Zoom Zoom

–originally from my old blog and recovered —

Hey all, it’s a Manga Studio tip week!

Let’s talk zoom levels. Like most drawing programs you can arbitrarily zoom in on MS pages to whatever zoom level you like, but if you use the little Magnifying plus and minus icons (zoom-magor the keyboard shortcut: – and + ) MS will jump to fixed zoom levels, which, handily you can set yourself.

Here’s my setup:


This can be found in MANGA STUDIO->Preferences->Canvas

A little explanation – I work at original art size, about 40% bigger than print – I do this because I still like working on traditional pencils/inks sometimes and so if I keep my digital file sizes the same size as my actual art I can round-robin pages – scanning in to alter pencils, print out, ink, scan in again with ease. Working all digital you could easily work at 600dpi print size, and I sometimes do that, but I’m used to drawing at the larger size now.

Here’s how the zoom levels breakdown – now these apply specifically to my 27″ cintiq (I KNOW!!!) and you should probably measure sizes out based on the screen resolution you’re working with:

5% – this is a tiny thumbnail of the page and gives me a quick distant glance at a page to make sure it’s working small (more important than most realise, if it works at this level it’ll work at all levels)

12.9% – this is roughly print size (I measured it against the finished comic) and gives me a sense of how it’ll work in print.

18.3% – is art 1:1 size on my old cintiq 12″ (which had a higher resolution than the 27″ cintiq). I could literally lay the art on top of the cintiq and it would match line for line.

20.8% – this is art 1:1 size on the new Cintiq 27″ (and why you should check your resolution to make sure it matches – you can do this using “Display Resolution” which lets you tell MS the res of your monitor by displaying a handle adjustable ruler which you set can measure against an actual real physical ruler- you’ll feel like a prat for a minute but once done it’s done)


After this the sizes are mostly arbitrary:

33.3% – 1/3 zoom level. What I ink at most of the time, a little closer than 1:1

50% – occasionally go in to this detail if there’s some odd little detail I want to work out.

75% – this is too close to zoom, don’t do this (unless you’re flatting and need to make sure you’re not missing a bit)

100% – THIS WAY LIES MADNESS. Seriously, don’t ink at this level, that’s insane, bro.

And that’s how to set the perfect zoom levels (and not to worry, you can still zoom in using either the little slider on the navigation window to zoom in to insane arbitrary zooms if you so wish, but this way you can keep some bad habits away – like inking faces at 300% zoom, you maniac!)

Clip Studio Paint The Basics

A few years ago I wrote a bunch of articles for imagineFX called “Core Skills” for Clip Studio Paint. It’s probably time to revisit those in a new series of articles I’ll be doing for the blog called CSP The Basics.

These are things I think you’ll need to have a handle on using clip studio. It won’t replace a manual or a decent book, or any number of other resources. It’ll just be the way I work in the software for producing my own work. CSP – like any sofware often has more than one way to go about doing anything, and so, there’s a chance that I’ll introduce you to some other way of doing stuff or you’ll think “that’s not how you do that!”

Anyway, one article a week is the aim, we’ll see how it gets done.

The basics will be:

  1. File->New! Everything you need to know about creating a brand new file in CSP.
  2. Layers of meaning. WTF is a layer and why do I need to know what that is.
  3. File->Print. Digital pencilling in CSP.
  4. Basic 3d in CSP.
  5. Export. Exporting preview images for fun and (no) profit!
  6. Paint it Black. Digital inks.
  7. Lettering and why you should avoid it in CSP
  8. Colours – Flatting
  9. Colours – Rendering

And, that should be it.

If there’s any topic you think needs to be covered, or if you have any specific questions, then let me know!

Thomas’ “official” Nintendo Magazine

Nintendo magazine vol 1

Earlier tonight, from tom’s bedroom “Daddy… spell “OFFICIAL'” – I shouted the spelling to him.

An hour later “daddy spell ‘Attachments'” … “Tom, what are you doing?”

Turns out Tom (9) was making his own “official” Nintendo magazine. Tom is a doer- he decides to do something and just powers on with it. The pdf of the magazine is here, hopefully you’ll find it as delightful as I did. He wrote the index out in advance and then spent a few hours doing the rest. He was too tired to draw a comic, and it was the last job, so I volunteered to draw a story for him if he came up with one. So that’s what you’ve got!

Let me know what you think and I’ll pass it on.

Simple Copic Marker

Some time ago I created a simple copic marker brush in Clip Studio Paint (actually it was so long ago it was probably in Manga Studio). It was a fun little resource when linked to this set of colours of the standard copic colour set for Clip Studio Paint.

