In the olden days, way back in 40BP (Before Photoshop) everything in comic books was hand drawn and coloured. The penciller would pencil it, the inker would ink it, the colourist would colour it and the letterer would, you guessed it, letter it. Hard to believe perhaps that a person was employed just to write in Pow!! and Watch out Batman! But there’s much more to lettering than you might think, a good letterer can make or break a comic story, adding to it by making the story easy to read and emphasising the right moments.
There are a number of off the shelf packages that automate the process for you, but if you still want to capture that feel of the old comic books, where the balloons fit around the art, and the subtleties of storytelling were enhanced by the position, shape and tail direction of the balloon, then why not try creating bespoke balloons and lettering in Photoshop?
It’s simple and avoids the main problem with the off the shelf packages uniformity. If you’re picking your shapes from a pre-selected list, it doesn’t give you a fraction of the freedom this simple series of actions does.
Comicraft have been industry leaders in comic lettering and fonts since the early nineties, but we’re going self-sufficient here, so step one is to find a free use font online that fits your comics. Fontsquirrel has a nice selection of free fonts categorised as comics that are royalty free.