Step 7: Drawing the Comic: Lettering (and Word Ballooning)

There's an art form to lettering and word-ballooning, and whole theories dedicated to them. I am not a very good letterer, so I can't explain any of these theories to you. I just do it. If you want more info on lettering, do a Google search or read up in Making comics. It's all there.

I letter the comic with the thickest pen I can get away with. I try my best to make sure my letters are even, straight, and distinct (D and O can be told apart, I and T, etcetera).

When the lettering is done, if I have not already done so, I'll use my ruler and thickest pen to draw in any word balloons. I use the ruler for straight sections of balloon lines, and freehand the curved lines.

If I know I am going to use a digital font to letter the comics, I may skip this step. however I personally consider it cheating, and much prefer the look of hand-lettering even if it's a little bit bad.

NOTE: It is NOT cheating if someone ELSE does digital lettering. I only hold myself to that rule, anyone else is free to do as they wish, and I do not criticize or judge against them.

I normally pick a section of the paper to write in my name, my co-author's name, the name of the studio, and the date of the comic. I didn't do that here because I don't have enough room on this page, and I don't know what date I expect to publish this comic right now. I'll add these details in the second part of this tutorial, when I do the digital image manipulation to prepare the comic for publication.
Thanks for this information mate, has really helped me with my web comic project. <br>I think I will be looking at getting some rapidograph pens. Very thorough instructable. Great Job.
though it is good to buy recycled sketch paper, it really is not the best.Normal, un recycled sketch paper is much better in terms of pencil drawing that is,not so much pen.this comment may have been pointless but it's a heads up for artists that use sketch pencils.
&nbsp;at amazon a set like you'rs, i found costs about $100.00.<br /> <br /> do normal pens work? i want to try this out without hurting my wallet, any ideas??<br />
Depends what you want to try.&nbsp; If you just want to try drawing, go to an art supply store and get a set of disposable pens, like pigma microns or staedtler pigment liners.&nbsp; They're much less expensive at $3 or $4 a pen individually, and a little cheaper per if you buy a set (usually they come in sets of 4 or 6 different widths).&nbsp; These are really convenient too as there's no cleaning or refilling, and you can't really damage them unless you just press too hard when you draw.<br /> <br /> Enjoy!<br />
And $100 sounds about right for that particular set of Rapidographs, even at a retail art store.&nbsp; Shop around or get coupons from the Sunday newspaper.<br />
if you take the nibs and get a jewelry "cleaner" i get mine resale for about 2 bucks they basically vibrate, put the nib in it with water or cleaning solution let it soak and vibrate alternately sometimes you can rescue them, it takes patience though.
Try out an Ames Lettering Guide. The decent art supplies stores usually have them. It's a little piece of plastic, costs about five bucks. All it does is help you put in the guidelines for lettering -- but it does so very well.
I do a lot of ink and wash work with fountain pens and rapidograph pens. Get yourself a sonic jewelry cleaner and some ammonia. I've soaked nibs for as long as 35 minutes if they're totally jammed (picked up a set at a flea market for $1). Just don't try to force them. Rinse very very well and dry very very well. I vastly prefer Platinum Carbon Black and a Manga nib on an Ackerman Pump pen these days--but I still pull out the rapidograph pens for the really super fine lines.
Cool, will have to try this. Thanks for the comment!
Another trick to avoid the 'ink trap' is putting masking tape over the edge of the ruler.
If you like this, check out my forum topic with some of my doodles/cartoons, scanned and imported, then vectorised &amp; coloured using inkscape. Hope you like them. <a href="http://www.instructables.com/community/Cartoons/">http://www.instructables.com/community/Cartoons/</a><br/>Thanks<br/>
Very nice! My next instructable will have more detailed info on scanning, cleaning and coloring images using a bitmap image program, but soon as I learn more about vectoring artwork I'll do an instructable on that. With both XaraLX and Inkscape it doesn't seem too difficult.
Thanks! I'm glad you like them. Yes, please do. Vectorising drawings is very good way to increase the quality and is very easy once you know the process. Do you use XaraLX/Inkscape? I use inscape but i am unfamiliar with XaraLX. How fo they compare?
I just had to say that I appreciate the "Chasing Amy" reference (I'm not a TRACER). I enjoyed the tutorial, very well done.
When your drawing and the ink is still wet, do you find sometimes its gets smudged by your pinkie? It happens all the time to me cos my left hand rubs over the fresh ink when im writing
It would if I drew left to right. Knowing that the ink will smudge, I draw from right to left across the page so I never have to move my hand across a wet ink line. I sometimes have to rotate the pad to get around wet spots if I miss something. The one exception is lettering. I'll letter frames bottom to top, right to left but I write text in the normal direction so I letter slowly and in chunks so that the ink dries before my hand crosses over. Generally I smudge the pencil a lot worse than ink.
Your guide has helped me immensely as I pursue my dream of creating my own manga! I understand not having enough time in a day, but I am still eagerly awaiting your scanning guide! Best of luck.
I have created a fairly easy to use online comic script. I would be happy to share it. It is basically an instant comic site. There is a plain black and white layout that can be customised with a little html knloedge. What do you think?
If you mean a script to build the website for a web comic, it sounds neat. There are any number of scripts like this from the simple to the insane, popular ones are KeenLite, or the very successful ComicPress theme for WordPress. I hadn't thought about a tutorial after the second part to address setting up a website, but I suppose I could address those concepts as well. Thanks!
Not a problem. The one I made was aimed at managing the content rather then creating the site. The image info (title, caption, filename, ect.) are stored in a file. The main page reads this and decided on the image to show.<br/><br/>I have a basic sample set up here: <a rel="nofollow" href="http://col-test.100webcustomers.com/comic.php">http://col-test.100webcustomers.com/comic.php</a><br/><br/>That has no layout it is just the base program.<br/>
Thanks for this. I just joined Instructables so I could favorite this. Looking forward to the scanning and coloring.
Well thanks, I'm honored! I am looking forward to the scanning and coloring too, I wonder when the author will get aro.... Oh, right. Say, has anyone figured out how to fit 26 hours in a day? :)
awesome comics :D
Great Instructable. I've always wanted to make a comic. Even a very basic one just to help improve my poor drawing skills. Maybe later I'll sit down and start designing characters. Cheers

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Bio: I am a graphic art hobbyist, web cartoonist, and wannabe electronics hobbyist. Other hobbies: cooking, baking, exercise, computers, video games, trivia, and some more I ... More »
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