Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow, obviously, but with Halftone 2 the power to make a comic that answers that question for yourself is found on your iOS device. By pairing an impressive array of page layout and speech bubble templates with your own personal photos, Halftone 2 will have you producing sharp-looking comic pages in no time.
For Halftone 2's US$1.99 asking price you get a lot to work with. You start out by loading your photos into one of the app's 33 prepared page layouts. Once you have your images in place, it's time to add dialog by placing speech bubbles and thought boxes on your images. There are 33 different kinds of bubbles to choose from: thought boxes to arrows to puffy clouds.
Users can pick from any font that's currently on their phone for text, along with various sliders for changing the color and size of your dialog. If you've seen it in a comic book, it's probably at your disposal. Once you've placed your dialog, you can adjust the size and alignment of each bubble with simple finger swipes.
Beyond the simple, yet powerful, templates you get 83 sound effect stamps from Comicraft -- think the 60's Batman show -- allowing you to add Bang!, Wahoo!, and Pow!'s to your stories. Halftone 2 currently features only one in-app purchase, and it's all thanks to the popularity of these stamps. For an extra $1.99, the app serves up an additional 51 graphic sound effects for your stamping pleasure.
The provided tools take about ten minutes of playing around with to really get a solid grasp on, especially if you're stuck using an iPhone rather than iPad. Once you're in the groove, playtime is only limited by your imagination or the limits of your photo collection. And you're not just limited to single page issues...
Thankfully Halftone also allows for the building of multiple page comics, which can be exported out of the app as documents, pdfs and even .CBZ files for reading in Simple Comics. The app also includes a "anaglyph color modification" option that allows you to transfer your comics to 3d, provided you've got the red/blue glass needed to see the effect.
With Halftone 2 you can write a short comic book about your cat's disapproval of your home decorating.
Or you can write a love letter to someone special.
What you choose to do with Halftone 2 is up to you.
Halftone 2 is the sort of app I'd love to leave a six year old alone with for a few hours, just to see what came out of their brain. The only thing holding the app back from being perfect for kids is the inability to take pictures directly in the app. Switching back and forth between camera and app eventually takes away some of the thrill of building comics on the fly. However, if you've already got a lot of photos on your device, you're ready to roll.
As I've been writing this review, Halftone has been updated multiple times. That is frustrating for me as a reviewer, but great for you as a user. Developer Juicy Bits has gone out of its way to make Halftone 2 as user-friendly as possible, down to including video tutorials to answer fan questions. This dedication to building the best user experience possible shows through in every aspect of the app. If you've ever wanted to write a comic but don't have the artistic skills, Halftone 2 is going to open a wonderful door to your creativity. It's certainly worth $1.99, and every hour of your life you pour into it writing your stories.