Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero
Illustration by John Hersey

Drawing the talk balloons (a.k.a. speech bubbles)


Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero

with Deke McClelland

Video: Drawing the talk balloons (a.k.a. speech bubbles)

In this movie, I'll show you how to draw the talk balloons as a single shape layer. command and space bar on a Mac and clicking.
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  1. 41s
    1. Welcome
  2. 13m 6s
    1. Masking a person from a white background
      8m 20s
    2. Smoothing out the edges of a jagged mask
      4m 46s
  3. 28m 52s
    1. Adding power and motion with Liquify
      8m 21s
    2. Puppet warping the legs closer together
      6m 36s
    3. Applying a perspective-style transformation
      5m 34s
    4. Smoothing and removing details with Liquify
      8m 21s
  4. 28m 34s
    1. Filling and stroking the silhouette
      3m 47s
    2. Drawing with the Pen and Brush tools
      7m 56s
    3. Hand-painting the face
      8m 56s
    4. Refining brushstrokes with Median and Minimum
      7m 55s
  5. 39m 2s
    1. Adding complementary colored clouds
      5m 28s
    2. Drawing a handful of spikes in Illustrator
      8m 34s
    3. Creating a burst pattern with Transform
      9m 36s
    4. Adjusting the spikes for a better effect
      7m 20s
    5. Bringing the burst pattern into Photoshop
      8m 4s
  6. 51m 4s
    1. Creating the extreme paths for the grill lines
      7m 31s
    2. Blending the grill lines in Illustrator
      9m 42s
    3. Correcting potential blending problems
      9m 58s
    4. Bringing the blended paths into Photoshop
      8m 27s
    5. Simulating pressure when stroking paths
      5m 35s
    6. Contouring the grill lines onto the face
      9m 51s
  7. 23m 47s
    1. Drawing a hand with the Pen tool
      9m 29s
    2. Converting the hand path to a shape layer
      6m 2s
    3. Finishing off the hands and gloves
      8m 16s
  8. 28m 49s
    1. Blend, scale, and rotate photographic flames
      6m 17s
    2. Filling in gaps with symmetrical flames
      7m 15s
    3. Shooting flames out of the hero's hands
      7m 34s
    4. Stroking the composite flames
      7m 43s
  9. 19m 13s
    1. Drawing cartoon flames as a shape layer
      5m 56s
    2. Enhancing the flames with layer effects
      5m 32s
    3. Adjusting Puppet Warp and Expansion
      7m 45s
  10. 16m 56s
    1. Installing a free comic-lettering font
      3m 59s
    2. Formatting the monologue text
      5m 43s
    3. Drawing the talk balloons (a.k.a. speech bubbles)
      7m 14s
  11. 43m 10s
    1. Selecting a font-creation software
      5m 17s
    2. Drawing consistently rendered letterforms
      9m 10s
    3. Pasting the letters into Glyphs Mini (Mac only)
      8m 11s
    4. Copying capitals into lowercase positions (Mac only)
      6m 45s
    5. Generating an OpenType font (Mac only)
      7m 56s
    6. Stylizing the custom font in Photoshop
      5m 51s
  12. 4m 24s
    1. Time lapse of the retro superhero
      3m 4s
    2. Until next time
      1m 20s

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Watch the Online Video Course Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero
4h 57m Intermediate Jun 30, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Learn what it takes to design and create your own custom silver-age superhero. Join Deke as he starts by tracing a photo to create the hero's body and then jumps into Illustrator for the creation of the final effects. Finally, Deke takes us through the steps to lay out our own custom type to complete the comic.

Want more of Designs dekeConstructed, the series that breaks down popular graphic designs so you can re-create them on your own? Check out Deke's page.

Topics include:
  • Turning a person into a silhouette
  • Adding power and motion with Liquify
  • Drawing with the Pen and Brush tools
  • Creating a dramatic background
  • Adding grill lines and flames
  • Inserting talk balloons
  • Creating a custom comic font
Illustrator Photoshop
Deke McClelland

Drawing the talk balloons (a.k.a. speech bubbles)

In this movie, I'll show you how to draw the talk balloons as a single shape layer. Now, you may say the talk balloons are already drawn, Dieck, but, we can go ahead and turn this guy into a kind of template by selecting in the layer, here inside the layers panel. And assuming that your rectangular marquee tool is, once again, selected. Then you can just press, let's say the three key to reduce the opacity of that layer to 30%. And now, I'm going to zoom in so I can better see this top text and I'm zooming by the way by pressing Ctrl and space bar, that's command and space bar on a Mac and clicking.

