27 Jul The Layer Panel in Manga Studio EX5
A s a comic artist you will spend most of your time working with the Layer Panel in Manga Studio. You can do wonders with it, but… How well do you know it? Not well enought? Let’s review the Layer Panel in Manga Studio EX5 shall we? I promise, after this, it will hold no secrets for you!
BTW, did you check the post I wrote about the Interface of Manga Studio / Clip Studio Paint? If you didn’t, you might want to take a peek. It will only take a few minutes and it will get you up to speed!
The Layer Panel in Manga Studio EX5 is very similar in functionality to the one in Photoshop. Using the hotkeys of the second panel from the top, we will create a new document.
We will be prompted to select the properties of the document to work with. The starting layers that will appear in the new document will depend on the options we select in the Canvas Tab. By unchecking the bottom options, we will get an empty canvas with one sole transparent layer.
By checking the Paper Color, we will find two starting layers have been created. The bottom one will be the background or Paper Color, and it will be locked. On top of it, we will find an empty transparent layer.
By clicking the Template button, we will be able to select from a large list of comic page presets. These will create as many layers as necessary to provide the requested vignette distribution.
Over the Layer Panel, we can find the layer Properties Panel. The options of this panel will change depending on the type of Layer we are using.
When we are using a Raster Layer, this Panel will display two Tabs named Effect and Expression Color. The Effect Tab holds an expandable with four effects: Border Effects, Extract Line, Tone and Layer Color. This options can be toggled from the icons on the expandable as well.
Border Effect (See icons in the image above):
This effect generates a contour line around the drawing. There are two types of Border effect, Edge and border of watercolor.
The Edge effect calculates the edge between transparent pixels and colored pixels, and adds a line of color around it. The color of the edge can be selected to any of our choice, as well as its thickness.
The border of watercolor works in a similar way, but it adds extra effects such as blur and luminosity, to simulate the behavior watercolors on paper.
This effect will also evaluate the edge of the drawing, but instead of coloring it with a contour, it will delete any pixels it gets within its given threshold.
This effect will create a black dots pattern on the drawing, making it look like a printed comic with low dpi. This effect is especially useful for coloring with textures and dotted gradients black and white manga.
This effect will change the entire color of our drawing into one or two tones only.
This is very effective to turn a drawing into a template, or to evaluate the saturation levels of the drawing.
The Expression Color tab will let us define if we want the image to be in color, in shades of grey or monochrome.
When a Vector Layer is selected, there will be an extra Tab named Tool Navigation. This Tab will have hotkeys to the most used vector tools, and we will see their use in future videos.
There comes a point in every project where we have too many Layers in the document, and the navigation in the Layer Panel becomes difficult.
We can hide and show the contents of each Layer by clicking the Eye Icon. However, this does not help reduce the number of Layers displayed in the Panel.
We have an option that allows us to create Layer Folders to group related layers into one group. The Layer Folders lets us keep the work organized, and they are a great way to clean up the Layer Panel for easy navigation. We can expand and contract the folders, and we can hide or display all the contents within the folder with just one click, instead of having to click in all the Eye Icons of every layer we want to hide.
To make a Layer Folder, we must click the fourth icon from the left. It is recommended to rename the folder with a name that is descriptive of its contents.
To group the Layers into the folder, we must simply click and drag them into the folder. We can then contract it to clean up the Panel’s space.
To free space in the Layer Panel we can merge similar layers into one.
To merge layers we must select those layers we wish to merge and right-click over them and select Combine Selected Layer.
If we choose Combine Showing Layers we will flatten the image into one single layer, and we will be unable to work in the different levels of the image unless we undo the merge.
Transfer to Lower Layer will move all the pixels in the active layer to the one below, and it will leave it empty of any drawn information.
Combine to Layer Below will do the same thing, but it will remove the active layer in the process.
We will often want to make Tonal Corrections of the colors in our image. To do this, we will use the menu Edit – Tonal Correction. From here, we can modify the brightness of the image, change the hue and saturation, etc. But any changes we make through this menu will affect only the active layer, and they will be permanently applied to our work.
There is a way to apply this tonal corrections to more than one layer at once and without altering the work. That is, creating a Correction Layer.
To make a Correction Layer we must right-click on the Layers Panel and select New Correction Layer. Here, we will be able to choose between any of the possible Tonal Correction methods, and this will be applied as an independent Layer.
This correction filter will behave like a normal layer in the way that it can be moved, hidden, masked, deleted and combined.
It can also be edited at any time, by double-clicking the icon.
And that’s all! I bet it wasn’t as hard as you thought! *ahem*
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See you there!