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February 17 2014

19:00

Avengers (And Bugs) Assemble In Marvel’s Run Jump Smash!

Marvel_Run_Jump_Smash_Avengers_iOS_Android_Kids_Endless_Runner

Ever since Canabalt first hit screens, developers have been looking to capitalize on the endless runner fad. And each game brings something new to the table, but usually not enough to make a dent. There are odd exceptions like Small Fry, but more often than not, a new endless runner is nothing to write home about. Coupled with the fact that superhero games are traditionally quite boring and badly made, I had little hope from Marvel’s Run Jump Smash ($0.99). But was I in for a surprise! Avengers Assemble! Run Jump Smash features characters from The Avengers movie: Captain America, Iron...

Read the full article: Avengers (And Bugs) Assemble In Marvel’s Run Jump Smash!

February 07 2014

13:00

Enjoy the Best Comics On Windows 8 With ComiXology’s App

muo-comics-windows8-featured

Are you running out of space for your comic books? Forgot to renew your subscription? Worry not – you can buy and read comic books anywhere with ComiXology’s Comics app for Windows 8. ComiXology’s Comics app is also available on iOS, Android and Kindle Fire. Do You Like Comic Books? Sequential art – probably best recognised in the form used in comic books and graphic novels – has become increasingly popular in the past 15 years, following a major slump in the 1980s/early 1990s. So it makes sense that you should be able to read comics on your computer or tablet. I first played around...

Read the full article: Enjoy the Best Comics On Windows 8 With ComiXology’s App

January 21 2014

01:30

PhD TV: Scientific Explanations For The YouTube Generation [Stuff to Watch]

We’re always on the lookout for great learning materials at MakeUseOf, whether it’s a full online course offered by Coursera or YouTube channels like ASAPScience and podcasts like Stuff You Should Know – there’s no age limits or exclusivity. But so many of us go about our daily lives without understanding the things taking place around us because we’re not scientists, and we have day jobs. PhD TV is a YouTube channel aimed at delivering short, sharp bursts of scientific wisdom, complete with webcomic Piled Higher and Deeper‘s signature comic style. How Coffee Affects Your Brain Coffee is the most popular stimulant...

Read the full article: PhD TV: Scientific Explanations For The YouTube Generation [Stuff to Watch]

December 30 2013

14:00

8 Awesome Tumblr Blogs Every Cosplayer Should Follow

Tumblr

The cosplay community is alive and thriving, propelled forward by amazing animes, comics, movies, video games, and all kinds of media. Cosplayers can be found roaming around at various geeky conventions like Comic Con, but instead of going there, what if you just want to sit back and look at some pictures of the incredibly creative cosplay costumes that people have made? That’s where Tumblr comes in. Unfamiliar with Tumblr? We have explained everything about Tumblr earlier. In short, it’s a combination of a blogging platform and a social network that thrives with multimedia. It’s the perfect platform for cosplayers because...

Read the full article: 8 Awesome Tumblr Blogs Every Cosplayer Should Follow

November 05 2013

22:30

Why Your Friends Are Giraffes & How To Use Or Block Bitstrips [Weekly Facebook Tips]

giraffe-bitstrips

Are all of your friends giraffes? Probably. Does this mean there is a sudden explosion of love for tall mammals? No. Your friends are just not thinking things through well enough. The last couple of weeks on Facebook have been huge for two big memes: The giraffe riddle and Bitstrips comics. Here’s what you need to know about these memes, including how to have a go yourself. The Giraffe Meme There’s this riddle going around Facebook: “It’s 3am, the doorbell rings and you wake up. Unexpected visitors!! It’s your parents and they are here for breakfast. You have strawberry jam,...

Read the full article: Why Your Friends Are Giraffes & How To Use Or Block Bitstrips [Weekly Facebook Tips]

October 08 2013

18:45

Tony Stark For Next Microsoft CEO [We Ask You Results]

Steve Ballmer is on his way out at Microsoft. After 13 years as the leader of the Redmond corporation, he’s stepping down from the role that has made him a legend in his own time. Perhaps not legendary for his ability to lead Microsoft to new heights of popularity and prosperity, but legendary for his public displays of egregious emotion and enthusiasm. With Ballmer soon to be living out his days sitting atop his estimated $18 billion fortune, Microsoft needs to find a new CEO willing to take Microsoft in a new direction. This person is going to have quite...

Read the full article: Tony Stark For Next Microsoft CEO [We Ask You Results]

September 19 2013

17:00

5 Tools To Create An Online Comic

Once the exclusive domain of geeks, comics are now very much a mainstream phenomenon. Big-name books from the likes of Marvel Comics and DC Comics have led the way, but even shorter, niche comic strips have also experienced a resurgence. There are a number of amazing webcomics from talented amateurs who are producing dazzling comics exclusively for a passionate set of fans on the Internet. This renewed interest in the form factor has led to more people wanting to try their hand at creating comics of their own. The success of xkcd, for example, proves that great ideas and creativity can...

