Comic Life 3 Review

July 8, 2015 11:00 pm

Tags: Cartoons, Comic Life Application, Comics, Graphic Novel

Not that long ago in a place not that far away comic books ruled. There was a time when a comic book collection was as important as a record collection. That's right... good old vinyl. While those where fun times for some of us the younger generation of the Renderosity community never really got to experience the excitement of a new comic or for that matter... an old, well thumbed, torn and faded comic stuck in your back pocket. This was the equivalent of carrying around your tunes or smartphone with you today. If you were lucky you might even have jammed two or three folded up comics in that pocket just to make sure you didn't run out of entertainment that day.

Ahh... the good old days??? Not really... there was no Wi-Fi but one can still experience the nostalgia or discovery of comic books with a simple and budget priced application called Comic Life. When I say budget priced I don't mean lack of features but a full featured program that's less than $100... err... $50... no wait... make that under $30... $29.99 to be exact. In today's world that's a bargain for any piece of software that actually does something.

I first used this little jewel of an application back in an earlier version when I needed a quick mock up for a client. If you’ve read more than one of my reviews you know by now one of my keys to good software is ease of use. Throw in a small learning curve and I'm hooked. These features are generally lacking in most of the 2D/3D visual arts applications available today and mostly for good reason. Yes it takes skill to create good digital art but no one says the tools have be like wearing a hair shirt or a millstone around your neck. The better the tool the more creativity for some of us so we are always looking for an edge... that app that sets our work apart or is so incredibly efficient you can't help but LOOK for projects to use it with. That elusive easy button.

"The drag and drop
feature of the bubbles
and the panels remove
some of the biggest
time consuming and
technical hurdles in
comic production."

This is where Comic Life comes in. In my review of iClone 6 I was looking for a way to showcase single image renders and remembered Comic Life. Sure enough... not only was it alive and well it was updated to a new version. After doing a double take at the low retail price, which I probably did when I first downloaded it too, I was able to get into my account and get an updated version up and running in minutes. After deciding on a campy 4 page comic it was a simple matter to insert the artwork, add captions and even manipulate the action labels in terms of warping, bending and scaling. Plenty of thought bubbles and other items that can really dress up the final version of a comic or graphic novel.


When opening up the application you are presented with options on various templates and blanks of various sorts. There are scripts and comics each with their own examples ready for you to use.  It’s not just comics either. There’s also some How-To, Creative, Life Stories and Educational templates plus single panels.

After you choose your flavor you are then presented with a drag and drop interface for your prepared artwork. This artwork can be anything from hand drawn fine art or stick figures to 2D/3D renderings and photographs. Just about any type of image can be dumped into the panels for use. 


The main interface is a simple layout placing the tools and artwork in front of you. The left side menus show the actual pages in the publication and the styles used. The drag and drop workspace is located in the center of the user interface above a large menu bar with all the bells, whistles and goodies needed to make an interesting and visually aesthetic comic such as lettering, captions and various bubbles.

The right side menu contains tabs holding the template set on one tab and the template library on the second tab. Below these tabs is a section that displays the selected artwork in a choice of Photos, Explorer and Camera. This reviewer relied on the explorer feature on a Windows pc.



The core of this product and the one of the reasons for its ease of use are the artwork panels. They are extremely versatile in that you can reshape, resize and easily change the style of the panels. A huge template library is provided that in itself is a tremendous resource. In fact there are so many different template styles included that it’s hard to believe this is a $30 piece of software.
The panels are simple drag and drop affairs. You can browse to your artwork from a menu on the lower right side of the workspace or you can drag and drop from any open explorer window (Windows) by just hovering the artwork over the panel’s interior and releasing the mouse button. Click on the panel once and you select the panel for moving or scaling. Click again and you get a set of red shaping handles (red dots) that you can grab and drag with the mouse to reshape the panel. Click again and you have selected the artwork in the panel which can then be manipulated via the inspector panel and scaled or moved.


With your artwork selected the Inspector menu gives a wide range of filters to further modify or enhance your artwork. You can go to black and white, thatched, pen, paint and many more. There is also an entire menu of control sliders for Brightness, Exposure, Saturation, Sharpness, Contrast and Blur. 


Now we come to an important part of this application and one that makes using it so much fun. The balloons for speech and thought are extremely versatile drag and drop tools with tails that can be moved via a handle that allows you to push or pull it to the desired location.
There is also a curve handle on the tail if you drag it out long enough to see a red dot.  Combining this with the ability to scale or rotate the bubbles makes these some of the most versatile thought and speech bubbles this author has used.

Another very important feature is the ability to get your comic out in to the wild so the public can view it. As obvious as this seems there was a popular comic application years ago that was not as versatile as Comic Life but produced a good comic. Trouble was you had to jump through hoops. Comic life doesn’t suffer from this problem as it gives you many export options from the CBZ format for digital comics to the well known and widely used pdf format.  Comic Life also exports to eBook standard, Facebook, ePub and images. An email option is also available.


Plasq has created a great tool at a budget price for anyone that wants to quickly and easily create a comic, graphic novel or other artwork driven publication. If you possess decent computer skills and have or can create the artwork to tell a story then you need to at least try this little jewel of a program . According to the Plasq website there is a trial available.

Check out the
Demo Comic
Comic Life for Mac or Windows
Purchase:  $29.99 Upgrade:  $14.99
Available: or the App Store

Comic Life for iPad and iPhone
Cost: $29.99
Available:  App Store

iPhone App:  Comic Touch
Cost: Free
Available:  App Store


M.D. McCallum (warlord720) is a International Award Winning Graphics Artist, 3D Animator, 3D Sculptor and Published Author. He is a staff writer and reviewer for the CG Industry news section here at You can find more info on M.D. at his website

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Article Comments

donsan ( posted at 2:38PM Fri, 24 July 2015

Is this the intended text for this page?

gToon ( posted at 12:35AM Sat, 25 July 2015

Sorry for the inconvenience. We've fixed the problem and the review is formatted correctly now. -Ricky