You've probably seen hundreds, if not thousands, of comic strips in your lifetime, and you might have even drawn a few yourself. But the best way to make your own comic strips today is to use digital tools for some or all of the process.
In this article, I'll go over a quick way to create comic strip layouts using templates or from scratch, then show you how to create a whole comic strip online, with speech bubbles, titles, and watermarks included. Let's get started:
- Common comic strip templates
- How to make a comic strip layout
- How to add drawings and images
- How to create speech bubbles, titles, and signatures
1. Common Comic Strip Templates
The first thing you need to know when preparing your comic strip is the dimensions of the strip as a whole. The most common formats for comic strips are the 4-panel daily strip, the half-page, the single-panel, and the 16:9 web comic. I've prepared a template for each format – just click "Make It" under the template you want to use, and arrange your comic strip in the Kapwing Studio.
13:4 Daily Strip:
There's no official standardized comic strip aspect ratio, but the 13:4 4-panel daily strip is as close as it gets. In the template, the four panels are equally spaced, but you can move or remove the dividers however you want.
For longer-form comic strips, the half-page format is a classic. The 7:5 aspect ratio should remain the same, but you can add, remove, and remove the template's panels to fit your own comic however you want.
These are common in magazines like The New Yorker as well as smaller sections in daily comics. They feature just one scene, either with dialogue in speech bubbles or a single caption underneath the frame.
16:9 2-Panel Webcomic:
Most of the comics we see these days are probably online, rather than in the newspaper. A lot of these comic strips are formatted with a 16:9 aspect ratio for social media sites like Twitter or Facebook, and it's common to see them with just 2 panels.
2. How to Make a Comic Strip Layout
Once you've selected the dimensions for your comic strip, you still have to create the layout you want for your panels. Some comic strips use evenly spaced panels, but usually some panels will be larger than others, depending on what you want to do with your comic.
If you selected a template, then you'll see the blank comic strip layout in the Kapwing Studio. Here, you can move the panel dividers wherever you want, delete them, or create new dividers by selecting the line shape in the Elements menu.
If you'd prefer to start from scratch, head to Kapwing.com in your browser and click Start Editing to enter the Kapwing Studio. Here, you can begin your comic strip layout by selecting Elements in the upper toolbar and using bordered rectangles and lines to format your strip however you want. For circular panels, you can either use a circle element, or slide the Corners slider on a rectangle all the way to the right.
3. How to Add Drawings and Images
To put your actual comic strip together, you'll need to use either drawings or images. In the Studio, there are a few ways to go about adding them to your canvas. If you're an inexperienced comic artist, try assembling your strip using clipart-style graphics and Bitmoji characters, either uploading them from your computer or phone, or using the Images tool in the Studio to search the web for anything you need.
If you're more comfortable drawing your own characters and scenes, it's easy to import digital drawings or photos into the Studio and add your speech bubbles, text, titles, and formatting digitally. Make your drawing on paper, on a different device, or using a different app, then import your drawings or take a photo and upload it to the Studio.
In the Studio, click Erase to remove blank white backgrounds or paper textures from your drawings, then arrange your drawings inside the comic strip template. With your drawings' backgrounds erased, you can replace them with simple color gradients or panels, which is common in popular comic strips like Foxtrot. Just search in the Images tool for terms like "blue gradient" and import them directly to the canvas.
4. How to Create Speech Bubbles, Titles, and Signatures
While it's not very uncommon for comic strips to feature nothing but illustrations, almost every strip will feature some sort of text, whether it be a caption, dialogue, title, or signature. To create a speech bubble in the Kapwing Studio, select Elements in the upper toolbar and select the speech bubble to add it to your comic strip template. On the canvas, click and drag the speech bubble layer to position it, resize it, or rotate it.
Adding text is simple: select the Text tool in the upper toolbar and type what you want to appear in the text box. Using the editing options on the right side of the Studio, customize your text's font, style, color, outline, and even drop shadow effect. For your comic strip's title, I recommend using a different font than the one you used for speech bubbles – preferably a simpler one, while using a more hand-written font for your strip's speech.
Always sign or watermark your work! If you have a signature image that you typically use for your comic strips, add it to your Kapwing project and remove its background before positioning it on the canvas. If you're just starting, write your signature on a blank piece of paper and follow this straightforward tutorial on adding transparent signature PNG files to documents and photos.
I hope this article helps you put your own original comic strips together digitally, whether you have years of experience using other media or you're just creating a project for school. For more tips and tutorials on creating great digital content in 2021, check out the Kapwing YouTube channel, where we post multiple videos every week. And if you're interested in doing multimedia design online, read through some related articles: