Understanding Clip Studio Paint’s Cloud

If you’re not a comic artist, you may not know this, but Clip Studio Paint has become the best general bit of software for comics artists for drawing and managing projects. There’s still a lot of artists working within Photoshop, but CSP has a toolset designed for Comic Artists.

Six months ago, CSP finally released a version that works on the ipad pro and it is, in my opinion, the single best demonstration of what an ipad pro is capable of. CSP + iPad Pro + Apple Pencil = Everything you’ll need to draw digital comics.

Up until now though, CSP on ipad and CSP on desktop haven’t really connected, but now Clip Studio have introduced their cloud to allow you to work between desktop and ipad. For many artists (well, ok, for me) this is essential. I work on a 27″ cintiq at my studio, and I want to be able to pick up my 12.9″ ipad pro and walk out of the studio (don’t get excited, it’s literally a tiny room in my house) and work either in another room (the living room! Where my family are!) or head off on holiday with it. So I’ve been waiting for the CSP Cloud to arrive.

And it’s … well… it’s not great.

Firstly, I use the phrase Clip Studio Paint and Clip Studio interchangeably, but the software is actually split in two – CSP is for drawing and CS is for general management/connecting to the cloud (it’s actually not terribly clear why this should be the case, the CS part of CSP didn’t exist up until recently and on the ipad, much of what it does is redirect you to the CS website).

CS added cloud management. On dropbox and Apple’s Cloud there really is no need to manage, they handle all syncing of files in the background so when you sit down to work and go to open a file it’ll either download the most recent version or it’ll let you have the one that it’s stored locally, and upload that in the background. Dropbox seems to do this better than Apple’s Cloud, though neither system is perfect they never feel like you can’t trust them.

CS has went its own way with the cloud.

Now I have some sympathy for them, files in CSP can grow to massive sizes – I’m currently working on one project that’s 800Mb (20 pages of lineart, multilayers on each) so it’s hardly practical to download/upload that every few minutes (though, that said, CS multipage documents are actually directories with many individual files, so the updates are probably more like 10-20Mb)

But here’s how it works, firstly you tell CS if you want files to be synced to the cloud – you can pick existing files or new files. This selection is all done within CSP

cloud-desktop.PNG

You can see in the image the little switch beside each file indicates if the file is to be stored in the cloud, and those where the switch is turned on have a little blue cloud icon which means “synchronise this file”. This is all from within Clip Studio (which you access from Clip Studio Paint on the desktop)

These files are located across my hard disk in directories of my choosing (as opposed to apple’s Cloud or Dropbox where you nominate a single directory and everything within it is synced to the cloud).

I like the flexibility but I’m inclined to think Apple and Dropbox are right, nominate one directory and at a glance I know what’s on the cloud.

The syncing happens when you first open Clip Studio or if you request a file to sync.

Now, there’s also a CLOUD Tab which shows files that are in the cloud – It’s possible to have files in the cloud that are NOT on your local device. So, from the cloud tab you can request those files to download, they are then stored somewhere on the computer within Clip Studio’s file structure. This makes it hard to know if you’re backing up files (again, if they’d gone Dropbox/Apple method you’d know exactly where the file was and could back them up within breaking a sweat).

I store my local files in two locations: an archived / backed up Artwork folder, and a Dropbox folder called “Live Projects” where anything I’m working on can be held, and I know it’s on a cloud and accessible across devices. This requires zero effort on my part to make sure the files are all synced, they just… work.

cloud-download

Here’s the first bit of cloud insanity, this is the list of files on the cloud – you can see two options on each of these, one (the orange download button) means “Download and Overwrite” – ie, sod whatever the file is I have locally, just download the one that’s on the cloud (I mean, surely this should be ‘Sync’ files? what if you accidentally hit that and wipe out two days work? I’m getting the heebie jeebies thinking about it)

The second button (the blue cloud download – and god help you if you’re colour blind, would they look any different – not much I’ll wager) is “download  all as new” which, I think, means “I don’t think you have a local copy of this, so just download it”.

Why not just replace both buttons with a single “SYNC” button, it’s job? find out if there’s a more recent version locally or on the cloud, and download the cloud one or upload the local one. If there’s no local version just download it.

