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Strip Editor

What is it?
Any kinda comic you wanna create! A web based comic creation system.

Using a pre-defined library of sprites and backgrounds, you can choose any type of panel layout you want then start adding backgrounds and sprites to the panels. All this is using a JavaScript interface through your browser.

Your comic is then saved using AJAX to the server which can then generate your finished comic as a single image, so that everyone can easily view it.

or if you'd like you can play about with the system using this on-line sandbox

Technical stuff and FAQ

Required software
Microsoft .NET framework 2.0
Web server (IIS 5.0+ recommended or use Cassini)

Simply unzip the files into a directory on your web server, then goto the index.aspx file in your web browser.

Supported browsers
Internet Explorer

Firefox almost works, the code just needs a few tweaks. Opera doesn't really work. These are things I might fix but may be better served by experts in the community.

This is the first release of the software. I wrote this with a primary aim to get is working as quickly as possible in Internet Explorer. As such its compatibility with other browsers isn't perfect and there are lots of improvements that could be made to the code.

* Why does it take so long to load the first time I access it?
This is because the system is reading in all of the sprite and background image dimensions and passing storing them as JavaScript object arrays. This information is cached in web server memory after the files are scanned. But if the web browser recycles its memory or any of the sprites or backgrounds are changed, then all the images will be rescanned.

* Why does BUG X exist?
This is the first release of this software, there will be bugs. You can either report them to me so that I can add them to my list, or have a go at fixing them yourself! :)

Sprite features

Sprite collections
Any JPEG, PNG, GIF or BMP can be used as a sprite, although PNGs and GIFs are best as they have an alpha channel.

Each directory of sprites is turned into a option in the sprites dropdown menu, making it easy to categorise sprites into groups.

The C# back-end scans all the sprites and passes the image dimensions to the front-end through JavaScript object arrays. This allows the web browser to quickly access information about all the sprites.

Scaling and moving
Each sprite placed into the comic can easily be moved about by clicking on it and dragging it to the new position.

The black squares surrounding each sprite allow it to be resized into any shape. Making it bigger, smaller, wider, taller or a bit of everything.

Once a sprite is placed in the correct position, it can be locked in place which prevents it from being accidently moved about. A locked sprite can then be unlocked if you want to move it about again.

Sprite effects
There's no need to have multiple copies of each sprite facing in different directions, the system can automatically flip a sprite horizontally and vertically. So a sprite can face any direction you want.

Is Keen walking in front of or behind the ship? The choice is up to you with a changable z-Index for each sprite and text box, you can decide the order of things.

Is that explosion too bright? Then just change the alpha channel for it, you can set the transparancy of a sprite or textbox to whatever level you want.

Text features

A comic just isn't a comic without text. Text bubbles of any size, shape or colour can be created with the system.

Transparent colours and alpha effects are possible, meaning that however you'd like to text appear, you can achieve it.

Colours, borders, styles...
As these examples show, your textbox can have different border colours, styles and thicknesses.

You can change the font, the positioning of the text in the box from left, centre to right.

Make it bold, italic or change the background colour and alpha. It's all possible!

Other features

Just like the sprite collections, you can create libraries of different backgrounds that can then be set as a panel background.

Backgrounds are organised into groups, making it simple and quick to find what you want.

As soon as a sprite or textbox is selected you instantly get details of it's filename, position and size.

From the properties control you can then change it's z-index, alpha, flip effects and lock it into position.

The delete button also sits here, meaning sprites and textboxes can be removed from the comic if they are no longer needed.

Panel layout
You can create any type of panel layout you desire, from a simple 3 x 1 series of square boxes to a complex 50 panel comic of different sizes and positions.

The comic engine allows panels to exists within other panels, of any size of position. So you you can literally create any panel layout you want.

Panel layouts are held in an XML file, allowing both JavaScript and C# to access the infomation whilst making it easy to change and enhance with new layouts.

Create, save, update
A comic can be created anywhere in the world with an internet connection, then the layout saved over AJAX with the information being stored on the server.

This means that at a later date that comic can then be loaded through the browser and changes made to it.

We're talking full bi-directional communication here people!

How it works

The Strip Editor uses a combination of technologies to achieve the end result.

On the client side JavaScript is the primary player, allowing objects to be moved around, resized and altered all in the browser. This client-side scripting allows for a fulling working comic editor to be created using browser technologies.

AJAX is used for the saving and loading of comics. This means the layout of the created comic can be sent to the back-end systems which then go on to actually create the finished comic.

The comic information sent over AJAX is then received by a C# back-end system. As the C# application receives each piece of the comic layout it saves it into an XML file.

The final comic is then created by a C# drawing engine, this part of the system loads a comic XML file and then draws out each panel background, sprite and textbox using the GDI+ drawing interface available in .net. This generated comic then gets saved as a JPEG, GIF or PNG depending how the system is configured at that time.


The first released comic I made in the editor - you can view the actual generated comic here

And here is the second - you can view the actual generated comic here

This is how the system looked about one week into the build. Nothing was dynamically created in code at this point, it was all just hand written JavaScript to test out the client-side technologies

Nearer to completion I play about a little and decided Keen should take on Snake

These series of images were taken on a SLR camera, just for kicks

At this stage the interface is virtually finished