Mar 06 2009

Free Comic Book Scripting Software

Celtx is a free scripting program that is designed for comic books (among other types of scripts).  I find it very useful.

THE EXCELLENT

  • It produces scripts that are generally easier to read and navigate than Microsoft Word.
  • Easy to learn.  It took me 10 minutes to figure it out by trial and error.
  • It’s extremely good at converting scripts into typeset.  (You can see an example here).  A typeset separates the in-panel text (like dialogue, captions and sound effects) from the text that won’t actually appear in the panel, like your directions to the artist.  That’s useful because it helps you gauge how large the panels will have to be to accommodate the text.
  • It’s free!

THE GOOD

  • Handles comments notably better than Word.
  • It’ll help you keep your comic book documents separate from your other files.
  • If you like to fill out index cards with important details about characters or places, it can help keep those details accessible and organized.
  • Built-in spellchecker.  Not that important for a professional proofreader, but you might find it helpful.

THE BAD

  • It’s not as easy to add dialogue as new pages or panels.
  • They should add buttons for New Panel and New Page.
  • It can’t save scripts as Word files.  Everybody (like friends and editors) is comfortable with Word.  Right now, if I have a Celtx script that I want to show you, I have to also tell you how to download Celtx and pray that you figure out the software quickly.

One last note. I haven’t had a chance to test its printing capabilities yet.  Given that Celtx can’t produce Word files (as far as I know), its ability to print usable scripts is essential.

31 responses so far

31 Responses to “Free Comic Book Scripting Software”

  1. t3knomanseron 06 Mar 2009 at 3:37 pm

    If you’re on a Mac and willing to drop a few bucks, Scrivener is a great option. Completely unstructured, it will “compile” your document into a script, a novel, a screenplay, or whatever you need. It lets you work however you like, and then produces the output you need, when you need it.

    Celtx, which I’ve used, is a great, free option. Scrivener is not free, but worth its price, I think.

  2. Ragged Boyon 06 Mar 2009 at 3:51 pm

    It looks promising, but I think I’ll just stick with Word. I don’t think there would be a point to making the comic script at Celtx, then pasting it to Word and having to format it all over again. Besides I don’t find Word all that bothersome.

    I’ll probably look into their screenplay formatting equipment, though.

  3. Holliequon 06 Mar 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Hmm . . . I remember ScriptFrenzy having a Word template for screenplays . . . I think that could be pretty easily editted for a comic book script (they also have a thing for how to format a comic script, but no template as far as I can see). Here’s the link if you’re curious:

    http://www.scriptfrenzy.org/eng/howtoformatascreenplay

    It’s at the very bottom of the page. There’s also one for stage plays, but I’m not sure how it’s different. :S

  4. Dforceon 06 Mar 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Say, B. Mac,

    On the preview video (in the splash page, as they called it) I saw an “Audio Video” project template. Could you tell me more about it? (I’m really hoping its what I think it is – an animation program of sorts…).

  5. Dforceon 06 Mar 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Yay! I DL’d it, and it looks great! I’m considering this as a Late Birthday present, you know.

    Quick question: What sort of info would one put on a character’s Index Card? And how would you update it? (As in, do you update it, i.e., add new information as the newer issues come out [lol], or do you put it all from the beginning?)… just wondered…

  6. Dforceon 06 Mar 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Did I mention I’m really happy with Celtx right now? (I’ll stop now; sorry).

  7. B. Macon 07 Mar 2009 at 7:54 am

    I tried using the index cards to organize scenes in the comic, as well as important details about what happens and why. (Note: if cards #3 and #6 are cut off, you can right-click the picture and hit something like View Image and that should help).


    Celtx makes it pretty easy to reorganize the plot-cards. For example, how would the story be different if I had Agent Orange confront Marty before Agent Black’s training rather than after? I suspect that having Agent Orange wait until Black’s training is useful because 1) it keeps Black from getting sidelined and 2) makes Agent Orange look more magnanimous for waiting until it’s absolutely clear that his new partner is dangerously unready.

  8. Ragged Boyon 07 Mar 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I’m going to give Celtx another shot, just because it looks so professional. It also looks kind of fun. I need to learn how to figure everything out.

    I’ll start my Sketch comic in it and see where that goes.

  9. Holliequon 07 Mar 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Hmm. If I decide to do ScriptFrenzy this year I’ll use this. It looks pretty good.

  10. Kosetsuon 08 Mar 2009 at 11:53 am

    Oooh, perfect. My friend and I are trying to start up a webcomic, with me as writer and him as artist, so this’ll be great for organizing the flow of script and such.

  11. Dforceon 08 Mar 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Another question:

    Is there a way to add SFX as their own lines?

  12. B. Macon 08 Mar 2009 at 9:02 pm

    If you add a Bubble, you can write in SFX yourself. That’s also how I did the dialogue above, by writing in AGENT BLACK and AGENT ORANGE.

  13. Dforceon 08 Mar 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I did that, and now I have a character named SFX! lol

  14. B. Macon 08 Mar 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Heh heh.

  15. Markon 08 Mar 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Dear B. Mac,

    You are correct in that we do not support the generating of Word files. As you know, MS Word uses proprietary file formats, which is the whole idea – to make it difficult for third parties to generate the same.

