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Tutorial: Adding Comic Book Elements to Images using Photoshop

Brick Flicks & Comics Academy comic design editing panel intermediate

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#1 KielDaMan

KielDaMan

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 06:11 PM

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So you've taken the photographs for your comics, made the necessary photo-adjustments/enhancements, and did the initial panel layouting, now it's time to put some elements in your images to give them a distinct "comic-book look/effect". This tutorial will teach you how to put various elements popularly found in comic book pages - "hand-drawn" panel borders, text boxes, comic fonts and sound texts - using Adobe Photoshop.

For this tutorial, I'll be using the image below as the subject (640 x 732 pixels) and a plain white background for the comic layout.

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Click for higher resolution image

Part I: Adding a "Hand-drawn" Border on the Image

1. Open both the image file and the background file in Adobe Photoshop.

2. Go to the image file > select all (CTRL+A) > copy (CTRL+C). Then go to the background file and paste (CTRL+V) the image. The image file will become a new layer (Layer 1) in the Background file. Rename it as Main Layer (renaming is optional, it's used only in this tutorial for easier reference).

3. Add another layer above the Main Layer by clicking on the Add Layer Icon Posted Image at the bottom of the LAYERS pane. Name the Layer as Border.

4. Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) Posted Image on the Tools Palette at the left. Make a rectangle selection by dragging the cursor from the top-left corner to the bottom right corner of the image.

5. Select Edit on the Function Menu at the top > choose Stroke > and set the following parameters: Width: 5 px / Color: Black / Position: Center > Click OK. The border will now be added on top of the image.

6. Deselect the current selection > go to Filter > Blur > Blur More.

7. Go to Filter > Distort > Ripple > set Amount: 20% and Size: Medium. 8. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen More.

This will be the resulting image with a border resembling a hand-drawn border characteristic of comic books:
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Part II: Adding Text Boxes to the Image

1. Create another layer below the Border layer. Re-name it as Text Box 1.

2. Select the Rectangle Tool (U) Posted Image on the Tools Palette. Make a rectangle on the top left corner of the image.    

a. To set the text box border: Right-click on the Text Box 1 layer > choose Blending Options > tick Stroke > set the following parameters: Size: 4 px / Position: Center / Color: Black > Click OK.
b. To set the text box color: In the Tools Palette Posted Image, set the foreground color to orange (#fdd515 in this example) and the background color to white. Right-click on the Text Box 1 layer > choose Blending Options > tick Gradient Overlay > set the following parameters: Blending Mode: Normal / Opacity: 100% / Gradient: Foreground to Background / Angle: 90 degrees > Click OK.
TIP: Save these settings for faster and easier use the next time around. To do this, just double-click on text box layer > click New Style > Rename it (eg. Comic Book Text Box) > tick both Include Layer Effects and Include Blending Options > click OK. Next time you'll be creating a text box, just click on the particular icon in the STYLES pane and you'll instantly get the desired text box settings.

3. If the story narrative of the comics requires it, a second text box may be added to an image - with a different look to avoid visual redundancy. To create the second text box, add another layer above Text Box 1 and name it as Text Box 2.

4. In the Tools Palette, set the foreground color to white. Select the Rectangular Tool (U) Posted Image and make a rectangle on the bottom of the image. Right-click on the Text Box 2 layer > choose Blending Options > tick Stroke > set the following parameters: Size: 4 px / Position: Center / Color: Black (NOTE: If the resulting text box still has the previous gradient overlay settings, just un-tick the Gradient Overlay box in the Blending Options and the text box will be filled with the white foreground color).

This will be the resulting image with the two text boxes added:
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Part III: Adding Text Captions using Comic Book Fonts

1. To give your text captions the desired comic book effect, there are text fonts specially designed for comic books. Download the free font Digital Strip and install it in your computer.

2. Using the Horizontal Type Tool (T) Posted Image in the Tools Palette, create a text caption over the orange text box. For this example I set the following settings in the Text Toolbar: Font: Digital Strip (Regular) / Color: Black / Text Size: 22 pt / Anti-aliasing: Strong / Left-align text. You may also emphasize certain words in the caption, in this example I made the "Lasso of Truth" Bold for emphasis.

