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
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.