Let’s put this topic to rest for the moment by highlighting two other useful sites that let you or your pupils create their own cartoon strips – Toondoo and GoAnimate!. There are lots of other such sites on the web, such as Toonlet and Bitstrips – the latter has the appealing trick of allowing you to create a customised cartoon persona that you can make look quite like yourself, if you fancy that – but I’ve had a go at the aforementioned myself and had pupils try them out with a fair degree of success, so I think they are worth looking at.
Toondoo does what most such sites do, ie allows you to put together a cartoon made of a number of frames using backgrounds, characters and items chosen from pre-populated libraries. These are very rich, so you won’t quickly run out of possibilities! Perhaps because of this, the site can be a bit slow, which is the only real drawback. A big plus, however, is the fact that you can save your finished creations as image files and so use them other than as links to the Toondoo site. As in the (fairly mediocre) example above, which is also online at the site. I had some pupils use it last year as a homework, which they seemed to enjoy.
But the best and most fun site has to be GoAnimate! which lets you create not just cartoon strips, but animated cartoon strips! It basically has a library of little Flash animations that you apply to your characters to make them move, gesture and show emotions. There was originally a problem in that the site did not support accented characters: I contacted them, along with some other MFL teachers, and I have just discovered that they have happily done something about this. So frkeys and numeric keyboard shortcuts for accents now work in the text boxes. The picture above is a frame from my original trial effort which can be seen in its full glory (or otherwise) here. It really did take only a very short time to put together – it’s that simple, as they say. I have some music at the end of the clip, but haven’t otherwise used audio. You can, however, record on to the strip, so you could, for example, voice your characters. It would make a lovely project for an assistant to do with pupils! My only hassle with this site has been that when you opt to view in full screen mode, it seems to freeze. A pity, as it looks great full screen.
And, just for luck, one more site, that was flagged up to me by the creator via a comment when this post was first published, and that’s Pixton. The above cartoon is a quick trial run, which proved that the site does accept accented characters ok. The attractive feature of Pixton is that you can move characters’ limbs around by dragging them, so changing posture and gesture, as well as modifying their expression. It also boasts a translation feature, via a mouse-over, which – like most machine translations – can turn out a bit bizarre. Check it out here.
So that’s it for cartoons – for now, at any rate ….. I think they have much potential for presenting material, but probably more importantly for having pupils reinforce and display their learning in a creative way.