Read the full article: 5 Tools To Create An Online Comic

August 27 2013

17:30

How Do Webcomics Make Money?

webcomic-money

A lot of my childhood was swept up in comics. I don’t mean superhero comics — I never really got into those — but funny strips that often contained subtle commentaries on life that flew over my youthful head. Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert, and comics in that vein. Nowadays, though, a lot of great comics are being published on the web as webcomics. You might be interested in adding to the pool, but what if you want to do it full-time? The web is full of content ranging from general humor webcomics to webcomics for geeks. Whatever your genre,...

Read the full article: How Do Webcomics Make Money?

June 25 2013

21:30

What Is the Best Way to Read Comics on Android? 3 Great Apps Compared

Android Comic Readers Intro
I've never been much a fan of comics. When I was a child, I was in a hurry to grow up and a part of me always felt that they were overly adolescent. Now that I'm older, I sometimes wonder what I missed out on by skipping over them - whether superhero comics, Japanese manga, Western visual novels, or whatever else. And since I love reading my ebooks on Android, why not expand to comics too?

Continue reading the article

Read full article: What Is the Best Way to Read Comics on Android? 3 Great Apps Compared

June 24 2013

19:30

10 DC Superheroines Dressed As Hipster Girls

female-superheroes-dressed-as-hipsters
What if superheroines lived amongst us today? Would they dress like we do? Artist Elizabeth Beals from Atlanta, Georgia, premiered her "Hipster DC Girls" series at HeroesCon earlier this month; subtly reflective of today's fashion trends (at least, that's what I think, but what do I know?).

Continue reading the article

Read full article: 10 DC Superheroines Dressed As Hipster Girls

June 18 2013

19:30

8 Geeky Comic Couture Dresses Every Female Geek Should Buy

comic-geek-dresses
As though geek men don't already have enough on their minds. These sexy Star Wars, Marvel and DC comics-themed dresses bring fandom to a whole other level. Song Ja Park is the owner, creator, and designer of these unique geek couture dresses. Forget our geeky t-shirts. These are more awesome.

Continue reading the article

Read full post: 8 Geeky Comic Couture Dresses Every Female Geek Should Buy

August 22 2012

00:31

Discover Marvel Comics & Marvel Characters On The Web

marvel comicsMarvel Comics was founded in 1939 as Timely Comics before becoming Atlas Comics in the 1950s and eventually the company we know and love in the 1960s. This was the era when Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and the omnipresent Stan Lee created the characters that have grown far beyond their humble beginnings as mere ink drawings.

Marvel Comics is now part of the larger Marvel Entertainment, which in turn is part of The Walt Disney Company after Mickey Mouse and Co. acquired the Marvel empire lock, stock, and barrel for $4.24 billion in 2009. There are a host of big-name Marvel characters, with the biggest arguably being Spider-Man, the X-Men, and Iron Man, mainly thanks to the smash-hit movies bringing these particular characters to a wider, mainstream audience.

So, you’ve seen the latest Marvel movie and now want to learn more about the whole Marvel universe. The following are the first places you should head online to achieve that goal.

Marvel Official

marvel comics

The official Marvel website is, as you would expect it to be, crammed full of all things Marvel. It’s an endless cornucopia packed with news related to the comic books, the movies, the games, and the TV shows. This isn’t the place to come for speculation and rumors; if it has made it onto Marvel.com then it’s official, real, and happening.

There are also links to digital versions of the comics, and the chance to create your own comic and/or superhero.

Marvel Facebook

marvel comics online

The Marvel page on Facebook may not be as well-kept as MakeUseOf’s (naturally) but it’s updated multiple times every day with interesting content that encourages fan interaction. There are links to other Marvel properties across the Web, updates on forthcoming projects across all media, and discussions running to hundreds of comments.

Marvel has also made good use of the controversial timeline with historical updates all the way back to 1939.

Marvel Twitter

marvel comics online

The Marvel account on Twitter is an essential to follow for all Marvel fans keen to read dozens of tweets a day. Thankfully the tweets in question are always interesting, with quotes from live blogging events, simple questions prompting fascinating responses, and the ubiquitous news updates.

This is the one of all the Web properties listed here that will appeal to the hardcore fans more than the casual, part-time fans who dip in and out when a new movie is released.

Marvel YouTube

marvel comics online

At the time of writing the Marvel channel on YouTube has more than 364,000 subscribers and the videos have racked up 341 million views. That says a lot for the quality of content posted. There are already in excess of 1,200 videos posted on the channel, with more added every week.

The content ranges from Blu-ray clips of the movies, extended clips of the television shows, and trailers for forthcoming games. And Stan Lee pops up from time to time!

Marvel Database

marvel comics on the web

And now we come to the unofficial Web resources for Marvel Comics and Marvel characters. The best by far is Marvel Database, the Wiki site which manages to pack almost 100,000 pages of content under its unassuming front page.

