but with the added bonus of it being completely free! I was skeptical that it would match my go-to program so I was curious to see how well it matched. Surely a free program could not be as good as a paid for program?

Downloading the correct version was very simple. The MediBang Paint website offers PC and Mac desktop versions, plus Android or iPad versions too.

I downloaded the desktop version. It was a very small package and installs using up very little space on my system (around 130MB). Manga Studio Pro (aka Clip Studio) sits at around 140MB while Painter 2015 is a whopping 800MB.

The first thing I noticed when opening up the program was just how user friendly and familiar all the palettes and navigation tools are. In many ways, it's like looking at a clone of Manga Studio Pro., albeit with a slightly more simplified interface.

MediBang Paint showing all panels open.

I haven't had time to compare like for like, and I am sure there are less tools on MBP compared to MSP but it seems to cover all of the main ones you will ever use (pen, pencil, airbrush etc). The only tool I really use for nearly all my works is the basic pen tool. There are also halftones, comic panel frames, downloadable materials and all sorts of other extras that I don't really need or use. In fact, I closed a lot of the tool palettes as I don't use them. Looking at the image above, I would get rid of the Navigator, Reference and Brush Preview pallettes, freeing up a little more space. Everything also docks to one side for compactness.

Drawing using the pen and pencil tools, I found MediBang Paint to be very good at rendering the strokes with no discernable lag or stutter. I felt pressure sensitivity and the finesse of the strokes were not as responsive compared to MSP. This is critical for me for certain very fine liner work. It's less of an issue for more 'cartoony' work such as this Iguana in the photo. One annoying thing was the cursor - on MDP it features both an arrow AND a circular blob, which indicates brush size. I couldn't find a way to turn off the arrow, while keeping the blob. On MSP, there is only the circle, which makes it easy to use for fine accurate line placement.

Left, Manga Studio Pro cursor / Right, MediBang Paint cursor

I tried a couple of other tools. Notably the Snap functions. These are AMAZING. You place the shape and style of snap and then just apply your pen strokes. Voila! Instant speed and directional strokes with zero mistakes. But it still looks organic! You can do the same thing on MSP, but it's a little more complicated on that program. MediBang Paint snaps seem to be much easier to use.

Snap function in action

I then tried some colour - airbrush and sparkle. These are cool and work as expected. For some reason the airbrush size isn't very big. I used an A4 size artboard, but the airbrush's biggest size is like the equivalent of a few centimetres in diameter. On other programs, the size of the airbrush's biggest setting is in proportion to your artboard. No biggie, I rarely colour using these paint programs. I prefer to colour in PS or AI.

Goofing around with airbrush and sparkle tools

Another function I found very useful is the wand tool. When you select an area, it blocks out the non-selected parts in translucent colour. It makes it very easy to see what's been selected and what hasn't.

Saving files you get a small range of options: the bespoke file type (Mdp) but also jpeg, png, TIFF and PSD (hopefully it supports layers) I have only played with it for a couple of hours but already I can see how very very easy and intuitive it is to use. It replicates many of the basic tools that MSP has and the quality of each is equal to MSP.

I imagine this program would really shine when used on a smaller machine - like an Apple iPad Pro. I'm probably going to buy an iPad soon, so I'll get a chance to try the app version of MediBang Paint and report back here.

Being such a small, lightweight app, the whole thing is very fast and responsive. It allows you the artist to focus on creating exactly what you want without faffing around seeking this button or that tool. And for FREE, that's right, completely FREE, you get a 100% functioning , fully professional art program. you'd be a fool not to consider it.

Final piece: which will be used for forthcoming Meerkatsu colouring in book


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