In this short tutorial I’m trying to explain how to make dialog comic balloons in Photoshop. This is not a basic Photoshop tutorial, as you must be familiar with the pen tool and layers. Dialog balloons are usually already positioned when doing story board or your initial sketches.( It helps a lot from keeping your panel become overcrowded with balloons). If you are sure about your balloon placements then you can ink them straight away. I think adding the balloons later on makes my comic look neater and I can always change the balloons afterwards.
I’m using a panel from a Work In Progres comic by Rick Pipito from Scrypt Comics.
1. Inserting the text
Prepare the text in Wordpad or notepad, preferably not in Word as sometimes when you copypaste directly from Word some errors may occur.
Copy paste the text using text tool. Try to make a box by click and holding the text tool and then paste the text, this help to estimate the size of text box. Choose the middle justified option for alignment. Sometimes you have to manually adjust by pressing enter to make the text aligned nicely.
2. Bubble shape
There are several type of speech or dialog bubbles/balloons. It could be squares, squares with round edges, oval/round bubbles. Manga or Japanese comics have taller rounded balloons because of the way Japanese is written from top to bottom. Whilst the Western alphabet is usually written from left to right which makes wider balloons. Its a natural consequence of the language. That’s why sometimes it feels awkward (IMO) when someone shove dense English text into a Japanese balloon type for the sake of looking Manga -ish.
In this example I’m using oval/round balloons.
Make a new layer that serves as place to hold or your speech or balloon bubble.
There are several tails, You can make a straight one or a curly one.
a. The Straight Tail
The straight one is pretty easy use the Polygonal lasso tool and while holding shift add the straight tail to your balloons selection.
b.The curly tail
Use the pen tool for this one. Create a curly tail, don’t use too many curves as it might give a flying effect to the speech ( unless you want that effect).
After finishing the curly tail. Right click and choose add selection.
Then fill in the selection as usual.
4 .Outlining the bubble
The first method is you select the bubble and use the stroke option from Edit. Try and error the thickness of your speech bubble depending the resolution of your picture. I usually use a 300 dpi file, while for this example I used a 72 dpi where I can only use a stroke thickness between 1-3 pixels.
The next method you can use is changing the layer style to stroke. Click the fx icon on the layer window or go to Layers -> Layer Style -> Stroke.
I usually choose the inside option so that the end of the tail stays pointy.
The advantage of using the layer method is that you can have a uniform style for the whole page without individually clicking and stroking each speech bubble.
And now your speech bubble is ready.
Again this is my method, you can find other tutorial that might fit your style of method of work.
… now back to the drawing board.