My favorite link to click on any Wiki is ‘Random Page’, but if you prefer to end up on a page you actually want to visit then the Marvel Database contains all you’ll ever need to know about the comics and characters.

SpiderFan.org

marvel comics on the web

Spider-Man is perhaps the greatest Marvel character of all time. He’s certainly the one with the biggest appeal across all demographics. Perhaps it’s the Lycra suit, perhaps it’s the compelling origin story, or perhaps it’s because we all hate spiders so much that a superhero with the powers of one of the critters is a guilty pleasure.

Whatever the ultimate reason for his popularity, SpiderFan.org is the best Spider-Man fansite I could find.

UncannyXMen.net

marvel comics on the web

The X-Men are a group of mutants – literally mutated humans – who come together as a group under the tutelage of Professor Charles Xavier. The best-known X-Men are Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, and Cyclops, who all battle together against good-guy-turned-bad-guy Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants.

UncannyXMen.net is a magnificent fansite with the tagline, “For the fans, by the fans.” And that’s a pretty much perfect description.

IronManArmory.com

marvel comics

Unlike Spider-Man the appeal of Iron Man is clear and obvious for all to see. Which of us wouldn’t want to don a metal suit and fly around the world impervious to attack from anything but a nuclear bomb? Iron Man is like Batman on acid; why mess about simulating a winged creature when you could be a walking, talking robot? IronManArmory.com is a great fansite dedicated wholly to the cult of Tony Stark and his metallic alter-ego.

Conclusions

Are there any other locations on the Web you’d recommend for people just starting out exploring Marvel Comics and the characters that populate the Marvel universe? Are you a big comic-book fan or did you not even know the difference between Captain America and Thor before the movies started hitting the big-screen?

As always we’d love to hear your views on the subject at hand in the comments section below.


August 07 2012

20:01

Create Your Own Web Comics & Memes With These Free Tools

create web comicsI have a confession to make. I wanted to learn my alphabets because I wanted to read comic books. Not for the greater good of my life…not for a calling in the future…just for the sake of enjoying Superman fly or Asterix beat up the Romans. It was my gateway to literacy. I am glad I chose that road because I have stayed on it ever since.

You too must have enjoyed a comic or two. You too must have dreamt up comic book characters of your own. If Stan Lee could create an entire universe of super-humans, our childhood imaginations could too. Maybe then we only had our foggy flights of fancy. Now, we have a legion of comic book tools.

So let’s see how you can create your own web comics with free tools, and also its more infectious cousin – the Internet meme.

Pixton

Pixton gives you a very easy to use and intuitive tool to create amazing comics with just click-n-drag movements. Then you can also enjoy the like-minded community and share your love for comic book art. Choose a format and start your web comic. The free to use account gives you fully posable charaters that you can bring together into short and sweet stories. Pixton gives you easy-to-follow wizards and how-to videos to make things easy. The free account may seem limited especially because it does not allow you to print out the comic, but I liked the basic tool for the learning. Then there is the multiple language support. Also, there is the community and some great work Pixton showcases.

Enjoy this: The Samster

Strip Generator

create web comics

Strip Generator is another complete site to sign-up with if you are into web comic books. Use pre-made characters or make your own, and just like Pixton it too has a drag-n-drop interface. You do not even need to register, but if you do then you get own online gallery, some extra strip creating options and more characters to choose from. The all-free options take it a notch above Pixton. Print or share your finished comics in the end. Or you can show-off in the community.

I won’t talk too much about it, but leave you to Tim’s previous review on Strip Generator – Create Free Highly Customizable Web Comics In Minutes.

Enjoy this: Beware the geek

ToonDoo

webcomic tools

ToonDoo not only has ToonDoo Maker which lets you easily create comics with Drag n’ Drop, it also has tools like Book Maker which lets you put all your ToonDoo’s into a book. ImagineR lets you take your own photos and ‘cartoonify’ them with effects. Doodler is for the non-artistic types – if you can’t draw, you can doodle. Bring it all together on Completoons.

Enjoy this: Lie Clock in Heaven

Bitstrips

webcomic tools

Give the Bitstrips for schools a miss as it is not free. Stop Bullying: Speak Up is a free web comic book download that aims to educate and put a stop to the bullying around us. Then head to the section of the site where you can actually start creating your web comics. The neat Comic Builder gives you layout options, an art library (for characters, props, outfits etc), color controls, and filters to design your own web comic. You can also create your own characters here or design avatars. Bitstrips also has community channels and contests where you can while away time.

Enjoy this: Why

Marvel – Create Your Own Comic

webcomic tools

There’s a good chance that the first comic book you ever read came from this Mecca of comic book superheroes. So, it’s comic book justice that you can also create your first one here. Marvel’s web comic tool gives you the choice between making a comic strip within a few panels or a more complete comic book which you can also download and print out. The latter asks you to register for free so that you can also save your work. The characters which you will be using all come from the Marvel universe, so if you love them, you can give wings to your fantasies.

