Finding the Edges of Your Page
“Finding the Edges of Your Page” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Some consider Google Drawings little more than a mimic of Microsoft Paint. On the surface this would seem true. However, this seeming simplicity is often also its strength. I would sum Google Drawings up as an application that allows you to format and arrange various objects on a flexible canvas. Nothing more and nothing less. Once you see the pieces, then the various possibilities open up, whether they be:

Sometimes the challenge with an application like Drawings is finding an idea that allows you to explore the various possibilities. In the past I used a task involving the creation of a visual quote. Although this ideas is both simple and creative, I felt that it does not capture all of the nuances. One activity that I have been working on lately that does capture many of possibilities of Google Drawings is the idea of creating a comic.

There are some things that I miss from my iPad when using the web. One app in particular is ComicBook! This app makes creating a comic easy. It does this by providing a range of templates, text boxes and stickers, which you can integrate with your own images and visual curations in order to create cartoons. It occurred to me that you could easily replicate the different elements using Google Drawings.

  1. Start by choosing the size of the canvas. You do this by going to File > Page Setup. If you want an A4 canvas enter 21×29.7cm.
  2. Design your storyboard. The simplest way to do this would be to add a table. However, to break the page up , you can add various shapes, flipping, rotating and adjusting them to get the right mix. For more irregular shapes, polylines and curves allow you to make custom shapes, as well as easily edit them by double-clicking on the finished product.
  3. The next step is to choose the backgrounds. By default shapes are filled with solid colour. For intricate creations, you can combine different shapes to make a landscape. Otherwise add an background image via the Explore Tool. To change the shape of these images, either crop the image or mask it with a shape. That is the little drop-down next to the crop button.
  4. Placed on top of the backgrounds, add props and characters to further unpack each of the scenes. When searching for images it is important to look for .PNG files as they will maintain the transparency, therefore showing the background. Another option is to use Bitemojis via the Chrome extension. This allows users to create their own characters.
  5. Once the story is told visually, add in callouts to tell the story. These can be found in shapes. To add text simply double-click on the shape and a cursor will appear. In addition to this, you can add your own style in the form of fonts. To do this, click on the fonts and go down to the bottom where there is the option to add more fonts. You can add as many fonts as you like to your list, but be aware that the more you add the longer it can take to load new Docs.
  6. When the cartoon is finished, there are a number of options when it comes to publishing. If you want to place the cartoon into a Doc or Slide, then you can use the web clipboard to copy the contents across. If this is too fiddly then you can download the image and insert this. Another idea is to create a collaborative publication with Slides and get everyone to  to add their page. You could even get students to do something like summarise a novel together by retelling a chapter each and combining the finished images in the one shared document.

For those interested, I have made a template for those wanting a starting point. It also needs to be noted that you could just as easily create the same thing in a Slides presentation. However, Drawings provides more flexibility, especially if you want to publish to different spaces.

So what about you? What are the different ways that you use Google Drawings? As always comments welcome.


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Making Comics with Google Drawings by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

8 thoughts on “Making Comics with Google Drawings


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