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Hey guys, can anyone share some adice on lettering? I'm using Photoshop, because embarassingly, I'm not too fluent in Illustrator. IN any event, all my "balloons' look like big old ovals and I'm not real satisfied with them. I'd hate to see this book suffer because I'm missing something crucial. Thanks for any help. I'm enclosing an example so you can see what I'm talking about (Page 4)

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I think the balloons look fine. Except for the 2nd panel which isn't that bad. But I would have made that 2nd panel into 3 panels or one long panel horizentially with about 3 word balloons in it because having several sentences in one balloon isn't a good idea.
I agree. All good points and I will take your advice and reposition the second one. I really hate lettering, lol. Thanks so much!

David Duarte said:
I think the balloons look fine. Except for the 2nd panel which isn't that bad. But I would have made that 2nd panel into 3 panels or one long panel horizentially with about 3 word balloons in it because having several sentences in one balloon isn't a good idea.
A couple thoughts on your balloons; Overall, they look decent. You need just a little more air around the text -- between the dialogue and the edge of the balloons. Air to breathe is important. Also, in the balloons where you switched to the upper/lower case combination type, your leading (vertical spacing between lines) seems a tad too much- but that might be due to the balloon being too tight around the text.

One other thing regarding the flow of panels 3 & 4: there is slight ambiguity as to whether I should read from the first caption to the second caption or go to that word balloon between the two captions (that return to panel 3 for the first part of the balloon is distracting to me). You may want to just slip the second caption up and to the left a bit, then see if that wouldn't free up enough space to get the word balloon out of panel 3 more and also up off the guy's head at the end.

And, then there's always the old Ame's guide and tech pens! :)

God bless you, Brian

Lee
Thanks a bunch! I knew I could count on some great feedback here! The flow was a concern for me as well. The "air" is something I shouldn't have overlooked. Thanks again!

Lee Weeks said:
A couple thoughts on your balloons; Overall, they look decent. You need just a little more air around the text -- between the dialogue and the edge of the balloons. Air to breathe is important. Also, in the balloons where you switched to the upper/lower case combination type, your leading (vertical spacing between lines) seems a tad too much- but that might be due to the balloon being too tight around the text.

One other thing regarding the flow of panels 3 & 4: there is slight ambiguity as to whether I should read from the first caption to the second caption or go to that word balloon between the two captions (that return to panel 3 for the first part of the balloon is distracting to me). You may want to just slip the second caption up and to the left a bit, then see if that wouldn't free up enough space to get the word balloon out of panel 3 more and also up off the guy's head at the end.

And, then there's always the old Ame's guide and tech pens! :)

God bless you, Brian

Lee
This is only my opinion, now. When Mike speaks: try a square “balloon” with a corner radius (rounded edge) of about 45 degree edges. I know you can do it in Macromedia Freehand, but few use Freehand nowadays -- I'm sure the equivalent of the corner radius edit is available in Illustrator. Drawing are phenomenal!
Thanks. I've been avoiding Illustrator like a plague, but I guess I'm going to have to face my fears eventually!

Christopher Heidt said:
This is only my opinion, now. When Mike speaks: try a square “balloon” with a corner radius (rounded edge) of about 45 degree edges. I know you can do it in Macromedia Freehand, but few use Freehand nowadays -- I'm sure the equivalent of the corner radius edit is available in Illustrator. Drawing are phenomenal!
Brian D said:
Thanks. I've been avoiding Illustrator like a plague, but I guess I'm going to have to face my fears eventually!

I know how you feel -- out of the entire Adobe suite, Illustrator has always been the most aggravating for me to use. But it does have the best range of tools for word balloons and lettering, so I eventually had to hunker down and just take the plunge. It's possible to "make do" using the vector shape tools in Photoshop or InDesign, but unless your text and captions are very basic, you'll eventually require a bigger toolbox.

For lettering resources, I'd recommend the following websites and books:

Balloon Tales: a free collection of tutorials from the Comicraft lettering studio. One that might apply to your original question is their tutorial on how to create oblong "tv shaped" word balloons that avoid the generic oval shapes of default computer lettering. They also have links to buy their book on lettering "Comic Book Lettering The Comicraft Way".

Blambot's Comic Book Grammar and Traditions: an article showcasing a variety of lettering styles and terminology, from letterer and font designer Nate Piekos. It's a good comparison chart to the similar "glossary" over at the rival Balloon Tales site.

Other books I'd recommend for lettering tutorials would be the DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics, and the lettering chapter in Digital Prepress For Comics. (Whew! That was a lot more links than I had originally thought.)
Wow, Kevin! I really appreciate all the insight, man. I think between the replies I've got so far, I'm pretty much out of excuses, lol.