    In any event, you have couple of options for sharing your Project (or script).

    1. You can export your script as a text file (accessed through ‘Script’ in the main menu), which will open in any text editor, including Word.

    2. You can save your Project to your Celtx Studio, and then create a Preview. A Preview is a web accessed version of your Project that people can view in their browser (so no need for them to have celtx installed). They will need a celtx account in order to access the Preview (you add their username to the list of approved Viewers) however, this is free. The Preview page has a threaded discussion feature for supporting comments etc.

    Hope this helps.

  16. Cadet Davison 09 Mar 2009 at 9:23 am

    You can see an example of this in action by registering for a free Celtx Studio membership and then checking out our sample script here. Does this look easy to read and comment on?

    My impression is no.
    1. It’s too hard to find the script here.

    2. I didn’t want to include my notes on each of the characters. I want my reviewers to evaluate my script. That’s what a publisher will see, not these character notes.

    3. It’s annoying that people have to sign up before they can start commenting. Is that really necessary?

    Here’s how I would recommend doing it instead.
    Save your Celtx script as an HTML file, and upload that instead to a site like MediaFire. Then people can download your script pretty easily, and then you can give out easy links like this. Then we can handle comments through something like Microsoft Word.

  17. Dforceon 10 Mar 2009 at 7:00 pm

    B. Mac,

    When, in Comic format, finishing a page that was labeled, say “(six panels),” is there any way to make it so that the next page you work on doesn’t automatically say “(six panels)” too, or do you have to guess how many panels its gonna take before you begin work on it? (The auto labeling only affects typeset view, though, so its not terribly annoying, but still…).

  18. B. Macon 11 Mar 2009 at 3:23 am

    Hmm. I haven’t had any problems with that yet, Dforce. I include the panel count at the end of the paragraph of page description. Does that help?

  19. Ragged Boyon 31 Mar 2009 at 6:17 pm

    I’m currently using Celtx to organize my story for Showtime. I still doubt that I will actually type my script here, but I find it very useful for organization.

    I don’t like that it wants me to write a page for each note that I make.

  20. B. Macon 31 Mar 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Can you do notes on the title page? That might be one way you could take notes that aren’t related to any particular page.

  21. ikarus619xon 10 Apr 2009 at 10:50 pm

    What about free comic art software?

  22. Ragged Boyon 11 Apr 2009 at 5:38 am

    B. Man once showed me Paint.NET, but I never really got into it. Is there anyway you could show me examples of works done with Paint.NET?

  23. B. Macon 11 Apr 2009 at 7:21 am

    Paint.NET is free, but it’s not as good as Photoshop, though.

  24. jnyxon 16 Apr 2010 at 3:27 am

    I have been using Celtx for 2 years and recently found you can save the comic script in .pdf format (this is done within the software) which allows it to stay in comic format when printing and emailing it to illistrators or editors. As long as the person has adobe they can open it.

    Also, if you have “readers” reading the dialog (for editing reasons), just adapt it to “stageplay” and they can focus on reading the dialog without gettin confused with panel description. I love this software, especially thr google gadget for adding reference images for my artist (so she luvs this software as well, makes collaborations much easier).

  25. B. Macon 16 Apr 2010 at 5:57 am

    How can you save the script as a .pdf? I’m not seeing that. (Do you have one of the paid versions?)

    I did find the save-as-HTML feature, which is pretty clean.

  26. K Perryon 01 Jun 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I tried CeltX and I really didn’t like it but I’m a novel writer and not a comic book writer. There are plugins for MSWord and while they aren’t free, they are much better than CeltX. I bought a macro program for MS Word called WIZARDS FOR AUTHORS and it is the best tool ever for writers.

  27. B. Macon 01 Jun 2011 at 7:14 pm

    “I tried CeltX and I really didn’t like it but I’m a novel writer, and not a comic book writer.” Yeah, I think CeltX’s extra features are a lot more useful for comic book writers than novelists.

    One thing that I’d like to be able to do in Word but haven’t yet figured out is how to link multiple chapters into the same document without staring at a 70,000+ word document every time I want to edit something. (IE: I can do Page Up and Page Down very quickly with my keyboard, but I’d really love the equivalent for Chapter Up and Chapter Down as well).

  28. ekimmakon 01 Jun 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Hang on, I think I found a way around that… just need to remember it.

  29. Comicbookguy117on 01 Jun 2011 at 8:16 pm

    “If you’re on a Mac and willing to drop a few bucks, Scrivener is a great option. Completely unstructured, it will “compile” your document into a script, a novel, a screenplay, or whatever you need. It lets you work however you like, and then produces the output you need, when you need it.”

    This sounds absolutely perfect for me. But I’ve got a PC. Is there an equivalent peice of software for PC?

  30. ekimmakon 01 Jun 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Strange. While working on my novel in MS Word, I used heading styles on the chapter titles. Whenever I dragged the scrollbar, it would tell me which chapter I was in, but can’t seem to find it now. And this is the third time I’ve tried to make this comment.

  31. Mavrickindigoon 23 Oct 2012 at 12:55 pm

    looking at google, it seems this program is good to convert things to PDF. Most people have PDF readers, and I”m sure you can convert from PDF to .doc simply enough

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