DoInk

tools making webcomic

It’s not all about comics strictly, but DoInk gives you a canvas for some art and animation. You can use the free tool to create memes and animated stories in Flash to share with the world. You can use the Vector editor (runs on Java) even without signing up, but then that keeps you away from the forum and truly sharing your work. After all, a meme is no use if it does not go viral. You can download the animations, post them on YouTube, and share them on Facebook. DoInk also gives you a Bazar to sell your wares or give them away for free. There’s also an ITunes app ($.1.99).

Enjoy this: Naughty Llama

Toonlet

Toonlet and its Make a Comic builder give you that old-world back-n-white comicbook feel. You can create your webcomics in a jiffy if you learn the shortcut keys along with the handy tutorials. Also go through Toonlet Toonup for some great tips and how-tos.

Enjoy this: Lessons in Making Lemonade

Rage Builder

tools making webcomic

If round, scrawled heads and popping eyes are more your style, then welcome to rage comics. You will find rage faces spreading as memes across the web. They have become a recognized form of internet communication and an urban cultural motif. The Rage Builder gives you a simple toolbar, a few pre-set rage faces, and a canvas to create your own rage comics. The text tool is bit of an irritant, but Rage Builder allows you to quickly churn out your ideas as memes.

MemeGenerator

If it’s interesting memes you want, MemeGenerator.net is one of the most popular tools you can plonk for. Browse through the gallery of memes made by users and use the navigation menu to look through different characters, images, what’s popular and the newest memes. You can quickly create your own meme by picking an image from the ones here and clicking Generate. Add your own captions and launch your thoughts on the world.

Enjoy this: Michael Phelps…

Meme Center

create web comics

Meme Center is similar to the previous meme generating app, with the difference that it can create animated memes for you with a few images. You need to register and log-in (free) before you can use this site.

Enjoy this: What do they mean?

So, did the creative bug bite you? A flash thought pop up in your head? Even if it didn’t, try out these ten tools. With a bit of flair, you can turn a web comic into anything – a useful learning tool or a nice way to propose to your beloved. Just think it up. What does the speech bubble above your head say? Tell us.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


May 01 2012

02:31

Download & Read Classic Comic Books Using Comic Books Archive & ComicRack

comic books onlineAs a kid, I burned through a lot of hobbies and phases. There was the NES, pogs, trading cards, and I was huge on comic books. I still have them all, stored away in plastic cases and as (probably) worthless as ever. Nonetheless, these are pieces of nostalgia that I don’t want to let go. Knowing that a lot of my favorite comic books exist online forever would make letting go a lot easier, though.

Read along in this article and I’ll show you how you can find, save, and read some of the oldest and most classic comic books on your Windows PC.

To start off, I need to introduce you to AIBQ, otherwise known as the Comic Books Archive.

comic books online

AIBQ has been around forever and is probably the best resource when it comes to preserving popular, classic comic books online. You’re going to want to head straight to the Catalog page and you’ll quickly see just how vast the collection is, currently with over 900 comics available for download.

They’ve currently got 44 series indexed in their database:

  1. All Humor Comics
  2. America’s Greatest Comics
  3. Andy Devine Western
  4. Barker
  5. Beware Terror Tales
  6. Bill Battles the One Man Army
  7. Bill Boyd Western
  8. Blackhawk
  9. Bob Colt
  10. Bob Swift
  11. Buccaneers
  12. Buster Bear
  13. Bulletman
  14. Campus Loves
  15. Captain Marvel Adventures
  16. Doll Man
  17. Exotic Romances
  18. Exploits of Daniel Boone
  19. Gabby
  20. GI Sweethearts
  21. Hickory
  22. Hopalong Cassidy
  23. Intrigue
  24. Jonesy
  25. Ken Shannon
  26. Lady Luck
  27. Love Secrets
  28. Marmaduke Mouse
  29. Marvel Family
  30. Mary Marvel
  31. Mighty Midget
  32. Minute Man
  33. Nickel Comics
  34. National Comics
  35. Plastic Man
  36. Police Comics
  37. Rocky Lane Western
  38. Smash Comics
  39. Spy Smasher
  40. Strange Suspense Stories
  41. Sweethearts
  42. This Magazine is Haunted
  43. T-Man
  44. Yanks in Battle

After clicking the cover of whatever series you’re interested in, you’ll see a list of issues. If the issue is marked as unavailable, you will not be able to download it from this website.

free comic books online

Clicking on an issue that is available will bring up a prompt to download a CBR file. Save that file to wherever you’d like. Now, we need a quality comic reader. That’s where ComicRack comes in. We’ve done a nice article about ComicRack in the past, but I’ll give you a little refresher course.

