How to Add Comic Book Speech Balloons and Text Bubbles to Your Photos

Common apps simplify the meme-ification of your favorite images

Perk up your photos by adding cartoon-style speech balloons. Common apps and online services simplify the process of adding a message to your favorite images.

Use a Meme Generator

Boy with thought bubble over his head
JGI / Jamie Grill / Getty Images 

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

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

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.

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.

Freehand-draw the shape or click the Shape drop-down to pick from nearly two dozen preinstalled shapes. Use the Custom Shape menu to add fill and stroke to the callout bubble and use the Text tool to add text and format text.

Use LibreOffice Draw

screenshot of LibreOffice Draw speech bubble

A part of the LibreOffice family, which is a competitor to Microsoft 365, LibreOffice Draw includes an easy-to-use drawing menu that supports dynamic resizing of callout boxes.

Open an image in LibreOffice Draw; then click View > Toolbars > Drawing. The callout menu in the Drawing toolbar reveals seven different callout templates. Click one then draw the callout over your image.

Click anchor points to adjust the callout. Use the yellow anchor to position the bubble near the relevant character's mouth. Type your message inside the thought bubble. No need to insert a special textbox overlay. Use the Properties menu on the right sidebar of the application window to modify the callout's character, paragraph, fill, transparency, shadow, and stroke.

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