Clip Studio Paint Review – Latest Version – Features & Tools

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Clip Studio Paint is an art software that is specifically made with anime and manga artists in mind. I’ve used Clip Studio Paint since 2016, and before the switch, I used Adobe Photoshop.

The version I’ll be reviewing is the CLIP STUDIO PAINT EX (64-bit) ver. 3.0.0 (one-time purchase license (perpetual)), but you’ll roughly get the same features as the PRO version, so you’re not missing out.


Key Takeaways

  • Tools, functions, and features are specifically built for anime and manga artists.
  • The shortcut bar (after creating a selection) is an insane time saver.
  • Clip Studio Paint has one of the best brush engines and brushes an art software can have.
  • The art software comes with a robust 3D modeling tool that helps artists draw figures and heads in all imaginable poses and angles.
  • Manga artists can enjoy a plethora of halftones, effect lines, text balloons, etc.
  • Clip Studio Paint has a built-in manga paneling layout.

What Is Clip Studio Paint?

Clip Studio Paint is an art software specifically designed for anime and manga artists. Its tools, features, and innovations aim to help these artists improve and enhance their creative work. Clip Studio Paint enables artists to create illustrations, comics, and animations.

Clip Studio Paint Version Upgrades

Version 3.0 brings enhanced 3D capabilities, layer compositions, improved text, animation, and interface features, among other benefits. While version 3.0 isn’t as massive an update as version 2.0 was, it’s worth noting that by upgrading to version 3.0, you get all the improvements made between version 2 and 3, on top of features launched in version 3.0.

Key Features

3D models: Clip Studio Paint (CSP) has put a lot of effort into improving the features and capabilities of their 3D models. The latest version of CSP even has integration with the Posemaniacs site. You can choose to model 3D head, body, and other items with the software.

Manga creation: CSP offers manga comic creation features such as manga paneling, halftones, effect lines, framing templates, etc., to boost the manga comic creation.

Animation: With Clip Studio Paint, you can also create animations. It offers an onion skin feature, tweening, among other features. You can also export the file as PNGs, MP4, GIF, etc.

Brush engine: The art software has probably one of the most extensive brush engines available. The brush tool (Sub Tool Detail) allows you to customize your brushes to a great extent. I once spent over 4 hours creating a brush, but once it was done, it has been one of my most used ones ever since.

Pros

It’s not hard to find pros of this software, but here’s a list of just some of the pros this software has:

  • 3D modeling tool (body plus head) is a fantastic tool that gives us artists a way to tackle difficult angles and poses.
  • The ability to create manga comics, animations, and anime art under one software is fantastic.
  • While the pricing model is complex, the price of the software is reasonable.
  • Creating new brushes is a lot of fun, and basically, your imagination is the only limitation here.
  • File handling and software performance have been awesome for years already. Handling big files with hundreds of layers is not a problem for this software.
  • While complex, the user interface offers many useful features and tools that improve the efficiency of your creation process.

Cons

I might be a bit biased as I have used the software for so long and can’t think of better software for anime and manga artists, but nevertheless, here are the cons:

  • The 3D model still lacks better-defined muscles.
  • Ability to attach the 3D head model to the 3D body model in a way that makes sense.
  • The interface is filled with buttons and icons, which can be confusing for newcomers.
  • Some EX version features should honestly belong to the PRO version, such as layer comps (introduced in Ver. 3.0).
  • Having EX and PRO versions makes no real-world sense. They could combined under one license.
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Clip Studio Paint user interface

Pricing

Clip Studio Paint’s pricing model is one of the most complex ones, but in simplicity, they offer perpetual licenses (I bought this one), monthly subscriptions, version upgrades, and license upgrades.

As they have PRO and EX versions, the pricing model becomes confusing.

Clip Studio Paint is priced between US$26.99 and US$237. This price range includes monthly subscriptions and the higher tier EX license.

Drawing Experience

When it comes to drawing, I always struggled to create precise lines, control the line art, and draw line art confidently.

By switching the art software to Clip Studio Paint, I could finally draw line art the way I always wanted, but it didn’t end there. I also found out that the coloring experience and the speed of coloring (especially cel shading) also increased multifold.

The drawing experience with this art software is just insanely realistic. The brushes, pens, pencils, and brush properties are the best in the industry.

Overall, the drawing experience is the best I have experienced so far. And for that very reason I haventä switched to any other art software.

Clip Studio Paint PRO vs. Clip Studio Paint EX

If you draw anime art, then I would say the PRO license is enough. If you draw manga (comics) and, for example, would like to create line art-based backgrounds from photographs, then the EX might be a better option for you.

EX has all the features the PRO license has, so it’s only a matter of whether the few extra features available in the EX license are worth investing in.

However, if you decide later on to upgrade from PRO to EX, there’s usually some sort of price discount for doing that.

Summary

I’ve used Clip Studio Paint since 2016 and have not used any other art software for drawing since then. the thing I like the most about this art software is the fact that its mainly designed for anime and manga artists.

Using this software truly makes drawing fun and can become like an exploration once you get used to using the 3D modeling tool.

While the pricing model is probably the most confusing one I’ve ever encountered, at least there’s an option for every imaginable situation possible. From subscription model to version upgrades all the way to licence upgrades.

If you are an anime or manga artist and draw mainly using a drawing tablet attached to a PC, then I can’t think of a better art software than Clip Studio Paint.

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Okuha

Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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Thank You!

Thank you for visiting the page! If you want to level up your anime and manga art skills, I suggest you check out Clip Studio Paint!