Thinking outside the frame with toonlet®

allen_color I’ve been known to feature a toonlet® web comic in my blog from time to time. “What is a toonlet®?” you ask.® is the brainchild of Craig Schwartz and Seth Ladygo. It is essentially a Mr. Potato head inspired web toon toolkit that also adds 21st century features like resizing, rotation and repositioning. It’s really pretty easy to figure out, but here’s a basic toonlet® tutorial if you feel you need one. Oh by the way, it’s free to join and create cartoons, here is a link to my personal toonlet® collection.

If you play with toonlet® you see that at the moment the characters are strictly black and white, and you can only fill in flat background colors to help you express moods or just to make it colorful.

tixrus_laugh_final I’ve been pushing the envelope a bit. The illustration at the top of this post is one of my characters. I sucked him out of toonlet® and colorized him as if the image were a coloring book page. That is, I used the bucket fill tool of the GIMP to dump solid colors into white areas. Why limit yourself to filling in white areas? I wanted my laughing Dork character to have a red hoodie rather than a black one, (if you know me in real life I’m sure you’ve seen my red hoodie!!) so I took it a step further and started playing with painting to lighten and you see the result.

Then, an interesting thing happened. I was telling a friend about toonlet® and he got the idea it was animated. It’s not (YET, but that’s another thing I can add to their LONG feature request queue.) But that conversation really made me want to animate my “fist shaking” toonlet® character. There is nothing to stop you making a series of poses inside toonlet®, exporting them and using the layer features of GIMP to create a GIF animation. Here’s how to do that, if you’re interested. I made this crude animation as a test. Imagine that with color frames and the eyes and hair moving too. Next Rev Coming UP!!


Animated GIF’s are usually bad news, but not if they are the whole POINT of the exercise. Anyway, all these experiments do have an ulterior purpose, which will be blogged soon in a future Hot Dorkage blog post coming to a browser near you.

10 comments to Thinking outside the frame with toonlet®

  • I’ll give Toonlet a go on my blog. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • This is the firsat encounter I’ve had with Toonlet – it is definitely worth a mention on my facebook page, and I’ve gone over there and Stumbled the homepage…..

  • I had seen the Toonlets before in some of your posts, but didn’t realize they had a toolkit. I am gonna have to play around with that some, it looks pretty cool 🙂

  • These toonlets are pretty cool looking I must say. I like the first one. He seems like such a creeper. With his long and, yes potato shaped head. His droopy eyes and mustache. His little helicopter cap. If I saw this guy anywhere I would defiantly run away.


  • This tutorial mada me laugh. Kinda. It’s like if someone tried to explain to you how to use notepad. It’s just so obvious… (which is a good thing btw, the interface is amazingly user friendly)

  • admin

    He’s not so bad in real life. (He’s based on one of my friends.) All toonlets are exaggerations. If you met anyone in real life that actually looked like any one of them they would be a freak. Someone actually built an animated full size robot of Barbie proportions. When it actually walks among us, it is a freak. When it’s 12″ tall thing that little girls play with, it seems normal. Toonlets are normal within their own wacky little world.

  • oh so you can make your own ‘toonlet’… and then eventually make it into a web comic (since the first entry i read was “laugh poop and die: a toonlet comic that won’t give you diabetes”)… very cool! i will definitely try to make my own over the weekend.. i noticed that all the characters only face the reader, are you limited to ‘draw’ that one angle? but hey i’m sure it’d be fun!

  • the first pic is very interesting one, the little helicopter cap with his face is funny . hah hah hah

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