Thanks for the opinions guys! I told my pal that I had ordered Manga Studio 5 for Christmas, and offered to pick me up a copy of ArtRage if I was interested. I hadn't heard of it, so I figured I'd get some opinions before I tried it. After listening to what you said, I went ahead and got the demo. I can definitely see where it's powerful, but it will take some getting used to. Primarily how the color blends and dries and what not.
AR came with my tablet as well. I loved it so much it's now all I use and I have up graded to AR 3 Pro. It's versatility is probably what I enjoy the most. I barely use the paint feature now, I have concentrated on the pens more, just because I enjoy the end result.
[link] I've found this link to be helpful with understanding ArtRage, depending on what you want to achieve with it.
If you get Imagine FX magazine with the issue about manga mania, there is a section that a guy uses it to paint. Although you can find plenty of other artist who are professonial supposedly and have used it: (via google image search) [link]
And a good guy who does anime like example is bassetsketch, also known as torokitoroki. (sadly he seem he isn't painting anymore but doing nice animations). [link]
Basically, if your familiar with traiditonal and/or perhaps want a feel closer to traditional art rage is for you. All the tools are pretty much tradtioanl. The ruler is not the photoshop ruler, its an actual ruler.
Most of my stuff is done in ArtRage. It's not really designed for painting huge pieces (you can do it, but the paint engine will slow things down quite a bit without a meaty PC), you can do them though, and I have. The interface takes a little getting used to, but it's very simple and easy to get used to. Most importantly it's cheap - ridiculously cheap for the amount they give you.
You can check out more work done in it on their site: [link] and also your friend can download the demo for 3 from that same location (they're up to 3.5 now).
ArtRage's brush engine is amazing and in my opinion gives the easiest traditional look to your digital work. The UI however, I find terrible. The maximum brush size is too limited for the big canvases I sometimes use. So for complete paintings I do not prefer ArtRage. It's a nice program to give your almost finished paintings some nice traditional touch-ups, or to start out with a tasty traditional background. An example of something touched-up with ArtRage:
It came with my tablet. I've only played around with it a little and it's kinda fun, but I haven't found a SERIOUS use for it. It's one of those things that's mostly for playing with, I think. Unless your into a more traditional looking digital art (and then it's more of a painting tool and less of a drawing one).
At least, that's as far as I've figured. Someone else could possibly prove me wrong about it's usefulness.