Create an illustrated comic strip and story from multiple source images

Create an illustrated comic strip and story from multiple source images

by Liz Traynor



What you’ll learn

My goal was to produce a story and present it in a comic strip format. In this tutorial you will learn how to juxtapose parts of one photograph onto another, add titles to an image, turn photographs into illustrations and transpose images into a comic strip format.

What you’ll need

Pro Camera (or other camera app)
Image Blender
Title Fx
Strip Design

Back Story

The idea for this comic strip came about when I was on a recent camping trip to Fraser Island. The location is not really relevant to this tutorial, however, as the base image for the comic strip is just the outside of a public toilet. I have a 6 year old son who, for some reason, needs to use a public toilet whenever we are out and about.

On this particular day we were traveling back across the island to get to the barge which would take us back to the mainland. Of course, bladders need releasing so I found myself waiting outside the public toilet while Noah (my son) did his thing inside. While I was waiting, I looked up and saw the signs indicating the male and female toilets.

The idea of using these signs in a story just came to me like a flash of lightning inside my head. I took a couple of quick photos and we continued on our way. Over the next few days, I kept thinking about the signs and how I could turn them into a story. I knew that it was a classic tale of ‘boy meets girl’ but how was I going to convey this? It was then that I had the idea of collecting other signs and backgrounds so that I could tell the story of how they met. As I was taking photos of signs, their story started unfolding in my head.

Originally, I decided to turn the photos into a short slide-show movie where I could also include background music. This was how I first presented the series of photographs that make up the story. I decided to also turn it into a comic strip. I have used Strip Design a few times so I decided to revisit this app to achieve my vision.


To accomplish the vision I had for this image, I used the following apps:
Pro Camera to take all the photographs, but you could use the native iphone camera or any other replacement one.
Snapseed to crop or apply any adjustments to the original photo to make it a bit clearer where needed.
Juxtaposer to cut out parts of one photo, save them as a stamp and apply them to another photo.
Painteresque to give the images an illustrative feel.
Image Blender to tone down the illustrated look just a fraction.
Title Fx to add the titles to each image
Strip Design to create the actual comic strip
Pixlr-o-matic to give the completed comic strip a retro feel and look more like a page from an actual comic book.

Step 1

I started with the original photo of the signs outside the public toilet.


I simply put this into Title Fx to add the title of ‘Boy Meets Girl’. Once Title Fx is open, you double tap to edit and add text.


I then used the option buttons at the bottom of the app to change the font to ‘Ostrich”, adjusted the size, changed the colour to red, and gave the text a white background. I then moved the text to where I wanted it placed in the image.


Step 2

To create the love story of the signs and how they would communicate with each other I used Juxtaposer. I cut out the actual signs from the original photo and saved them both as stamps. To do this, I opened Juxtaposer and followed the promps to load the background image. I needed a scene so I chose a photo I had taken on the Island a few days ago which was of a grassy walkway.


I again followed the prompts provided by Juxtaposer and loaded Photograph 1.


Using the Pan & Zoom tool, I enlarged the image to make it easier to work with. The cutting out is all done using the Erase and Unerase tools. When using erase, simply use your finger to get rid of any parts of the top image that you don’t want. Use the Unerase tool or the ‘back’ tool if you make a mistake.


You can then move the top image to wherever you would like to place it against the background. A vital step is to always save these little cut-outs as you are going to need them again and you don’t want to go through the whole process of erasing and unerasing each time. To save as a stamp, go to the top left hand corner which is the menu bar. When you touch this, the option of ‘Save’ comes up.


Hit this, then hit ‘Save top image as stamp”


This saves your cut out image as a stamp and can be used again and again where needed. I also like to ‘save image’ and ‘save session’ at the same time. I then followed this same procedure to add the second sign. Go to the menu, hit ‘Load/Add’, then hit ‘Add new top image’.


Hit ‘load image’ and just reload the original photo of the public toilet signs back in.


Following the same procedure, cut out the parts you don’t want, save as a stamp and position where you would like this part to go. When happy, go to the menu again and save the whole image to your camera roll.


Step 3

This step is just a repeat of Step 1. I followed the same procedure as outlined in Step 1 to add the text as a title. I used all the same settings so that the images would be consistent with each other.


Steps 1, 2 and 3 were the basis for creating each image in my comic strip. I followed the same procedure to create each image. I thought about the background images I wanted to load into Juxtaposer first, then I layered in the signs. In the images that used other signs, such as the 1Hour Parking sign or the Speed Bump sign, I again, followed the procedure outlined in Step 2 to create stamps and then apply them as a top image, arranging them where I wanted them then saving the whole image to my camera roll.

