File this one under: Notes to Myself.  I posted this with one of my webcomic updates (which, if you’re not reading, feel free) and thought I would include it here as well.

It’s easy as a comic book artist, especially early on in a career, to forget to give enough room to lettering.

We get caught up in making that beautiful background, getting in all those dynamic poses, or we simply acquiesce to the desire to fill up the panel. It’s open space right? And open space is begging to be drawn in.  Even when we leave space for the image to breathe and to give our eye a place to rest (for an example of something that DOESN’T give the eye somewhere to rest, look at Michael Bay’s Transformers designs) we sometimes forget that the dialog balloons are just as much a part of comic art as the fancy pants rendering.

I was slow to learn this.

One of the things I’ve done in the past, and I did with this page, is lay out the dialog in the panels before I thumbnail.


Here I can work out the flow of the dialog as the readers eye moves across the page. The above image is what I settled on after a few iterations. Incidentally, one of the benefits of Manga Studio is that I can easily rearrange the dialog and thumbnails to see what works.


From here I can go into the pencils (my thumbnails are in blue, I pencil over those in MS) and can make sure the dialog is taken into account as a part of the over all image and pacing.

I’m not a comics Jedi or anything, but I’ve found it pays off to think of the page as a whole (image + words) instead of cramming any part of it in as an afterthought.

One thought on “Comic Book Artists: Lettering Is Not An Afterthought”

  1. Actually this is super helpful. I’m just getting into drawing and writing comics, and this will save me a lot of time. I was actually drawing word balloons right onto my bristol board, and moving them and erasing them multiple times. I was considering buying MS once I have about 10 pages of pencils, to do the inking. NOPE! I’m off to to the store to get it now. Sold me!

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