I posted this list of Online Comic Creator Tools on the ROK Comics Creator Forum some time ago, but I think it may well be of interest to folks here…
I’ve been having a dig around on the Internet and had a look at a lot of the other creator tools out there. I was wondering if anyone had tried any of these and if so, what they thought of them? (This list also features on the main downthtubes site).
Please note: this list does not include links to web comic “portal” sites like ComicSpace or Web Comics Nation (although ROK Comics could also be considered one of those).
Comic Creator Tools
Comics creator tools comprise software and online tools for the purpose of creating cartoons or comic strips, either for print or online or mobile phone publication.
Several companies have developed creator tools, while some online companies and TV channels use them as “value added” services to enhance their web sites. Many online services employ Flash to but some use Scalable Vector Graphics.
Desktop Comic Creator Software
An award-winning bit of Mac software that lets you create astounding comics, beautiful picture albums, how-tos… and more. The easy-to-use interface integrates seamlessly with your photo collection or iSight. Drag in your pictures, captions, Lettering text (‘ka-blam!’) and speech balloons and your work is done!
Doozla is the easy-to-use drawing application for children – it is what your kids have always wanted. It’s the creation of plasq, who also make Comic Life.
Online Comic Creators
Most of these are flash-based, like ROK Comics
• The Beano
UK publisher DC Thomson’s flagship humour weekly provides the tools to create comics based on Beano characters. This is a nicely designed comic creator — probably one of the best from the comics that provide one — although lettering is a bit fiddly – you choose whole words to add to balloons rather than add your own lettering. Everthing including lettering, is treated as an object, which means you can rotate, scale all items etc. Like many online creators from commercial companies, there’s no option to save – just print out your comic.
• Blue Peter
A comic maker from the BBC. The Blue Peter engine is accompanied by a talk through from presenter Gethin, and you have to create the strip from the ground up, designing characters (if you want) then you can create a simple three frame strip which prints out on A4. There’s no option to save it and the interface uses the same format as the Beano‘s, clicking and dragging key words to the stage. The stage is a bit small but it’s quite a nice design and works quite well.
• Boy’s Life
This utilises the same style of moving and deleting objects as the Kabam! site (see below) – you click the command (eg Move) first, then the object or character you want to alter. There’s no facility to save just print, but this service on the US Boy Scout site does let you click and view the three frame strip as one frame, so you can see how it’s shaping up and how each panel looks compared with the others.
• Doctor Who
The official BBC Doctor Who web site offers a moderated comic maker enabling users to create comic strips based on Doctor Who using monsters and characters from the TV drama. It’s over complicated and the flash is very slow to load, and moderation takes at least three days. Not very impressed.
• Captain Underpants
Found on the Scholastic Canada web site. It’s a very simple comic maker providing fixed phrases and a limited number of characters, props etc to choose from, and not clever enough to realize you’ve missed out a frame when you create a story.
• Comic Sketch
This SVG-based comic creator enables to you create freehand comics and turn them into a strip. The creators are working on a new comic strip editor (beta at ) for Comics Sketch (that will also be the next core of their calligraphic widget InputDraw). The builders say the main goal of the new version is to empower artists to be able to create real professional comics on the site and allow them to reuse parts/characters/objects of their comics in new ones. It will be SVG standard at its core, aiming for a subset of SVG that is close to the one supported by Firefox or Safari.. or even better and less buggier. This new version is being developed using ActionScript and Flex.
A new website that allows people to create comic strips based on their own photos. The Flex based editor allows users to easily add captions and text to photos that they upload. It is also possible to link it to your Flickr account. There’s also a community based around these comic strips – with lists of top rated and top viewed comic strips that have been created.
You can dive straight in and create a comic based on the photos already uploaded or add your own, without having to sign up. The interface is still in beta and is not instinctive and a bit fiddly, in my view, but there’s some interesting implementation of “Web 2.0” themes.
• Disney’s Comic Creator
You need to be a member Disney’s Club Blast to use this tool.
• Garfield Comic Creator
Surprisngly, this is also hidden away on the National Heart and Lung Institute web site (well, I say hidden, but it’s actually got a better search position than the official Garfield web site location!). It’s exactly the same engine as the Scouts and the Kabam! Disease control comic maker – print only with no option to save.
Multi-lingual comic tool requiring sign up before you can create comics based on pixel art designs. The service appears to have some 85.000 members and has been running since at least 2005.
• ITV’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here
Flash-based comics creator using celebrity images and scenery from the ITV reality show. The design is similar to the service offered by ROK Comics, who built the tools in 2007 for the show’s sixth series as part of a number of mobile promotions. You can either view the completed strip in full or have it delivered to your mobile. There is a charge for mobile delivery.