3. Re-size the text box as needed by dragging the edges of the text box to the appropriate size. If the text caption goes over the orange text box, re-size the text box by: Single-click the Text Box 1 layer in the LAYERS pane > Go to Edit in the top function menu > choose Free Transform > drag the edges of the text box to the appropriate size > click the Posted Image icon.

4. You could also highlight the first letter of the text caption to further give it a comic book look (which is usually done only at the start of the comics or certain parts/chapters).

To do this:
a. First go to the text caption layer, click Posted Image and delete the first letter. You may need to put additional spaces in place of the deleted first letter and to provide space for the highlighted letter.
b. Click on Posted Image tool in the Tools Palette > type in the first letter > and set the following settings in the Text Toolbar: Font: Digital Strip (Regular) / Color: Red (#fd030f) / Text Size: 48 pt / Anti-aliasing: Strong
c. To add effects on the first letter, right-click on the First Letter layer > tick Stroke > set the following settings: Size: 4 px / Position: Outside / Blend Mode: Normal / Opacity: 100% / Color: Black > Click OK. To give the letter a shadow effect: tick Drop Shadow > set the following settings: Blend Mode: Normal / Opacity: 100% / Angle: 120 degrees / Distance: 5 px / Spread: 75 px / Size: 5 px > Click OK.
TIP: Save these settings for faster and easier use the next time around. To do this, just double-click on text box layer > click New Style > Rename it (eg. Comic Book First Letter) > tick both Include Layer Effects and Include Blending Options > click OK.

5. For the second text caption on the white text box, repeat step #2-3.

The image with the text captions should look like this:
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Part IV: Adding Sound Texts

Some images/panels may require the use of sound texts (like the classic KABOOM!, KA-POW!, etc.) or even exp<b></b>ressi&#111;ns of rage (screams), distress calls (HELP!, SAVE ME!), etc. These special text captions require more emphasis to stand-out inside the image panel. Here is an example on how to do this:

1. There are a lot of good comic book fonts for this particular use, but my personal preference is this BadaBoom BB font (by Nate Piekos, Blambot fonts). Download this free font and install in your computer.

2. Type in the sound text using Posted Image in the Tools Palette. For this example I set the following settings for the text: Font: BadaBoom BB (Regular) / Color: Red (#fe0000) / Text Size: 100 pt / Anti-aliasing: Strong

3. To add stroke to the text: right-click on the layer > choose Blending Options > tick Stroke > set the following settings: Size: 4 px / Position: Outside / Blend Mode: Normal / Opacity: 100% / Color: Yellow (#f1f414) > Click OK.
TIP: Save these settings for faster and easier use the next time around. To do this, just double-click on text box layer > click New Style > Rename it (eg. Comic Book Sound Tex) > tick both Include Layer Effects and Include Blending Options > click OK.

4. To add text warp, right-click on the layer > choose Warp Text > set the following settings: Style: Arc / Horizontal / Bend: +60% / Horizontal Distortion: +60% / Vertical Distortion: 0% > Click OK.

5. Re-size or re-orient the text caption to your liking by using the Free Transform (CTRL+T) function: Select the layer > Go to Edit in the top function menu > choose Free Transform > re-size, rotate, re-orient the text > click the Posted Image icon.

The finished image should look like this:
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Notice how I intentionally left the sound text caption slightly extend outside the border. This is just one form of 'creative leeway' that I exercised based on my personal preference (WW's aggressive personality and strong vindictive emotion 'breaking the barriers' of the image border). The same goes for the highlighted letter A in the top text box. You too could also exercise artistic freedom when adding these comic book elements in your images, based on your personal taste and liking (choice of font type, font color, text box color/design, border type, etc.). This tutorial just gives a basic background on how to add these comic book elements to your comic layout, but ultimately the specific choices would all depend on the comic material and the artistic taste of the comic maker.


Other Examples

Example 1: Pay Attention by darkdragon
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In this particular example, I played around using a lime-colored "hand-drawn" border in combination with a special "Slimy" font visualizing the zombie's brain appetite.





Sources:

1. Give your Photos a Retro Comic Book Effect, by Enrique Flouret (www.photoshoproadmap.com) - majority of this tutorial is based on this. I just removed/added some elements/topics to make it fit for this particular use in BFCA.
2. www.dafont.com online source of useful fonts (the Digital Strip and BadaBoom BB comic book fonts downloaded from this site).





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