Kevin Yong said:
Brian D said:
Thanks. I've been avoiding Illustrator like a plague, but I guess I'm going to have to face my fears eventually!

I know how you feel -- out of the entire Adobe suite, Illustrator has always been the most aggravating for me to use. But it does have the best range of tools for word balloons and lettering, so I eventually had to hunker down and just take the plunge. It's possible to "make do" using the vector shape tools in Photoshop or InDesign, but unless your text and captions are very basic, you'll eventually require a bigger toolbox.

For lettering resources, I'd recommend the following websites and books:

Balloon Tales: a free collection of tutorials from the Comicraft lettering studio. One that might apply to your original question is their tutorial on how to create oblong "tv shaped" word balloons that avoid the generic oval shapes of default computer lettering. They also have links to buy their book on lettering "Comic Book Lettering The Comicraft Way".

Blambot's Comic Book Grammar and Traditions: an article showcasing a variety of lettering styles and terminology, from letterer and font designer Nate Piekos. It's a good comparison chart to the similar "glossary" over at the rival Balloon Tales site.

Other books I'd recommend for lettering tutorials would be the DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics, and the lettering chapter in Digital Prepress For Comics. (Whew! That was a lot more links than I had originally thought.)
One other critique to add about the lettering sample you shared: be careful about mixing too many font styles. On the one page, I see caption boxes with small lowercase text, a woman speaking in slightly larger lowercase text, a man speaking in even larger uppercase text, and an angel also speaking in uppercase text but with red stroked word balloons.

Remember that the ideal for comic lettering is that the reader doesn't consciously notice it. That's not to say that any one of those style choices are bad, but it can look a little distracting if there's too many styles and sizes in use at one time.

Personally, I'd limit the styles on a page like that to just two or three. If I were using lowercase for captions and a red word balloon for an angel's voice, then I'd limit the rest of the dialog text (of the man, woman, and angel) to one similar font size and uppercase style. If I do that consistently, then (hopefully) the reader will learn to recognize that words in lowercase are narration, words in uppercase are spoken dialog, and stylized balloons will indicate certain characters (like red for the angel)... without having to pause while reading to second guess what the constant shifts in text style might mean.
I'll have to look into that. I should only have THREE fonts being used at all. One is dialogue, one for Captions and I was using a third for Old Testament Prophecies. As far as font sizes, I was sticking to one for all of them. Maybe I loaded an older version of the page.... Thanks for the critique all the same!

Kevin Yong said:
One other critique to add about the lettering sample you shared: be careful about mixing too many font styles. On the one page, I see caption boxes with small lowercase text, a woman speaking in slightly larger lowercase text, a man speaking in even larger uppercase text, and an angel also speaking in uppercase text but with red stroked word balloons.

Remember that the ideal for comic lettering is that the reader doesn't consciously notice it. That's not to say that any one of those style choices are bad, but it can look a little distracting if there's too many styles and sizes in use at one time.

Personally, I'd limit the styles on a page like that to just two or three. If I were using lowercase for captions and a red word balloon for an angel's voice, then I'd limit the rest of the dialog text (of the man, woman, and angel) to one similar font size and uppercase style. If I do that consistently, then (hopefully) the reader will learn to recognize that words in lowercase are narration, words in uppercase are spoken dialog, and stylized balloons will indicate certain characters (like red for the angel)... without having to pause while reading to second guess what the constant shifts in text style might mean.
Brian D said:
I'll have to look into that. I should only have THREE fonts being used at all. One is dialogue, one for Captions and I was using a third for Old Testament Prophecies. As far as font sizes, I was sticking to one for all of them. Maybe I loaded an older version of the page.... Thanks for the critique all the same!

I think it's the fact that the man's dialog is uppercase and the woman's dialog is lowercase that gives the appearance of different size (and different negative space between lines), regardless of the actual point size used. An optical illusion, but still a somewhat distracting one. If the dialog size and uppercase/lowercase style is kept consistent, I think it could work fine with your idea of using three fonts for the captions/dialog/prophecies.
Cool, I'm on it! Thanks

Kevin Yong said:
Brian D said:
I'll have to look into that. I should only have THREE fonts being used at all. One is dialogue, one for Captions and I was using a third for Old Testament Prophecies. As far as font sizes, I was sticking to one for all of them. Maybe I loaded an older version of the page.... Thanks for the critique all the same!

I think it's the fact that the man's dialog is uppercase and the woman's dialog is lowercase that gives the appearance of different size (and different negative space between lines), regardless of the actual point size used. An optical illusion, but still a somewhat distracting one. If the dialog size and uppercase/lowercase style is kept consistent, I think it could work fine with your idea of using three fonts for the captions/dialog/prophecies.

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