Digital aided Lettering!

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Pixelled words to go with your pictures!

Lettering can be a deceptively big topic. I’ll cover it in a few posts, rather than try to do it all in one.
This post is going to focus on the way I use computers to letter, and the industry standard more or less for the same.

There are a lot of ways to letter a comic now. And I’ve developed my own preferred approach over the years, It’s a bit idiosyncratic but I think, fairly simple and straightforward.

i’ll demonstration that in a video here first. I use Photoshop, but it’s a very old version, 7.0! The Pre CS version! So another an image editor like Gimp could work as well. You need layers, good text functionality. And that’s about it.

Many do it using Illustrator. I’ve never liked the program so not my personal preference. But Scott McCloud has a great set of tutorial clips on that, i’ll embed directly after mine here, and there is a written version of his method on this page. You all of course really SHOULD read his books too! My personal recommendation. 🙂

Photoshop lettering tutorial clip. Muddy audio in the last two thirds, may require turning up your volume.

A text explanation of my Photoshop based processes:

  • Set the text format to ‘centered’ under paragraph in the text tool box, and paste in your proofed text from the script
    And pick a font. I’m using Comic Book Commando in the clip. It’s a super stereotypical all caps style of lettering with bold text for emphasis.
  • I then select the text using the magic wand, expand that selection out, look for the option under under selection/modify/expand. In this instance I set it to 60 pixels but the exact metrics would depend on your preferences and working resolution.
  • Then I smooth the selection out, again under selection/modify/smooth. Again preferences to suit. I used 60 again and just one pass of smoothing.
  • On a new layer under the text, fill the organic ellipse this creates with white.
  • Then draw a tale for the balloon in white as well.
  • Select it all. Expand the selection 4 pixels.
  • Detail work: I use the lasso to draw a sharp point to the tail.
  • And set the paint bucket to ‘behind’ and fill in the balloons boarder.
  • I then use Liquefy to tweak the results.



Scott McCloud on lettering in Illustrator.