View Full Version : Lettering Practice

Tomas M91
11-08-2014, 02:49 AM
Hi Guys,

I know how awesome this forum is for helping people so I figured I'd post my work for you guys to see.

I'm starting to learn to letter, and have read Jim's blog about lettering, Comicrafts book, balloon tales, blambot, etc, and want to get better at lettering.

Here's a sample from the archives here, I'll try go through all of them before showing other work. I've messed around in Illustrator before but have only a small amount of knowledge on graphic design.


Evan Henry
11-10-2014, 08:19 PM
This was one of the first pages I did! It's been a while since I critiqued lettering work, but...

- "The creature is mine!" is left-aligned for some reason. That should not be.

- You have crossbar I's all over the place. Ow.

- I'm pretty sure "Ditto, Chica" is attached to the wrong guy's mouth in the last panel. At least, I remember that I had it coming from the same guy who says "Ditto" in tiny print. I may have been mistaken.

- Try to think of the way you break text into lines as having the goal of making a roughly plus-sign shape. For example,

You'll do
nothing but
my bidding after
I sup on
your genes!

might look better as

You'll do
nothing but my
bidding after I sup
on your

You do an excellent job of this in the "let's move the car over here" panel, actually.

- I feel like your balloons are a little too tight to the text overall

- Other than that, pretty decent work. I dig your sound effect!

Tomas M91
11-10-2014, 09:19 PM
Thanks for looking Evan. I can't believe i missed all those I's lol.

Here's an updated look :)


Evan Henry
11-10-2014, 11:27 PM
Comin' along nicely! Some Is still sneaked by, though. Try this:

1. Open script in Word.

2. Hit Ctrl-H

3. Enter "I" in the FIND field and "i" in the REPLACE field, then click REPLACE ALL

4. Enter " i " (note the spaces) in the FIND field and " I " (spaces again) in the REPLACE field, then click REPLACE ALL. This changes standalone "i" (the pronoun, uncapitalized because of what you did in step 3) to "I".

5. Repeat the process with "i'" (lowercase i followed by an apostrophe) in the FIND field And "I'" (uppercase I followed by an apostrophe) in the REPLACE field.

Tomas M91
11-11-2014, 12:26 AM
Thanks again for looking Evan. Probably should have done that instead of eyeballing it. On another note, I've read that it's OK to have I in the case of contractions (I'm, I've, etc) instead of lowercase. I'm still debating about whether I should use these in this case or not.


Comics Commando
11-11-2014, 12:43 AM
Look at Evan's instructions, again. He covers the use of the personal I.

You're also missing a bunch of commas. Next to the period, the comma is most common, so you should know how to use it--even if it's missing in the script. It's 8th-grade English.

Ditto, Chica...is correct. He's talking to Chica. Eat aerostar freak is incorrect. She's talking to whomever she's calling a freak, yes? Add the comma.

Wow Rox, you...is almost correct. Should be: Wow, Rox, you...

For Thor's sake, don't get your punctuation cues from Facebook!


Kurt Hathaway
Cartoon Balloons Studio
Lettering • Logos • Pre-Press • Graphic Design • Video
for Print or Web • Entertainment, Advertising or Education!


Evan Henry
11-11-2014, 01:28 AM
Thanks again for looking Evan. Probably should have done that instead of eyeballing it. On another note, I've read that it's OK to have I in the case of contractions (I'm, I've, etc) instead of lowercase. I'm still debating about whether I should use these in this case or not.


Yep, I use crossbar I's in contractions. Step 5 takes care of that! :)

Tomas M91
11-11-2014, 10:07 PM
Sweet, thanks for all the help

Here's the final version. i really only want to do a max of 3 versions of each piece.



11-12-2014, 03:35 AM
For my money, this is the toughest page of the exercises and your latest version is a creditable stab at it. Panel 2, especially, is a swine.

One thing I would highlight, though, is your tendency to put balloons/tails on characters' faces when there's no need to.




Tomas M91
11-12-2014, 05:17 AM
Thanks for looking Jim :) You're actually one of my favourite letterers, especially your work with Zenescope (seems like you're the lone letterer there) and your tutorials are really good :)

11-12-2014, 08:29 AM
Thanks again for looking Evan. Probably should have done that instead of eyeballing it. On another note, I've read that it's OK to have I in the case of contractions (I'm, I've, etc) instead of lowercase. I'm still debating about whether I should use these in this case or not.

