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This MacNews Category Review looks at comic creation software for Mac OS X. Products covered include Comic Life, Ballonist, Comicbookedit, Comic Caster, ComicStudio EX, Managa Studio and Pencil.
Comic Life has a multi-pane design. The largest pane shows your work in progress. The Libraries pane shows all the elements you have to work with. The Details pane changes with each object you select, depending on their parameters. Comic Life also includes such nice touches as a thumbnail view that shows all pages in a multi-page comic and a "zoom to fit" button.
The iPhoto integration also means you can order prints of your comics from the iPhoto Kodak print service. Comic Life supports .Mac (Apple's US$99-per-year subscription suite of Internet services), HTML, QuickTime and JPEG for sharing your creations on a Web site, blog or via e-mail. The .Mac support includes RSS feeds, so folks can subscribe to your creations.
You can apply filters (Comic Life comes with 16) to your photos to make 'em look appear hand-drawn, painted, printed or touched with effects such as "night vision"). If you're really in a hurry, you can use the Quick Comic feature, which lets you choose a library of images you want to use and have Comic Life create the basic comic for you to finish.
What's more, Comic Life works with Apple's iSight Web cam so you can snap a pic and "zap" it right into the app. With the iSight/DV camera capture feature, you have a frame showing the video input that you can simply drag onto your comic.
Plasq also makes Comic LIfe Magiq for Mac OS X 10.5 ("Leopard"). It's photo-comic desktop publishing software. With it you can create photo stories with professional templates, warp images with the Magiq image editor, and produce how-to guides using any digital image on your Mac. Comic Life Magiq is built from the ground up to leverage the power of Leopard's core technologies, like Core Image and Core Animation, according to plasq co-founder Robert Grant.
The Magiq Image Editor offers features such as smart cut-out, warping and smudging, painting, skinning, green-screening and more. The comic page layout engine can handle complex and creatively-curved comic panels, speech balloons and captions, Grant says. Artistic "brushes" provide hand-drawn feel to lines, and compositing lets the user flexibly combine their images, he adds.
Comic Life Magiq offers control over individual comic elements and enables gradients, reflections, brushes, line styles, fill options, shadows and more. The modular interface lets users hide or view these details while navigating through a continuous WSYWIG (what you see is what you get) page layout view.
Also included are a collection of artist-commissioned templates, props, balloon shapes and spraycans. Templates cover a variety of life's events and characters including birthdays, pets, outdoor activities etc.
Comic Life Magiq requires Leopard. It costs US$44.95. Crossgrades from Comic Life Basic, Comic Life Deluxe and Comic Life Apple Bundle are available for $29.95. Volume education licensing options are available. Volume education crossgrade pricing is also available. A demo is available from plasq.
[url=http://www.smithandtinkers.com/]Balloonist[/url] is a $35 comics word balloon editor and panel layout application for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. You can add balloons, starbursts, narrations, and images, all of which can be dynamicly moved and resized while maintaining text alignment.
[url=http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Graphic/Graphic-Others/Comicbookedit.shtml]Comicbookedit[/url] is a free program for creating comics. You can make vector drawings, place them in boxes, put the boxes on pages and add some text balloons.
It can be used to draw comics and save them in an SVG file format. This means that your comic will display in Firefox. Drawings can also be exported to PDF and to bitmaps. With Comicbookedit the drawing can be done using simple mouse clicks and keyboard shortcuts only. There's no dragging around with the mouse or difficult precision clicking on control points.
What makes Comicbookedit especially suited for comics (although you can draw other things with it) is the ability to create text balloons easily. It's also easy to set up a "comic book" format: a drawing with multiple pages, and boxes on the pages in which you can place your favorite comic characters.
[url=http://www.retropalette.com/]Comic Caster[/url] lets you take your comics and publish them for viewing in 5G (video) iPods and iTunes 6.0 or later. This workflow will scale your files and authorize them to a QuickTime file. The end product will be your comic strip/book as a QuickTime media file that can be viewed on an iPod.
[url=http://www.celsys.co.jp/]ComicStudio EX[/url] is Japanese software for comics and illustration creation. It employes vector pen function and gray tone layer and features a networking function for sharing the task with other creators in remote locations. The company also makes ComicStudioAquq, which is cartoon graphic software with basic functions.
[url=http://my.smithmicro.com/win/mangaex/index.html]Manga Studio[/url] is $299 manga and comic art software that provides tools for creating ready-to-publish pages. It delivers a suite of ready-to-use screen tones, content and special manga and comic effects for hobbyists, experienced artists and professionals.
[url=http://www.les-stooges.org/pascal/pencil/index.php]Pencil[/url] is another free comic book creation tool. It's open source. Pencil is an animation/drawing software for MacÂ OSÂ X, Windows, and Linux. It lets you create traditional hand-drawn animation (cartoon) using both bitmap and vector graphics. It was updated on April 4 to run natively on Intel Macs (as well as PowerPC Macs).
Of course products such as [url=http://www.adobe.com/products/flash]Adobe Flash[/url] and [url=http://www.macsimumnews.com/index.php/archive/corel_introduces_painter_essentials_4]Corel Painter Essentials 4[/url] can also be used to make comics.
For an in-depth round-up of Mac products, go to the [url=http://guide.apple.com/]Macintosh Products Guide[/url].