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Photoshop Word Bubble Tutorial – CS2

This here is a Photoshop CS2 Word Bubble Tutorial. It is the way I make speech bubbles in Photoshop CS2. This is a good way of getting your own individual bubble style which could be used in a similar fashion to make bubbles in Illustrator. I’m sure someone else does it in a similar way, but I couldn’t find the links.

What I like about this method is that you make paths for all of your speech bubbles and then when you are ready, you select all the paths, Make Selection, and fill them all in at once! Then contract your selection and fill with white and boom! All done!

These instructions were captured from Photoshop CS2, but the steps are the same for any version of Photoshop afterwords as well. You will see, as after you read through this, there’s a link to a video tutorial captured from Photoshop CS4.


Step 1: Make a nice oval. Usually there would be words underneath it because you want an idea of the size of bubble you will need. We’re half-assin’ it today!


Step 2: Click on the points of the oval and pull them to change the shape of your word bubble. A regular bubble is boring! Don’t get too crazy, though, or you’ll just confuse folks.


Step 3: Select the little carrot tool that’s under the pen-tool menu. That is, if you click and hold on the pen tool more tools will pop up. Use the carrot for this. Hold Control down and it turns into the white Direct Selection Tool.
I’ve made mine a little squarer than a normal oval. When I do digital lettering this is what I like to do. Plus, since the words aren’t perfectly round, the bubble fits around them a little better.


Step 4: Grab the pen tool and click inside the bubble. Then click AND hold outside of the balloon and drag it towards the mouth of your character. Let go when you’ve got a nice curve going. Curving tails are nicer than straight tails.


Step 5: Hold ALT and click on the point you just made to make it pointy. Otherwise your tails will look silly in a bad way.


Step 6: Click and hold inside the bubble and drag it a bit to make the curve on the other side. I like to make my tails kinda big. This is really where your speech bubble style comes through. Some letterers make little skinny tails or really short ones. Do what works for you. They shouldn’t have to touch the mouth of your character, but it should be clear that the mouth of your character is talking as that’s where sound comes from, rather than an elbow or knee. Unless that is what’s going on.


Step 7: This step is kinda unneccessary, it just makes things look clean. If you don’t do this, sometimes you’ll get huge loops.


Step 8: This is important though. This keeps you from making long lines because you didn’t click it shut.


Step 9: Shortcut key is the ‘a’ key. This lets you select paths, like the ones you just made! Grab ’em both, the bubble and the tail.


Step 10: Make sure that only that left box is clicked. It is some kinda magical Add box and it will merge the two paths when you click the Combine button. If two of them are clicked, click one of the non-clicked boxes and then on the left-hand one. That should fix it.


Step 11: If you did it right, it should look like the one above these words. If not, you messed up. Undo and try again.


Step 12: Pretty self explanitory. With the bubble path selected, right-click and choose Make Selection. Your path will then disappear! Oh no! It’s okay, the path layer just got unselected when you did that.


Step 13: Fill it with black, or whatever color you want your outline to be.


Step 14: Go to the Select menu and choose Modify > Contract. The amount you contract your selection depends on your file’s resolution. If it’s low res, choose between 2 and 4. Hi-res: between 7 and 10. It depends on how thick you want the outline.


Step 15: It should look somewhat like this after you click Okay.


Step 16: Fill it with white, or whatever color you want on the inside. Then put your text layer above the speech bubble layer and voila! You gots words, bitch! Hope that this has been informative!




Do you want to see a video of this tutorial in action? Or click the image below!