Join John Roshell for an in-depth discussion in this video The main goal: Storytelling, part of Lettering Comic Books with Illustrator.
- The letterer has a unique power, in that they're both rendering the dialog and the sounds happening in the story, and also leading the reader's eyes from panel to panel. And as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility. As the letterer, your main goal, just like the writer, artist, and everyone involved in the creation of the comic, is to tell the story. This might seem obvious, but serving the story is the most important thing to keep in mind while you work, and will guide you in many of the decisions you make along the way. In the comic book creative process, the letterer's job is quite literally to convert the written word into imaginary sounds that the reader will interpret as speech, or narration, or sounds happening in the environment.
Fortunately, we have an arsenal of visual devices, like word balloons, caption boxes, and sound effects at our disposal. Your first priority as a letterer is to make these words easy to read and understand. There's a lot of well-established visual shorthand in comics. Lettering devices and rules developed throughout the years that experienced comic readers will immediately understand. Of course, you don't have to follow these rules to effectively tell a story, and often a story can be better served if you break them. But whatever rules you decide on for a story, establish them early on and stick with them. The letterer's second main job is to help lead the reader from panel to panel around the page.
When comics are done right, and the reader gets lost in the story, the words and pictures begin to weave a kind of magical spell. The reader will hear voices and see images move in their imagination. They'll fill in the gaps between each panel, and experience the story in a single, continuous flow. As letterers, we must use our mighty powers of mind control to get that spell started, keep it going, and not let it end until the story is over. Sometimes lettering needs to stand out, and other times it needs to blend into the background. As you're lettering, you'll constantly need to make little decisions.
How big should this balloon be? Where should I place it? Should the character speak with a different font, or have a different balloon color? Whenever we're not sure which way to go, we have a very simple rule. Rule Number One, we call it. And that is, to tell the story.
This course deconstructs the lettering process for comics, in terms of how to think about lettering and how to execute your vision in Adobe Illustrator. Professional artist John Roshell begins with a brief history of comics and then jumps into the design of word balloons, type treatment, captions, and sound effects. At the end of the course, John goes overs some basic business know-how, so members understand how to successfully collaborate with other artists and publishers.
- Understanding the main goal: storytelling
- Arranging the lines of dialogue
- Drawing word balloons and tails
- Emphasizing words with typography and sound effect stylings
- Adding captions and special types of balloons (thought balloons, whisper balloons, etc.)
- Creating sound effects
- Creating PDF proofs
- Charging for your work