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  • IT Gifts Photo Gifts

    Photo Comic from Schoolmates

    One of my favourite advantages of creative presents is that they provide lots of fun during their preparation. E.g. while preparing a wedding gift for my friends, I starred in a music video. Today, in turn, I am going to tell you how I became a photo comic character.

    What inspired my photo comic?

    This particular photo comic was probably inspired by photo comics printed in popular teen magazines.  At the time of the 18th birthdays in my class, my friends and I set ourselves high standards as regards gifts, which had to be inventive and creative. On the blog, I have already described the treasure hunt that started with a kidnap and ended with a bonfire, which was my present, and the birthday magazine given for a friend of mine. Our next idea – a photo comic – was to be another hit.

    We quickly drafted a scenario (actually, even two scenarios) and started taking photos. Unfortunately, we failed to complete this undertaking. I can’t recall whether our storyline was too long and complex, whether we were too busy with schoolwork or whether we lacked relevant know-how. Eventually, our friend received an entirely different creative gift then, and her photo comic was carried out… 12 years later!1 photo comic fotostory

    Our photo comic

    Our inspiration to give creative presents was rekindled around our 30th birthdays. Having lived for three decades, one should finally start considering oneself adult, which does fill with a sense of nostalgia for the carefree high-school days. As part of going back to the times of our youth, I decided to dig out our present and finally carry out our photo comic with the help of modern technology.

    The storyline was based on the photos we took at high-school as well as the fact that we had barely any joint photos from the times that followed. That’s how I came up with the idea of time travel. The story begins with the horrors of our high-school (e.g. the photos of ‘inhuman teachers’, i.e. us in gas masks in the civil defence training classroom, photos of a skeleton in the biology classroom and other posed photos taken for the purpose of the original photo comic).

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    Then we move in time to the present day (i.e. the future from the perspective of the photo comic’s protagonists), which is not easy for us either. The scenario required us to take pictures with heaps of laundry, dirty dishes, towering documents to be filled and bawling kids. In order to improve our future, we need to go back to high-school and ensure that we have good memories. The birthday girl finds a fairy (‘played’ by the only image downloaded from the Internet) and we travel back in time.

    From this moment on, the photo comic only includes cheerful photos of us during school trips, the prom, final exams and some other occasions, with funny texts and comments in balloons.

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    Difficulties in the making of a photo comic and how to overcome them

    My greatest concern was the lack of cooperation of one of the protagonists – the birthday girl, who was supposed to receive the gift as a surprise. Other ‘models’ also lived far away, and I only managed to meet for a joint photo shoot with one of them. I accepted it as a challenge.

    In order to minimise the amount of work I decided to use many ready photos of us together. In the present-day photos, the birthday girl mostly talks to us on the phone 😉

    Another challenge consisted in remote collaboration – for it was important to me that we would do it as a team. Eventually, I wrote a framework scenario, which I submitted for approval, and downloaded a photo comic maker, and the other girls used Dropbox to send their photos with captions and texts suggestions. In the end, they also checked the photo comic for typing errors.

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    Photo comic makers

    The program I used to create a photo comic: Comic Life 1.3.6 is very simple and intuitive. You paste your photos into the chosen template (e.g. three rows with two frames of alternating width each – like in traditional comic strips), and they automatically fit themselves into the frames. Next, you may choose from several types of balloons (round, rectangular, with cut edges…) and captions. The default font really brings comics to mind and is nice to the eye. After you finish designing, you may download your project to a PDF.

    Here is one of the first pages of our photo comic:

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    You may also try to create your photo comic in an online graphic design program. One of the tools I found after typing ‘photo comic’ in my browser was a Photo Comic Maker by FotoJet, which is a collage making tool with balloons that looks like a comic. It is as easy to use and aesthetic as Comic Life, but it seems impossible to add new pages there.

    Has any of you ever made a comic or a photo comic with the use of a different tool and would like to share their experience? I would love to try it again!

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    My advice:

    – Perfect comic photos have important elements covering only some part of the frame, leaving space for balloons with words. Moreover, it is best when there is not much happening in them, and people’s faces are prominent. Especially, if they convey strong emotions.

    – The texts spoken by the characters shouldn’t be too long. The balloons may jut out of the frames, but I don’t recommend shrinking the font too much.

    – When you take new pictures, don’t be afraid to overdraw emotions. After all, apart from the optional nostalgic element, this creative gift is supposed to be funny!

    – ‘Old’ photos of others may be downloaded from Facebook. I assume that if someone uploaded them there, they shouldn’t bear grudges if you use them in a gift for this very person.

    – You may try Comic Life for free for 30 days. After that, a watermark appears on your photo comic. If you don’t want to buy it, the only way to go round it in case it took you longer to complete your project is to install the program and open your photo comic on a different computer.

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