Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Professor Garfield's Character Builder

Earlier this week I told you about the Toon Books Comic Maker. It's a cute editor where kids can create their own stories in comic format. While I was exploring Professor Garfield's website and reminding myself of Comics Lab,  and Comics Lab Extreme, both great places for kids to create comics, I noticed an orange bar, just above the three panel strip I was making. I pressed it and discovered a feature I love, the Character Builder.

It's a lot like an avatar maker, except you only save your character to the comic template, rather than to your own computer. Of course, you can always take a screen shot of your character if you want to use it in some other project. Top left is a screen shot of what the Builder looks like.

To use the Character Builder, find Expand Character Builder, just above the panels. When you expand it, you get a character to customise. Choose skin tones, head, eyes, mouth, ears, nose and body. Many features can also be resized. Once done, you can save your character, provided you've logged in (just a christian name or nickname is necessary for this.) If you like, make more characters, or get random ones.

These characters/avatars can then be used in the three panel comics. Remember to click the panel to edit it first, then your created characters will appear. You can see my first pirate comic above, then I added the new characters I made to it in the lower version. Of course, this isn't as creative as kids drawing their own characters. But it gives them some control over the creative process, and not all of us want to start from scratch.

If you're interested in avatars and how to use them with children's writing, you might enjoy my articles, Writing with Avatars (1) and Writing with Avatars (2).
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