Pixton: A Comic Maker for Beginners

Pixton is a FREE comic, storyboard, and graphic novel maker that can be used by students, educators, and businesses. All that is required to become a user of this interface (regardless of what it will be used for) is an email. Upon signing-up, the user will have a seven-day free trial of all the interface’s features and tools. Once the free trial is over, the user will be asked to upgrade to continue using all the functions. However, even if the user chooses not to purchase the upgraded version, their work will remain available and the basic functions will still be available to use. Users who wish to upgrade can choose from three different packages:

“Monthly Membership” — $9.99 a month and users receive one new content pack per month

“Access Everything” — $24.99 a month and users receive access to all the content packs

“Annual All-Access Plan” — $99.00 a year and users receive access to everything for a year

Users can also choose to buy individual content packs. Prices vary per pack ($5.99-$14.99), and the user keeps the pack forever.

Pixton for Business Users

Users who use Pixton for their business are offered different templates than those using the interface for school purposes.

Business users are offered templates that can help with business related projects such as announcing an event, a new policy, or a project update.

For example, the “Project Update” template comes with three premade panels that include a character, a simple background, and text. The text in the panels are related to the template’s topic and can help users communicate the information that pertains to their business. Users can change the backgrounds of the panels but once they do so, a watermark appears on the panels. This happens even during the user’s free trial. The watermark will also appear on the panels if any other changes are made like changing the text or making changes to the character. It’s unclear if the watermarks disappear if the user pays for one of the packages available such as the “All Access” package, but if that’s the case, Pixton only really works if the user pays for it. Even if the user chooses not to use a template and make their own comic, the watermark still appears.

The watermark that appears after editing. Source: Pixton.com

During the free trial, users can download their comics. The comic downloads as a png file, and this appears to be the only way users can digitally share their work with others. Users can also print their comics during the free trial. The user can choose to print their work either as a comic strip or a graphic novel.

Printing and downloading comics appear to be the only forms of sharing one’s work.

Overall, Pixton can help a user with a business project since it offers different ways of presenting information, but there aren’t many templates like those found in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Artistically, Pixton can help if the business isn’t looking for high-end graphic design visuals.

Policy Announcement Template. Source: Pixton.com

Pixton for Educators

Pixton can be a good tool for teachers who teach grades 1–12. Creating content on Pixton is relatively simple and that is why the interface is a good tool for students in elementary or middle school. The tool probably becomes less useful for students in high school and college since the features are simplistic and there’s not much room for visually complex content. However, educators who teach high school or college students can still find Pixton useful if the expectations of their class aren’t artistically high. Otherwise, Pixton will mainly be useful for teachers with younger students.

Page where students appear. Source: Pixton.com

Educators who want to use Pixton for their classrooms simply have to sign up using an email. To connect with their students, the teacher has to share a link with their class. Additionally, educators can have multiple classrooms on Pixton. Educators are also able to create their own comics, and unlike business users, watermarks don’t appear on their comics even as non-paying users. However, there are many backgrounds and characters that are locked even during the free trial. To access the locked content, the user must purchase the pack that has the locked background or character in it.

Locked items that are available in content packs. Source: Pixton.com

Therefore, Pixton is only an effective tool if the users have access to all the packs. Since students wouldn’t have access to all the features, being able to evaluate student’s work on Pixton might prove difficult since teachers could notice a lack of variety in students’ works. The main aspect of the students’ work that will be unique to the student is going to be the writing on the panels, but visually, there might not be much variation since students will be limited to using the same backgrounds and characters. This is also why educators who teach higher level students will likely find Pixton an inadequate tool for their students to use and evaluate their work on.

Pixton for Students

Students can join whether or not they are using Pixton for a class. Like educators or business users, all students have to do is use an email to sign up. Upon signing up, the student has three days to use all the features. After the three days, many of the features are locked and require an upgrade to unlock. Using Pixton is simple and anyone who has basic computer skills will successfully be able to use it. When using Pixton, the interface puts emphasis on six elements: background, characters, focus, words, faces and actions.

Creating a comic. Source: Pixton.com

Although the user can pick the background of their choosing, there is no way of customizing a background. All backgrounds are premade and can’t be altered. Meanwhile, characters can be dressed differently, but the outfits also can’t be customized, and all characters are human beings. This can be a problem for users who want to make their characters animals or mythical creatures. Additionally, users get 400 characters for each panel, and they can write whatever they want. There are also many faces and poses to choose from for a character, but most are locked after the free trial, making it difficult to choose what a character is doing if the user doesn’t have access to all the options.

Editing characters. Source: Pixton.com

Collaboration

Being able to collaborate with others on Pixton projects can also prove challenging since it doesn’t allow users to share their work with other users on the site. The only way two or more people can work on a project is if they have access to each other’s accounts.

Sharing work can either be done by printing out or downloading a comic, but these functions are locked after the free trial expires.

Therefore, there is no point in using Pixton if the user doesn’t have access to the downloading or printing options on the site since sharing content won’t be possible.

Page shown when clicking on locked features. Source: Pixton.com

While Pixton can be a useful tool for people with limited artistic skills, professional artists will find the interface limiting.

Pixton is not a tool that allows the user to make changes like in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Pixton depends on visuals that have been created by the interface, and therefore, artists who have specific illustrations in mind can’t create them on the site. For these reasons, mainly young students with simple school projects will find Pixton useful. For students in elementary or middle school, Pixton can be a good tool to use to get into the world of comic and graphic novel making. Essentially, it is a useful interface for beginners, but anyone with high artistic and software skills will find Pixton ineffective.

UIC undergrad majoring in English with a minor in communication