Wednesday 03rd June 2015,
Comic Booked

Everything Daily – Perfect Comic Balloons

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A Comic Balloon is that white “balloon” that floats above your character’s head that holds the text. Usually there’s a tail or a pointer that connects the balloon to the character, but you’ve all seen them and I can’t believe any of that was new, however, what maybe new to you is how to make perfect balloons every time.

I use oval balloons, but this will work for whatever shape you want to use, oval, square, pill shape, anything I’m sure. For my webcomic, The Drive In, I don’t draw the balloons or text on my pencils. I add them both in afterwards in Photoshop. This allows me a lot of freedom, revision and doesn’t showcase my poor oval drawing skills and bad printing.

 Open Photoshop and a PSD, either something to play and test in or one of your comics. Select your Oval Tool from the toolbar. This Tool, if you are not familiar will create vector shapes. Some of the primitive shapes are right there in the tool bar dropdown menu, the Oval might be hidden behind the Square Tool, but it’s there. Click and Drag your mouse across the screen to make an Oval the size and shape you desire. The Oval Tool will create its own layer. I generally keep my text and balloons at the top of my Layers Pallet so it’s above everything else in my comic, the lines, the inks, the color and anything else you might have in your file. You should now have an oval like the one I have titled BALLOON #1. You can pick any color, I’ve picked white.
In your Layers Pallet, duplicate the layer of the Oval you’ve just made. You should name your layers, name the top Oval – balloonTop, and bottom Oval – balloonBottom. Ad a Stroke to the balloonBottom layer using a Layer Style. My Stroke is 5 pixels and is set to Outside. This is very important. Your bottom layer, balloonBottom should always remain exactly the same size, shape and be perfectly aligned under the top layer balloon. You essentially have two ovals that are exactly the same, but with a stroke on the bottom balloon.

Now make a Pointer for your balloon. You can do this a variety of ways. You can draw it with you pen tool or maybe make a box with your square tool and delete a corner or dig through the extended shapes, any way is fine as long as you end up with a vector pointer. After you create a pointer, again, add a Stroke to it, make sure the Stroke size is the same as the balloon size, in my case, 5 pixels.

Pointer 1 has fat edges and doesn’t look very good. Pointer 2 is the same vector object as Pointer 1, but the Stroke has been switched to Inside. This looks great; you now have nice sharp edges. Pointer 3 is the same as Pointer 2, but has a curve in it, and you can do that too if you like or leave yours straight.



Remember I told you a few paragraphs back that your balloon has to be the exact same size, shape and perfectly aligned one above the other. This is why. Go ahead and move your Pointer off one side off your balloons and sandwich the Pointer Layer between the balloonTop and balloonBottom, it creates that balloon-pointer opening as in BALLOON #3.






















The best part is, this balloon is perfect to resize to fit any amount of text. Select the balloonTop and balloonBottom layers, activate your transform tool, Ctrl + t for windows, and resize as you like. Reposition your Pointer and you are ready to roll. Be careful not to resize your text or your Pointer.

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