You should ALWAYS use crossbar I for personal pronouns. That includes contractions. That's what it's for. Almost* all other instances of the letter should be the straight line I.

* It can be used for denoting Roman numerals. For example, "World War II", in comics dialogue.


Evan Henry
11-12-2014, 10:48 AM
What Jim said! Great work on this one.

Here's mine (http://evanhenry.deviantart.com/art/Generation-X-Inkscape-lettering-test-280149039), in case you were curious.

Tomas M91
11-12-2014, 10:13 PM
Thanks for all the help guys. I'm sure Nate can recognize the FWOOSH font (it's one of his :p)

You're page looks good for a first attempt Evan. It's awesome to see where people start from and gradually see their improvement :)

11-14-2014, 05:33 AM
You're actually one of my favourite letterers, especially your work with Zenescope (seems like you're the lone letterer there) and your tutorials are really good :)

That's very kind of you, Tomas — thank you! (And, yes, I have been lettering pretty much Zenescope's entire line for about the last three years, although recently sheer volume of work has forced me to release my vice-like grip on their output, so expect to see other letterers working their magic on a variety of Zenescope books in the next few months…)



Tomas M91
11-14-2014, 10:23 PM
Ok, here's another page from the activity archive. I don't think I'm gonna have a crack at logo design yet so i'll stick to sequentials for now


Tomas M91
11-18-2014, 11:35 PM
Here's the next activity from the archives. Enjoy :)


11-19-2014, 02:37 AM
OK… first, I'm not sure what dimensions the document you put this on to letter was, but that text is huge! I've laid your sample up on a standard(ish) 176x267mm US page and it looks like about 12 point to me!

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to the ideal point size, but this looks like CCWildWords Lower (or possibly CCWildandCrazy?) to me, which I'd normally run at about 5.75-6pt in a standard US book.

For comparison, here's your text on that standard page with mine at 6pt on 6.5pt leading next to it:


Also, no crossbar 'I's for the pronoun 'I' — you can see where I've used it in the sample above. In mixed case fonts like this, you can usually get a crossbar I using the vertical bar (aka pipe) symbol which (googling suggests) can be found in varying places on the keyboard dependent on your primary language and operating system! It looks like this: | and can be used by pressing SHIFT and backslash: \

Other than that, the flow of this caption layout is clear and flows fairly well. I don't like the sudden jump to the left of the the caption that reads "The Mansion…" but you may find that positioning the captions is easier if you take the point size down to something smaller.

Also… I lose the 'Prologue' text against the background. Are those faux-italics on that font? (ie: are you using Photoshop, which will just skew text that has no dedicated italic version of a specific font.) The skewing looks hard and forced — I'd reconsider the font for that and perhaps put it in a different colour caption box, rather than floating it over the rather busy background art.

Once you've fixed all that… start worrying about tangents. :-)



Tomas M91
11-19-2014, 08:01 PM
Thanks for having a look Jim. Yeah, I really screwed up, i used the wrong template and it didn't click that things would be blown up this much :p

I'm using CCComicrazy (which I picked up for 1/10th its price during comicrafts awesome new years sale, gonna pick up a few more this year). I didn't know about the | becoming the cross I, so I have to thank you for that insight :)

I changed the Prologue but can't really find a font I like for narrative descriptors like this, though a Serif font might work better. I did actually manually skew it by 30% but I guess it was waaay too much.

I also tried to move the lettering around to try avoid as many tangents with the artwork as possible while keeping the flow consistent. Hopefully it worked.

Heres the updated version. I'm using the template found here http://www.ninjalettering.com/


11-20-2014, 02:47 AM
That's loads better! Final niggling:

1) There are only two periods in the ellipsis at the end of the "Moments change" caption.

2) I would shunt "…terrified, hopeless…" up a little and to the left so that the following two captions can be staggered rightwards, so that the eye is led down and right, in the general direction of the final "I would become…" caption.

Otherwise, good work!



Tomas M91
11-20-2014, 06:05 PM
Thanks again for looking Jim.

Here are the final alterations before I work on the next activity, so even if there are a few mistakes I'm happy where this piece is. Hope it looks good :)


Tomas M91
11-20-2014, 09:24 PM
And, is an attempt to spam this thread (lol) here is another piece from the activity archives.

This was really hard trying to get the right flow with all the dialogue. Still need to get better at that, as well as try and make unique captions per person talking. A simple box looks, well, too simple.


