Add Comic Book Speech Balloons and Text Bubbles to Your Photos

Speech bubbles

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Perk up your photos by adding cartoon-style speech balloons. You can add them to your photos in several ways.

Use a Meme Generator

Studio shot young woman looking up on thought bubble


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Many online meme generators support speech or thought bubbles that overlay an uploaded or stock image. Services like SuperLame, for example, include more than one option for these bubbles.

Use Microsoft Paint

screenshot of microsoft paint speech bubble

Jason Gillikin

Microsoft Paint on Windows 10 remains a free, reliable standby. The modern version of Paint includes built-in callouts for speech and thought bubbles. Just open your favorite image and drag a call-out on top of it, then add a text box overlaying the callout.

Use Photoshop

Screenshot of photoshop speech bubble

Jason Gillikin

Adobe Photoshop isn't cheap — subscriptions to Creative Cloud can cost between $15 and $50 depending on your student status and what you elect to acquire — but this program is the gold standard for image editing.

Photoshop offers a quick, easy way to add a speech bubble:

  1. Open an image.
  2. Hover over the Rectangle tool to expose a callout, then from that submenu, select Custom Shape. Photoshop, in its default configuration, will open a menu above the image to support the Custom Shape tool.
  3. Freehand-draw the shape or click the Shape drop-down to pick from nearly two dozen preinstalled shapes.
  4. Use the Custom Shape menu to add fill and stroke to the callout bubble.
  5. Use the Text tool to add text and format text.

LibreOffice Draw

screenshot of LibreOffice Draw speech bubble

Jason Gillikin

A part of the LibreOffice family, which is a competitor to Microsoft Office, LibreOffice Draw includes an easy-to-use drawing menu that supports dynamic resizing of callout boxes.

  1. Open an image in LibreOffice Draw; then click View > Toolbars > Drawing.
  2. The callout menu in the Drawing toolbar reveals seven different callout templates. Click one; then draw the callout over your image.
  3. Click anchor points to adjust the callout. Use the yellow anchor to position the bubble near the relevant character's mouth.
  4. Type your message inside the thought bubble. No need to insert a special textbox overlay.
  5. Use the Properties menu on the right sidebar of the application window to modify the callout's character, paragraph, fill, transparency, shadow, and stroke.