Of course, you do these things and entirely forget about them, and then several years later you delete them only to discover people still need them, so my apologies for that. Here – thanks to the archiving of the wayback machine – is the zip file for for the brush.

Uncompress the zip file and drag the .SUT file in to your installation of Clip Studio Paint, or go marker tool submenu and select “import sub tool” to import the file.



I love S/FX I think they’re vastly underused, and – certainly as an artist – I think, when possible they should be drawn on the artboard.
I draw my s/fx in Clip Studio Paint, and it’s a technique that’s really simple but produces really effective results.

Step 1:

Create a new layer (Layers->New Raster Layer), call it SFX (you rename a layer by double clicking the name of the layer in the layers window, this turns the name into a white box that you can then type over)- this will sit on top of all other art layers (and even on top of the frame layer if you’re using one)


Next, in the Layer Properties (make sure Window->Layer Property is ticked) turn on the Border Effect (it’s the little black circle with white outline). This sets a border around anything drawn on this layer.

Set the Edge Colour to black (just click the edge colour, which defaults to white and select black) andlayerproperties.PNG increase the thickness, your mileage will vary here according to your tastes, but I like a decently thick outline.


Now, set the pen colour to white and select your favourite drawing pen…

And write your SFX on the SFX layer, and you should get something like this…


or this


or this


or …



well, you get the idea…

(Originally published in my patreon, in case you’re feeling deja vu!)


There are some weird things you don’t think you have to think about when you do a project like “M” – one of them is… what will I call the files – because in about three years time when someone asks will I be able to find a file if it’s just called “M”?

So I ended up calling it “James Bond: Project M” – basically SEO for my own files.

M is 30 pages, written by Declan Shalvey, with colours by Dearblha Kelly letters by Simon Bowland and put together for Dynamite by Nate Cosby and due out on the 21st Februday. I did an interview with the BBC NI Arts Show, which should be fun and is on this Thursday at 10. Once it’s online I’ll throw a link up.

Here’s an interview with me and Dec and Here’s some art!

Firstly, the layouts for these five pages …



The Detectorists

The Detectorists is a BBC TV written and directed by Mackenzie Crooke about a couple of easy going, slightly goofy metal detectors (“Detectorists!”) Sorry, about Metal Detectorists.

It’s a lovely, breezy, gentle comedy and it’s so incredibly well shot that every frame is practically worth stealing for comics.

I went through a couple of episodes on twitter and highlighted some of my favourite shots in the show. So here, for your edification and delight, is a run down of those panels.

Many of the shots of the Detectorists, especially the outdoors are taken from this low angle, and as pointed out on twitter by fellow 2000AD art droid Henry Flint, it’s an angle that evokes nostalgia (since we were all bairns when we saw things from this angle). We see less and less sky as we get bigger.

This is a great shot, the foreground figures are tied together by that tree and it completely mimics their shape – then time and effort to get a shot like that from what’s around. I think one of my favourite things about the show is the way it uses landscape and natural surroundings to get these sort of incredible story telling shots.

From Wally Wood’s classaic “22 Panels that always work” L-Shaped panel. There’s a few of these, again using the natural shape of the trees to form an L shape and placing characters in shot, LANCE (to the right) out on a limb, as it were.

Framing your character by shooting from inside the cupboard. Background light keeps Andy in silhouette too.

Here’s a simair trick, but using deep foreground to help frame the character and placing them in front of the only strong light source – the window – literally framing the head.

The focal point in this conversation between Lance and grown up daughter is poster – it’s right in our faces here for good reason. They’re going to address it in a second, and it’s best to let the audience see it.

Placement of people, focusing on “Garfunkel” draws your eye to him, as do the lines in the table, though in case they’re too on the nose, they’re broken up by a cluster of empties-without background we instantly know we’re in a pub.

If this were a comic panel, you’d read left to right, the van has entered the scene and our heroes haven’t quite noticed it. And it’s the same on screen.

I love tall thin panels, I think they’re fairly unique to the medium and they’re great for showing isolation and loneliness. BUT LOOK AT THIS! I think it’s as close as you can get to that. The solitary (close) figure of Andy, in the BG the foreman walking away from him, his body language is doing a lot to sell it too, but that sense of isolation is all there. Great shot.

I love this as a final little good night shot. Real sense of the wide open space, like a full bleed comic panel.

Anyway, there’s plenty of episodes to watch – series 1 and 2 are on netflix right now and series 3 (the final series) is on the iplayer. Go and watch it, and thank me later.