Tomas M91
11-24-2014, 10:10 PM
And here is the next one. This was a bit tougher to get the dialogue in the right shapes as well as balloon tails to the right person. Same with the last 4 panels with then boarder butting.


Tomas M91
12-01-2014, 08:58 PM
Hey there guys, new page. Sorry about the delay, been doing some coloring work lately and debating if I should but it up here as well. I post everything on my tumblr and link it here so for (almost) everything have a look there: http://tomasm91.tumblr.com/


12-02-2014, 01:29 PM
Been busy, so only time for a drive-by crit! Will have a proper look at the previous two pages when I have a bit more time, but this last Spectre one:

I'd tighten up that leading, personally, but that may just be me.

I like the sweep of the balloons, and the connectors, but I'm not sure why you cut across the Spectre's figure like that when there are acres of dead space in the upper right part of the page.

You're right to put your tail on the last balloon in the sequence but, because the balloon is positioned so low, you get an awkward-looking tail. Start higher, put the balloons closer together, and you've got plenty of room to position your final balloon above the speaker's head…




Tomas M91
12-02-2014, 06:44 PM
Thanks for having a look Jim :) I agree with the tail on the last balloon looking off. My reasoning behind the large gaps was because I felt that each balloon has strong dialogue, so the bigger the pause (bigger the gap between the balloons) would make each balloon that much more impactful. Is that the right way of thinking or did I go overboard with it?

Thanks again for the comments :)


Tomas M91
01-29-2015, 12:07 AM
Woah its been a while since I've uploaded here. Getting ready for the CE Intro to Lettering and Production course which starts in a few weeks.



01-29-2015, 08:41 AM
Passing through, this morning, and I thought that I would pause long enough to leave a couple of comments.

Your lettering is progressively improving, judging from what is on display in this thread. I checked the Contact Info section of your forum profile, to see if you had a blog or online portfolio, but you have nothing listed there. I was interested in seeing a large cross section of your lettering handiwork. Fortunately, you did post a link to your Tumblr page in your posting where the Spectre makes an entrance in this thread.

Not to inflate your head, but your lettering on display, here, already looks better than the lettering that I encounter in most independently published comic books.

Here's where I throw in the "but," though.

Visual inconsistencies populate your work. It's in the little details that your work is visually killing itself - slowly, not in one fell blow.

One of your strengths, as a letterer, is that you demonstrate an appreciation for the importance of white space in your work. Since lettering, itself, is a tour de force exercise in the effective exploitation of white space, you're ahead of the curve, so to speak.

But, white space manifests itself upon multiple planes. There is the white space of the page, and there is the white space of the bubbles, themselves. It's kind of ironic, in a way, that it's even called lettering, at all. It's called lettering, obviously, because you're concerned with the placement of letters and words upon the page.

Yet, even as it is about letters and words, it isn't just about letters and words. Rather, it's more about white space.

In the first page of lettering that you posted in this thread, look at the very first set of speech bubbles.

Your letters are in danger of "popping" your speech bubbles. They are intruding, thus, into the border zone area of the speech bubble's well-defined visual parameter (relative to other text in the same bubbles). This is true, not just in instances where you left-centered the text rather than centering it.

Later in this thread, you posted another example of your lettering handiwork.


Here, you're religiously resisting intrusion into the border zone area of the speech bubbles' inner perimeter. It looks good - damned good - that you're not riding the bubble's ass, so to speak. You're giving your bubble some space of its own. A guy, even a speech bubble kind of guy, needs his own space, don't you know?

But, as a letterer, it is you - and not your letters - that must be the master of bubble space. There are going to be times when you have to bend both letters and bubbles to your will.

Remember, you're not just lettering - you're forging visual greatness.

Or, you should be, anyway. Make no mistake about it. The letterer is the most crucial of the visual elementals set loose upon the comic book page.

Resist religious orthodoxy in your utilization of speech bubbles. Think of each speech bubble as its own character upon the page. The number of letters in each bubble, as well as the length of the words in each bubble, will vary, from speech bubble to speech bubble.

Never forget that your ongoing war of good versus evil, as a letterer, is a battle between you and white space. White space is a multi-headed hydra. It will try to get you both coming and going.

If the mountain that is white space will not come to the Muhammad that is your lettering, then you, as the letterer, must be prepared to bring the visual Muhammad to the mountain.

White space is a mountain - a visual mountain. That mountain is always on the move. It will strive to visually evade you. Are you up the task at hand, the task of taming that mountain? White space will always try to intrude into your visuals. It will try to take them over. It will visually corrupt them, if you allow it unbridled rampage across your page. As the letterer, you own the page.

By that, I mean that you own the visual environment of your page. Lettering will make or break a comic book. Good lettering can save bad art. Good art, however, cannot save bad lettering. Comic books are books. Books are primarily for reading. Unless a comic book strives only to be a picture book, then the reading component remains especially vital.

Good lettering is critical to proper digestion of elements on a page intended for reading.

Look at that first page of Spectre, again. Take note of how clean your lettering looks. It looks too clean, in fact. It has a sanitized visual feeling to it. You were striving for lettering perfection in that one, it seems.

It seems that way to me, anyway. So, why am I not drooling over it?

Because, the white space is still having its way with you.

A letterer who is master of their trade has many tricks - visual tricks - up their sleeve. Note how none of the lettering on that Spectre page is blessed with emphasis. No bold. No italics. No lettering that aims to depart from the orthodoxy of height or width.

The lettering on that page is all prim and proper, visually speaking. But, lettering is an undertaking where your letters and words have to be prepared to get down and dirty. They are, after all, fighting for visual respect upon a page visually dominated by art and inking and coloring. Being all prim and proper, thus, just plain won't cut it, where lettering is concerned.

To be certain, uniformity is important, where lettering of comic books is concerned. If your lettering lacks any semblance of uniformity, it will appear, visually, as a disheveled mass of textual chaos.

But, there are instances where you have to be prepared to depart from uniformity, for greater visual gain.

Scroll down to Leon Luttz.


Say what he may, not only is he follicle-challenged, he is also speech bubble challenged. What's up with that huge amount of white space at the bottom of his follicle-unchallenged quip? Little wonder that he attracted Judge Dredd's attention.

Plus, look at where that same speech bubble says "peaceful co-existence."

OK, at long last, you are starting to utilize visual impacting techniques to enhance your work, and to get a better visual grasp upon the white space considerations of the speech bubble's interior- in this case, placing some text in bold.

But, peaceful ends up looking right-aligned. What the Hell?!

It's not the end of the comic book world, of course - but, it is the end of visual harmony. White space declared open war upon you, in that particular speech bubble. Trust me - you lost that particular battle, too.

Like Heimdall, your job is to guard against the frost giants of white space. Thus, you must be eternally vigilant! They are Hell-bent upon destroying the page. White space is just that way. Many people think that white space just sort of sits there.

But, it doesn't. It is a morphing, moving son of a bitch. It's out to get you. Screw it up, and white space will mock you with maniacal laughter for an eternity (or as long as a page holds up to time and interest).

If you can wrap text around an ear, then surely to God, you can wrap text around a bubble.

At times, I criticize artists for their unimaginative panel work. Speech bubbles are the equivalent of micro-panels. Your use of speech bubbles is rather unimaginative. Your core lettering skills are decent, though. You're well on your way to becoming a competent, decent letterer.

If it is true mastery that you seek, though, then you've still got some major hills to climb.

Tomas M91
01-29-2015, 06:15 PM
Holy Crap Charles!! What a response!! First off, thank you for looking and giving such a poetic response. Seriously, that read like a master linguist or top notch writer, that is an insane post.

I haven't been lettering long so I definitely need as much help as possible, and your response was just awesome. Mastering white space? You've definitely made me take a whole different approach, a different look at the unison between words and art and the art of word balloons. Your words will always be in my mind every time I tackle another page and when I fix up pages ;)

Kudos for the kind words and giving me extra motivation to pursue this path of comic creation, even if I have years of learning and testing before anything comes out of it, but something will :) :)

Comics Commando
01-31-2015, 06:05 PM
So far, good progress, Tomas. Lettering is one of those arts that isn't obvious to those who read comics. I generally do about 22 pages a day when I'm busy and I make dozens of choices on each page that I'm not even conscious of. Placement, stacking, color, etc... After 20 years doing, it becomes a reflex. Overall, I think your font size looks too big, but I didn't look into it thoroughly. Maybe scan a page of a published comic book--bring it into your template and type out some of the comic dialogue--then see if it fits over the scanned balloon copy. From there you can see if your size is on the right track. I generally use about a 6 point size, but it may depend on the font, too.

Kurt Hathaway
Cartoon Balloons Studio
Lettering • Logos • Pre-Press • Graphic Design • Video
for Print or Web • Entertainment, Advertising or Education!



Tomas M91
01-31-2015, 08:32 PM
Thanks Kurt. the Dredd page threw me off because it's a different size than the standard comic page (or at least according to the template I used) but yeah, I should have checked the size according to the page dimensions and not the template dimensions. This is size 6 font but it does look bigger.


01-31-2015, 09:43 PM
Regarding font size used in lettering, I would offer up the following for contemplation.

I prefer reading comic books in PDF format. I prefer not having to zoom in on a comic, in order to read the lettering, easily. Small lettering remains a problem, where independent comic books are published. I find myself favoring a slightly larger font size, these days. I hate straining, in order to read a comic book at actual size.

Tomas M91
02-02-2015, 09:02 PM
Thanks for the insight Charles. I like reading pdfs as well and understand the need for larger font sizes. But sometimes, from what I've seen, is that you need to resort to smaller font sizes in order to fit well without covering up artwork. I know it's not always possible but I try and make do.

So here's a slight update on the Dredd page and the next page;



02-03-2015, 12:02 AM
Too small. Causes eye strain to try and read it.

Tomas M91
02-03-2015, 05:56 AM
Thanks again Charles.

It does look a bit smaller than the first time around. I only decreased the font size by 1 compared to what others said it was too big, but it really shows. The non standard dimensions threw me off.

02-03-2015, 12:21 PM
I was referring to the image, not to the font.

Tomas M91
02-03-2015, 06:16 PM
Oops, sorry about that Charles. Tumblr automatically resized the images, so I had to edit the html to get it to work.

I fixed it


02-03-2015, 08:41 PM
That's better, but the same panels are not the same size, because the image isn't the same size as the previous time. It's legible, but visual comparisons go quicker, if the two pages are the same size.

That said, there has been some improvement. Putting the bold words "peaceful coexistence" on the same line, is one example to point to.

But, look at that same speech bubble.

Why do you want that bubble of text to be aligned to the right? It creates huge gaps of empty white space inside of the speech bubble.

Furthermore, the top left of that speech bubble curves inward, as it should, but where is the top right equivalent of that very same bubble line? Is it that you simply didn't want to draw it, or is it an oversight? I know that the next panel overlaps the bubble, so to speak, but would it visually throw off either the bubble or the next panel, by including that missing bubble portion?

I would encourage you to look, again, at possible text candidates for placing in bold. For example, what about the panel where Judge Dredd refers to Leon luttz as Curly? It seems to me that Judge Dredd makes no attempt to avoid antagonizing Leon. Thus, to me, at least, I think that both "Curly" and "Big Shiny Dome" are good candidates for emphasis. Maybe, also, Judge Dredd's inquiry of, "Understand?"

Look again, though, at the South Slahead speech bubble. Leon Luttz is responding to Judge Dredd's question about extremist bald-o stuff. What if you placed Leon's immediate response of "absolutely not" in a speech bubble by itself, to the left of and above his head?

If you do so, you can lower that Slahead bubble, and perhaps narrow it a bit at the top. The bubble below it looks pretty good. The top bubble in that panel is visually problematic, though. It is not visually pleasing.

Leon is adamant - Absolutely not! To me, there should be more emphasis, which an exclamation mark would provide. Isolate it out, and emphasis it with the exclamation mark, and I think that Leon will come across as more emphatic in is response to Judge Dredd. Additionally, you can have the top left sweath of white space partially filled with another speech bubble and/or tail.

Tomas M91
02-04-2015, 01:26 AM
Thanks again for the crit Charles :) I read that if a balloon is butted to the corner of the panel then it fits better than if it was centrally aligned. I also resorted to this to make it fit in the gap better and so I can mask the balloon behind Leon's head.

As far as the emphasis goes, I just followed the script. I've read that a lot of writers don't like when letterers emphasize words themselves and prefer they follow the script exactly as its been written. Others expect the letterer to add the emphasis themselves.

Thanks again for the critique :)

02-04-2015, 03:41 AM
As far as the emphasis goes, I just followed the script. I've read that a lot of writers don't like when letterers emphasize words themselves and prefer they follow the script exactly as its been written. Others expect the letterer to add the emphasis themselves.

This is a bit of a minefield… if a script contains no bolding at all, I generally assume that the writer has left those choices to me. If there are bolds in the script, then I assume that the writer has made conscious choices about what should and shouldn't be emphasised and I respect that. Gordon's script has emphasis provided and so (as far as I'm concerned) falls into the latter category.

I also disagree with Charles' suggestions for bolding, regardless —*they don't strike me as particularly naturalistic speech patterns and, besides, Dredd is all about the deadpan. He's not trying to antagonise Leon, he's just being dismissive because, well, that's what he does.



Tomas M91
02-04-2015, 04:50 AM
Thanks Jim. I know there's no right or wrong way of when to emphasizing text. It's great to help with the emotion but the same can be done with colors to get the whole panel into a certain mood. Hell, I've also spoken to writers who think sound effects are outdated and shouldn't be added any more (though some attempt to letter themselves...).

I'll keep working on this and hopefully show more improvement when the lettering course starts.

Thanks again


02-04-2015, 05:36 PM
Having not seen the script, I can't speak to it. Certainly, if you have a script, then you should probably stick to it. My comments proceed, based upon what is presented in the thread.

That said, Jim is a letterer, and I am not. He speaks with the voice of first-hand experience.

As far as naturalistic speech patterns are concerned, absent elaboration on Jim's part, I'm not sure how to respond to this particular item.

I don't agree that Judge Dredd is all about the deadpan. He was originally conceived along the lines of a Dirty Harry type of character. Certainly, Dredd is a very serious character - but, his reputation precedes him.

Judge Dredd could easily have just called Leon by that name, Leon. Or, he could have stuck with calling him Luttz. Instead, he opts for Curly. He futher characterizes Leon's head as "that big shiny dome." For one who seeks only to deadpan, Judge Dredd certainly resorts freely to colorful characterizations, it seems.

Beyond this, though, what was Leon's reaction, after he is out of Dredd's earshot?

"Gruddamn judges!"

That's a bit of an emotional reaction to straight deadpan, don't you think?

Natural speech does not preclude emphasis of words, in any event. What is Judge Dredd's personality? What is his style? He is authoritarian, by nature. He isn't exactly the charming type. He has presence, and he speaks with force. He doesn't mince words, and he's already made the connection between Luttz and extremist bald-o activism.

If Dredd is all about deadpan, then why emphasize bald-o and extremist bald-o stuff? Why emphasize anything that he says?

Because, he is not a dull, monotonic character. Just as Dirty Harry would emphasize words, it is no less natural for Judge Dredd to do so.

Again, I'm not looking at a script. The dialogue between Dredd and Luttz, there is what Judge Dredd says, and there is what Leon Luttz hears. Whatever speech patterns exist here are fabricated, not natural. Assuming that Judge Dredd speaks in a completely impersonal manner, that wouldn't preclude him from resorting to emphasis in his dialogue with other characters.

Everyone is entitled to their respective opinions on Judge Dredd, as a character, of course.

Tomas M91
04-28-2015, 12:45 AM
Fresh out of Dave Sharpe's Intro to Lettering Class, I figured it'll be a good idea to start a thread. Lots of awesome information, so I highly recommend taking his class, even if you only want to do it to letter your own work. Still have a lot to learn, both here and on my coloring thread so there will be plenty of mistakes.







04-28-2015, 03:42 AM
Just my two cents? I don't think letterers should bold words that are not bolded in the script. I've read books that were poorly bolded and the speech patterns were jarring; if the writer calls for a specific cadence using bolds, punctuation, separate balloons or all three it's the letterers job to transcribe without adding. I'm a big fan of letterers doing design work in the old style and on the physical board, but comics aren't made that way. There is a generation of guys who would probably have loved the old system, but most guys working in a studio lettering stacks of files for Comicraft in 2015 aren't trained to think that way. It's complexity, and creativity that the job currently lacks.

I said all that to say this. Don't add. If you letter, look for the blank spots that the artist left in the panel. Please for the love of fuck stop covering up important story shit with balloons. I drew it like that so the reader can see it. And the writer in kind may have written in a flat, perhaps interpretive way for a reason. Bolding removes the reader's participation in 'acting' the story out in their minds, hearing the characters say what they're saying through the prism of the readers' own perspective.

Here's a question I have for you:

I'm considering drawing balloons on my pages, placing them where I think they should go in inks and leaving the interior to be filled-in by the letterer...

How do we feel about this? Tell me.


Tomas M91
04-28-2015, 07:19 AM
Thanks for your input. I did exactly what the script asked, I didn't bold anything that wasn't indicated by the writer. As for adding the balloon placements then getting the letterer to 'fill in', the artist needs to be aware of the size and shape of the letters so the balloon has enough for the words and breathing space. You don't want it to look like translated manga with different sized words just to fit in the balloon. Plus, what if there is a rewrite of the dialogue? The writer wants to add in more words but the balloon cant be altered?

04-28-2015, 08:14 AM
I'm considering drawing balloons on my pages, placing them where I think they should go in inks and leaving the interior to be filled-in by the letterer...

How do we feel about this? Tell me.

Your publisher will tell you to stop. It makes re-purposing content for translated or digital editions murderously hard. Also, as Tomas M91 notes above, unless you know exactly what font the letterer is going to use, and how the text will stack, you're going to get some ugly-assed balloons with horribly uneven amounts of space.

Letter it yourself, or let the letterer do it.

ISTR lettering several issues of your stuff for Zenescope and it was notable because:

If you letter, look for the blank spots that the artist left in the panel.

On your pages there actually was dead space. There are plenty of artists who don't seem to give this the slightest thought, or think that leaving space outside the live area is somehow helpful, and that leads fairly directly to…

covering up important story shit with balloons.

My job is to put the balloons in an easily readable order, and if the artist hasn't left me the space to do that, or has drawn the first speaker out of multiple speakers on the right of panel, or otherwise done something that makes it difficult for me to maintain that easy reading order then I'll put the balloons where they damn well need to go, and if that upsets the artist then s/he should have laid the page out better.

That said: if I lettered any of your pages in a way that prompted howls of anguish, I'd be genuinely interested to know. It's hard to get feedback in this business, so if you think I fucked something up then I'd honestly like to hear about it.

(I appreciate it's been a couple of years, so I understand if you can't remember and don't have the time to dig out comps.)



04-28-2015, 08:29 AM
Letter it yourself, or let the letterer do it.

I'll put the balloons where they damn well need to go, and if that upsets the artist then s/he should have laid the page out better.

That said: if I lettered any of your pages in a way that prompted howls of anguish, I'd be genuinely interested to know. It's hard to get feedback in this business, so if you think I fucked something up then I'd honestly like to hear about it.

That makes sense.

What did you letter of mine, do you remember? I'm sure that means your work was good if I don't remember, appreciate your asking. I have trouble with colors more than anything, or file handling that results in print errors -- but that's a concern we all share.

04-28-2015, 08:40 AM
Fresh out of Dave Sharpe's Intro to Lettering Class, I figured it'll be a good idea to start a thread.

Dave has taught you well. I have some very minor niggles here, but there are people getting paid for work that's not to this standard. You should be pretty happy with it.

OK… niggles now:

1) Overall, I think the green is too strong on that caption gradient. You don't know what palette the colourist is going to use, but I'd always stick to something much lighter, whatever your colour choice. If that ran a little dark on the press, it'd be difficult to read.

2) I don't like the butted balloon on Pg3, Panel 4 — you should always look to shave no more than about the top 25% off the shape of the balloon:


3) Tangents! Everywhere! Watch for tangents with lines in the artwork…




…All of which, I suspect, sounds a bit negative, so I'll remind you that, at the start of this post, I said that this was good work, and it is.



04-28-2015, 08:49 AM
What did you letter of mine, do you remember?

Pretty much all of it! I was lettering 90%+ of their output for about three years straight. I definitely did:

Call of Wonderland (where you did the Lovecraft sequences)

GFT Myths & Legends (Sea Witch arc… can't be bothered to Google up the issue numbers!)

GFT Hunters: Shadowlands

…And I'm pretty sure you did a couple of issues of GFT? There was a Tooth Fairy one and one about an imprisoned wizard…

If you didn't hate it enough to remember, I'll take it as a compliment!



04-28-2015, 04:56 PM
3) Tangents! Everywhere! Watch for tangents with lines in the artwork…

That was my biggest issue. Sometimes it can be hard to keep your work tangent free with so much going on, but there are definitely better places to put your captions and balloons to avoid creating them.


Tomas M91
04-28-2015, 07:26 PM
Thanks Jim :) Both for the defense and the crit. Definitely have to work on the tangents and butting properly. Always gonna make mistakes :p

Thanks for looking Vartemis :)

Tomas M91
05-28-2015, 01:47 AM
Been a while but still cracking away at any samples i can find. Here are 3 pages from Jim's blog, Salem's Daughter. Still learning about balloon air and keeping it constant throughout the pages