No need for two buttons.

Further, please give me some indication of what’s new on the files! Dates would be good! It would also be helpful to enlarge those thumbnails, or give me link that shows every single page within a document, then I can see at a glance if something is missing.

(Caveat: I think the cloud feature was rushed out, I’m not convinced a cloud feature is an easy feature to build – if it was Apple would’ve got it right first time, and apple didn’t and it’s full of smart people)

Previously, Clip Studio Paint worked with a company called Smith Micro – Smith’s job was largely about localisation and making sure the app was ready for an English speaking market. Now, it often meant the English language app was lagging behind the Japanese app for updates, but it did mean that the English within the app was understandable and made sense. Now, sadly, there’s a sense that the English is only marginally better than a google translate button. Ok, we’re not the largest market, but it really can make it difficult to disentangle meaning from some of the menu items, etc.

When you are syncing there’s a deeply useless syncing interface that tells you (unhelpfully) “DOWNLOADING!”

downloads-cloud

Ok, hand on heart, the title “Comic” is my fault – the ipad version tends to default to names like “Comic” “Comic-1” etc. and you tend to forget to change it. That said please tell me stuff… tell me how big the file is, tell me what percentage is updated, tell me how many pages it has (here? one page, but many of them have multi-pages? TELL ME!)

It’s missing a lot.

I wish I had something better to tell you, I think the cloud will get better, but it’s clearly the direction they’ve decided on. I’ve paid for an annual sub because – at £55 – it’s worth it to me to be able to up sticks and work somewhere else away from the studio and honestly, CSP is the best drawing tool I’ve ever used, hands down. I honestly hope they build out the interface more so I can use dropbox where I wont spend any time at all worring in case I’ve accidentally over written a newer file from the older cloud based one.

Clip Studio Paint On iPad Pro

I’ve been using CSP on iPad Pro since they released it, and I’ve now used it across two different iPad Pros (the original iPad Pro and ver 2)

Because of that of my experiences with it, I’ve reluctantly rated it on the Apple Store as One star, with the following review:

There are plenty of reviews of Clip Studio Paint out there, both desktop and iPad Pro. Having used CSP professionally for years (and previous to it Manga Studio) and written articles on using it for ImagineFX, I’m happy to say it may even be the best version of CSP out there – certainly on the iPad Pro 2. Incredible smooth drawing, the touch controls are intuitive and easy and the app has every thing you need to draw comics at a professional level. However…

The way CSP deals with files, and its own version of a filing system – counter to every other iPad app, is appalling and makes it untrustworthy and unusable. I want two things from a professional level iPad app: a way to round robin files from app to desktop (and here the only way to do that is to use iTunes ON MAC – since iTunes on windows doesn’t handle folders very well it means you can’t transfer multi page documents – I have both macs and PCs, and I’ve transferred on both, it’s a horrible way to work that apple are clearly only supporting because of legacy apps, before apple introduced their own file app) AND knowledge that my files are safe. I trust my iPad, it doesn’t crash. When the app has crashed the files have been recovered. However, and disappointingly, when I recently upgraded to a new iPad Pro, assuming my files where on CSPs cloud (as they have been uploading in the background) I wiped my old iPad and installed CSP on my new iPad, logged back in to the CSP cloud and found .. nothing. No files.

Now, 20 years of IT experience has meant I wasn’t doing that without taking all the important files off first anyway, but I was incredibly frustrated to find that all the “uploading to the cloud” that the iPad app seemed to be doing turns out to be nonsense, and there either is no cloud or the cloud doesn’t reconnect to the same account when you log in.

I’ve been wary of trusting the app since first discovering how it handled files – and was waiting for a way to easily move files off it before committing to working 100% on the iPad Pro. Now though, I can safely say that the iPad Pro version of Clip Studio Paint IS NOT A PROFESSIONAL READY APP. And won’t be until either CSP integrate it with apple’s file handling (allowing me to access cloud files from my desktop) OR give me some way to access my CSP cloud files from the desktop.

Until that happens, I’m giving this app one star.

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:

canvas-zooms

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)

display-settings.PNG

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!

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.