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If you have ever wanted to digitally create a comic strip, graphic novel, webcomic, cartoon-style art, or even non-cartoon digital art, there is now another option to consider.

Clip Studio Paint is truly excellent for full-time professional digital artists, but it is so fully-featured that as an occasional hobbyist cartoonist I spend half my time looking for a specific feature when I want to use it.

Some of you know me in relation to FireAlpaca.
I think JugiPaint is what I want FireAlpaca to be when it grows up.

JugiPaint has now been released as a commercial product - and colour me impressed.
JugiPaint is the successor to Comicado (JugiPaint was code-named C2 through most of the beta development period).
US$30 or 30 euros, Windows-only, trial version available from jugipaint.com/

JugiPaint was originally released commercially as version 0.9 and a few updates have been released since. Recently 1.0 was released, but the developer carefully notes that there is nothing special about the number and this is not a big jump from the 0.9x versions.

At the moment not all OpenGL drivers will properly support JugiPaint - for example, I get a white screen on a Surface Pro 3, instead of a "desktop" grey area and a canvas - so download the trial version first and test if it runs on your computer.

Snowman by obtusity

JugiPaint is a very capable paint program, you can see some great example art on the JugiPaint site - the developer is one of those rare beings, excellent in both art and programming.

There is a good selection of brushes to start with, which you can tweak, or you can add your own bitmap-based brushes (from an imported image or selected area) with a range of parameters to set how the brush behaves.

Many useful extra features for artists, such as a range of rulers (guides, or snaps if you are a FireAlpaca/MediBang Paint user), and a mirror option for brushes. You can have up to 3 reference images, which are linked to the project and save with it.

Rulers by obtusity

There is a mesh warp and a clever warp brush.

Warp by obtusity

However, what really appeals to me are comic/cartoon features, including vector inking layers for line art.

There is a pressure-sensitive vector pen/pencil similar to Paint Tool Sai, which a clever reshaper tool option. (Note: this is not a full brush system, only simple line art brushes.)

Animated GIF preview of reshaping here

Alternatively, you can use the same vector pen to draw dot-to-dot curves.

Animated GIF preview of dot-to-dot drawing here

There is also a second vector system, with more "mechanical" Bezier-style polycurves.
These are useful for speech balloons (and other shapes), and you can use the Add feature to add a tail to an ellipse, or add multiple balloons, while keeping only a single outline around the combined shapes.

Speech-balloon by obtusity

For both curve types, you can edit nodes, modify curve thickness, and the standard transforms (scale, rotation, move) or apply freeform transformation (distortion box).

Animated GIF of line thickness modification here

You can easily apply a raster fill inside a vector outline, and use clipping to apply effects such as shading or texture brushes on.

JugiPaint continues to get occasional updates with new features and bug fixes, a recent update added a Bucket Brush tool (in addition to the Bucket tool) which is great for those who like to paint their fills - it does automatic "keep inside the lines" if your brush centre is inside the outline (and the line layer has been set to the "Source" layer).

Cat-shading by obtusity

There are a bunch of other features I have not even looked at yet.

Not least, there are the panels, like small semi-independent mini-canvases with a border. You can lift an existing shape off the main canvas as a panel, then ink and colour inside it. You can also pre-define your artboard with panel guides that the panels can "snap" to.
See a tutorial on Panels here: jugipaint.com/?page_id=876

All together, a program with great potential for cartooning.
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July 2, 2017
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