Step 4

I then wanted to give each of the completed images an illustrated look, as most comic strips are drawings not photographs. To do this I opened Painteresque. On the bottom left hand side of the app, is the ‘Select Image’ option. By hitting this, it brings up all the images on my camera roll and other folders. I imported one of the images I had saved.


Painteresque then did it’s thing such as ‘narrowing gwenbits’ and ‘magic scooberizing’ to produce an image that looks like an illustration.


I played around a bit with the style by using the ‘Style’ button. This gives you quite a few options for how you would like the image to finish up looking. My favourites are Painteresque 2 and Lithograph.


It also allows you to fine tune your image if you want to. When I was happy, I saved the image to my camera roll. I did this with each of the images I had produced in Steps 1, 2 and 3.

Step 5

I call this the ‘tweaking’ step because I find that the Painteresque images can be a bit over-powering so I like to tone them down a bit. Using Image Blender I was able to import both the Painteresque version of an image and the original version of an image into the left hand side option and the right hand side option.


I then experimented with the opacity (the slider down the bottom of the screen) until I was happy with how the image looked.

I then saved this one to my camera roll. I did this with all the images.

Step 6

A little bit more tweaking in this step. You don’t have to do this unless you really want to. I like to run all my finished images through Snapseed. Using the ‘Tune Image’ tool, I can adjust the brightness, ambiance, contrast, saturation and white balance of an image.


To access these options while in ‘Tune Image’, you have to touch the screen and move your finger up or down over the different options.


I tweaked each of my comic strip images in this way until I was happy with the overall look of each of them. I now had all the images I needed to complete my comic strip.

Step 7

To create the comic strip, I opened Strip Design. One of the many good things about this app is that it not only has in-built templates but it also allows you to make your own templates in whatever design you choose. It can be a little tricky, at least it is for me, but it is definitely worth experimenting with. I went through the following substeps to come up with my comic strip.
a) Hit ‘Create New’


b) Hit ‘Create your own


c) Hit, ‘Create strip layout’


d) The tricky part – follow the prompts to cut cells with your finger. Tap on cell icon to toggle cell type. By this stage, I knew that I needed 9 cells to make up my comic strip. I also had an idea of how big I wanted each cell to be. Swiping your finger across the page, cuts the cells along this line. You can create all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes this way.


You can also adjust Margin Size and Size of the finished strip in this step.




e) Hit the ‘done’ button when you are finished creating your template.


f) To import each photo, simply hit each cell and follow the prompts to import the photos from your camera roll or other folder. You can also add speech bubbles, stickers, effect text or more cells within your cells. You could experiment with frames, filters, vignettes or even draw on your comic strip. I did not use any of these options. The hardest part for me was making my images fit into the cells I had created. I needed to keep going back to the layout page and adjusting the margins of each cell so that my images were perfectly inside each cell. With a bit of practice this becomes a lot easier to do. I experimented with many options before finishing up with my comic strip.


I could have also gone into Effects at this stage to give my comic strip a retro feel but I opted for using a different app to achieve this – wouldn’t want to make life easy now would I?


g) Save finished comic strip to camera roll.

Step 8

To finish off my comic strip, I wanted to give it a ‘torn from a retro comic book’ feel. I opened Pixlr-o-matic and uploaded my finished comic strip from Step 7. Using the options at the bottom of the app, I chose ‘Sun’ filter for the retro look and Perga border for the torn look.




I again saved this to my camera roll. Finally, I was finished.


This was quite a lengthy project. It took several days to photograph all the signs and backgrounds I needed and approximately 4 – 6 hours to complete the comic strip itself. I didn’t do all of this in one sitting. In fact, a lot of it was completed as my husband drove us home from our camping holiday. Needless to say, I wasn’t much company on the drive home but once I get involved in a project, I like to keep working on it until I’ve finished. I have also been collecting photographs of signs to continue the love story on in further episodes so it has been a good thing for me to write this tutorial so that I can remember how to achieve it again.

Bob Weil

Bob is the co-author of The Art of iPhone Photography (with Nicki Fitz-Gerald), published by Rocky Nook photography books and supports Nicki in managing iPhoneography Central and the associated Flickr group.


  1. Miranda said:

    This is a lovely example of using several apps to create a non-generic design…the page actually looks like it was reproduced from a graphic novel. It’s impossible to see the footprints of any specific app, which is actually hard to do with so many auto-paint programs on the market.

  2. Anne Highfield said:

    What a fine tutorial by a great artist and genuinely nice person. Thank you for sharing work that inspires the rest of us!

  3. Liz Traynor said:

    Thank-you so much Anne. You are so lovely. I think exactly the same way about you. 🙂

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