Comic Life – iPad App of the Week

Comic Life Icon

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at various Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive.

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This week’s App is Comic Life.

Comic Life, the award winning photo comic creation software, has been redesigned for iOS. It’s the funnest, easiest and fastest way ever to create photo comics on a mobile device. Your comics come to life with our integrated reader on brilliant iOS displays. Easily go from taking photos to creating full comics all on one device with full page templates and panel layouts. Bring in photos from Photobooth or your library, and use our powerful editing and design tools to get exactly the look you want.

Comic Life 2.0 for iOS has everything you need for creating and sharing comics, including fun and quirky templates, stylized image filters, and an easy-to-use drag and drop placement. You have full control over the design of your comics with a huge selection design options – colors, fonts, gradients, balloons, captions, panels and more.

The Comic Life app is designed to parallel that of Apple’s iWork suite of apps, making it easy for you to transition your skills from Pages and Keynote to Comic Life. With similar tap functions and commands, it is simple to hit the ground running.

When your comic is complete, use the integrated reader to flip though the pages. You can also easily share your comic with other options: print, e-mail, or upload to Facebook and Twitter. Use the innovative In Tray option to share comics with nearby iOS devices. Comic collections provide a simple way to keep things tidy as the number of comics created on your iPad increases.

£2.99

I have been a fan of Comic Life for many years and when it came out for the iPad, I did buy a copy. I think this kind of app shows what a tablet, such as the iPad, can be used for, and certainly shows how it can be used as a creative tool. It was a good app with the first iPad, however it really came into its own with the release of the iPad 2 with the built-in cameras.

With the in-built cameras, it actually improves and speeds up workflow, compared to using a “normal” camera, iPhoto and an app like Comic Life on the Mac (or the Windows PC).

Comic Life is very much designed for working with photographs, though you can of course use drawings, but you would need to scan them in first. With a lot of scanners this means you also need a computer, however some of the HP all-in-ones use an in-built web server allowing you to scan and save the image direct to the iPad using Safari. This means you can use printed photographs or drawings too.

After opening the app for the first time you are presented with a blank screen.

Comic Life Screenshor

After you have created comics using the app, it will be on this screen that your existing saved comics will appear. Click the + button and a menu will appear. If you have Comic Life 2 you can use those files on the iPad and transfer them to the iPad from iTunes, or open them from Dropbox or a WebDAV server. Click Create Comic to start designing your own comic.

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You are then given a choice of templates, including a blank page.

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There are various built in templates that make it much faster to create a certain style of comic. Some of these are a little cheesy, but may appeal to some learners.

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I personally prefer to start with a blank page and then work from that.

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You can then add a template to add panels in a particular layout.

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There are a lot of templates that reflect different comic styles. There is Manga, 1940s style comics and modern comic templates.

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Each style section has a variety of choices and these have different shapes and number of panels. Regardless of which template you choose, you can adjust it, or you can even create your own.

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Once you have selected your template it is transferred to the page and you can start to add images and photographs to your comic.

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To add photographs (or images) to your template. Click the camera icon on the inside of the panel to add a photograph or image.

You can either add images from photo albums, or click the camera icon to start the camera.

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Once you have added an image it will be placed and masked within the panel. With the blue corners you can adjust the size of the image, making it bigger so just a crop of the image is in the panel. You can also move the image to fit the panel better.

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Tapping elsewhere will show how the panel looks, masked. You can also add images on top of panels, they don’t need to be constrained by the template if you don’t need it to be.

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It is then a simple matter of adding photographs to the other panels. It’s simply a matter of drag and drop if you got the order wrong.

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Double tapping a photograph will select the photograph, you can the replace it or change the way it looks.

You can then add a comic style to the photograph. Tap the ! button and then select Image. Then select the style you want. There are various styles available that will comcify your photograph.

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Clicking Options will allow you to adjust the image using various sliders. You can change the brightness, contrast and so on. This is useful if your photographs were taken at different times in different conditions and you want to achieve a more consistent look to your images in your comic.

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To add a title, caption or speech bubble, simply drag from the selection from the bottom toolbar.

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This can then be moved and resized to where you need it in your comic.

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The font and colours can be adjusted to suit whatever style of comic you are designing. Tap the ! button to bring up the dialogue and select Lettering. There are various fonts available and you can adjust the spread, skew and stagger of the letters.

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It’s also very simple to change the colouring or gradient of the text.

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You have a full range of colours from which to choose.

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Adding a speech bubble is simple, just drag it from the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. You can then edit the text to what you need.

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You can, again by clicking the ! button, adjust the speech bubble.

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There are various bubble types that you can choose. This will allow you to choose a speech bubble that reflects the character of the person (or thing) talking. So the computer or machine may “talk” differently to the people in the comic.

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You can also change the font, size, type to reflect what is been said (and by whom).

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So you can make the text bigger for example to emphasise it.

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You can use a similar method to bring in captions or other bits of text. All can be formatted and edited to how you like.

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Clicking the spanner button will bring up the Tools menu, where you can Share and Print, change the Document Setup and see the Help menu.

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You can copy the comic, share to various social networks, print or open in another app on your iPad.

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As with most iPad apps your work is saved automatically as you work and you can go back and edit comics as and when you need to.

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You can view your comics in fullscreen to see how they look and that is one way to share and distribute your comic, is to do it electronically rather than print it.

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Comics are a very different way of presenting information and can be used for marketing as well as for teaching and learning. They can be created for learners for assessment, as well as by practitioners to create learning content and activities. Comic Life on the iPad is a really nice easy to use tool for creating comics, it is as good as the desktop app (and files are interchangeable) and those use to that will find it very easy to pick up.

Get Comic Life for iPad in the iTunes Store.

Also available for the Mac, Windows and the iPhone.

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