After you’ve installed and run ComicRack, click on the tab that says “Folders” at the bottom left of the application. From here, navigate to wherever your CBR is stored. Mine’s on my desktop.

free comic books online

Like my screenshot shows, once you’ve selected the appropriate folder, all books in that folder will be displayed in a thumbnail view. From there, just double click on the book you’re interested in reading.

comic books online

From there, just use the navigation bar to scroll through the comic as you read. The navigation bar is near the top of the screen. Optionally, you can use your mouse wheel to scroll up and down through pages. No more rough edges or page creasing!

I hope this helps mend the poor hearts of those of you who trashed all those comic books you had as a kid. Leave me a comment and let me know what your all-time favorite comic is!  Oh and don’t forget to check out our free comics manual, Bam! Your Guide To Cool Online Comic Books by Lachlan Roy, which also features other comic sources and comic software.


March 11 2012

18:31

4 Creative Projects To Do On Your Mac [OSX]

With summer still way off and spring only just poking its head out, there’s still time to get some creative juices flowing while stuck in front of your computer. If you still haven’t done anything with last year’s video footage and photographs, here are 4 creative projects you can do on your Mac (or on the Internet), mostly for free.

iMovie Trailers

Jeffry wrote a full tutorial on how to make your own trailer-style movie in the newest Apple iMovie so I won’t repeat him here – but here’s one I made earlier:

Okay, so my wife certainly isn’t going to win any Oscars for her performance, but that squirrel was pretty talented and the Prince Charming type character was rather stunning too. It really couldn’t be easier to put together. Just fill in the form with movie details, then click the clip space you want to fill (taking note of  the helpful director cues like “action” or “wide“). Click on the start of the video clip you want to use there, and the appropriate length clip will be placed into the movie.

Photobooks With iPhoto

Photo printing services offer a lot of novelty printouts nowadays, but no one does them quite as well as Apple (and affordable too) – a large, 20 page hardcover book for just $30 can be a really great present or something impressive for the coffee table.

To start a new book, it’s easiest to begin by gathering together all the photos you want to use into a new album. From the album page, hit create -> book in the bottom right, and your photos will automatically be added to the project.

Choose the size, style and color scheme:

There’s an autoflow button that will automatically put all your photos onto pages, but designing the flow yourself is much more satisfying. You can change the page layouts to allow for more photos, and if your photos are sufficiently high resolution then you might even want to try the double page spread.

If your photo is too low resolution, iPhoto will put a little warning triangle next to it that explains that the printout won’t be as good quality as it could be.

iPhoto can also be used to create fantastic slideshows, calendars, and great quality cards – but personally I think the books are the best project and the final product really is professional quality (though the same might not be said of the actual photos!).

Make a Comic With Comic Life 2

This is a commercial product, but there’s a 30 day trial and they recently relaunched with version 2 of the app, so I decided to revisit it. You can download the trial from plasq.com

There’s a variety of styles built in, but you can also start from a blank page if you like.

Creating your comic is as simple as dragging in photos and creating text bubbles.

If you have children, creating comics for the refrigerator or school is a really fun project to encourage creative thinking.

Stupeflix Videos (Internet)

Let’s start with the finished product first. This is what I came up in about 15 minutes:

iMovie trailers are great quality projects, but sadly the selection of movie and trailer styles is limited – there’s no additional packs to buy or download. So I turned to online quick video editor and site Stupeflix. Your first video is free – meaning you get 1 HD video download token. You can make as many movies as you like, but they’ll only be available to download in SD resolution. For unlimited HD downloads, you need to purchase more tokens – but if you’re planning a one-off project (or have a few email addresses to sign up with), there’s a good selection of styles and it’s incredibly easy to put something together.

Personally, I opted for the vintage “1901″ style video, which gives all your movie clips a slightly sped-up silent-movie treatment. You can change the music too, but I kept it at default.

The interface is really simple. Once you’ve uploaded a bunch of movie clips (40MB maximum), you can even edit the clip online with simple cropping (you even reverse the clip).

Add title slides and pictures from the [...] button in the top left.

Finally, arrange your clips and titles. Transitions are also adjustable, but the default is fine for this style I think.

The preview takes about 10 seconds to prepare, but considering this is all done online I’m really impressed with how smoothly it all works.

Other Ideas

Videos, comics or books not your thing? If you’re looking for a project but nothing specific in mind, check out the top graphics and design apps in the Mac Store. My personal favourite at the moment is Live Interior 3D, which makes laying out rooms (an obsession of mine) really easy.

Are they any other creative projects you like to do on your Mac? If you’ve made any videos, why not share them in the comments – I’d love to see what you’ve come up with. Do you have any recommendations for other creative projects to do on your Mac?


March 09 2012

03:31

The Best Graphic Tablets & Programs To Use If You Want To Break Into Digital Cartoon Design

For years the personal computer has become an essential tool in making comics. While some traditional artists use computers mostly for coloring, more and more artists are switching to a completely digital comic creation process. Using high-tech graphic tablets and state-of-the-art image editing software, a cartoonist can mimic (and even surpass) anything which can be done via traditional tools.

