Software for Making Cartoons

by Tony Smith

Creating cartoons with your computer is fun and easy with software for cartoonists. With some programs, you can create cartoons from your digital photos without drawing anything. For the hobbyist, this streamlined software is a blessing. For those looking to make a career out of cartooning though, it is worth it to invest in professional level programs. This article will help you determine which software best meets your needs.

Comic Book Creator vs. Comic Life

The key advantage to both of these programs is that they simplify the process of creating panels and adding word balloons. They both come with a variety of fonts and built-in sound effects artwork. Both also allow you to import photos or drawings created in other programs. Comic Book Creator was one of the first home-user designed cartoon creation programs available. It boasted easy-to-use tools and over time, several expansion packs were added. However, as of this writing, Comic Book Creator is out of stock at with the message, "Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock." As of this writing, my attempts to visit the publisher's website redirected me to a cleaning product website. Comic Life is a newer entry into the market. Comic Life comes with pre-designed page layouts and very easy to use balloon, type and sound effect tools. Comic Book Creator offers a wider variety of options via its expansion packs, but the fact that it's no longer on the market makes it seem likely that technical support is not available. Comic Life, however, seems to be picking up where Comic Book Creator left off and is still updating and offering new products. Comic Book Creator 2 doesn't seem to be available for retail sale as of this writing, but it can still be purchased on auction sites like eBay for $20 to $30 plus shipping. Comic Life is available for $24.95 to $44.95 plus shipping from the Plasq website.

Adobe Photoshop: The Professional's Drawing Tool

For those looking to draw their own cartoons, Adobe Photoshop is the most popular program for finishing your artwork and offers tools neither Comic Book Creator or Comic Life can match. Artists use Photoshop in different ways. Traditional artists like to draw and ink their cartoons and then scan them in using a flatbed scanner. They later add color and word balloons using Photoshop's drawing and text tools. Other artists scan their cartoons as rough pencil sketches, adjust the brightness and contrast in Photoshop to create a "digital inking" effect. Most recently, artists have begun using digital drawing tablets connected to their PC to draw directly within the program. No matter which method you choose, Photoshop offers a wide variety of tools that allow you to create great looking cartoons. With Photshop's layer tools, it's easy to add create word balloons that you can move around without destroying your original artwork. Although you have to create your word balloons and text effects manually, Photoshop offers greater flexibility than home-user software.

Professional Lettering Using Adobe Illustrator

The biggest difference between adding text in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator is that Illustrator offers more drawing tools and the ability to edit your word balloons easier. Adobe Photoshop is a pixel based program where all the artwork is composed of little dots, Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based program where the artwork is created by mathematically calculated shapes. Therefore, solid images such as lettering and word balloons always will output crisper from Illustrator. If you intended to submit your cartoons for professional publication you should use Adobe Illustrator for lettering your cartoons.

About the Author

Tony Smith has published articles, tutorials, comic book stories, poetry and fiction in both electronic and print media. He works days as the Prepress Manager/IT Coordinator for a printing company and has over 20 years of computer experience with both the Macintosh and Windows operating systems.