And now, I'm going to select the rectangle tool from the shape tool fly out menu, go up to the options bar and make sure that shape is selected on the far left side so that we're creating a new shape layer, and then go ahead and drag like so in order to trace the talk bubble from the template, and assuming that you're working in Photoshop CC. Things are pretty different here than they were in CS6. Go ahead and set the fill to white which may mean that you need to select white from this recently used color's list. Then, you want the stroke to be black which is usually the very first color in that list and you want the line weight to be three points, just as it is for me. And now, notice that I'm seeing these Live Shape Properties in the Properties panel. I'm going to go ahead and tweak these values a little bit. I want the width value. And I just happen to know this through trial and error. It's all arbitrary, but I'm just tracing the text onscreen in order to off set it. I'm going to change the width value to 2328, we're working in pixels, by the way. And I'm going to change the height value to 803 pixels. The x value, which is a positioning value, should be 309 and then the y value should be 183. If you're working, by the way, in an older version of Photoshop, you won't see these live shape properties. So, you'll have to make your adjustments manually. Now it's really exciting, where these properties are concerned. Is how you can round the corners dynamically, and you can do so on a corner by corner basis. So, I'm going to start by changing this first corner value right here to 100 pixels, and assuming that your link icon right there is turned on, then all the other values will change to 100 as well. That's not what I'm looking for, so I'm going to turn off the length value. I'm happy to leave this second corner at a 100 pixels but notice that we have some extra room down here in the lower right corner. So, I'm going to increase it's roundness value to 200 pixels and notice that as soon as I press the tab key that corner updates independently of the others. And now I'll change the final corner value to 150 pixels, and I'll press the enter key, or the return key on a Mac, in order to accept that change. Alright, now let's go ahead and draw the second talk balloon. It's going to be a lot like the first. What you want to do is click this time. Let's just click with the rectangle tool. You can do that in Photoshop CS6 and earlier as well. And we'll dial in a width value of 1287 pixels, and a height value 1563 pixels, and then press the Tab key and go ahead and click the okay button in order to create that rectangle. It might not be quite in the right spot, so I'll go to the live shape properties panel here in Photoshop CC, and notice the X value is 3714 pixels, so that's exactly what I want. In the Y value its 1620 pixels, also exactly what I want so I can go ahead and drop down to these round corner values and I'll change the first one to 250 pixels because we need a lot of rounding right there and I'll change the second one to 200 pixels that corner happens to be blocked by the panel but you can see it rounding just a little bit on screen. And then I'll tap to the lower left corner, change it to two hundred pixels, and that goes ahead and rounds that corner as you can see there. And then I'll change the final value to 150 pixels and press the enter key or the return key on a Mac to accept that change and we end up on those rounded talk balloons like so, that very nicely fit their text. Alright, now I'm going to create these pointers right here, which are called tails. And they, of course, direct attacks to the person who is talking. But before I do that, I notice I have a little bit of a problem. I've got two separate rectangle layers, which is not what I want. So what I'm going to do is press the A key, to select my black arrow tool, and then I'll go over to the second talk balloon, and click on it to select it, and then I'll press Ctrl+X, or Cmd+X on a Mac, in order to cut that rectangle, and you can see that we now have a single rectangle layer. I'm going to change its name to talk balloons. And now, I'll press Ctrl V, or command V on a Mac, to paste the second rectangle into the same shape layer as the first. All right now I'm going to spacebar drag in order to scroll up here and I'll select the pen tool, which of course you can get by pressing the PT, and I'll drag down from right about there. Actually, you need to scoot this over a little bit so I'll space bar drag it. Then I'll release the space bar and I'm pressing the shift key, by the way, to constrain the angle of my control handle to exactly vertical, and then I'm going to drag like this while pressing the shift key to constrain the angle of my control handle to exactly horizontal. And now I'll press and hold the control key, command key on the Mac, and drag that guy over a little bit. And then I'll drag it back a little while pressing the sift key to make sure that I have a horizontal control handle. Now, I'll alt or option drag, like so, in order to create a cusp point right there at that location, and I'll drag up right about here, but not so much that I invoke an auto scroll, because I don't want to do that. I'll just go ahead and drag up a little bit like so. And I might press the down arrow key to nudge that guy down a little bit. And then I'll press the Ctrl key, or the Cmd key on a Mac, and drag this guy down while pressing the Shift key. That's too far, so I'll drag it back up again. I'm pressing the shift key to constrain the angle of my drag to exactly vertical. Okay, press the a key to switch back to the arrow tool. Click on this tail here to make sure it's selected and then go up to the options bar and click on the path operations icon and then go ahead and choose combine shapes in order to add that tail to the top balloon. Alright, now we need to draw another one. Pretty quickly here by pressing the P key to switch to the pen tool. I'll drag while pressing the Shift key out like that. I'll drag here. This time I'm not pressing the Shift key because I don't need to constrain the angle of my control handle. I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and drag from that point again. And then, I'll drag from 'bout here while pressing the Shift key to constrain the angle of my drag to vertical. And, that's all I really need to draw I don't need to close a shade. I'll just go ahead and press the a key to switch back to the black care tool. The shape is automatically selected, so I'll go up to the path operations icon up here in the options bar and chose combine shapes in order to go ahead and add that tail, that is two that second balloon.

And, now, I click off the shapes in order to deselect them and I'll go ahead and spacebar drag this guy down so that we can see all of the monologue. And that friends, is how you draw talk balloons complete with rounded rectangles and tails as a single vector based shape layer here inside Photoshop

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