As a user of Manga Studio EX, I wish there were more books that would have tapped into the secrets of the software. But fortunately, Steve Horton and Jeong Mo Yang have written a book titled "Professional Manga: Digital Storytelling with Manga Studio EX".
The book is targeted for those who want to utilize the software with their manga creations. Whereas it shows you how they get sketches and prepare it for the software, the book comes with a CD that includes the high-res images for every piece of art featured in the book plus a 20-page story done in high-res plus a demo-version of Manga Studio EX.
"Professional Manga" was created not technically of doing how-to projects (ie. Adobe's educational books for their software) but the book does get into basics of sketches and how they can be brought into the software and one can start working on their designs but at the same time, learning of the pitfalls of various tones and suggestions for the artist using the software for the first time.
Here is a breakdown of chapters featured in the book:
* CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
* CHAPTER 2: LINE ART
* CHAPTER 3 - SHADING AND TEXTURES
* CHAPTER 4 - SPEED LINES
* CHAPTER 5 - BLURRING
* CHAPTER 6 - PERSPECTIVE AND BACKGROUNDS
* CHAPTER 7 - TECHNOLOGY
* CHAPTER 8 - SOUND EFFECTS AND LETTERING
* CHAPTER 9 - OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS
* CHAPTER 10 - SINGLE PANEL ELEMENTS
* CHAPTER 11 - PANEL TO PANEL STORYTELLING
* CHAPTER 12 - PAGE-TO-PAGE STORYTELLING
* CHAPTER 13 - WRITING CONVENTIONS
* CHAPTER 14 - FORMATS AND SIZES
* CHAPTER 15 - PITCHING AND SELLING
* APPENDIX 1 & 2 and INDEX
For the most part, the book is good for beginners. Especially learning how to utilize the right shading, action lines and various terminology for the beginning user of the program, who want to create their own manga. The good news is that the book is very good at introductions. May it be to line art, scanning your work into the software, line utilization and more. But the bad news is that the book is not step-by-step. With a lot of software such as Adobe PhotoShop and Adobe Illustrator, the software MANGA STUDIO EX has grown to become a popular software but for those who can draw or sketch or tell a story but are not computer literate may want to have something more helpful with step-by-step procedures.
The book has plenty of potential especially if the writers want to update it. But the difficulty right now is that there are not many books on the software and there sure is no "MANGA STUDIO EX for DUMMIES".
Each chapter features a good number of screen shots and for example, chapter 5 which is about blurring, has big screen captures and each page has a step-by-step explanation of how a certain blur (Gaussian) was utilized or in chapter 6 of how the magic wand tool can be used to eliminate a white background and one can use a background layer with another layer featuring a character.
There are chapters that I found quite informative such as Chapter 3 (Shading and Textures) and why its good to avoid moire patterns to inserting action lines, text and more. If anything, the book is more of a companion style of book and it works well in that capacity.
Overall, Steve Horton and Jeong Mo Yang do a very good job on that book in helping assist creative types who want to bring their work into Manga Studio EX but I know far too many people who give up on the software because they are lost or find it too difficult (especially if they are used to using Adobe products).
If you have messed around with the software and want positive advice from those who know the software well, this is a great companion book to assist you and hopefully get you ready in creating your first manga through Manga Studio EX but for those expecting something similar along the lines of Adobe's "Classroom in a Book", this is not that type of book.
But for those who are familiar with software like Adobe PhotoShop or Adobe Illustrator can benefit, because tools such as "magic wand", "lasso" or using certain types of blurs will come to play and be utilized with Manga Studio EX.
Last, I highly recommend purchasing this book new. Otherwise, if you are planning to purchase it used, please make sure the CD is included. It helps that the writers included high res images to experiment on and using the book as a guide to accomplish certain effects.
Overall, the book is well-conceived with probably the intermediate digital artist in mind but in the end, it all comes down to your proficiency as a digital/print artist and also have used the Manga Studio EX software. Beginners can also use this book as a reference guide and learn some key elements as well. So, this book is beginner and intermediate friendly.
Although, I still believe that there is a need for an in dept book like a "classroom in a book" for Manga Studio EX, both Horton and Yang do a good job in helping those bring their manga creations to life through the software. Definitely a book worth checking out!