Review: Comic Life 1.2

If editing photos is your game, this program has fun toolsIt is very e (December 21st, 2005)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: plasq

Price: MSRP $24.95 US

The Good

  • It is very easy to learn and use. Large variety of tools, frames, and options.

The Bad

  • You need to modify your photos in a graphics program before placing them into Comic Life.

Sometimes a software author comes up with an idea that is just too good to ignore. Comic Life 1.2 is a great program for the Charles Schultz hiding in all of us. It does a lot more than put text balloons on all your photos though. Comic Life gives you the tools to edit photographs and turn them into a multi paneled comic strip or a single pane cartoon. This program is very easy to use and gives you lots of options.

How Comic Life Works

Let's start with a photo. On the right hand side of your workspace, you is the "Libraries/Details" section. From the page template area, drag a panel into the workspace in the center of your work area. Your panel can be card sized, a CD insert or tray card, a comic book, an iPhoto book, a Sunday Comic Strip, a number of video sizes, or fit it for your web page or Blog. The templates include a variety of frames just for comic strips. I put several photos on my comic strip, so I used the brick wall template. You can also add additional frames to your template and you can do a small amount of cropping within the frame.

Next, click on the Details button next to the Libraries button and see your photo turn into a comic book image. There are eighteen style choices including Pop Art, High Contrast B&W, Drawn, Drawn Monotone, and Hatched Gray Scale, plus a number of filters. How these comic book art pieces turn out depends on your original art. Mine didn't do very well, but it didn't deter me.

Below the page template is the album area for your iPhoto libraries. Drag and drop your photo(s) or graphic(s) into the template. If it doesn't fit just right, click on the photo and drag the green balls to resize your photo. If you want to rotate the photo, the green balls help you do that as well.

Below your work place is the balloon library. You can drag a rectangular caption box into your workspace and add text. Then drag one of the many different styled text balloons into your work area. You can also add text and then resize the balloon to fit. Stretch your balloon longer or fatter. Drag the tail to the person you want to talk or think. Use the AA buttons to make the text bigger or smaller and the font button to change fonts. You can colorize the text and balloon backgrounds too. There are also a number of preset balloon background styles including gradients. You can kern the type loose or tight and the base line can be lowered or raised to let you do math or scientific formats. For us spelling impaired, there is a spell checker.

Comic Life Screen

Does your comic need a biff, POW, Zap, Ouch or Zowie? Click on the POW button in the balloon section and a text edit area becomes available. Type in a word or two and add color, skew, shadow, gradient, outline, kerning and more.

Thumbnail images in a navigation bar along the left side lets you jump from page to page. You can export finished images to HTML, iPhoto, or QuickTime. Within Comic Life, you can even publish your comic to your .Mac account.

Comic Life Has Many Uses

If you inherited the family photo box, Comic Life is perfect to help you identify the people in your photos. Scan each photo, drag them into a template, and place a caption box with the names of those in the photo and when the photo was taken. Print your pages out and send them to your family members. Better yet, ask other family members to identify all those mysterious people you can't identify. Generations from now, someone will thank you.

Use Comic Life to make storyboards for your next production, video or create simple children's books with photos or clip art. In addition, Comic Life is great to can help create interesting scrapbook pages.

If you are having a party, scan a map and add directions to your house. Use a balloon to mark the landmarks and captions to identify the streets.

Recommended for All Photo Editing Enthusiasts

Comic Life is an easy to use program that helps you create photos with balloons with funny or embarrassing text. For the more serious, you can take your photos or graphics and place them on virtual storyboards. Export these into your web site, print them out and pin them to your wall or submit them for others to see and enjoy. You can purchase a Comic Life boxed product or download it from the site.

Editor's Note: If you are interested in the programming behind Comic Life, Apple developer's area has a profile of the company and the technologies used. " plasq Shows What a Small Team Can Do " is an interesting read. plaq won an Apple Design Award for the Best Product New to Mac OS X in 2005.

by Rick Curran


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