The Interface of Manga Studio EX5 Explained

The Interface of Manga Studio EX5 Explained

The interface of any software can be a real pain to learn, especially for designers like you and me, that are expected to be able to use a thousand-and-one different software packages.

Today I would like to lend you a hand and help you understand a little better the Interface of Manga Studio EX5 / Clip Studio Paint; the best drawing and painting software for comic artists and illustrators.

But hey! Don’t panic! Manga Studio’s graphical interface is almost identical to Photoshop’s. So if you can use one, you can use them all!

The following text is a transcript from the video above. You can go ahead and watch it. It will be easier to understand and it will take only a few minutes of your time. But if you are old school and prefer to do all the reading, feel free to do so!


Running the software for the first time

If you have purchased a digital copy of Manga Studio EX5 from Smith Micro’s web, the first thing you need to know is that the software version is called CLIP STUDIO PAINT. This is because the digital version of the license is provided by CELSYS instead of Smith Micro–who provides physical copies only. Despite the name difference, Clip Studio Paint and Manga Studio are the exact same thing, and they share the same panels, names and features.

When we open the software, an empty window will appear. The first thing to do is to create a new document in the menu File – New. In the pop-up we can choose between some presets depending on what we are going to do. We can choose between Illustration, Comic, Fanzine or custom.

In future videos we will review in detail the options of this pop-up. For now we will simply select an A4 size at 300 dpi in color. We will also choose a white background.

Another important setting we must make sure to do is to change the interface’s color to a dark theme. This is highly recommended for those who plan to work long hours in front of a computer screen. The white light from the screen can damage the eyes and reduce eyesight. Lowering the contrast of the interface will reduce the amount of radiation our eyes receive from the screen. I also advise to purchase PC glasses that filter the blue light, to minimize the harmful effects of the screen light to our eyes.

To change the interface’s color, we will go to the menu File – Preference, and in the pop-up we will select the Interface tab. In the Color section, we will select the Dark theme, and we will adjust the density to the minimum.


Parts of the interface

The interface is divided into five vertical sections, and five horizontal sections.


Vertical Sections:
Manga Studio Interface vertical sections

Manga Studio Interface vertical sections

1 – Tool Panel – This panel can be expanded and contracted. In it, we find the main tools of the software.

2 – Sub-tool Panel – Some tools are grouped into one same category. In this panel we can select the different sub-tools and change their specific settings. Some settings, such as the color swatches are universal for all the tools. We can also expand and contract this panel as we did with the previous one.

3 –  Workspace – This is the area where we will draw and paint.

4 – Materials Panel –  This Panel holds all the default materials that come with Manga Studio EX5, and we can use them freely in our work. We can also make and store our own 2D-3D materials for future uses. This panel, as all the others, can be expanded and contracted. The 3D Materials from version EX5 of Manga Studio can also be found here. There are several 3D models, 3D backgrounds and fully rigged characters that we can add to our canvas, pose and use as a drawing reference.

5 – Option Panels – Here we can find all that is related with the workspace. The most notorious panels are the navigator and its tools for rotating and mirroring the canvas without altering our work; as well as the Layer related panels that we will see in future videos.


Horizontal Sections:
Manga Studio Interface horizontal sections

Manga Studio Interface horizontal sections

1 – Menu Bar – From the menu bar we can access all the software settings. From here we can edit the document in size and color mode, insert filters, and display and hide different panels. We will review them in detail as we study each part, during the progress of the course.

2 – Shortcuts Bar – The second row from the top is the shortcut bar. Here we can find the icons of the most used actions, such as save, undo, and toggle the snap to feature with just one click.

3 – Tabs – Manga Studio allows the use of multiple documents simultaneously. Each document is identified by a Tab, and we can toggle between them, and arrange them in a tiled way through the menu Window – Canvas – Tiled. We can click and drag the Tabs to change the order and distribution, and we can stack them back to the default by dragging on top of the other.

4 – Workspace.

5 – Navigator hot keys – In the footer of the document we find again the hot keys of the Navigator, that allow us to zoom, rotate and restore the document size to our convenience.



This is a list of shortcuts that will be used constantly through the video tutorials:

Tab – The interface is full of Panels that can be very distracting while we work. By pressing the Tab Key, we can enter the “expert mode”, and hide all the panels and tools that are unnecessary for the current task. We can always display them back by pressing again the Tab key.

Ctrl + Z – Undo.

Ctrl + Shift + Z – Redo.

Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V, Ctrl + X – Copy, Paste and Cut.

Ctrl + A – Select all the document.

Ctrl + D – De select Selection.

Ctrl + T – Scale and Transformation.

T hank you for reading the post all the way through! If you liked the contents don’t keep it to yourself… Tell your friends! Thanks to your support I can create amazing entertainment projects. Check them out in my web or in my social media and tell me what you think!

See you there!


I am an illustrator and a comic artist. I like to do character designs and play the harp.

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