Im­prove your comic let­ter­ing

An of­ten over­looked art, let­ter­ing is a unique fea­ture of comic books. Here, PJ Holden shows you how to get it right in Manga Stu­dio

ImagineFX - - Workshops -

PJ Holden shows you how to get the of­ten-over­looked skill right in Manga Stu­dio.

Comic book let­ter­ing is a skill set that’s deeply un­der­val­ued. Let­ter­ing done right is in­vis­i­ble to a reader, and yet subtly in­flu­ences the way the words are read. It pro­vides a gen­tle guid­ing hand through the story, never al­low­ing the reader to be­come con­fused about the course of nar­ra­tive events. Done wrong, how­ever, and it be­comes speed bump af­ter speed bump.

Be­cause of the pro­duc­tion line na­ture of most comics, let­ter­ing is usu­ally the last link in the chain and it be­comes a dead­line saviour. Manga Stu­dio’s let­ter­ing tools are of­ten a lit­tle prim­i­tive com­pared to Il­lus­tra­tor (the tool of choice for pro­fes­sional let­ter­ers) but, if ap­plied cor­rectly, they can pro­duce fin­ished work that’s equally as good.

1 Words don’t come easy

First, se­lect the Text Tool in Manga Stu­dio’s tool­bar and choose an ap­pro­pri­ate font. In this ex­am­ple I’m us­ing CCWild­words from ComicCraft, set at 8 point, with the line spac­ing set at three (this will vary depend­ing on the size of the art­work). I then place the cur­sor near the writ­ten text and type the first block of text. Next, plac­ing the cur­sor near the word “GUYS...?”, I type this di­a­logue, which leaves me with two text lay­ers for each bal­loon.

2 Bal­loon shapes

Us­ing the Bal­loon tool’s ‘curve bal­loon’ (a sub-tool of the Text tool I just used) I trace an or­ganic-shaped bal­loon right around the let­ter­ing. I fol­low the ex­ist­ing pen­cil guides es­tab­lished by the pen­ciller, but the key thing is to give the text plenty of room to breathe. I draw one bal­loon around the first bit of let­ter­ing and an­other one around the sec­ond bal­loon. There’s no need to link them; these bal­loons are as­so­ci­ated with the text lay­ers au­to­mat­i­cally.

3 The tail end

Us­ing the Bal­loon Tail tool, I draw a ‘spline’ tail link­ing the first bal­loon to our hero’s mouth – to in­di­cate where the speech is com­ing from. I then cre­ate a sec­ond tail link­ing the top bal­loon to the bot­tom one. Next I se­lect both let­ter­ing lay­ers and pick Com­bine Selected Lay­ers. I now have two linked word bal­loons.

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