Photoshop VS Clip Studio Paint
Updated: Jul 26, 2018
Hold onto your butts, this is about to be a long article.
About a year ago, I switched from Photoshop to Clip Studio Paint.
About a year later, I'm now switching back to Photoshop.
This article is purely based on my unique experience and why I have made these changes. I'm not here to tell you which one I think you should get, but something to consider if you're thinking of switching from one to the other!
SWITCHING TO CLIP STUDIO PAINT
So around July 2017 I was having a couple of different problems while using Photoshop. The biggest one being that something was going wrong with my computer and Photoshop was lagging to all heck. I couldn't work for terribly long in it even after doing everything I could try to find to optimize it.
The other issue was that I wanted to go for a more blended painterly look and I was really struggling to learn how to use Photoshops mixer brush. It just seemed like more of a glorified smudge tool than an actual mixer to me. I was too lazy and stressed at the time to simply look up tutorials, haha.
I'd gotten Clip Studio a couple years back on sale for mega cheap. It's a one-off purchase as opposed to Adobes subscription plan too, which was a plus! I knew it had blending capabilities and I watched a few Youtube videos, it seemed to have a lot of good things!
This guy thought it was superior and he really sold it! He mentions many tools and things that I don't really use but seem super cool. I also found this video tutorial below on how to make your work look more like a natural painting.
If you'd like to stick with Clip Studio and get your work looking more like a traditional painting, I highly recommend it! I also recommend those brushes.
When trialing the brushes in the video above and testing the blending of the brushes, it just seemed to work quite naturally without having to figure too much out or muck about with settings. I wasn't so confused as I was in Photoshop, so I made the decision to switch.
It really did improve my work! It took me some time to get used to how to paint with blendy brushes instead of just relying on Opacity/Flow, but I was extremely happy with the results!! Not to mention it didn't lag like Photoshop did, so that was fantastic. I had deadlines to meet and I was losing time while messing around trying to fix Photoshop.
Exporting flat images works just fine and in the past year I mostly haven't had to send any PSDs or CMYK files to anyone. Clip Studio can save PSDs if you need to and it seemingly had
the colour profiles that Photoshop has, so I figured it wouldn't be an issue...
SWITCHING BACK TO PHOTOSHOP
I've been trying for some time to work on my portfolio to get more professional work. Most of my clients in the past few years are private people who might want something like a pet portrait or a tattoo design, so usually they only require a regular flat JPEG/PNG file. I have otherwise mostly only needed to send a CMYK TIFF, but I hadn't really needed to do that since using Clip Studio.
However, relatively early in 2018 I got a job to design a luxury cat bowl for Kat's Cats Aust. For this I strictly needed to work in Pantone colours. Pantone (otherwise known as PMS, lol) is apparently commonly used when printing onto things like ceramics as the colours are 100% accurate to the printer.
I googled how to use Pantone in Clip Studio, and the best answer I got was "You can't really, but you can import the closest RGB equivalent." I then tried searching for how to convert images in Photoshop from RGB to Pantone so that I could paint in Clip Studio and then convert it, but it was just ridiculous and complicated. I did not feel the colours would be accurate for the job that needed to be done, so I updated Photoshop and hoped it wouldn't lag to hell like it used to.
I noticed that Adobe had a number of things set to open on startup. After I stopped them from doing that, Photoshop seemed to work much smoother. Yay! Maybe try that out if you get any lag issues.
The main reason working in Photoshop was the best solution for this job was because it already has all of the Pantone colour swatches built into the program. So, you know, why bother trying to work out an alternative with Clip Studio when Photoshop has taken away all that effort for me?
It just made sense to do it in Photoshop.
After finishing that job I bounced merrily back over to Clip Studio. I had been using it for months without a hitch as, like I said before, I'd only really needed to give clients flat JPEGs/PNGs, usually in RGB.
I did not bother with the mixer brush in Photoshop, I just went back to my old brushes.
In June 2018, I got a job doing a lot of cards for Fuel Games for their upcoming game "Gods Unchained" which is set to be the first blockchain Esport. Exciting! They needed as many cards as I could possibly do by July 1st for their release. No problem!
I managed to finish 9 by the deadline, all in Clip Studio. The company needed layered PSDs for the purpose of animating the cards with a parallax effect, presumably when it comes to marketing. They seemingly weren't needed in CMYK or anything and remember, Clip Studio can export PSDs so it did not seem to be an issue.
However...I needed to open one of the cards in Photoshop for something, and I noticed it was much more saturated than it should be!
I double and triple checked the colour profile settings in both programs (Working Adobe 1998) and they appeared to be the exact same. Someone out there might have a solution to this problem, if you do I'm sure many users would appreciate it if you commented on this article with the help!
"But Nyra, that doesn't even really look that different?" you might say.
On the right here is a closer up shot.
I suppose it still doesn't look quite soooo bad, but then I checked CMYK....
Yikes!!! That's DREADFUL! Imagine if they needed CMYK PSDs and I had no idea I'd be giving them this hot mess that is the image on the left. I SWEAR TO YOU the colour profiles are identical.
If I'm missing something here, BY ALL MEANS PLEASE CORRECT ME IN THE COMMENTS. There's a whole bunch of other settings in Clip Studio that I haven't touched.
