Summary: ComiPo! makes it easy for non-artistic people like me to put together decent looking comics with a school or office theme. On the other hand its limited poses and outfits might be frustrating to some artists. So if you’re looking for a tool to help you illustrate a high school drama or workplace comedy ComiPo! might be just what you need, but if you’re trying to make a fantasy battle comic you’re better of just learning how to draw.
How ComiPo! Helps Me
I can’t draw. I can barely doodle. But I’m a big fan of gag comic strips and often wished I could make my own. So stumbling across ComiPo! was pretty exciting and I immediately downloaded the free trial to see what it could do. Thirty minutes later I had the prototype for Gengo Girls, my Japanese educational comic.
The demo seemed promising so I bought the full version of ComiPo! and here I am four months later with 50 complete comics.
ComiPo! is incredibly easy to use and basically idiot-proof.
You create new characters by picking and choosing facial features, hair styles and colors from a set of drop down menus. Everything matches up pretty well so your character is almost guaranteed to turn out great.
Then you build a comic by choosing a comic layout and dragging and dropping items into each comic panel. If you want two characters talking in the park you just grab the park background and drop it in your panel, then grab the two characters you want and drop them in too. You can rotate, re-size and re-position them however you want.
You pose characters by choosing from a list of over a hundred different options. Each pose is represented by a stick figure that shows you exactly what you’re about to get, so you don’t have to remember a lot of complicated names like “Running_3” or “Sitting_2”. Just click the image that’s closest to what you want your character to do and suddenly your character is running or singing or waving to a friend.
The same simple system works for facial expressions. You get a big list of different faces to look at and you just click on the one you want your character to have in the current panel.
Then from there you just drag and drop in some text bubbles and type in your dialogue. Maybe drag and drop in some props or special effects. Then you’re done. That’s all it took.
The Not So Good
Remember how I said ComiPo! was idiot-proof? Well, that’s mostly because they don’t let you do anything that might ruin your comic.
The biggest issue is that you can’t design your own character poses. You have to use the presets. That means it can be difficult to give characters unique body language and it’s more or less impossible to set up an interesting fight scene.
Now that’s not really a problem if you mostly plan on having characters walking around and talking to each other with only the occasional shove or punch at dramatic moments. And as a non-artist I wouldn’t want to try and manually pose a character anyways. But if you have very specific dreams of making characters dance or fight or wrestle you’re going to need something more flexible than ComiPo!.
Similarly you’re stuck using the school and office outfits that come with the software. You can’t build your own character models or design your own clothes. Then again, if you know how to build and pose 3D models you probably don’t need ComiPo! in the first place.
There’s also an issue with the speech bubbles that kind of bugs me: They don’t have any sort of automatic text centering, so you have to manually indent and shift every line to make each bubble look good. You could probably get around this by using ComiPo! to make your comic and then adding in the text with a different tool, but it would have been nice if ComiPo! could have done it all on it’s own. It took a while but a recent update finally added text alignment tools. Making natural looking speech bubbles is pretty easy now.
Final Recommendation: ComiPo! will not make you an artist, but it does let you easily build pleasantly generic comics. From there it’s up to you and your dialogue to make a story or a gag that people will want to read. So if you’re a writer who wants to try their hand at comics you might as well download the free demo* and see what ComiPo! has to offer.
* The free demo lets you see how the software works but limits you to half-page comics and only has a couple of different character and background options. The full version has both male and female characters, tons of style options, hundreds of backgrounds and the ability to create full-page comics.