Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Release The Comic Strip Creator

I have a severe lack of skill when it comes to drawing despite a life long love of art and comic books. As a child I checked out the instructional drawing books such as the Marvel comics book to the left from my library hoping to recreate the superheroes, animals and crazy cars created through guided steps. My results usually lacked the finished touches of the book examples but I kept on trying into my teenage years. Now, the internet and a host of comic creating websites have alleviated my lack of drawing prowess with ready made drawings, panels, word bubbles, fonts, and other assorted features that allow the most artistically disadvantaged among us to create our own comic strip creations. Below I have alphabetically listed six of the most dependable sites along with some personal observations regarding their pros and cons. The fifth and sixth sites listed below are my favorites.

Comic Life features an easy to use interface with tons of really cool page templates featuring every possible page configuration you can imagine. Once the page templates are chosen, images from your computer or an image sharing site such as Flickr can be uploaded along with varying modifications including word balloons, fonts and colors. The program does not come with ready made cartoon drawings so any artwork would have to be uploaded from your computer. Your final creation can be saved, printed and shared with an online community. The program also requires a sign up fee ($24.95) but does allow for a 30 day free trial period. Final verdict - I love the templates but the lack of ready made art to manipulate limits what you can do. This would be my third or fourth choice from the list.

Comiqs has a very simple interface and features limited editing in comparison to the other comic creators. Images from your computer or sites such as Flickr are uploaded and added to a choice of ten different templates with varying comic strip panel layouts. Word balloons and graphics can then be added to the comic panels from a limited selection. Comiqs is free and only requires a login to share your creations. Comics you create can be shared with an online community, printed, or saved to your computer. Final verdict - Comiqs is fine for adding captions to an image but the lack of editing tools in comparison to other online comic creators really disappoints.

MakeBeliefsComix is great for anyone who wants a selection of already created drawings to manipulate. The drawings include fifteen different characters rendered from the shoulders up. Multiple characters can be added to a panel and adjusted to change their expressions, position and scale. Users also have the ability to change background colors, add various word balloons, change panel prompts and panel layouts. MakeBeliefsComic is free and features a wonderful repository of ideas. Completed comic strips can be printed or emailed. Final verdict - This is a fun and very simple program that would benefit from a little more versatility in the scope and range of already created character drawings.

Pixton includes a "quickie" and an "advanced" version with already created drawings of characters, settings and props. In the quickie version you choose a comic strip with completed art that only lacks text for the word balloons. In the next step you can add dialogue and leave everything the same or manipulate elements such as characters, background, scale, color, et cetera. The advanced version requires users to build a comic panel by panel with the same editing tools available in the quickie version. The site requires a fee but does have a free trial. Completed comics can be saved to an online forum, printed, or saved. Final verdict - The stock drawings have a somewhat generic stick figure like appearance that makes everything seem somewhat one dimensional. The site is good for creating a story with ready made drawings.

ToonDoo is probably my favorite online comic strip creator because of the range of choices presented. After creating a free account users are presented with a wide range of already created and easy to edit characters, backgrounds, props, texts, captions, et cetera to manipulate in a myriad of ways. The site also allows users to upload their own images, making this the only application wherein site generated artwork and personal images can be combined. ToonDo also features a rich collection of user content, forums, groups, and how tos. Final verdict - I wish the site had more layout templates to choose from, however, the range of editable artwork and ability to combine photos from your computer with site generated art makes this the most versatile comic creator site I have encountered.

Toonlet has the look of an Edward Gorey comic strip filled with weird site generated characters rendered in black and white. Users "build" characters from the waste up using a set of options including clothes, hair, facial expressions, et cetera, in a manner similar to a paper doll. After constructing characters users can add text and background color to their comic strips but have limited ability to change anything else. Only one character can be added per panel. Toonlet requires a free sign up to create a comic for online sharing, printing, or saving. Final verdict - I love the look of the comic strips given their Edward Gorey, Robert Crumb feel, but the limitations on editing the drawings can be annoying.


How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way is a Marvel comics product and copyright

-Christopher Bishop

1 comment:

Meera said...


Thanks for blogging about ToonDoo! We're flattered to know that you consider it to be the 'most versatile' among all comic strip creators!

And yes, we will work on your feedback about the panel layout options.


ToonDudette from www.jambav.com