This is for all the folks I told to go run and buy Manga Studio, and how cool it was, and about the amazing fill pen! Which, oddly doesn’t come as a standard tool in this amazing graphics program. That’s okay, you can just download my version here.
This is the raw SUT file. Save it, then use Manga Studio to import the Sub Tool. To do that, go to your Pen SubTool palette, right click on any existing pen subtool, and choose “Import SubTool”. Navigate to where you saved the file and click on it!
New! Also see my quickie video on using vector layers and how to use the fill pen. Click here.
Using the Fill Pen:
First, draw your line art on a new vector layer. (For how cool it is to draw on a vector layer, check out this video by John the Geek!) Set this layer as a reference layer. (To do that, click the Lighthouse icon on the layer palette while the layer is selected.)
Next, create a new raster layer (non-vector). You can’t colour on a vector layer. Well, you can, but only with brushstrokes that are all vectorized. With the fill tool, you’ll want to be on a raster layer, trust me. (See this video by Merry Calliope for more detail on coloring in using a reference layer.)
Now, the fill tool (and the select tool) can use multiple reference layers, and can close gaps so that you don’t need to have all your shapes perfectly enclosed. But a lot of times, it still leaves a lot to be desired. Sometimes even if you have ‘close gap’ cranked to maximum, the fill gets outside the lines. Or sometimes the fill/selection doesn’t go far enough, and you have to click multiple times inside one shape…. The Fill Pen is your friend in this case!
Select the Fill Pen, pick your colour, then, on the raster layer, plonk the brush tip inside your lines and start drawing. As long as the center of your pen is inside the line, the ink coming from it will not jump over. But once your center does jump over, your ink will be on the other side of the line!
To avoid this, try to use the largest size pen you can, to keep the center inside the line, and have the outside of the brush outside the line. Also: turn on the one-pixel center dot for the brush cursor, that will help you see how close you are to jumping the line. (This little gem is hidden in your Preferences: Cursor: Pen Type Cursor. Select Brush Size & Dot (or Single Pixel Dot, as you like) for your Pen tools. Or your Brush tools, if you’re creating a brush-type fill tool.)
Also, draw from the inside, and push out against the lines in shorter strokes.
If your lines do not form fully closed shapes, you will have a bit of trouble. The Fill Pen doesn’t have an close gap option, sadly. The larger brush shapes will bleed out of little gaps.
To fix this, make the brush shape very small, and ease it along the line towards the gap. For bigger gaps, you will actually have to draw the fill ink where you want it to go until it gets to the next line.
Once you have drawn your fill colour around the edges of your outline, you can turn off the vector ink layer, and use the fill tool to fill in the center. Because the Fill Pen is drawing to the center of the vector line (and the fill tool/marquee only go up to the line), this will result in a fill with cleaner edges.
One slight annoyance (at least to me) is that the inside lines are not filled with the Fill Pen. The fill tool should take care of those. Click once in the center of your fill, and then click again on the same spot, to have the fill bleed over those annoying anti-aliased edges it insists on having.
But! What if you use the fill tool and keep refilling to leach into those anti-aliased lines and end up making your fill go outside the outlines? Or what if you were sloppy and drew outside the lines with the Fill Pen? Oh noes! But wait! The Fill Pen does even more!
Switch to transparent as your ‘colour’ for the Fill Pen. Now, go along the outside of the outlines. Ta-da! The Fill Pen will erase any colour that is bleeding over! How awesome is that?
Creating & Editing the Fill Pen:
You can turn any drawing tool into a filling tool. Yes, even the crayons can be made to stay inside the lines! Start with the tool you want your Fill version to emulate. (To create the Fill Pen, I copied the Turnip Pen.) Right click the tool in the SubTool palette and Duplicate it. Give it a new name.
Click the wrench icon on the lower corner of your tool. The section of the Tool Settings you want is down at the bottom: Anti-overflow.
Turn on visibility for ‘do not exceed line of reference layer’ and ‘stop filling at center line of vector.’ Turn on the ‘color margin’ control too, if you like.
That first setting makes the tool colour inside the line only. The second setting will cause the tool to draw a little bit under the outlines, which results in a more solid fill, and no anti-aliased edging. (You may want to turn that part off when you are doing the transparency trick on the outside of the outlines.)
Register all the settings as initial settings for your tool, by pressing the button labeled just that. And there you have it.