I'm a terrible artist, but I have all these ideas for comics or weird moments in my life, which I feel that need to be expressed to the world. Sure, I could draw these up myself with the artistic ability I currently have, but the ideas and meaning each strip has would get lost in the quality of the art which could easily be confused as as Jackson Pollock painting. Luckily, I found a Facebook app that can bring my ideas to life, Bitstrips.
Bitstrips lets you make your own one panel comics starring an avatar you created and your Facebook friends. You can also make strips just featuring yourself. There are tons of choices to make with this app with scenes and posing your characters.
Most Facebook apps are as exciting as watching paint dry, without the high from the fumes. Many demand you tell your friends about your corn harvest, then make you wait 8 hours before you can use the app again. Bitstrips doesn't do that. You make comics at your own pace, whenever you want to, and you don't have to do repetitive tasks in order to advance in the app.
Making these strips is pretty darn easy and fun. It rarely becomes frustrating, and the amount of options they offer you gives it an insanely high replay value, as long as you have ideas.
Once you've logged in and created a character an avatar, this is your home page. It's simple and right to the point. You can make a Status Comic, which is just a solo comic starring your avatar, a friend comic, a greeting card, and you have your inbox, which notifies you of who has used you in their comic and when you posted last.
So, let's take a walk-through in creating a comic strip using Bitstrips with my avatar in a potentially hilarious scenario.
There are a ton of different scenarios that you can choose, but I'm going to keep it pretty simple and just pick me running after a bus. This is something I've never done before, in real life, but I can only imagine it being "hilarious." After selecting the scenario, you can start editing.
This is what you start off with. I added a text bubble just to show you all the options. You don't have to have dialogue. For the actual bubbles, you can have regular dialogue, yelling, thought bubbles, and just a plain old caption.
When it comes to posing your character and facial expressions, you have almost too many options. As you can see on the left you can pick a face which matches the expression you want to convey. From there, you can click on "Customize" and get even more in depth.
When it comes to body placement and movement, it's pretty darn easy. You can adjust these body parts on your character: head, torso, upper and lowers legs, feet, hands, and upper and lower arms. You can also choose from different hands. Lastly, you can rotate the body, head, and hands. After some toying around, here's what I came up with.
Now, you can click "share" and post it to your Facebook. I really like the fact that Bitstrips makes its own photo album for you and places the photos all in there. It's a nice way to keep everything tidy and in one place.
Easy to Use, Easy to Master
After using this app for a day, I felt I had become a master of the Bistrips. Everything about this app screams "easy to use." Anyone can make these. It has a great interface that you'll quickly learn, and it never really becomes frustrating to make them, except in a few minor cases.
Most Facebook apps have high replay value because you have to come back in 8 hours to do something else within the app. Essentially, you're being forced into repetitive play. You're going to want to come back to this app, especially because they seem to update the scenes you can choose pretty regularly.
Frankly, the final product always looks great. The character and scene designs are phenomenal. The art has a great sense of style to it. I'm actually amazed how cool these look. If you would have told me about an app like this, I would have pictured stick figures, not these fully-realized, animated characters.
So Many Choices
The fact you can do so much with this app amazes me. You could spend weeks on Bitstrips, making thousands of these and never have the same Bitstrip twice. Seriously, the amount of options here, which continue to grow, is ridiculous.
While I find this to be an extremely awesome and fun application (the only application worth a darn on Facebook, to be honest), I do have a few complaints.
Some of Your Friends Aren't Funny
This is my least important, yet biggest complaint about this app. I found Bitstrips through a friend and started using it. Then, other friends started using it. After a few days, I found myself being used in quite a few terrible, dumb strips, most of which made no sense. I'm not saying I'm a Bitstrippin' genius or anything, but if Bitstrips could find a way to make some of my friends a bit more clever, I'd be in Bitstrip heaven. You're also going to have to deal with seeing other people's Bitstrips that will just annoy the heck out of you. It's inevitable because this is just such an easy-to-use and fun app.
Can't Move Layers Forward and Backward
This is something they HAVE to adjust. I wanted to do a couple of panels of me doing comedy, and I have a very specific way of holding the mic when I do stand-up comedy. That being said, I wanted to convey that in a Bitstrip, but every time I tried to move the arms into the position I wanted, they went behind my body and head.
This wasn't the only problem I had in this department. People, limbs, and objects are set in a certain layer, and there's no way to change that, so if you want to correctly convey depth, if you're incredibly anal like I am, you have no choice but to give up, frustrated or put together a panel that may seem like an eye sore to you.
I would love it if the app made it so we could control the depth which the movable objects are at so I could do super awesome things like suplex my friends or make that dream panel of me doing stand-up comedy.
One Dialogue Bubble Per Person
I guess I'm a bit wordy or maybe I like having a nice back and forth and back and forth conversation, but limiting only one word bubble per person is kind of a bummer.
Can't Create Random Characters/Two Characters Per Bitstrip
I'd really like to create people in my real life that I'm not friends with on Facebook or maybe even some weird characters to appear in my Bitstrips. Sadly, you can only use your friends on Facebook in these Bitstrips. In addition, maybe I want to add a couple extra background characters as well. Bitstrips currently limits you to two characters.
Only on Facebook (See Update Below)
Personally, the fact you seemingly can only access this through Facebook doesn't bug me, but I know it will be annoying to a lot of non-FB users. They have a nice website, so why not put the app on there?
Bitstrips is by far the most fun I've had on Facebook in years. No joke. It allows ANYONE to make their own comic, which is a great thing for people who have no artistic ability (me). It's a fun and easy to use app that you'll be using every day. I love everything about the design and layout. I highly recommend checking out the website to get started, but be weary. You will lose hours of your life on this app.
Apparently, there's a whole section of the website, which I missed, where you can create these strips without using Facebook, so consider this editorial to be just about the Facebook App, and ignore the heck out of my "Only on Facebook" complaint. For now, I'm diving head first into the actual site.
Here's a few more of mine just to let you all know how weird I am in real life.
Mat "Inferiorego" Elfring is a comedian, comic book writer, good friend, and host of Mat & Lewis Vs The Internet podcast.
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