If you’re ready to make the leap and start drawing your cartoons digitally, you’ll need to make two major purchases – a graphic tablet and a graphics editing program. This article will review some of the more popular graphic tablets and software in the market, and in light of today’s economy, budget has become a more important factor than ever. So we’ll list options for the professional high-budget user, the average low-budget user, and the broke user.

Graphic Tablets

The first thing a traditional cartoonist needs is pen and paper. Digital cartoonists, on the other hand, use graphic tablets. When it comes to graphic tablets, Wacom is the most dominant company, so we’ll use their products for our comparison.

The Professional Option

Intuos tablets cost several hundreds of dollars ($229 to almost $800, depending on their type), and are intended for professional artists doing advanced digital painting. If you’re even more serious and don’t have any budget limits, you can go for the Cintiq – any digital artist’s dream.

The Cintiq enables you to work directly on an LCD display, allowing you to closely replicate any work style and technique an artist is used to applying using traditional tools. $1,000 would get you the most basic Cintiq, while the 24 inch display palette will cost you more than $2,500.

The Basic Option

The cheapest option for a Wacom graphic tablet are the Bamboo family of Tablets. The Bamboo Connect for example costs less than $80, and serves as an entry level tablet, providing the basic needs of a beginning artist. It has a rather small work area and 1024 pen pressure levels, but it does the trick .

A better alternative would be the Bamboo Create (costs less than $200) which comes with a larger work area, better suited for professional artists and designer. Both tablets come with basic drawing and photo editing software (such as Adobe Photoshop Elements and Corel Painter Essentials).

Totally Broke?

Get some cash. Seriously, if you thought I’d recommend to use a mouse, think again. Producing digital cartoons with a mouse is like eating a steak with a toothpick.

Graphics Editing Program

The graphics editing program is the software the cartoonist uses with a graphic tablet in order to draw on the computer. For the sake of simplicity we’ll focus on software that specify in producing 2D raster art.

The Professional Option

Photoshop CS 5 and Corel Painter 12 are two examples of powerful tools used by professionals in the comics industry. They come with a wide array of brushes, effects, and plug-ins that provide digital cartoonists with all the versatility they need to produce great cartoons.

Additional features include support of layered editing and masks, professional text editing for typographers, and more.

The Basic Option

Photoshop Elements is targeted at hobbyist cartoonists and the occasional user. It’s sold at a fraction of what Photoshop sells at, and may be given as a freebie when purchasing certain graphic tablets. It doesn’t include many of the advanced features that Photoshop has, examples being – advanced selection and editing tools, advanced text editing, “Save for Web“, support for CMYK coloring (which is a printing industry standard), etc.

Totally Broke?

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a totally free, open source alternative to Photoshop . It works on all major operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, OS X), and is designed to work smoothly with Wacom tablets (although it’s recommended to do some online research before purchasing your tablet if you plan to work with GIMP).

GIMP offers most of the core functionality Photoshop offers (for 2D image editing), and is a true lifesaver for those of us who need basic functionality and want to save money.

Try Them Yourself

Why take my word on these image editing software when you can try them yourself for free?

Do you have suggestions for other graphic tablets or software? Are you a cartoon artist who uses solely digital tools? Let us know in the comments section!

Image Credits : Adobe Elements, Wacom


February 21 2012

22:31

5 Of The Best Comic Artists On The Web

comic artistsComics are an acquired taste, and they vary quite wildly in style and talent – especially on the Internet. Sure, there’s plenty of funny comics out there with a simple drawing style (XKCD and the like), but this list isn’t for them. Sometimes it can be difficult to find new comic artists who create art which is as beautiful as it is interesting. We’ve therefore found a few of the best comic artists online for you who you really should check out.

No list of great artists will ever be complete – we can only really seek to enlighten you of a few artists worth noting and hope that your comic reading experience is better with the knowledge you’ve gained. And with this list of comic artists, we’re fairly sure you’ll love what you find! Note, these are deliberately not in any particular order.

Christopher Baldwin

Christopher Baldwin has written many a great comic which are all wildly different. Take for example Bruno (start here), Little Dee and his current project, Space Trawler. He also works for MAD magazine and has done many other smaller comics. Chris’s work is both wonderfully artistic and intensely enjoyable.

comic artists

Kazu Kibuishi

Kazu Kibuishi has a bit of variety you can explore. Copper is the comic to start with (start here) as it’s the most well known and easy to get into without reading every single strip. Newer comics include Flight and Amulet, which are stylistically completely different, but all of his comics are nonetheless very beautiful.

comic artists online

Ramón Pérez

Kukuburi is the most well-known of Ramón Pérez‘s works (start here), but it is not updated very regularly due to his other work commitments. It’s always worth the wait, though as it’s always gorgeous.

comic artists online

Karl Kerschl

Karl Kerschl‘s most famous online work is The Abominable Charles Christopher (TACC) (start here), but there’s a number of other works you can find from his homepage. The Abominable Charles Christopher has a wonderful gentle sense of humour, an epic story that slowly appears, and some moments of genuine heartbreak. And it’s all drawn with stunning detail and accuracy.

comic artists online

Aaron Diaz

Aaron Diaz is most popular for Dresden Codak (start here) which is weird but awesome and pretty. It’s also very popular with a certain subset of geeks.

comic artists

Honourable mentions

Here’s a few more artists you should check out too:

Want More Comics?

