Clip Studio Paint vs Autodesk Sketchbook Pro

Yesterday, I thought I’d give Clip Studio Paint a go. The bottom part of the template above was coloured in Clip Studio, the top part in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

I spent yesterday afternoon, and a bit of this morning, colouring part of the template above in Clip Studio Paint. So, these are my first impressions of Clip Studio Paint and a comparison with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

I think it’s impossible to tell the difference between the colouring I’ve achieved with both programs. What is different is the user interface more than anything else.

I’ve long been a fan of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, and that isn’t going to change. I love the intuitive and rather beautiful interface of the software, the menus on screen and the colour and brush ‘pucks’. Everything is done easily and simply through the quite minimalist, yet powerful, tool bars and menus. Keyboard shortcuts are available, but I prefer to use my pen directly on the screen as I work. It makes working digitally as natural as working with traditional media.

As I’m familiar with the Affinity suite of programs from Serif, working out what the different menus and tools,, which are similar to Photoshop, wasn’t as confusing as it would’ve been in the past. Thanks to working with Sketchbook Pro, I have a better understanding of what the various tools do.

While the tools and options are all accessible on the screen, I find it frustrating and time consuming as I seem to have to perform more steps in Clip Studio Paint to do the same task as I would in Sketchbook Pro. I’m sure there must be keyboard shortcuts, which may help streamline the process somewhat. However, I work directly on the screen with Sketchbook Pro and the only time I use my keyboard is name the file before saving it, or if I want to add text to the art. Usually, they keyboard is out of the way so that I can adjust the angle and distance of the screen to suit my comfort.

I do prefer the way I can choose colours in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, as well as the ease of creating a custom palette. Sketchbook Pro also comes with a separate Copic color palette. Being able to move them around the screen means I can pop them where I like, make them easily and quickly accessible for me.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a comprehensive colour palette and various options of viewing colours in Clip Studio Pro, but I like the more intuitive and streamline way of doing it in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. It’s just personal preference more than anything.

Having the colour puck makes it easy to alter the saturation and tone of a chosen colour really quickly. The brush puck makes changing the size and opacity a breeze. I keep the pucks close to where I work for convenience.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with how all this is done in Clip Studio Paint, but I just prefer the ease with which I can do everything in Sketchbook Pro.

The Sketchbook brush palette is a great tool too; I have all my favourite brushes available in one, easily accessible place. A click on this palette and I can access all the brush sets I’ve either downloaded or created so I can add or remove brushes as I need to.

The zoom and rotate touch functions only work separately. I found this a clunky and awkward way to work. I think that’s because I’m used to doing both at the same time and at will in Sketchbook Pro.

What I did like are the many more choices of brush effects in Clip Studio Paint. However, I think I can replicate many of them in Sketchbook. There are some interesting brushes in Clip Studio Paint, but nothing that I couldn’t replicate if I found I really wanted to use them.

Anyway, I will persevere with Clip Studio, working with it from time to time to become more familiar with it. The ability to draw vectors may be helpful in the future, but then I have Affinity Designer on my ‘puter, which is Serif’s version of Adobe Illustrator.

Also, I’m hoping I can find a way in Clip Studio Paint to work in CMYK rather than RGB. When I convert files to CMYK for printing, the colours shift and I’d like to work in roughly the colours that would be printed.

Overall, I think it’s a good, affordable application. It’s a fraction of the cost of any Adobe Product. I paid £40 for the Clip Studio Paint version; that’s a one-off purchase and you have free upgrades for life. You also get access to online resources created by other Clip Studio Paint users.

This price is on a par with the price of each of the Affinity suite of programs (approx £50 each), and there are regular, free updates to the software.

You can get Autodesk Sketchbook for free, though I subscribe to the pro version monthly for approx. £12; it does have a few more features than the free version. Just because Sketchbook is free doesn’t mean it’s not professional; it is. It doesn’t look powerful, but it is.

How much will I use Clip Studio Paint? That I’m not sure. Perhaps with more use the frustrations I experienced with lessen as I become more familiar with the software. Perhaps I’ll gain fresh ideas on what effects I can try out in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Do I think Clip Studio Paint is a bad program? Not at all. It seems to be powerful and similar to Adobe Photoshop and artists and illustrators are able to create fantastic artworks with it. I’m sure that if you are familiar with the way Photoshop works, you’ll find Clip Studio Paint an easy transition to make.

Personally, I find the way the menus are set up hard work and time consuming to use. I’ve been spoiled with the simple sophistication and intutive nature of the Autodesk Sketchbook interface, no matter which version you use. I find I spend less time clicking on menu after menu to get to what I want to use, and more time creating art in Sketchbook. That may be a function of my familiarity and comfort with the software. What I don’t want is to feel I’m struggling or working so hard to get an effect I’d like when I could do it so simply in Sketchbook.

One thing I know is that Autodesk Sketchbook Pro will be my go-to digital art program. It does all I want to do digitally, and most probably a lot more I’ve not worked out yet.

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