March 2018

Review: Clip Studio Paint Pro / Manga Studio vs. Artrage 5 vs. Sketchbook Pro

For 2018 I resolved to draw every day. I’ve missed some days, but am definitely drawing a lot more, and enjoying the process. This sketch is a step along that path, a step that may represent a fork in the path actually, toward digital media rather than pencil on paper:

Steve Eichenberger, artist

(Would you have known it was drawn using a stylus instead of on paper if I hadn’t said anything?)

It’s frankensteined together from three separate sketches: one for each eye, and one for nose/mouth:

180325 face play annotated

I found it more relaxing — more right brain less left brain — to do it that way. I didn’t set out with the intention of compositing them together…or any intention, really, I was just trying to figure out how to use new software (Clip Studio Paint, aka Manga Studio, Mac desktop version, using Intuous4 PTK-440 Wacom tablet), settle on what resolution to use, try out the various pencil tools, and so on. It was fun! I feel a little sad that I enjoyed it more than conventional pencil on paper, but I’m also excited by the fresh possibilities of going digital.

What I liked:
— natural/realistic look and feel of the various pencil tools
— ability to undo
— ability to place various parts on different layers
— darken/lighten individual strokes, a section, or entire drawing easily (using vector layers)
— clean erasing
— ability to zoom in for detailing
— can work large without smudging from hand on paper
— ability to reposition/resize without erasing then re-drawing (one of the things that was off-putting when I used to paint portraits; if a perfectly good eye was a smidge out of place, there was no choice but to paint it out and re-do it!)
— more relaxing since everything I did was an “experiment” which wouldn’t mess up what I’d done so far if I decided I didn’t like it
— can handle high resolution drawing/painting for gallery quality prints up to 17 x 22 (biggest we can print ourselves)
— can rotate the drawing this way and that (for easier cross-hatching, for example)
— no scanning or photography required; lossless full resolution, ready to print

I also downloaded and tested ArtRage 5 and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, but ultimately chose Clip Studio Paint for its depth of features…such as finer control of taper on both ends of strokes, and amazing vector capabilities, without it looking like vector work:

180327 100 percent nose

Most importantly, Clip Studio can keep up with rapid sketching at high resolution without lagging. Lagginess was a deal breaker for me on both ArtRage and Sketchbook — I did testing with all three on a 3300 x 4200 pixel canvas size (11″ x 14″ at 300 dpi resolution). Overall, Clip Studio just feels more professional to me…the other two seem stripped down by comparison. I may change my mind, or discover something better, but for now I’m just happy 😉

Addendum: I just watched, and recommend, this excellent review/tutorial on Clip Studio Paint (aka Manga Studio) by an artist who has been working digitally for 20 years:


Working at the “Speed of Life”

I use a to-do list (Google Keep) where you can drag list items up or down the list in order of priority. When I scan down the list, I often see something (i.e., “update blog”) that I really need/want to do, so I drag it up to the top. But then I continue to drag other items (get groceries to eat, do taxes, fulfill crow/raven orders) above it until it is so far down it looks impossible to ever get to it. Right now as I type this, it’s first thing on a Sunday morning and I’m purposely not looking to see where “update blog” falls on my to-do list while I try to steal enough time to jot these quick notes! (An analogy of trying to stack a couple dozen croquet balls onto a dinner plate springs to mind when thinking  of prioritizing my to-do list…)

A LOT has been happening since my last entry…I’ve been crazy busy, but have gotten a lot done! (I’ve come to the conclusion that if I weren’t this busy, I’d probably just keep adding more things until I was!)

My last entry was in early November 2017. From then through mid January was frantic crow/raven production & sales…definitely a new record! The Real Mother Goose Gallery’s downtown location has for years topped my crow/raven sales chart, but they had to close that location (city closed the building for year-long repairs) and don’t plan to re-open it, so they had a huge sale — and it was a challenge to keep up with the demand for my crows/ravens…one last blast.

I also revamped this entire site,, with a new look, much more content, and upgraded my plan to include basic e-commerce capability (see “Available Work“).

A major reason I haven’t written here for awhile is because I finally took the plunge and opened an Instagram account in November. I begrudge the extra time it takes to post to it, especially since they do not allow you to post from a desktop computer, forcing me to dink with my phone (grr) to upload photos, type descriptions, and type in hashtags. Bleh. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I’ve found it inspiring to follow other artists’ IG feeds…a virtually endless flow of curated (by me) artwork…more than I have time to look at. A DIY art magazine. It inspires me to up my game.

The sculpture in my last post is already finished and sold. I also sold a couple rockets, and a couple or three “Murder of Crows” 11-piece collections.

Time is yelling at me…so I’m going to just upload a bunch of photos and get back to the top to-do for today: casting crows/ravens. I’m trying to fill up my crow boxes (a “should”) so I can feel okay about taking time to “play” with drawing…digital and/or traditional…because a new venue, Boys Fort in downtown Portland, has racks of small posters/quotes/maps etc where I can place some 2D work if I want…a nice opportunity! Now to claw out some time to do so…


“Jasper” (sold)

32 b sq

Completed a bigger size rocket, 32″

Eichenberger rocket 6911

To show size of 32″ version compared to the two previous sizes

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 11.28.42 AM

Larger fuselage was a challenge, but I like challenges…chosen ones, anyway!

IMG_6748 copy 2

Pencil sketch on scratch paper (result of resolution to “draw more” in 2018)

Steve Eichenberger 3 alskjdl

Finished wall sculpture from “Cosmic Zoo” series

Steve Eichenberger 180223c

Another finished wall sculpture from my “Cosmic Zoo” series…I could write several more paragraphs explaining the series (to do with time, space and infinity), but time’s up for today!

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