If you want to read more about comics, check out these posts:

Now, we know we’ve probably missed your favourite artist – there’s too many! But, feel free to send them a little link love and introduce our readers to your favourite comic artist via the comments.

Image Credits With Permission: Christopher Baldwin: Little Dee, Kazu Kibuishi: Copper, Ramón Pérez: Kukuburi, Karl Kerschl: TACC


January 11 2012

19:01

Create CBR/CBZ Files To Distribute Your Comic Strip Or Graphic Novel

One of the most fascinating aspects of how the World Wide Web has improved our lives can be found in the revolutions that have taken place in entertainment media. Music can be easily purchased and downloaded via iTunes, books can be purchased from Amazon and other online retailers for reading either on paper or as eBooks, movies can be purchased online and downloaded; even computer games can be acquired via digital delivery services.

The Internet has also been kind to comic book creators (although piracy has inflicted a big dent in the profits of the major publishers) and web comics and sequential art tales created specifically for an online audience are readily available. Websites for the comics’ artists and writers will regularly feature these tales, for instance, often in CBR or CBZ format for use with a comic book reader application.

If you’re interested in creating and publishing your own comic or graphic novel and distributing it online, you will probably want to use these formats; they’re the most common, they’re easy to create and are recognized by most comic book readers.

Comic Book Readers

As well as often being available in print, comics are now regularly found as part of websites, on computers, mobile phones and tablets. While “webcomics” are usually embedded on a webpage and cannot be downloaded, other comics are often in CBR and CBZ format for reading on PC or mobile device.

While these apps cannot be used to download DRM-protected titles from publishers such as DC Comics and Marvel, they do have the advantage of being able to display comics produced independently.

Although providing a PDF version is an option (something that can be done using various free online or desktop tools) it doesn’t offer the same flexibility for reading a comic strip. The comic readers listed above all offer an easy way of moving from one frame of the action to the next and regularly have a “double-tap to zoom” feature, useful for viewing small frames and something that isn’t possible with Adobe Reader. Ultimately it is easier to use a comic reader than use a standard PDF reader (although many comic readers will support PDFs); indeed, it is possible to convert PDFs directly to CBZ format files.

Compiling Your Comic

If you’re a comic book creator, you can easily compile your project into a CBR or CBZ format file which can then be hosted on your website.

Creating a ZIP file in Windows 7

Begin by organizing your completed strip in JPG or PNG format in a single folder on your computer. Next, select each of the files (CTRL+A or hold CTRL while clicking each in turn) and right click, selecting Send to > Compressed (zipped) folder. A new ZIP file will be created as a result of this action; you will just need to give it a name.

Selecting images to compress into a ZIP file

In order for a comic book reader to recognize the file, you will have to alter the file extension. If you have these hidden, go to Organize > Folder and search options > View and clear the checkbox for Hide extensions for known file types. Click OK to confirm and close the dialogue box.

Return to Windows Explorer and right-click the ZIP file, selecting Rename.

Renaming a compressed file archive

Change the .zip extension to .cbz and press Enter to confirm – you’ve just created a CBZ file, ready for use with a comic reader application.

Summary

A CBR can be created in the same manner by using WinRAR – free with a nag screen after 40 days – or 7-zip, and renaming the file accordingly. You should have noticed that ZIP files become CBZ while RAR files become CBR.

RAR archives can become CBR files

Note that each file of the CBZ or CBR file should have been correctly sized so that each has the same resolution and page size before compressing. This saves comic readers from having to resize each image before displaying.

Once created your comic will be ready to distribute via your website for fans to download and enjoy.

With just your collection of JPEG or PNG files and a means of creating a ZIP or RAR archive, a file that is ready to use on any of the comic reader applications listed above can be created in just a few seconds. These files are preferable to PDF as they are more suited to the requirements of reading a comic strip, and by distributing your completed project in this manner, your readers will have the advantage of being able to enjoy your work wherever they might be.

Let us know in the comments if you have distributed your own artwork in this way.


July 20 2011

13:31

DOWNLOAD Bam! Your Guide To Digital Comic Books

Find out how to read the best the comic book world has to offer. It’s all explained in “Bam! Your Digital Comic Book Guide“, the latest manual from author Lachlan Roy. This guide explains how to legally download free comic books, where to buy comic books that aren’t free and even how to scan backups of comic books you already own.

