Quick Word Balloon Tutorial


A quick 6 min video about common mistakes making word balloons, and my personal approach to addressing these issues. While there are several industry rules of thumb for word balloons, there is also a lot of experimentation across the board when you consider the full range of comic artists. Some prefer hand-lettering and hand-drawn balloons. Font conventions are changing over time as well. There are lots of techniques. The method I use is just one of many approaches to the deceptively simple art of lettering.

Alternative Methods

Looking for another way to make word balloons in Photoshop?

Jason Brubaker shares his method working on reMIND.

Or perhaps you’d like to make use of a different program?

Take a look at Lora Innes’ Easy Comic Lettering & Word Balloon Layout: Comic Life Tutorial. (She also wrote several great articles on comic lettering that will make you think about the subject on new levels!)

Or maybe you just want to study some DOs and DON’Ts?

Nate Piekos of Blambot Comic Fonts put together 10 amateur lettering mistakes that are always helpful to review every now and again!


Not so Simple

This aspect of comics is often over-looked or treated as an afterthought, but good lettering is key to good communication. If your text is hard to read, or it’s difficult to understand who a balloon belongs to, your readers will spend ther time squinting at your work trying to decipher it, rather than enjoying your joke or story. Don’t neglect this aspect of your work! Utilize some of the simple tricks I’ve shared to find a method that is easy, but still effective, in your comics.

Let’s realize your vision! I’m a Creative Consultant, and my first call (or text chat!) is always free. I also offer project development, crowd-funding coaching, and developmental editing. Contact me!

Curious about my creative work? LeyLines is the story of an irresponsible prince, his dream-weaving sister, and their adopted brother. When their mother dies under suspicious circumstances and a goddess asks them for help, they embark on a quest that will force them to choose between their family and their future. Read it at LeyLinesComic.com

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  1. Great tutorial. I always use vector-based programs for lettering. How do you manage the resolution issue with a raster program like Photoshop? Do you know in advance that you must make your bubbles print friendly and then work from there to export for the web?


    • I personally do all my lettering and word bubbles in Manga Studio at 600DPI. I do all my drawing and lettering in RGB as I just do not have the need to blow up my comics to the size of a billboard (at least at present). So I have found drawing and lettering at 600DPI to be great for the printing I do. I’ve had Dawn and others look at my books and they think they look sharp. Just my 2-cents. 🙂

    • I approach everything with the intention to print. So that’s definitely my starting point and I export for the web from there.

      There’s no right way to do word balloons. That’s part of why I wanted to share my method, because I was hoping people would share theirs! That way people can get a wide range of approaches.

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