How to create cartoons/comics even if you can't draw
Registration & Home Page
Not a Cartoonist? Think again
Do you have a slew of great punchlines welling up inside you but can't draw? Do you have statements you want to make but need a "sock puppet" to say them for you? Do you like messing around on the internet? Did you have fun playing with Mr. Potato head toy when you were a kid? Then Toonlet.com may be for you. Before we go any further I need to state for the record that I do not have any interest in toonlet.com, other than being slightly acquainted with the company's owner, and being a satisfied member. Zero drawing ability didn't stop XKCD.com or abstruse goose.com from publishing their own cartoons but their cartoons tend to be highly abstract. Besides, they still have to keep track of all their toons. Toonlet does that for you.
Toonlet is free to join
Step 1 is to go over to toonlet.com and join. All you need is an email address, a moniker, and a password. The join screen is pictured to the right. (My toonlet moniker is tixrus, in case you're interested. ) You might have to wait a few minutes for a confirmation email, then you can login. What you see is the home page, pictured right. At the top is the navigation/tools, with a selection below. Then you will default to the top strip of the day, with a selection of other top strips down below.
Look around before you dive in
Toonlet.com is a social network of sorts where you can follow people and be followed by them. You can also make comments on their strips, but your comment must be in the form of a cartoon. Lets go over to my home page on toonlet, (that would be toonlet.com/creator/tixrus but I wouldn't want to be "overly promotional" and actually give you the clickable link to it!!) You can practice learning how to use toonlet by making a comment on one of my strips. I think t's easier to respond to someone else's idea than to create one of your own. You must be a logged in member to comment or create strips. Hope you took care of that on the last panel.
As you see, the latest strip is the first thing on the page, and under that are some buttons. Before you start your reply, how about clicking the orange subscribe button? It will put my toon feed into your reader so you will know when I make a new one. Thanks. Appreciate it. OK now on with the reply. Click the reply button and you will get a toonlet window as shown. You may link your reply back to your hub pages profile and title it if you wish. Choose a background color for the first frame, whatever you want. Let's say you want a character to say "Great strip tixrus!" Click the big question mark and it will open your toonlet character library. But wait, you say, I'm a brand noob. I don't have a character library. Where did those guys come from? Well, toonlet thoughtfully gives you a few new random characters each time you log in, because it is a little time consuming to make your own. To make things easy, choose one of your preset ones for now. Yours will be different than the ones I show because they are kind of random. Toonlet gives you a few different default moods for each character so you can be more expressive. Choose the mood that best expresses what you want to say. Poof, that character with that mood, now appears in the frame. Now type into the bubble whatever you want him/her to say. Repeat for each frame you want to make. No doubt you are noticing that Toonlet has a one character per frame limit and that everything is from the waist up. This sort of limits physical humor and visual interaction and steers the humor toward the verbal. If you need more frames you can click the add panels button and you will get more. When you are done, click make reply and you will see the finished reply as shown. You can delete it or edit it if you don't like it.
Making your own toonlet is exactly the same as making a reply. The difference is that it will be published on your toonlet profile instead of attached to someone else's strip. Oh, yeah, and you have to come up with material. I can't help you with that.
Note: You can only embed your own toons.
Advanced: Custom Characters and Moods
You don't have to use the characters and moods that Toonlet gives you. You can make your own. It's a bit time consuming, but it's a must if you really want to establish a signature style on Toonlet. To use custom, start a new toon, but instead of choosing an existing character, click the new character button under it. You will get the character editor window shown, and it will be pre-populated with a random new character. Now it becomes clear that this application is a descendent of Mr. Potato Head. A menu on the left has items such as eyes, head, torso, etc. A number of options show for the selected item. Let's assume you have torso selected. You see a raft of different torso options and the red circle with a slash that indicates none. In addition to the selections you see on the screen there are other torso libraries by other artists. If none of the ones you see please you, select a different pack. You can mix and match items from different packs as much as you please. When you see a torso you like click it and it will replace whatever one is currently on your canvas. To make the various parts fit together nicely, Toonlet gives you tools to drag, scale, and rotate them. Once you get a character you like, give him or her a name and save him/her as normal. Now you can make minor changes (such as change to squinty eyes or add a hand gesture) and save under the same name but a different mood... for example CalendarGeek mad, CalendarGeek normal, CalendarGeek disgusted, CalendarGeek sad, etc. The facial expressions is what really makes your toonlets sparkle.
If you are good at drawing, talk to Toonlet about producing a pack for them--if I were a budding cartoonist who wanted to get my name out there I would certainly think seriously about it.
Enjoy your new career as a cartoonist! I think Toonlet is a very fun site to play with and they have worked very hard at it. They haven't quite worked out the revenue model yet, as I doubt they make very much money selling custom swag on zazzle. Right now it is utterly and completely free. Please help keep sites like Toonlet going by using them and embedding your toons in other web apps.
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