In the world of free(dom) and open source software, there’s one type of application that’s missing. Well, technically there’s a lot, but there’s one that I’ve oft wondered why there is no open source software for: making comics.
For Mac users, there’s Comic Life. For Windows users, there’s the Windows version of Comic Life, and a number of other offerings. I’ve played with the latter, and found a number of limitations, but even with limitations, it’s more than the open source software sector has. (I can get the same kind of results for basic Comic Life functionality using a combination of Krita and Gimp, the two playing off of one anothers’ lackings, but it ain’t pretty, and it takes a few days longer per panel.)
I’m a software programmer, but I wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to working with images. It seems simple enough: make templates with rectangles which are SVG images using masks. Drop images inside the rectangles. Allow resizing both either the rectangle (preferably with grid snapping, something not found in Comic Life for Windows) or inner image (which has resulted in very bad quality in the resized image for me in Comic Life, but it only occurs sometimes, and can be worked around by deleting the image, then replacing it and resizing it again). Speech balloons and their tails would be SVG images, preferably with an intelligent whitespace inner border, keeping text from bleeding over the edges of the bubble (and more control over the tail than Comic Life offers).
If only I knew where to start (using either Qt or KDE), this would definitely be the type of program that a lot of people would use. Not just those 20 Linux users and two BSD users interested in making comics, but also Windows users who can’t (won’t) afford to pay for Comic Life for Windows. (Well, minus those who simply pirate the software, taking it down to a target market of maybe 50 more users there.) I could probably learn where to start, but between fiction writing, anime watching, and photograph taking, my software programming’s looking rather restricted to what I do at work (which does not involve comics).
Running Comic Life on Linux via a Win32 compatability layer (Wine) is a flawed implementation, and running it on Windows Vista has stability issues for me. Maybe after NaNoWriMo, I should invest a month into learning/writing such software. Yes, I should do that “one day”. In the meantime, I’ll simply wish someone else would do it, let someone else serve the target market of 72 comic maker hopefuls.
Perhaps it’s best this way, as I have no ability when it comes to comic dialogue. But, that’s all right. I’m not planning on doing a series of anime comics (others handle that), but I did have a random idea come up during a discussion on racism earlier this year.
Yeah, maybe it’s for the better that Linux/BSD users such as myself don’t have access to comic software.
(Yes, there’s a typo in page two, panel one, where it should read “It appears to me“, but I’m not going to spend half an hour booting into Windows Vista and having Comic Life crash once and freeze Windows once just to correct it.)
After playing with Inkscape’s ellipses and Bezier curves, with path union, and stroke and fill controls, speech balloons become a barely tolerable task. We’ll ignore thinking about what would go into making a thought balloon. At the very least, it should work for photo comics.
Image masking might become tolerable with preset templates, so long as I don’t plan to change the style of a template after starting a comic with it. I need to play with clipping and see if that’s what I should be using instead of masking. Neither masking nor clipping appears to allow moving/resizing the masked/clipped object while not moving/resizing the masker/clipper.
Doing a path union on multiple ellipses makes for a nice speech balloon.
For the curious, Wikipedia’s article on “Heads Up, Seven Up”.
Okay, with a little bit of work, making comics in Inkscape has officially become “considerably easy”. I might have to put together one of those tutorials I’ve always felt someone should have put together. (I’m “someone”, after all!)
(Please ignore the part where the student says “Sakura” when it should be “Kinomoto-san”.)
Speech balloon manipulation in Inkscape is super-easy, and that scares me.
I’m starting to think thought balloons will be quick and easy, after playing with making an exclamation balloon.
Colored balloons aren’t that hard to make, either, but they require a little more time and effort. If there’s any kind of scripting engine (such as Gimp has), that would make things a lot easier.
I beg the forgiveness of any and all Syaoran fans. I grew up on He-Man (and Smurfs) in my very young years.
Someone found this post via Google on a search for “comic software for linux” (no quotes), where this post was the fifth result. Okay, that’s it, I’m going to be doing a series of tutorial posts on this using Inkscape, because 1) I’ve wanted to find such tutorials for over two years now, and 2) I might forget anything I learn, and need to refer to it. But no tutorials just yet. I have NaNoWriMo this week.