Pixton…look out Calvin & Hobbes!

Name: Pixton
Cost: Free, Free Trial (Subscription $90/year)
Type: Internet Tool
Rating: 3/5

 

pixton logoDo you talk to yourself? Sometimes that’s the best way to have a meaningful conversation. As someone who dabbles in creative writing, I know the value of a short, engaging dialog to generate and share ideas. For several years now, I’ve wanted to share information with students via scripted dialog, which can be funny and insightful. Creating animated videos seems like a natural approach to creating dialog between characters, but animations are generally time consuming to create, even with tools that help you along with templates. Pixton allows me to create comics without needing to worry about timing the video correctly. The images are static, like a comic strip, graphic novel, storyboard, or poster. I believe I’m pretty funny with my comics, though I’m just hoping students think the graphics are different enough to pay attention.

Goal: carry on a dialog in a hypothetical situation in order to give my audience information they probably didn’t know they wanted to know

Pixton workspace 1

This is a combination of the views you go through when choosing characteristics of your comic.

Benefits:

  • Variety of backgrounds, characters, and character movements to work with. The background you choose will determine the characters you’re offered.
  • Contests are promoted so that comics can be voted into popularity, which might be enticing for student projects.
  • Buttons are “hidden” until you click a relevant object in your comic. If you select a character, then the buttons for changing movement or the look of the character. So, there aren’t dozens of buttons to sort through when you don’t need them.
  • There are tutorial videos, though there’s a note that the buttons and icons in the videos might be out of date. I found the tutorials helpful in generating ideas since this is not a form that I’m very familiar with.
  • I think it’s pretty cool that a Canadian husband-and-wife team cam up with the idea to create a website to allow (average) people to create comics.
  • More about “publication” is noted below, but I like that I can “unpublish” a comic if I no longer want it made public.

Drawbacks:

  • When typing dialog in the bubbles, backspace isn’t an option once you click away from the text. You have to delete it all and type again.
  • The free version does not allow for downloading (which is pretty typical). Also with the free version, you have to share it publicly. This is a big issue for me, since I can’t share specific information like my email in the graphic (without the world having access to my email address). There is a Code of Conduct posted and reporting method to keep comments from getting out of hand.
  • There is a limited number of characters associated with each background. For example, I can’t have an alien in the “fantasy” background. This is probably only an issue for me, since I like using odd characters in different situations for the sake of (dry) humor. It’d be great to have Calvin & Hobbes or other comic strip knock-offs…a nod to the originals without insulting them, perhaps.
  • You can only make comic strips and posters (not graphic novel pages, storyboards, or photo stories) with the free version

pixton workspace 2

This is the workspace with most of my comic completed, but you can see the editing icons when making changes to one of the blocks.

Insider View: To get a PNG version of your finished comic, use Jing. Save the comic for later (button on the bottom left), then go to your collection of comics and click the elipses. Choose the eyeball (preview). Now, use Jing to take a screen capture of just the comic. The problem here is if your comic is too large for your screen and Jing can’t capture the whole thing. Also note that the Terms of Service require attribution to Pixton with the comic, so you’ll need to give Pixton some credit if you take your own screen shot of the finished product. If you instead decide to publish the comic, making it public, an embed code will be provided. When published, you cannot disable the commenting option. This is a problem for me since I don’t want my students exposed to random or inappropriate comments.

Final Thoughts: I probably would give this tool 5/5 if I could make the graphics private and/or download the final version. I realize that this limitation is common for free tools, but still a complaint I have especially when a commenting feature is available. The tool does exactly what I hoped it would otherwise. So, if I ever have a creative burst to make more comments and have a spare $90, I’d consider subscribing to Pixton.

Link: https://www.pixton.com/

Sample:

Pixton sample 1

I teach weekly, synchronous seminars for my online course. Students often email me about what to do if they were not able to attend the “live” session. The comic version isn’t as informative as it is a reminder of information provided throughout the course.

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