Thursday, August 25, 2011

Perfect Partners: Comic Life and Paper Camera

I can't draw to save my life.  Seriously.  Kids go into hysterics over my stick figures, and I don't even try anything more advanced than that.  So I'm very sympathetic to students in similar situations, and I've been wondering how to help them with my upcoming assignment in graphic novels.

We're starting off the year reading the wonderful  American Born Chinese,  studying the second chapter of Scott McCloud's brilliant Making Comics; the whole thing is great, but that chapter does a very good job of explaining the basics of analyzing comic images.

The obvious summative assignment to go along with these is to have students draw their own graphic "novel," specifically on a time they've experience a cultural misunderstanding or faux-pas.

An assignment like that would have had me in a panic when I was in high school.  Fortunately, it's less anxiety-inducing thanks to technology.

When deciding what tools to use with the students (those who CAN draw will be encouraged to do their own of course!),  I gave ToonDoo a miss because it's too limiting and doesn't allow students to play with angles,  point of view, and framing much.

Which pretty much left me with Comic Life.  It's a good tool, if you don't know it.  Basically, you take pictures (or sketch your own), then upload them into Comic Life.  It has filters that can "comicize" the photos, making them less realistic-looking.  It provides a variety of templates for the frames, and bubbles, caption lettering, etc.

I've never been all that fussed about it, however, because I think the photos still look like photos, unless you filter them beyond recognition.

Well, today I stumbled across Paper Camera on the iPad.  I adore it.  Here's the picture I took of my cat when I first started playing with it.
Isn't that great?  It really looks like someone sketched it!  And at 99 cents, it's not going to break the budget.

Tomorrow I'm giving the students their assignment to read McCloud over the weekend, and here's the handout I put together, to get into the spirit of the unit.

 I've loaded both apps onto the library iPads; after storyboarding, students can check them out, take their photos,  put them through Paper Camera, and create their graphic stories, all on the iPad.

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