However, as a professional with deadlines I really don't have time right now to try and fiddle about with Clip Studio trying to make sure it's perfectly adjusted to Photoshop. My client is using Adobe products so I know that it will definitely be accurate if I use the same.
I've had to go back through every PSD of the cards I have done in Clip Studio and adjust them to how they should be. What a pain in the neck!! I don't want to have to do this for every painting I do for a client that required PSD files or CMYK images.
SOME OTHER SMALL THINGS
TOOLS THAT MAY NOT BE OBVIOUS
One thing that was always pretty straightforward with Photoshop was that you could choose whatever brush you wanted to draw with as well as whatever brush you wanted to erase with.
For the longest time it seemed like I simply didn't have that option at all in Clip Studio, which is a pain when you want to erase a particularly textured edge or pattern onto something. Aside from the erasers Clip gives you, you can't just choose from your brush set for painting.
That is until I discovered in the last day or so, right after I've switched back to Photoshop, that actually this button right here allows you to "paint" with transparency, essentially acting as an eraser with your paint brushes... DAMN IT TO HECK!
So TECHNICALLY this isn't a problem, however there may be other annoying things in Clip Studio that went undiscovered for me or might not be made clear for other tools that are otherwise easy to find in Photoshop. Clip Studio users may want to research the program much more extensively than I obviously did! Feel free to call me a dummy, I most certainly feel like one! Hahaaaa...
SOMEWHAT LIMITED BRUSH LIBRARY
So while there are really quite a lot of brushes available for Clip Studio, the DAUB brush sets mentioned earlier in particular, I still felt like sometimes I just could NOT find the right brush with the right texture for what I was wanting. Call me picky, I probably am.
Photoshop has just been around for so long as an industry standard, the library is simply massive. There is practically no end to the amount of brushes you can find both for free and paid for. Many of these brushes are made by the industries top artists themselves.
It just mildly irked me at times and it's been refreshing using Photoshops extensive library again, which by the way I downloaded Kyle T. Websters megapack, which is COMPLETELY FREE (for Adobe customers) and completely amazing. I searched Youtube for a bunch of explanations on how to use the mixer brush and spent a few days practicing with them to get my bearings, they're wonderful.
LACKING THE LIQUIFY TOOL
Oh boy, this used to be one of my favourite tools that Photoshop provided before I moved to Clip Studio. It's got to be one of the best digital "cheaty" tools that you simply can't do with traditional art (or even Clip Studio).
You know when something is just EVER SO SLIGHTLY OFF and you wish you could just..give it a lil poke? A lil pokey poke and a push here and a nudge there...? Welp, if you use Photoshop and you were previously unaware of this tool, allow me to be your hero today.
Meanwhile this is kind of the closest equivalent Clip Studio has to offer:
It's just a mesh tool that warps stuff a bit. Not at all the same as the Liquify tool. If you're not a user of the Liquify tool AT ALL then this might not be an issue for you. I sure as hell have missed this tool a lot though in the past year of using Clip Studio and I'm so happy to have it back now!
NO LAYER FX
You know this neat bunch of stuff in Photoshop?
You can add an outline/stroke to TEXT in Clip Studio, but otherwise you don't have any of these. Which is kind of a bummer because sometimes they can be real handy! Especially when it comes to making interesting fonts or any kind of advertising images you might need.
So look, I know it probably looks like I'm here to crap all over Clip Studio and tell you not to get it. I promise you I'm not, I really adored using it while it lasted and I'm sure sometimes I'll still use it if all I'm doing is a private commission that's just using a flat image or maybe when someone teaches me how to get the colour profiles accurate.
However, as much as you may or may not like it, the Adobe Creative Suite is simply an industry standard everywhere. Like 99% of your professional clients will probably use it.
If my clients are getting incorrectly coloured images that will take me a bunch of googling and stress to try and fix up, well that's just not for me. I don't want to be worried with every PSD or CMYK file I send being incorrect, because that's an unnecessary pain in the patootie.
Those minor issues had been slowly annoying me over the past year and discovering the colour profile issues was the last straw for me. I'm personally choosing not to risk it with Clip Studio and I will be sticking to Photoshop from now on for all professional industry jobs.
I encourage you to do your own research and practice with both programs to find what's right for you!
I will admit that Clip Studio is probably superior if your style involves line art and comics, seeing as that is what the program was mostly designed for. The paintbrushes definitely also feel like they mix a bit better and are easier to use, which is a plus that I shall miss but not miss enough to go back.
ACTUALLY WAIT, HEADS UP -
If you plan to do a free trial of Clip Studio - you can't import and play with brushes you've downloaded for Clip Studio Paint on the free trial, they simply don't work!
You need the Pro version to use the brushes, so that's a mad bummer.
Maybe wait for a sale...
That concludes my personal experience between Photoshop and Clip Studio!
I hope this article has given you something to think about and helps you in your decision on a program. I have not personally tried other programs such as Painter or Paint Storm Studio etc, so I can't really say anything about them.
If you'd like me to try out other programs on free trials and give reviews, please use the Question/Suggestion box to let me know or comment below!
If you have anything to say of your own experiences with these programs please also feel free to discuss this in the comments!