Creating seriously good comics online
I have always wished I could draw, but I don’t have the talent and I never had the patience to learn how. One of the reasons I was (pardon the pun) drawn to computers back in the ’80s was that they provided tools for creating great-looking visuals. Many of us have used PowerPoint for this purpose and others have explored visualization tools like concept mappers. Did you know that there are also online tools that make it easy to create your own version of the Sunday funnies? Pixton is one of them.
Pixton lets you build a comic from scratch, frame by frame. You create and pose characters, compose text balloons, insert props, and set everything against a background. Then you add additional frames to complete the comic. You can also use a template or remix someone else’s comic. For a quick overview, watch their video.
I signed up for a Pixton account and created a character that looks like a skinny version of me. Then I created a little comic about writing this blog article. The tools were flexible and not hard to use. One thing that frustrated me was not being able to put one of my own images on the monitor in the last frame. I checked the instructions multiple times, but the “upload file” option never appeared. On balance, though, I highly recommend this tool.
I love laughing at the comics in the paper every morning, but this tool can also be used for serious work. A professor can create a set of directions for an activity or language students can illustrate a scene from a story. Tap into the World of Comics is a slide show with lots of ideas geared at K-12 schools; many of them would easily adapt to higher education.
There are many online comic creation tools; another popular one is ToonDoo (see the review comparing it to Pixton). There are also inexpensive desktop software tools, like Comic Life. Have you ever tried such a tool? Have you or your students ever used one in a course? What did you think?