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Clip Studio Paint moves to subscription model

Celsys has announced plans to abandon Clip Studio Paint's one-time payment structure in favour of a subscription model, and the creative community is not happy. While there are many reasons to choose – or avoid – creative software, how creatives are asked to pay is a big deal, with many even steering clear of heavyweight Adobe because of its subscription-based payment constraints. 

Though Clip Studio Paint used to cost a single payment ($49.99, rising to $219 for the Pro version), from 2023, customers will have to pay monthly to use the software if they want to receive any updates. The Pro version is currently high up on our best digital art software list, but will the creative community continue to value it so highly under the new regime?

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If the Twitter response to the above message (opens in new tab) is anything to go by, Clip Studio Paint is in danger of losing fans. "This is awful," said Alix Balica. "I switched from Paint Tool SAI to Clip Studio because it was more affordable and it wasn't subscription based like Photoshop, now I gotta look for another alternative since I am NOT willing to pay for a piece of software on a yearly or monthly basis."

The new model is explained by a flowchart, which details the different upgrades to choose from. Users can keep the perpetual license for version 1.x, but will not get any official updates from version 2.0 in 2023. They can then buy another perpetual license for version 2.0 but won't get any updates after that.

Comments range from "absolutely abhorrent decision" to "everyone trusted you dude everyone thought you were one of the good ones". Many assert that they would be happy to pay again for an upgrade, and others are disappointed with the over-complicated model (with one stating that if you need a flowchart, it's too complex).

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However, some defended the decision. "I'm laughing at all the people in the comments," said WitheringAurora. "Somehow it's fine for Final Fantasy, but when a cheap art program, that wants you to pay for major updates it suddenly isn't? One that has been rolling out free updates for years for only 10 dollars? I can't help but laugh."

Others believe the decision isn't as bad as the community first thought because Clip Art Paint won't be entirely subscription-based, and artists can pay a single fee if they don't mind missing out on updates.

Confused by the change? Twitter user Austen Marie (opens in new tab) made a helpful video to help clarify the "messy" graphic – see it below.

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Other creative software social media accounts with a single payment model have leapt on the situation accordingly. Affinity sent a single wave and Krita retweeted the Clip Studio tweet with a message confirming its free download status. Note: artists have responded to that tweet with some excellent examples of their own Krita art – a further marketing win.

As far as we can see, Clip Studio hasn't weighed into the barrage of criticism on its Twitter account. We wonder if it planned for such a backlash and decided to take the chance anyway, or if they genuinely didn't assess the strength of anti-subscription feeling out there. We'll keep our eyes peeled for further comment, but until then have you seen what surprises could be in store for digital artists with the next-gen Apple Pencil

Looking for tools you can buy outright? Choose from one of the best drawing tablets we could find.

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Georgia Coggan is currently Creative Bloq's Acting Deputy Editor. Georgia started her freelance career working for CB in 2018, and since then has worked across the site on news, ecom, SEO content... basically anything and everything. Now covering the Dep Ed role for three months, Georgia is a slave to the style guide, a logo geek and loves all things London Underground (its branding history, and not at rush hour).