Manga Studio 5 Word Balloons

So, I’m going to have a quick blitz post about Manga Studio Word balloons. Like all the tools in Manga Studio, it’s pretty flexible in many ways (and surprisingly rigid in other).

Let’s start with the basic set of sub tools for “Text”.

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.34.28


You’ll see here I’ve already customised a couple of text styles – Dialogue 8pt CCWildwords, Dialogue 12pt CCWildwords and Caption 12ptWildWords. All I simply did with these was altered the default text to include a font of my choosing and set the size of the text suitable for lettering (and altered the line height for the font to ensure it was nice and neat).

The only difference between ‘Dialogue’ and ‘Caption’ here is that one is aligned left and the other is centre aligned.

You can easily add a whole set of sub tools for, for example, Creepy Character Dialogue (using a font that’s suitable) or Robot Voice (again, suitable font).

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The text can be set to take on the ‘main’ colour (usually black), the ‘sub’ colour (usually white) or a third, user defined colour – so, if you wanted all your robot dialogue to be a dark blue, that’s a thing you can set up and it will always be dark blue regardless of your colour set up (assuming, of course, that your default layers are set to show colour).

So, moving on to the panel shapes.

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.43.27‘Ellipse’ balloon. This is a little bit of a misnomer. This balloon, can be set to either Ellipse (or, if you hold shift while drawing it, you’ll get a circle), a rectangle (again, shift will make that a square) or a polygon – ie, a shape with a fixed number of sides (holding shift here will constrain your aspect ratio so it’s same height as width).

Text and balloons try and be on the same “text” layer. When multiple balloon shapes are placed on the same layer and they overlap, they appear joined – so that, for example, two ellipses can look like this…

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.45.22 Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.45.29


This, obviously, is extra useful when you’re adding things like balloon tails, or multiple sets of dialogue joined together.

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.47.16 Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.47.32Ellipses, when placed, have multiple edit points (too many, if you ask me). And you can tweak those shapes – though, really, if you’re after organic shaped word balloons, probably the best way is to go a little old school.

I would pencil a balloon shape, then, using the “Curve Balloon” draw a curve shape that does the job.



Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.49.32

Here’s a bit of dialogue with a blue lined balloon shape (obviously, this step isn’t necessary, but I find it helpful to roughly know the shape of the balloon I’m going for…)

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.51.49So, using the Spline option on the curve balloon, I place check points and draw the shape of the balloon (leaving the tail, because I can then use Manga Studio’s balloon tail tool to just add that on quickly).

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.54.40 Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.54.54Adding the tail.

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.55.53 Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 08.56.04


Once done, you can, using the object selector tool Object Selector Tool move the text and balloon around (one quick word on that, if you move the balloon the text it’s linked to will move too – resizing the balloon will NOT resize the text.)

Now, that’s the basics covered, if you’re into fancy dialogue shapes, it’s fairly easy to do that, you could for example alter the style of line on the balloon (but that’s a lesson for another day)

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 09.00.14


It’s not got the rich set of features that, say, Adobe Illustrator has for drawing objects for lettering. But I expect the feature set here to grow and in many respects it’s a much simpler tool for lettering. It’s also a whole heck of a lot cheaper!

Please consider this post a bit of a rough draft, written early in the morning. Let me know if I’ve typos all over the place and if anything is unclear in the comments: I’ll be happy to fix it!

Here’s some fun examples of what’s possible:

(note: Manga Studio 5 has a bug where it’ll chop off some elements of some fonts, so, for example, in the the line “DEATH!!” it’s obviously chopped off the top of the exclamation points, but, less obviously, it’s also chopped off the top of the letters)

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And now to pay the piper, I have a comic coming out this month “Numbercruncher #2”. Issue 1 has, I think it’s fair to say, been a hit with critics, and if you’re interesting in reading it, you can buy online from Comixology here. And I have a another coming coming out in October, called “Dept of Monsterology” – which you can read all about here.




Author: PJ

PJ is a Belfast based comic artist, and has been for some time.

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