Answers! Part 1

The other day I asked for technical questions regarding Photoshop or Manga Studio that I could answer. Here are a few! REMINDER: I’m no expert, there’s almost always more than one way to do things in these programs, I’m not claiming my way is the best, don’t complain, etc.


what are masks for/are they useful in drawing and painting in photoshop?”  

Masks are very useful! A mask is basically a grayscale alpha channel which determines the transparency of the layer it is attached to. For example, take this handsome drawing of popular cartoon character Beartato:


Now, let’s say we apply a layer mask to this guy. Any white area on the mask will be 100% opaque. Any black area will be fully transparent. So if we draw onto the layer mask like this:

our layer will end up looking like this:

Why use masks instead of just erasing? Masks are non-destructive; they hide parts of the layer but those parts are still there. Just draw over the black areas with white to restore the image there. 

And keep in mind that gray areas on the mask will make the layer partially transparent. You can use this for subtle blending effects or to make a scary ghost.



When you colour McNinja, do you use the gradient tool, or are the gradients hand painted?” 

It depends on the situation! Check out this tutorial I made a while back for the basics of how I would go about coloring a page. 


Do you make panels the same way in Photoshop that you do in Manga Studio, or is there a different method?” 

 Well, I rarely make panels in Photoshop, but there are a few ways you could go about it.

1. Lay out your panels as selections using the selection tools or polygonal lasso, then choose Edit > Stroke to draw along the edges of the selection.

2. Lay out your panels as paths using the Shape and Pen tools, then choose Stroke Path on the Paths palette.

3. If your panel borders are all horizontal and vertical, you could just hold Shift and draw them with the brush or pencil.


In Beginner Mode [in Manga Studio], it helpfully creates a single folder, masked, per panel. Is there something equivalent in Advanced mode? 

 Yes, that’s an option in the version I use, but I rarely use it and I have forgotten how to do it. That’s too much fiddling and too many layers to keep track of for my taste.


If you make an outline and wanna use a rainbow gradient so it’s JUST the outline that’s rainbow, how would you do that?” 

If I’m understanding the question correctly, then the answer lies with one of my favorite features of Photoshop, the Transparency Lock.

Draw your lineart on its own layer.


Click the “Lock Transparent Pixels” button (probably located at the top of the Layers palette, depending on your version of Photoshop).


Now you can only draw on that layer in areas that already have pixels in them. Apply your gradient and it will be confined to the already-drawn area.




I feel silly asking this, but when I try to make an 11x17 page, it changes to 11x16.593 when I click Ok. Can you not set your own page size? “ 

I’m assuming you’re talking about Manga Studio here. To the best of my knowledge, 16.593” is the maximum dimension for a page in MS. One workaround would be the halve the desired dimensions, but double the DPI. I think this works. I don’t know, I’m not a math guy.


How do you resize the file? Like from 12mb to 10mb. Sorry, amateur at this.”

Well, there are several ways to reduce filesize. The most significant way is to shrink the actual size of the image, though that can of course affect quality. You could also reduce the number of layers.

If you’re talking about reducing the size of a finished image (in which case 10mb is ridiculously huge), you can try using Save for Web in the File menu, which will give you some more options to reduce file size. Make sure you’re using an appropriate file type for your image; JPEG is good for something with thousands of colors and smooth gradients, while PNG will give you better results on images with large areas of flat color.  


Phew! That’s enough for now. A lot of the questions I received were very broad or not about technical aspects, but there are still a few good ones left that I will answer at a later date.  Now go draw something why don’t ya! 

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