Wacom One

The Wacom One Now Comes with 3 Free Months of Magma Studio Pro. What Can You Do With It?

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Header from @chromaconnz on Instagram, featuring art by @paperpillow, @philllllljames, @pixolnaut, @tommonster, @staceydraws, and @schultz.samuel.


If you’re reading this, it’s a safe bet you’re both an artist and old enough to remember the last year, which means you’ve probably heard of Aggie.io. But in case you haven’t, it’s a groundbreaking web app that lets multiple people draw on the same canvas live. It wasn’t the first to do this, but offered a better brush engine and suite of creative tools than competitor Drawpile. It was a smash hit when it launched during quarantine, spawning a new genre of art jam livestream on YouTube and Twitch.

So a few months later, in the wake of its success, creators Code Charm Inc. collaborated with the founders of Lightbox Expo and Schoolism—concept artists Bobby Chiu and Jim Demonakos—to create Magma Studio, a “professional edition with a more robust set of features.” If Aggie is a whiteboard, Magma studio is a mural wall, aimed at creating finished pieces with other artists. It’s a viable Photoshop alternative for digital painting, all online and OS-agnostic, able to run on any computer or tablet that can run Chrome.* Just like Wacom tablets themselves, which work on PCs, Macs, and in the case of the recently-released Wacom One, even some Chromebooks and smartphones.

*It also supports Firefox, Edge, and Opera, but works best in Chrome.

“Magma Studio is a game-changer for artists. This is a one-of-a-kind program for any artist who is looking for a way to create digital works of art easily and accessibly while being able to collaborate with others.”

—Bobby Chiu

And true to his vision, Magma Studio will be featuring extensively in this year’s Lightbox Expo, with a whole series of live art jams featuring big-name professionals all weekend.

The YouTubers who’ve done reviews of the program universally echo his sentiment. “I feel like no one knows about this tool yet … But once it catches on, it’s going to change the art world,” says Sir Wade Neistat. Concept artist and teacher Adam Duff claims it “could literally revolutionize online artistic collaboration and online learning.”

You can try it for free at magmastudio.io, but the Pro version is what fully opens up its potential. And that’s why we’re offering you three months of it: Along with Clip Studio Paint, Adobe Fresco, and Creative Cloud’s Photography Plan, we’re proud to add Magma to the suite of creative programs you’ll get a free three-month subscription to with the purchase of a Wacom One.

How does it work?

Let Chiu demonstrate.

One of the best things about Magma is that for an app so full-featured, it’s a breeze to use.

After creating an account or signing in as a guest, you’re taken straight to the canvas to start working. The interface is so intuitive that if you’ve ever used an image editing program, you’ll be able to jump right in with no tutorial, and it’s optimized specifically for Wacom tablets, so as long as Windows Ink is enabled for your browser (you can do this through Wacom Tablet Properties), pressure settings will automatically work. It even supports touch.

On trying it, I found the brush engine just as solid as Photoshop’s or Clip Studio Paint’s. All the go-to digital art tools are present, even pen stabilization and image rotation (that doesn’t affect the other artists’ canvases). You can import images into it too, in case you want to draw over another sketch or share reference images with the other artists. In a rarity for browser apps, it even lets you set and save your own keyboard shortcuts.

But as good as its painting features are, what it’s really built for, and where it really shines, is the collaboration aspect.

Magma Studio allows up to thirty artists to work on a project at once, and you can invite new ones simply by sharing the link. On joining, each participant gets their own layer which none of the others can touch. But if you want to hand it off to someone else, simply click “leave layer” to open it up for grabs. The project is automatically saved as you go and backed up on exit, so you don’t have to worry about losing your work.

It comes with both text chat and—in the pro version—voice chat, plus a host of admin features that help you keep the canvas manageable no matter how many artists are sharing it.

What are some of its uses?

Since drawing is a solo pursuit for most artists, the benefits of sharing your canvas with others might not be immediately apparent. But Magma Studio isn’t built for the way art is traditionally done: It aims to change it entirely, opening up several new ways to work.

Collaborative drawing

For those of you working on group projects, Magma can allow an entire studio to draw thumbnail sketches, concepts, or character designs on the same canvas, letting multiple people to iterate and improve on the same idea. And with the pro version, you can work on up to five canvases at once for virtually unlimited brainstorming possibilities.

And for artists with compatible styles, the cloud storage, and the ability to leave projects aside and pick them back up at your leisure, elevates it beyond just a doodle board, making it a viable option for full collaborative paintings like some of the stunning digital murals showcased on the website’s community page.

“From this Sunday night drawing session with @heyrgba and @gugutroll ✨ Used randomly generated photo from artbreeder as an inspiration. Started at #magmastudio and finished in #photoshop” — Anilia Larmina on Instagram

Streaming

This is the most common use you’ll see for it: Artists using it on Twitch and YouTube to host art jams, play drawing games, and draw scenes, either working on one big project together or taking a corner of the canvas for separate pieces in their own style, while they chat and share tips.

Plaza jam from a couple weeks ago,” by u/gusb_draws on r/MagmaStudio

Teaching

Last up comes the use I’m personally most excited about: Everything about this app makes it perfect for interactive drawing classes. Whether you want to teach perspective, anatomy, rendering, or any of the countless other elements of art, the ability for a teacher to non-destructively demonstrate techniques alongside students while explaining them in voice chat has the potential to change the way art is taught online. It’s even perfect for red-lining, drawing over anatomy mistakes in finished images.

What does the Pro version offer?

While you can do a lot with the free version, it’s practically a demo.

Subscribing unlocks textured brushes, which make up ten out of the app’s total fourteen. It increases your maximum canvas size from 1920 px to 4k. And where you can only join voice calls in-app with the free version, the pro version will let you host your own.

The free version will only save your images for thirty days after finishing them or going inactive, but pro will retain them permanently, with up to 5 gigs of cloud storage. Even more handily, it’ll also give you PSD exports. “So if you have something that you sketched out that’s really fun and you like it a lot, you can bring it into Photoshop to finish it up,” as YouTuber Draw Jam explains in his review.

And finally, it comes with a license to use it for all the aforementioned commercial and educational purposes. If you end up liking your trial, it’s well worth the $9.99 a month to keep using it. Who knows how it’ll change your art career?

The Wacom One

While you’re here, let’s talk about the Wacom One itself. It’s our latest addition to our drawing monitor lineup, offering all the features of a Cintiq, but in a smaller, lighter, more portable package, at a much lower price. Perfect for students, hobbyists looking to go pro, or just anyone who wants to take the next step up from a pen tablet without lightening their wallet as much as a Cintiq.

Ready to give Magma Studio a try? Either check out the Wacom One to take advantage of this deal and many others, or head to magmastudio.io to get started right away. Looking for artists to draw with? The Lightbox Expo Discord server is also functioning as the home for all things related to the program. And once you’re done, you can share your work on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #MagmaStudioApp.


About the Author

CS Jones

CS Jones is a Philadelphia-based writer and illustrator who’s finally back in the city.  You can see more of his work, including most of his contributions to this blog, at thecsjones.com, or follow him at @thecsjones on Instagram or Twitter.