How to create comic versions of photos using your phone and why you might want to!

I was reading up on the updates that came with iOS12 on the iPhone and I discovered you can access some new photo filters: Comic Book, Comic Mono, Ink, Watercolour and Watercolour Mono. The downside is you can only use these filters within Messages, but you can save to your photos for reuse later.

Above is an example of a photo of me taken using the Comic Mono filter. I’ve captured how to do this below. This is partially for my own benefit so I can come back to it but also to demonstrate that it is actually easy to do if you follow the steps.

How to access the comic book filter on an iPhone

  • Open the Messages app and start or reply to a conversation.
  • Tap the camera button to open the camera and then tap the spirograph-star button in the lower-left corner.
  • Next, tap the red-green-blue Filters button and scroll to the right to find the five new photo filters
  • Then tap the X button to close the Filters drawer.
  • The Messages app chooses the front-facing selfie camera by default, but you can select the rear-facing camera instead and keep the filter effect in place.
  • Tap the shutter button to take a photo with your chosen filter
  • Then tap the blue-arrow button to send it or Done button to add it to your text message and return to the Messages app. Either way, the photo is saved to your iPhone’s camera roll.

The filter works using both the front-facing selfie camera and the rear camera which you use to take photos. Now whilst you may not necessarily want to create a comic selfie, and given the emphasis on my hamster cheeks maybe I won’t be using this as my next profile picture; however it did get me thinking it could be a fun way to engage in digital storytelling. This could be done by creating a storyboard using images taken with an iPhone camera and one of the filters to produce a comic style strip as a digital story.

It should be noted that there are also many free online tools to create comic style stories (see some examples in the list at the end of this post).

Digital storytelling is way of using digital artefacts such as images, film or audio that can be shared digitally. It could also include taking photos of sketchnotes or creations using Lego, playdough or anything else you might choose to use! Digital stories might be shared for example via a blog or website, through social media or in an online discussion forum. Original photos or those with a Creative Commons licence can be used equally as well in a digital story and in a previous post I shared how Lumen 5 can curate these into a video. Chris Thomson’s blog is an excellent resource for all things ‘Storytelling’.

Photo elicitation is a technique where a single or collection of photos (or other images such as paintings, cartoons, graffiti) can be used as a stimulus for conversation. This method can be used in research to ‘elicit comments’ from participants – photos can be chosen by the interviewer or by individuals. It can also be used as a form of open discussion. Usually undertaken face to face but there are no doubt multiple ways this could be replicated online. Liz Austen has written about how we can meaningfully listen to students’ voices using images.


Educational uses for digital storytelling or photo elicitation

Below are some examples of how these two approaches might be applied.

  • Create personal narratives – aspirations, achievements, significant events, inspirations, reflective learning journeys
  • Produce narratives to convey student support focused information
  • A way to portray synthesised research visually
  • As a focus for discussion
  • An opportunity to develop digital skills and creative ways of communicating


Other comic strip tools

About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
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