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Comic Life

Comic Life is an application for creating comic strips and books. It's pretty simple to use--and only takes imagination to create something terrific. It's a great educational tool, because it it's so simple to use and puts the emphasis on combining words with pictures. Start here by perusing this link to learn why kids across the world are learning through a Comic Life!

Workshop Outline

Your instructor may follow the following outline for learning about Comic Life.

  1. Visit the web link above together. (20 minutes)
  2. Discuss what ideas you found, download samples.
  3. Overview of ComicLife interface. (15 mins.)
  4. Build a basic one-page comic strip together (30 mins.)
  5. Discuss strategies for making this work with students (collecting photos, importing into iPhoto, using iSight camera). (15 mins)
  6. Check out some of the resources below (15 mins)
  7. Design a rubric together for assessing a Comic Life project.

Asking students to tell a story first with pictures is a powerful technique; the pictoral/iconic representation comes first before language. Adding language to pictures help reinforce comprehension.

The following websites have some resources for using Comic Life:

Getting Started

Comic Life is located in the Applications folder on both teacher and student computers (SY 2007-08). It interfaces with iPhoto, so importing digital photos is easy: just drag and drop from one application.

Watch John's podcast on the basics of Comic Life.


Comic Life ties directly into your iPhoto collection. If you spend time first in obtaining images and organizing them into iPhoto, it makes the process easier for students. You can also "create" photos through Keynote by exporting your slides as photos, directly importing them into iPhoto. When you choose the command "Send to iPhoto," you will be asked to create an album. This again is a time-saver - you can find everything ready to go under that album name in Comic Life, thanks to iPhoto's organization scheme.

ComicLife also gives you access to the iSight camera. You can take still shots using the built-in camera on each laptop or desktop Macintosh.


How do I share my creation? Beyond printing, you can make a PDF of your creation using "Save to PDF" after choosing File > Print. You can then use the PDF file from Preview to make individual graphics for each page, for the creation of a slideshow or movie, using iPhoto or iMovie. JPEGS of comics can also be shared through your blog.

You can also turn your comic strip into a podcast! You can export each page then import these files into GarageBand's podcast track.

Classroom Ideas

Start with a Paper Template

You can get younger students savvy with comics by first printing out a blank page template with just the "panels." These are great planning sheets, especially when you arm your students with a camera. They have to plan which images they need to capture, and can draw on the paper version of the comic.

Then, within Comic Life, they can open a digital template you provide them. (I'll discuss below how to do this.) This is the same template you printed, so they are now making their comic strip "digital" using all the features of Comic Life. The paper version acts as their dry run that must be approved by you before they go on to their "production stage." You can make this project mimic a real-world working scenario, where content is approved by the art director first (you, the teacher), and impose time limitations on how long they have to work on the computer.

To create a template file, start your own Comic Life project with panels, and any text you want to position on the page(s). Then, save the document. Once the document has been saved, in the Finder, compress the file by making a zip version of it. It's important that no spaces appear in your filename of the zipped file.

The zipped file can be posted on your blog so students can download it, or shared over the network. Once students double-click this zip file, they can open your template and get started!

To see how this process works, check out John's video on creating Comic Life template files.

Other Uses for Comic Life

In addition to being a story-telling tool for students, you can use Comic Life's tools to create charts, to annotate photographs or screenshots, and to document student work. Armed with a digital camera and the built-in iSight camera, you can use Comic Life for all kinds of activities. In our session together, we will brainstorm some of these. I invite you to share your ideas below in how you plan or have used Comic Life. Your experiences will help us all become better comic strip artists!

Your turn!

Got any ComicLife tips? Get the password for this wiki group, then add your own tips below!

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Page last modified on August 27, 2010, at 09:56 AM