Cartoonizing your stories, App #16–ToonDoo

ToonDoo: http://www.toondoo.com/

(This site can be used for all ages of students. It allows students to develop their own characters and place them in stories.)

Synopsis: To begin, you must “sign up.” Upon clicking the “sign up” button, you are asked to choose ToonDoo (for the individual) or ToonDooSpaces (for educational institutions). ToonDooSpaces gives additional collaboration and safety features that the ordinary ToonDoo does not have. You can access ToonDooSpaces at: http://www.toondoospaces.com/. ToonDooSpaces does cost money, unfortunately, after 15 days. Therefore, if you are wanting a free application, you can stick with ToonDoo (I only used this when I taught). Since this segment is about free applications, this post will focus on ToonDoo only. Once you sign up for ToonDoo, you are directed to login. For younger grades, the teacher should sign up all students (you may create gmail accounts by adding a +1 or +2 or +3, etc to the end of a gmail account you created for this purpose).

Upon logging in you, there are several options in the far right: you can create your own comics, create your own book, make a character, upload artwork, or draw on ToonDoo. Across the top, there is a navigation bar. Under Toons, you can find all of the work you have created previously. Under Books, you can find the books you have created. Under Dooers is your profile. (Also, check out the very top of the page where you can find your messages. Also, not that Safe Search is automatically turned on.) Under tools are the same applications that you can find in the far right.

To begin, decide if you want to create a comic strip, a character, or an entire book. For this post’s purpose, I will show you how to create a comic strip. However, creating the other elements is very similar. To create a comic strip, click either on the far right on ToonDoo Maker or under Tools–ToonDoo Maker. A new window will open up and you will need to choose the layout of your comic strip. It will take about a minute to load the strip. In the new window, you will see a new navigation bar. In the “Start Here” space, you will find a typical file menu with save and opening functions. In the next box, you can choose your characters. From left to right, you will find your scenes, props, text, brushmen, clip art, and previously uploaded items. To place an item in your storyboard, simply drag the item. When you drag an item into your storyboard, note the navigation bar across the bottom where you can edit the items and even develop your own character with TraitR.

With that same toolbar across the bottom, you can edit colors and import your own artwork in the scenes (my artistic students always chose this option). Continue filling in each of the boxes within your storyboard. When you are done, click on the “Start Here” button and select Save As. Give it a title and description. You can even choose if others can “redoo” this toon or purchase the toon. Before you click “Publish,” choose whether you want to publish it to the world, keep it private or just share it with a few friends. If you choose the latter, you will need to enter in your friends’ email addresses. Then, click “Publish.” A new box will appear with options to go to your toon, print it or close out. I often had my students print their toons to share around the classroom. And, that’s all there is to it!

Integration: When I used to teaching high school English and senior creative writing, I used to use ToonDoo to teach my students the art of writing Graphic Novels. Many of my students in creative writing read Graphic Novels religiously, so I implemented them into their writing curriculum. Rather than merely reading the literature, they were required to analyze its components and reconstruct it into a Graphic Novel of their own. The first complaint from my students was usually, “we can’t draw…you can’t grade us on our artistic abilities.” Of course, I had no intent on grading them on how great their art was; I was looking for the essential components of Graphic Novels. With that in mind, I found ToonDoo, the perfect site for composing such novels without having to be an artist. And, my students took to the site immediately–yes, my 12th graders. They enjoyed it so much that they showed it to some of the students they tutored in the younger elementary grades. However, creating Graphic Novels is just one use for the app. ToonDoo can also function as an email space with its message feature. All toons can be shared and embedded as well. Even better–it defaults to turning on Safe Search.

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