Comic Book Lettering: Thought and Electric Balloons

Post questions on how to use or achieve an effect in Inkscape.
User avatar
wickedfable
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:12 am

Comic Book Lettering: Thought and Electric Balloons

Postby wickedfable » Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:46 am

Hi everyone,

As a freelance letterer, I am currently using Inkscape as my primary tool when it comes to lettering pages of art for comics. Lettering in Inkscape is definitely on par with lettering in Illustrator (the number one software being used by most comic book letterers) and I can't imagine that I will have much need to spend money on buying a copy of the expensive Adobe software suite. I have found many ways to create the balloons necessary for lettering however, I came across this interesting bit about creating thought and electric balloons for Illustrator that looked very easy to do: http://grab.by/1u9G This is from Todd Klein's section in the DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering. I know that the Tweak Tool is supposed to be able to achieve the same effects as the Bloat & Pucker tool but I'm not quite sure how. Can anyone show me how this is done?

Thanks,
-Daniel

User avatar
tomh
Posts: 218
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:14 pm

Re: Comic Book Lettering: Thought and Electric Balloons

Postby tomh » Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:49 am

Not sure on the tweak tool, it does a similar job, but is designed for more "artistic" rather than procedural uses. eg,its similar to a sculptor with some clay, so not so easy apply in your situation.
I think what you require could be scripted using a bit of python but would require writing an inkscape extension...

Here is one method of doing the thought bubble by hand, although you probably already have a method of doing this.

1)create circle
2)do path->object to path
3)select all nodes, add nodes X 3.
4)select every other node using shift (the bit that takes all the time)
5) use ctrl + < to shrink the nodes to form an inner ring of nodes different diameter
6) make all nodes auto-smooth (in :tool_node: tool) *
7) reselect the inner nodes: quick way
7a) hold down shift, add sub-path at centre of object
7b) go to node tool, hover over central node and use alt+scrol until all inner nodes are selected
8) make all inner nodes corner nodes (X 2 to retract the handles) *

* reverse steps 6 and 8 for the electric bubble.
admittedly not all that quick, although it might be quicker than the method you currently use, and I think it could be automated by someone with scripting abilities quite easily.

User avatar
wickedfable
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:12 am

Re: Comic Book Lettering: Thought and Electric Balloons

Postby wickedfable » Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:53 am

Thanks for the tip, tomh! That's actually a much better-looking method than what I've been doing. Hrm, That would be pretty nice, though, if this could be scripted, or at least a Bloat & Pucker menu analogue could be added to a future version of Inkscape. It definitely seems like this would be a useful feature.

User avatar
kelan
Posts: 178
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:55 am
Location: Unicorn of Open Source
Contact:

Re: Comic Book Lettering: Thought and Electric Balloons

Postby kelan » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:28 am

Good news! You can actually automate this almost completely in version 0.47. (I think it works pretty much the same in 0.46, if you have that, but I can't be sure exactly what's different.)

  1. Use the Pen tool :tool_pen: (keyboard shortcut: b) to make a short, perfectly horizontal line. You can do that by holding Ctrl when you draw the line, to keep it horizontal. It should have just two nodes.
  2. Select the line and copy it to the clipboard.
  3. Open the Path Effect Editor by pressing Ctrl+Shift+7.
  4. Make the oval for the thought/speech. Give it a white fill and a black stroke.
  5. With the oval still selected, use the Path Effect Editor dialog to apply the "Pattern Along Path" effect by choosing it from the droplist and pressing Add.
  6. In the settings below, next to "Pattern source" press the little lock icon to link to the line you drew earlier as the pattern source. The oval should look the same.
  7. Next to "Pattern copies" the option "Single, stretched" should be selected. Change that to "Repeated, stretched".

Now you're all setup to make a perfect electric or thought balloon. Select the short horizontal line you drew and choose the Node tool :tool_node: (F2). Hover over the middle of the line and the cursor should change into a small fist. Click and drag to see the effect on the balloon. Drag it down to make an electric balloon, or drag up to make a thought balloon. When you're satisfied with the changes, set the line to have no stroke, effectively turning it invisible, but still available to edit later if you need to change the balloon.

The only down side is that the balloon's bumps will be uniform, unlike the example you linked to, which has non-uniform bumps. If you need that, you select the balloon and choose "Object to Path" from the Path menu. It'll apply the Path Effect permanently, which means you can edit the bumps to make them less uniform. Note that you'll lose the Live Path editing feature if you do that, though.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

User avatar
wickedfable
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:12 am

Re: Comic Book Lettering: Thought and Electric Balloons

Postby wickedfable » Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:59 pm

Hi kelan,

I've been playing around with your method, and it seems I must be doing something incorrectly. Every time I get to the final step where you move the line path up or down to form the thought or electric balloon I get something such as this: http://grab.by/1EjR which forms from this: http://grab.by/1EjS I seem to be following your directions, though. I'll try it a few more times when I get the chance tomorrow. Thanks for showing me the method, though! Hopefully it will make this process a whole lot easier once I figure it out.

Thanks,
-Daniel

User avatar
kelan
Posts: 178
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:55 am
Location: Unicorn of Open Source
Contact:

Re: Comic Book Lettering: Thought and Electric Balloons

Postby kelan » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:03 pm

Actually you're doing everything right, you just have the horizontal line too long. Try making it shorter, or the oval bigger. That line is repeated around the oval, so the shorter it is, the more bumps you end up with. Your line is relatively long compared to the size of the oval, so it isn't getting repeated enough times to make it look right.

coatit
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:21 am

Re: Comic Book Lettering: Thought and Electric Balloons

Postby coatit » Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:00 am

If I understand the thread. Heathenx has a pretty cool tut on this. http://screencasters.heathenx.org/wp-co ... ep091.html

User avatar
wickedfable
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:12 am

Re: Comic Book Lettering: Thought and Electric Balloons

Postby wickedfable » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:42 am

@kelan: Sorry for taking so long to reply, but I actually was able to get the effect to work properly! Thanks, mate, that's definitely going to save me time in the future.

@coatit: Yeah, that's a great tutorial, though it doesn't deal with thought or electric balloons (well, it does show a very basic thought balloon). That screencast is what gave me idea to use Inkscape for lettering.

Thanks for everyone's help in the matter!


Return to “Help with using Inkscape”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests