Add Comic Book Speech Balloons and Text Bubbles to Your Photos

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Cartoon Your Photos with Speech Bubbles and Text Balloons

Add Comic Book Speech Bubbles to Your Photos
Comic-style text bubbles and speech balloons are a fun way to enhance your digital photos. © S. Chastain

A fun way to perk up your photos is by adding cartoon-style speech balloons. With traditional photos you can buy press-on stickers and add your own phrases to them with a felt tip pen, but that won't work for your digital photos unless you plan to print them out. Recently, a member of our discussion forum asked us how to create these comic book text bubbles in Photoshop. I've put together these instructions along with a handy kit for adding speech balloons to your photos in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

Example Photo Info:

Download and Install the Presets

First you'll need to download the kit and load the shapes and layer style into Photoshop or Photoshop Elements according to the instructions below. The kit includes Speech Balloons.csh which contains several custom shapes so you don't have to draw your own from scratch. It also includes Speech Balloons.asl, a layer style that you may select when you draw a text balloon.
Instructions for Photoshop
Instructions for Photoshop Elements

Note: Photoshop Elements includes its own set of custom shapes called "Text Balloons" in Elements 1.0 and "Talk Bubbles" in all subsequent versions.(Current version is Photoshop Elements 15)  . You may wish to use these in addition to the custom shapes I've provided in the kit. To access them: Activate the the custom shape tool in the Tool Options bar, thenopen the shapes palette in the options bar and click the small arrow in the upper right hand corner of the shapes pallete. A menu will appear with several shape sets to choose from.
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Find Some Comic Style Fonts

Find Some Comic Style Fonts

Before you begin, you'll also want to make sure you have one or two of your favorite cartoon-style fonts installed. Here are some links where you can download cartoon and comic-style fonts:

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Setting Up Options

Setting Up Options
Once you've got the kit downloaded and set up, you can easily add text balloons to any of your photos. Here's how:

Open a photo.

Perform any color correction or enhancement, if desired.

Select the Custom Shape tool from the toolbox or by pressing the keyboard shortcut, U.

From the options bar, select new shape layer, custom shape tool.

Choose the style of your speech balloon shape from the menu of shapes on the options bar.

Choose the layer style "Speech Balloon." (Note: The options bar in Elements is arranged slightly differently, but you be able to find each option from the Photoshop screen shot here.)

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Drawing the Text Bubble Shape

Drawing the Text Bubble Shape
Click and drag across the photo. You will see a light outline of the shape as you drag.
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Add Speech Bubbles to Your Photos - Adding Text

Adding Text
When you release the mouse button, the balloon shape will appear, already formatted with the layer style to give it a white fill, black outline, and slight drop shadow. Feel free to customize the layer style if you like.

Use the move tool to reposition the speech balloon if necessary.

Select the Type tool from the toolbox or by pressing the keyboard shortcut, T.

From the options bar, choose a cartoon-style font and set the size, color, and alignment.

Click in the speech balloon and type your text. Press the checkmark button or press Enter on your numeric keypad when you are finished typing.

Use the move tool to reposition or scale the type if necessary.

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Add Speech Bubbles to Your Photos - Linking Text & Shape, Modifying the Style

Linking the Text & Shape

You can link the text to the speech balloon layer so they will stay together if you need to reposition them. To link layers, select one layer, then click the link box as shown in the screen shot here.

Double click the shape layer to modify the layer style. You can change or remove the drop shadow, modify the stroke color or width, or change the color overlay (fill color) of the speech balloon. In Elements, you will only be able to adjust the lighting direction and distance of the drop shadow.