Clip Studio Paint Professional began as a little-known favourite program of manga fanatics known as Manga Studio. Now, it’s grown right into a beast of a digital artwork software program, combining points of Adobe Photoshop with these of standard sketching apps like Procreate.

This program combines raster and vector options, blends colours in real-time, and creates animation, all whereas syncing between desktop and cell variations. Although it could look just a little complicated at first open, the options, as soon as used, typically elicit the identical response: “Why haven’t I heard about this before now?” 

However let’s not get forward of ourselves. Clip Studio Paint Professional isn’t the end-all answer to each drawback a digital artist may face. It’s, nevertheless, a strong various to its opponents and a worthy companion to present Adobe workflows in search of a extra focused drawing toolkit.

Plans and Set up

Clip Studio Paint presents a versatile lineup of plans. What appears to be the preferred choice, a one-time buy of Clip Studio Paint Professional, will solely set you again about $50. An improve to Clip Studio Paint EX after that’s $169. There’s additionally a subscription choice, which lets you pay month-to-month or yearly, with the value primarily based on the variety of units you need to use in your plan. 

The set up is easy, requiring 2GB of reminiscence (however recommending 8GB or extra) for macOS or Home windows. You’ll want an web connection to confirm your license, in addition to for another capabilities throughout the program. 

The trial interval is beneficiant, providing as many as three free months, relying on the plan you select to trial. The shortest trial interval at the moment is 30 days, nonetheless very respectable. Be sure that to register your trial so to save your check work!


The meat of this system (as with most software program) lies in Clip Studio Paint Professional’s instruments. However earlier than we get into specifics, let’s discuss Clip Studio Property. These supplies embrace all the pieces from brushes and gradients to 3D objects and workspaces. It’s a type of open-source library of (largely) free content material, accessible from proper throughout the software. Some supplies are higher high quality than others, however there’s quite a bit to attract from – no pun supposed.

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We’ll kick off with arguably a very powerful instrument for a drawing app: the comb choices. Clip Studio handles this just a little in a different way than, say, Adobe Photoshop, the place your brushes are largely lumped collectively. Right here, brushes are separated out by kind. Dry media is separate from paints, and so forth. 

The actual prize on this class is the Mix brush instrument, which is a extra painterly expertise than Photoshop’s Mixer by far. Somewhat than having to pick out particular reservoir and pickup colours, this instrument lets you merely mix what’s already there, identical to you’ll with bodily media. It’s magical.

With any brush, use the shortcut C to color transparency. This primarily turns each brush in your equipment into an eraser (and again, if you press C once more). 

Stroke Stabilization

In your brush choices, you’ll be able to choose a stage of stabilization. This function is a lifesaver for shaky palms, however like all stroke stabilizers, it’s finest for inking and finalizing. Not so nice for sketching, the place little shakes and bumps include the territory.


One other function to maintain your strokes in line is the customizable ruler. Clip Studio Paint Professional permits you to create various kinds of rulers for perspective, symmetry, or shapes, which your drawing can “snap” to for accuracy. 

Good Fill

Digital artists all know the frustration of making use of a fill solely to appreciate your strains didn’t fairly meet at some obscure level. All of the sudden, you’re filling a complete face as a substitute of simply the higher lip, all due to that minuscule hole within the form.

Clip Studio Paint Professional solves this drawback if you click on the checkbox beside Shut Hole within the Fill instrument settings. You’ll be able to select a stage of sensitivity to keep away from going too far within the different path and getting the dreaded white define inside your form. As with brushes, you may fill with transparency to erase if you happen to aren’t pleased with the primary go.

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Vector Layers

Clip Studio Paint Professional is unapologetically a raster program, however it presents a vector-like expertise for path followers. Vector layers have their limitations throughout the program so far as filling and mixing, however they arrive with perks, too. 

The Vector Eraser instrument offers you the pliability to make fast adjustments by eliminating strains between factors with one click on, so you may “vector sketch”, in a way, and take away the undesirable additional strains later.

It’s not an Adobe Illustrator substitute, since you may’t save in a vector file kind from Clip Studio Paint Professional at the moment, however the course of is analogous sufficient to creating “real” vector artwork that it could scratch the itch for some. 


The Professional model solely permits 24 frames of animation; for extra, you’ll have to improve to Clip Studio Paint EX. It additionally lacks Photoshop’s built-in compatibility with industry-leading animation software program. For dabblers and entry-level animators, although, there’s sufficient usability to get your toes moist. 


Clip Studio Paint Pro Image 3

For multi-device plans, syncing between iPad and desktop isn’t precisely seamless till you work it out (it’s a must to discover the Clip Studio image within the Menu Bar throughout the highest), however when you do, it’s simple sufficient. Extra importantly, the iPad expertise is extraordinarily much like the desktop one, so that you’re not having to be taught two totally different variations of the identical program.

Syncing between iPhone and desktop is, surprisingly, simpler to grasp, however the sheer quantity of options to navigate makes it difficult to get any actual work achieved on that sized display screen. (Though the view may be very customizable, if you will get previous that.)

Excessive-resolution work ought to actually be achieved on an iPad Professional sized 10.5 inches or bigger, versus different supported iPads just like the iPad Air 2. This additionally lets you get the total expertise of the Apple Pencil with this program, which is an actual deal with. The stress sensitivity and tilt assist work nice proper out of the field. 

The Wacom Bamboo Sketch and Wacom Bamboo Fineline 3 for iPad are each supported as nicely, or you may use Astropad or Sidecar to show your iPad Professional right into a drawing pill and use the single-device model of the software program with macOS. Phrase on the road is that Huion works simply as nicely, although it’s not formally supported.

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In testing, Clip Studio Paint Professional matched Adobe Photoshop in pace, though some report seeing a little bit of lag with a really excessive quantity of layers or giant brushes. As at all times, your expertise will rely closely in your gear, so verify the beneficial specs earlier than downloading for macOS or Home windows.

Shortcuts and gestures are intuitive, echoing those many digital artists are already conversant in from Photoshop or Procreate. The interface is acquainted, as nicely, with the identical box-in-the-middle, tools-framing-the-outside aesthetic seen in all the pieces from Corel Painter Necessities to Affinity Photograph.

Clip Studio Paint Professional vs. Clip Studio Paint EX

A call plaguing new customers is whether or not to begin with Clip Studio Paint Professional or go straight for its huge brother, Clip Studio Paint EX. Whereas the Professional model is a remarkably balanced software program with a robust library of options, there’s no denying that Clip Studio Paint EX is a extra well-rounded expertise for severe illustrators and animators. Right here’s the breakdown:

Clip Studio Paint ProfessionalClip Studio Paint EXMulti-page comics and manga NoYesCustomizable drawing instrumentsYesYes3D ModelingNoYesVector layersYesYesAnimationLimitedYes

Can Clip Studio Paint Professional Exchange Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for Digital Artwork?

It may possibly, and for a lot of, it already has. Digital artists preferring to not stay locked right into a subscription mannequin are very happy with the lineup Clip Studio Paint Professional presents for his or her one-time buy choice.

Nonetheless, there are some options lacking, akin to true vector assist, 3D modeling, and animations longer than 24 frames. For some options, a easy improve to Clip Studio Paint EX will do the trick. For others, your solely choice at the moment is to regulate your workflow. 

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