Comics Tutorials – Lettering

Text, Captions and Basic Speech Baloons Outlines As mentioned in the earlier posts, Inkscape is a free Vector graphic drawing program, and is excellent for lettering. I import the TIFF file into this file. This TIFF file has only the graphic part, and no text. I resize the TIFF file within my page, such that the width of TIFF is exactly 8 inches.

This is how the page will look now

inkscape opening screen

This makes sure it has enough margin for printing. The actual graphic size is less than the TIFF file, since it’s enclosed in panels. This adds a bit to the margins. (A4 paper width is 8.3 inches, while US letter paper width is 8 inches.).
So regardless of paper, the image width is always 8 inches. Now click menu items File->Document Properties. The following dialogue will come upfit page to selection
Click ‘Fit Page to Selection’, and now the graphic size is exactly 8 inches (width) X 10.667 (height).
This graphic, once completed, can easily fit in A4 size or US letter size paper.
Now it’s time to start lettering.Step 1 – Typing out the text.
I first type out the entire text over the imported graphic at predefined places. The JPG files saved eariler with the original text act as a reference here.For typing, I use Comic Sans MS font at size 11. If I need to emphasize something in the text, I use Comic Sans MS in bold type at size 13.There are a lot of people on the web advocating not to use Comic Sans MS, as it’s a bit overused, and there are a lot of alternatives available on web, free or charged. However, I decided to stick with Comic Sans MS for now.After the whole text is typed, the page looks like this.text_only
Step 2 – Covering the text boxes with caption boxes and word balloon eclipses.Select the rectangle tool (for text boxes) or eclipse tool (for word balloons). Draw the rectangle / eclipse around the text. No need to be too accurate at this stage. Cover the whole text with the shape.

Double click on the lower left side of screen (circled in red below) to get Fill and Stroke dialogue up.

Keep the Fill and Stroke settings as shown below.

stroke_style  fill

fill_and_stroke

Press the Page Down button on your keyboard while this shape is selected. This will send the shape behind the text. Now we have a text box / balloon surrounding the text, as shown below.

text_on_top

Select the rectangle/eclipse, and adjust it so that is looks good. Make sure you give some “breathing space” to the text.For caption boxes, do the following and you are done.

Select the rectangle and the text within it simultaneously. You can do this by selecting the rectangle, pressing the ‘Ctrl’ key on keyboard, and then selecting the text.

Keep both selected, and click on the menu item Object -> Group, or simply press the ‘Ctrl-G’ keyboard combination. This groups these two objects, making it very convenient to move them around together without disturbing their relative alignment.

For speech balloons, there’s some more.

Speech Balloons – Making them look ‘Hand Drawn’Here, we will see how to finish up the speech balloons nicely with that ’squashed’ look.

At the end of last procedure, the caption texts are grouped together with their bordering rectangles. The speech balloons are still not grouped with the ellipses bordering them.

Now it’s time to draw ‘monkey tails’.

Select the ‘Benzier curve’ tool as shown circled in the picture below. Draw the 3 points as shown in this picture. Let the lines intersect ellipse shape.

edit paths

While keeping the benzier curve selected, press ‘F2? on the keyboard, or select ‘Edit paths by nodes’ tool as shown below. This enables us to curve out the tails as we wish.

curved tail

Click and drag to curve the monkey tail to desired shape.

Once the monkey tail is appropriately shaped, select it and the ellipse for speech balloon. Select Path->Union from menu. This combines the tail and ellipse to form a speech balloon. You will notice that the line overlaps between ellipse and tail are also gone.
path union
Now it’s time to ’squash’ the balloon to give it a handmade look. Select the balloon, click on the Benzier curve tool, and adjust the balloon dimensions, so that balloon is aligned nicely with the text inside.

path union

Keep the speech balloon selected, select the text inside it as well, and then group these objects. The speech balloon is  ready.

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