Illustration & Writing

Talking About Speech Balloons: Introduction

Part 1 of 8

Introduction

Speech balloons can also be referred to as speech bubbles, dialogue balloons, or word balloons. In this series it will be referred to as a speech balloon.  A speech balloon is a graphic to convey a message from a character either by speech or by thought.

This topic is divided into eight parts:

  • Introduction and Common Shapes
  • Speaking Within & Outside a Panel
  • Color & Emotion & Symbols
  • Foreign Language & Fonts
  • Other Speech Balloons Shapes
  • Thought Balloons
  • Placement
  • Final Tips

Some may wonder, “Seven parts? Does this guy think there is that much information to go on that long about this topic?” Originally, I designed this as one article but decided it best to divide it into different sections due to the large number of graphics used for examples.

Common Speech Balloon Shapes

There are two common speech balloon shapes. Either may be use, but in all cases the text should be centered within the balloon.

Round or elliptical are the most common and traditional shapes for speech balloons.

Rectangular or a rectangle with rounded corners, are less frequently used compared to their round counterparts.

My personal preference is to use rectangular speech balloons for most of my work. The shape allows me to fill in dialogue evenly throughout it, as opposed to the round shape, which has more space for words in the center and less room on the top and bottom.

Tail Shapes

There are two common tail shapes for speech balloons, curved and linear.

Curved tails have rounded curve in their center. Linear tails are straight, without a curve.

Check out the curves on this example of an elliptical balloon.

An example of a rectangular speech balloon. So square.

Either balloon or tail shape may be used, but the same shapes should be used throughout a project for a consistent appearance.


Next Time: Speaking Within & Outside a Panel (Part 2 of 8) will be discussed.

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