Curved Frames with Manga Studio 5

One thing Manga Studio makes infinitely easier than other programs, or working traditionally, is frame borders.
But how about curved frames?

Round BordersThe first time I ever used a curved frame border was on this page. This was when I was still doing the comic with traditional media and I used a bottle to trace the outline. (Did I ever mention that I hate my old art?)
The second time I used a round frame was here. I was still drawing on paper, but this time I added the round frames with Paintshop. There has to be an easier way, right?

While MS makes frames super easy, it trades some flexibility for it. The ‘cut frame border’ tool can only be used as a line, poly line, or a spline. Good luck getting perfect circles with that. Or maybe there’s a way and I’m just not seeing it? While I consider myself pretty well versed with Manga Studio by now, I still discover new things on a regular basis, so leave a comment if I am being dumb.

I didn’t really feel the need to use round frames since then, but maybe I just didn’t want to deal with the hassle…

Looks like other people are thinking about this as well.

So I sat down and tried the best way I could think of to do a curved frame with Manga Studio, while recording the process.

That’s what I came up with and I think it’s okay. As it turns out, even with Manga Studio, you still have to do some manual labor.
An alternative to the “whiteout” I used would probably be a layer mask, that way I could still keep all the layers separate and not deal with the magic wand hassle I encountered near the end of the video.

Apropos magic wand.

The tool I used to delete everything outside the panel borders refers only to certain layers set as ‘reference layers’. You can have multiple reference layers and they are marked with what appears to be a lighthouse… I guess?


You can also use reference layers for the paint-bucket tool, to easily color in lineart while keeping the layers seperate.

reference2 reference3

These are the settings I used in this case, but I change them a lot, depending on the resolution of the image and the types of lines I’m working with.

Anyway, this was my first sorta kinda tutorial, let me know if you’d be interested in more of this.

1 comment

I don’t even know.


Slowly starting to get back into drawing, to see how my wrist handles it. The answer is: not very well. Even after a relatively long break it doesn’t feel like the pain got any better. It really seems like I’ll just have to deal with it at this point.

There’s still that appointment I have at a specialist doctor, maybe that might help? I dunno…

As for the drawing… I wanted to draw my Argonian character from Skyrim and I wanted to draw Mina, while experimenting a bit with a digital watercolor look. The resulting Image doesn’t make much sense, but whatever!

That sketchy watercolor look is something I want to use for IFF in the future. It could save some time, because the way I’ve been doing IFF so far just doesn’t lend itself well to ever finishing it.

Regarding AHS: I’ll probably try finishing the new banner first, before getting back to drawing comics.
There might be something to be said about taking an even longer break. Tendon injuries and stuff like that take a long time to heal after all.

Anyway, just wanted to post something and let everyone know I’m still alive. Hi. Hello.


Drawing is no fun like this.

Most of you probably already know that I’m having problems with my wrist.
It almost feels like my arm is slowly turning into a gnarled piece of wood.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome + Tendinitis = Ow.

 Here’s what I’ve been doing so far:

  • I slowed down my comic making in order to let my wrist recover.
  • I didn’t work on IFF at all, because that comic makes my hand curl up into a ball of pain just from thinking about it. :c
  • I got a wrist brace.
  • I’m taking some Vitamin Bs as a helpful reader suggested.
  • I try using my left hand for more menial tasks.

All of this helped somewhat, but it seems that as soon as I do anything, the pain returns.

A few weeks ago I started exercising again, did some weightlifting and the pain was back in full force.
I didn’t even use heavy weights or anything, so why is this happening?

Turns out I have a thing called Hypermobility.
Hyper flexible joints can have different causes, but one of them is “A Type 1 collagen or other connective tissue defect”.
In other words: My ligaments, muscles, tendons etc. are softer than normal and thus more prone to damage.
This means heavy physical activity is bad, but so are lot’s of small repetitive motions… You know… like drawing.
I’m not going to stop drawing though! I’d rather kill myself.

I really haven’t been doing well recently, because it’s getting more and more clear to me that this probably isn’t something that’s going to get better. I’ll just have to learn to deal with it somehow.