Superman. Spiderman. Batman. The X-Men. Even if you’ve never picked up a comic book in your life, you’ve almost certainly heard of these legends. With almost 80 years of back-story just think of the rich history to be discovered – and that’s just the famous ones. Think of the hundreds of other heroes, each with their own back-stories, their own arch-enemies.

Wouldn’t it be great to have access to all of those stories? To be able to read the epic tales of great people having great adventures? Read this manual to find out how.

DOWNLOAD Bam! Your Guide to Digital Comic Books
Having trouble downloading? Right-click the link, then click “Save As…”

or

Read now on Scribd

This amazing guide will teach you:

  • The main digital comic book formats today, from CBR to CBZ.
  • The best Windows, Mac and Linux software for reading comic book files.
  • Where to purchase comic books, legally.
  • Where to find free legal comic books.
  • Where to find and read comic books online.
  • How to use Graphicaly, a cross-platform online/offline reader.
  • Where to find amazing webcomics to read.

DOWNLOAD Bam! Your Guide to Digital Comic Books
Having trouble downloading? Right-click the link, then click “Save As…”

or

Read now on Scribd

Like all MakeUseOf manuals, this is completely free.

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April 22 2011

01:31

Strip Generator – Create Free Highly Customizable Web Comics In Minutes

create web comicsIf you’re a fan of web comics then chances are you’ve had a few ideas for your own in the past. The only problem is you need some drawing skills, plenty of patience and a fondness for Photoshop, GIMP or other imaging software if you want to start from scratch.

We’ve had Strip Generator in our MakeUseOf Directory for a while now but the site has gone through a number of changes over the years with new features and the introduction of a cleaner, easier to use interface. It really couldn’t be simpler to drop in some characters, objects and text down before sharing it with your friends. No artistic skills required, simply let your ideas take shape!

Uses For Strip Generator

Artists and those blessed with the ability to draw will probably look down on Strip Generator for its drag-and-drop simplicity. This makes it perfect for those with an idea, a punchline or a joke between friends to bring their ideas to 2D life in minutes.

create web comics

Even those who draw their own strips from scratch may find uses for the website; as a storyboard or a plan for larger projects. If you’re interested in transferring your comics from pen-and-paper so you can design offline, check out our guide.

There are also more ambitious Strip Generator comics floating around the website, which show off some of the more off-beat community creations (like this Helicoptero strip). Using objects and tools in ways other than they were intended requires a bit of experimentation, but is testament to the adaptability of the sandbox you have in front of you.

You don’t need to register to use Strip Generator, so to get started simply visit the homepage and click Create New Strip. You’ll be asked once your strip is complete to register, so you can save your creations and re-edit ongoing projects.

The Workspace

When starting your strip, you are presented with the simple 3 frame comic format, which you can change by clicking on Frames at the top of the strip. Here you’re presented with lots of options, including 1 or 2 rows, full page designs and custom frames you define yourself.

create webcomic

You should always choose your frame first, and be sure of your decision. Changing the frame after beginning your strip will delete the lot, something you’ll be hoping to avoid. Once you’ve decided on a frame the rest is experimentation.

create webcomic

Characters and objects are handled by Strip Generator in the same way, and are highly transformable. Once you’ve chosen something from the appropriate tab, drag it into one of your frames. Clicking the item will highlight it, and display the scale and rotate controls – simply click and drag.

create webcomic

After selecting an object, the area to the right of your comic strip will display the various manipulations you can perform. These include sending the object forward and back (layers), adding blur and transparency and moving the object between frames, or detaching it altogether. If you’ve ever used photo manipulation software in the past then it should all be fairly familiar.

web comic generator

Text is handled similarly and whilst there’s no font options you can adjust size, placement, bold and italics and justification. Text can also be blurred, much like objects and the speech or thought bubble’s roundness can be user-defined too.

Sharing Your Creations

Once you’ve completed your strip hit Finish at the bottom. You will be taken to a page where you can define a thumbnail, add tags so your comic can be found and last of all give your strip a name. Hitting Publish will publish your work as an anonymous user, and on the next page you will be prompted to either log in or sign up to claim the credit.

web comic generator

You don’t have to register however, and you can remain anonymous if you please. If you do choose to register you will be given a Strip Generator blog, the URL of which will be username.stripgenerator.com.

web comic generator

There are all manner of social buttons and sharing options afoot your new creation, you can even print it out or simply save the image in your browser as you would normally.

create web comics

Conclusion

Strip Generator is a lot of fun, partly because it’s so easy to use and partly for the near-instantaneous results. If you’ve not got the patience to draw a full strip, have a spare 5 minutes and a great one-liner then Strip Generator is calling for your contributions.

Have you tried Strip Generator to create web comics? Fancy linking your strips? Any other good comic generators you use? Let us know in the comments below!


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