I'm going through something of an artistic vision quest at the moment. If someone came up to me and asked what is the weakest aspect of my technique, I would immediately answer that it's my poor use of brush textures. It's something that I never paid as much attention to as I should, since I always considered various blends of watercolour to suffice for all scenarios. But as I've been browsing DA and seeing all these paintings with rich brush strokes and natural textures, I realized it's high time I addressed my deficiency.
Photoshop supports a diverse variety of brush textures, but I've always found its brush system very awkward and unwielding. It was in 2008 that Prnnography
introduced me to openCanvas, which quickly impressed me with its painting-oriented interface and colour blending. I made a permanent switch to it and never look back. And yet... openCanvas doesn't handle brush textures very well. There are no options for size jitter or scattering. So for the next seven years as I used this program for painting, my experience with brush textures went underdevelopped. When openCanvas 6 was eventually released, it had more brush options for texture painting, but the program lacked numerous features that still have not been rectified. I tried to diversify my brush set with the help of Fontes
, but the lack of developer support made me recognize it's time to look for an alternative.
One program I come across frequently is Manga Studio. It was first brought to my attention six years ago in a magazine (which I still have) and I thought "That's looks cool! I'll check that out later." Then I forgot about it - for years.
I should have followed up sooner, especially since Manga Studio is included with some Wacom tablets
, because I just installed it a few days ago.... and I love it
The watercolour brushes in Manga Studio are amazing! They're much smoother and more stable than openCanvas' brushes with limitless customisations. It features a huge library of brush textures that should help me paint quicker and more naturally, and I especially love the 3D guide models and the ability to assign reference layers for the Magic Wand (something I've always yearned for). It's got a clean interface with lots of filters and adjustment functions to rival Photoshop, but the program does have a few drawbacks. There's no crop tool(?!), no dodge and burn tools, no Channel palette, and some missing blend modes. But overall, I'd say that the merits of Manga Studio might make it the best painting program I've seen so far. I haven't actually created anything with it just yet - I've spent the last few days doing nothing but learning and configuring the settings - but I'll probably migrate from openCanvas to Manga Studio soon.
At any rate, this experience has taught me that I shouldn't content myself with one image editor. I made that mistake with Photoshop, thinking I need nothing else because it's the market leader, then I made the same mistake with openCanvas. I've long since mastered openCanvas, so I need to keep diversifying and trying new things to avoid my art becoming stagnant. After I get the hang of Manga Studio, I may try other programs like ArtRage or Kitra. Has anyone ever used those? Let me know your recommendations.