FireAlpaca vs. MediBang Paint Pro
Published 21 October 2018 in art
Recently I had been thinking of buying Paint Tool SAI again even though I use FireAlpaca, a popular free alternative which, to my knowledge, does most of the same stuff. Even then, I wanted some change, so I found yet another free digital program called Medibang Paint Pro. To my delight, it's comparable to the other two programs I mentioned with some extra features that some may find makes it better than both.
Something that makes the switch from FireAlpaca to Medibang Paint Pro so easy is that the two have a lot of similarities. Because of this, rather than talk about the similarities between the two, I'm going to talk about all the differences. There's quite a bit of extra features in MediBang Paint Pro that put it ahead of FireAlpaca for artists, but it's also lacking in a few things that may make you want to use FireAlpaca instead.
As you can see from these images, MediBang Paint Pro has a dark theme, unlike FireAlpaca. One problem that I get after a few hours of drawing on the computer is eyestrain from looking at the screen, and FireAlpaca's bright theme doesn't help. A dark theme like the one in MediBang Paint Pro is a little easier on the eyes, and its design makes it more pleasing to look at, in my opinion.
Extra UI Window
If you haven't noticed yet, MediBang Paint Pro has an extra window that FireAlpaca is missing: the awesome brush size window that is present in Paint Tool SAI. This window makes picking your go-to brush size way faster than just using a slider or typing in the number.
Also I noticed while typing this up that the right sidebar in MediBang is narrower than the right sidebar in FireAlpaca. As if it couldn't get any better!
FireAlpaca is available on both Mac OS X version 10.7 or later and Windows 64bit for Vista or later. MediBang, on the other hand, is available for Mac OS 10.9 and above and Windows 7 and above. That's not all, though. MediBang is also available for iPad, iPhone, and Android smartphones and tablets! You can paint on the go with the same familiar program.
When you open MediBang Paint Pro, a window will pop up asking you to sign in to your MediBang account. If you make an account on MediBang.com, you can save your projects to the cloud and retrieve them on any of your devices where you have the program installed. On FireAlpaca, this feature doesn't exist. Apparently, with the cloud, MediBang advertises on its site that you can collaborate on projects using this feature.
On your account, you can also submit illustrations and finished manga to show off or sell on the Medibang website.
3D Perspective Snap
Something that FireAlpaca has which MediBang doesn't is the 3D perspective snap tool, which allows you to draw 3D structures with the help of a 3D model that your brush snaps to as a guide. This tool is awesome for drawing backgrounds with structures like skyscrapers, rooms, furniture, and so on.
Another great feature missing from MediBang is an animation mode, which FireAlpaca does have. Going to the view tab, you will find "Onion Skin Mode" that you can enable to allow the layers of your project to act like frames of an animation. Now when you select a layer, you're able to see the frame that came before it and the frame that comes after it on your drawing window. You're able to play a preview of your animation, export each frame as an individual PNG, and convert your drawings into GIFs on FireAlpaca's website. What FireAlpaca has isn't the full solution for an animation program, but it does make animating on the software a little easier. You can animate without onion skin mode by changing the opacity of the layers, but that is a lot more time-consuming. Hobby animators may find this software more attractive because of this mode.
I hope I was able to show you a new digital painting program that you might find useful for your own projects! Personally, I think I will switch to MediBang Paint Pro for my usual drawing because of its dark theme, space-saving cloud saving, and its portability. But, I'll also keep FireAlpaca to try making some animations and some cool backgrounds using the 3D perspective tool, which I didn't learn how to use until now. Both programs are very similar, and both are free, but even then I'm hoping that someday an onion skin mode and a 3D perspective tool are implemented in MediBang Paint Pro.