• Kabam! Comic Creator
Part of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is a bit limited but one nice touch is limiting the number of words per balloon, so it can’t get too big – also, lettering is automatically centred within the balloon. This avoids the problem of over large balloons some comic creators have where the text is embedded into the balloon object, like ROK Comics.
An animation and comic creator inspired, it seems, by the imagery of Escher. It’s Flash based and the menus are completely visual which was a little confusing. If you register you can save your designs and do other things with them.
The makes say that with Kerpoof you can make artwork (even if you aren’t good at drawing!), make an animated movie, earn Koins which you will soon be able to spend in The Kerpoof Store (not sure how this works yet), make a printed card, t-shirt, or mug and comment on other creator’s work
• Make Beliefs Comic
Simple web site utilising comic characters and props to create three panel strips. The creation of Bill Zimmerman with art by Tom Bloom.
• Myths and Legends Story Creator
Resource for schools utilising imagery based on British myths and legends.
• Patent PlaceVery slick Flash site based on Patent’s Place the everyday story of Biotech folk.
• Read • Write • Think
ReadWriteThink is a partnership between the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the Verizon Foundation.
The Comic Creator is designed to be used in a variety of contexts (prewriting, pre- and postreading activities, response to literature, and so on). The organizers focus on the key elements of comic strips by allowing students to choose backgrounds, characters, and props, as well as to compose related dialogue. This tool can be used by students from kindergarten through high school, for purposes ranging from learning to write dialogue to an in-depth study of a formerly neglected genre. Once you have finished your comic you can print it out.
• ROK Comics
(I’m guessing you’ve heard of this one!) This service lets users upload their own comic frames and photographs to make comic strips and provides speech ballons special effects and a number of characters and ‘props’ with which to create comic strips. Professionally-published strips earn revenue share but users can also publish strips for free and have access to embed code which can be inserted in web sites and some blog services. Sign up is required before you create a comic and the professional service is moderated.
• Strip Creator
Stripcreator is a website that allows users to create and save their own comic strips. It officially went in January 2001. The site is donor supported: donors get to use more features than casual visitors. Registration is required. Comics can be read on the site or in the site’s Read My Damn Comics forum (http://www.stripcreator.com/forums/listthreads.php?forum=14), where the regulars are most receptive to people who are polite and funny.
Stripcreator works best in Internet Explorer 6. It also works in Firefox, though there are some glitches. “I’ve heard that it works in Opera and Safari as well,” says creator Brad, “which would just be luck.”
• Strip Generator
Hailing from Slovenia, this surely set the benchmark for Flash-based comic creator tools and is now on a 1.3 model. The creators of Strip Generator created a simple to use flash based application utilising online charcaters, props and balloons. The service has gone through several upgrades, and has been used in some very successful projects, like for BAR TV reality show and for using it for political online cartoon creation for a US newspaper.
Stripgenerator is free of charge project created to embrace the internet blogging and strip creation culture, helping the people with no drawing abilities to express their opinions via strips.
• Telltale: Sam and Max Comic Creator
Now you can give everyone’s favourite canine shamus and hyperkinetic rabbity-thing the power of speech from the comfort of your own home or office. It’s easy! Just drag the panels you want into the empty strip. Then type funny things in the speech bubbles. (If you leave a bubble empty, it will disappear when you submit your comic.) Site claims copyright on all strips created.
ToonDoo offers more robust features with a twist of social networking sites similar to myspace or friendster. It offers a huge range of cartoon stock graphics and emotion icons for you to add with your photos or you can just use the characters to make up your own. You can get yor comics reviewed by other members, embed the cartoons on your website, and even add the toons to your favourite bookmarks sites.
ToonDoo offers nearly 400 characters, props and backgrounds and the ability to create one, two or three-panel comic strips. You can also customize characters, props and speech bubbles and upload pictures and photographs, then share, mail, recommend and bookmark your comic strips.
The editor interface does not have the ability to tune digital photos and apply filters. Registration is required to use the comic creator which is Flash based.
Another relatively new service. Rather than focus on photos like comiqs for example, toonlet puts the focus on character creation, and features a powerful avatar tool so you can make characters that look authentically hand-drawn. Tour at: http://www.toonlet.com/tour. They’re looking for creators to contribute “art packs” based on downloadable templates.
UK publisher TOXIC has a “Monster Maker” that is part of its online comics suite for members of the TOXIC club. While not strictly a comic tool the elements are certainly comics-inspired.