Thinking about things:

  1. Taking a real break.
    I’ve been taking breaks on and off for some time now, but even when I am not drawing comics, I couldn’t really avoid using my hand for other work.
    Gotta avoid using that hand somehow, if I take another break.
  2. A more ergonomic workspace.
    You can see my current workspace here.
    Being hunched over that tablet all the time is probably not the best for me.
    I’m still debating on saving up for a Cintiq or something similar, but cheaper. However, a part of me feels like I might not like it because it could actually be too big for my taste.
  3. Be less of a perfectionist.
    The thing with digital art is that it makes it possible to be a perfectionist.
    Unlimited undos, erasing doesn’t damage your paper, ability to zoom in, etc. I’ve spent much longer on each individual page since I switched to digital.
    Being a perfectionist seems like a bad idea if you’re not perfect. I wouldn’t even consider myself a good artist, but spending hours just refining stuff masks some of my shortcomings at the expense of my wrist.
    I might have to lower my standards a bit to a more realistic level, especially considering my condition. I do want to finish this comic, as well as some others, within my lifetime. 😐

That’s all I can think of right now, if you have any suggestions, leave a comment.


Old Setup and new rig!

Here’s my current setup.


I’m using an Asus EP121 tablet pc, with a Razer Nostromo for hotkeys and a Wacom Bamboo Stylus Feel as a pen replacement. Software wise, I’m using Manga Studio 5.

I bought the EP121 about a year ago. I got it for 400 bucks on ebay and it’s definitely been one of my best investments so far. It took some getting used to as I never really got into digital art before. AHS updated very slowly during that time and at one point I was considering going back to pen and paper. Then Manga Studio 5 came out and changed that. I loved this thing from that point on.
I’m still not updating the comic as fast as I did when working traditionally. I feel it’s because working digitally allows me to really obsess over every little detail, zoom, erase, undo, etc. A bit ironic, since I got into digital art to “streamline” the process…

The Nostromo may look a bit weird but I wouldn’t want to miss it for drawing. It could use a few more buttons though. Razer recently came out with a successor, the Orbweaver. I might get it one of these days.

The Bamboo stylus may seem like a strange choice, because it only has one (hard to press) side button and no eraser on the other side. The reason I bought it is accuracy. The cursor on the screen appears closer to the tip of the pen than any other pen I’ve tried.

The biggest problem with tablet itself is that it’s getting a bit dated. It was already old when I bought it.
It’s got 4gigs of ram, which is no longer enough for my needs and I can’t upgrade it. The processor is also a bit sluggish when it comes to complex Manga Studio brushes, but MS is partially at fault here too, I’m sure they could optimize the program more.

I’m using a regular desktop PC and PaintShop for the finishing touches. Mostly the text editing, because Manga Studio’s text-tool still isn’t very good.

When that PC was causing issues I decided to upgrade, to hopefully do all the work on the new system and leave the anemic tablet behind.

The Parts
Case: Silverstone TJ-08B-EW (I went with a Micro-ATX case. Nice and small, but not too cramped either.)
CPU: Intel Core i7 4770k
CPU Cooler: Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2 (I wanted to try a down draft cooler, and it was only 35€.)
Mainboard: Asus Gryphon Z87 (C2) (Guess why I went with that one… Yeah… I’m stupid.)

Everything else was salvaged from my old PC.

Now for arguably the most important part. Tablet Monitor: Lenovo LT1423p

Everyone knows Cintiqs are hella expensive, starting at about 1000$, but now there’s this! A cheap alternative at only 320€.
Spoiler alert: Sadly, it didn’t quite work out, I’ve been trying a whole week to make it work, but no dice. I’ll write up more about that soon.

The new PC is working flawlessly though, just with no way to draw on it. Here’s a few pictures I took while putting it together.

This is the most silent PC I ever had, my monitor is actually louder! Even my desk lamp is louder if you can believe that. Although that might just mean I need a new lamp.

Now to find an affordable tablet monitor and start saving up for it.

In the meantime I’m going back to my trusty Asus EP121.