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.