pietracupamjohn

Positioning Speech Bubbles in Comics

by pietracupamjohn

Creative Commons Tuesday June 20, 2017

1,039 views | 18 comments

Filed in Pixton Tutorials

Hello Everyone. My brother when reading comics on this site has at times gotten confused when trying to determine which speech bubble he needs to read first in a panel.

Here are some instructions that can help organize your speech bubbles so people read them in the correct order.

Remember these are guides not rules and therefore you do not have to follow them perfectly.

Here is a diagram

First you need to consider the reading direction. For English it is left to right, top to bottom.

Line Order

Reading Direction

Overall Flow

Because that is what is expected.

Your speech bubbles should be organized in the same way that words are organized on a page.

Furthermore try not to break the overall flow by organizing bubbles perpendicular to it.

Line Order

Reading Direction

Overall Flow

When your speech is organized in this way.

To know what to read first.

It is very difficult.

Following this works when you are using one character

but it gets more difficult when there are more characters in your panels.

So here are some ideas that may help.

With 2 characters in the panel and the character on the left speaking first the text can just be above or below the characters heads.

Orange shirt speaks first.

Blue shirt speaks second.

Orange shirt speaks first.

Blue shirt speaks second.

This gets more difficult if the character on the right is speaking first. In this case it is best to place one speech bubble above the heads and the other below.

Blue shirt speaks first.

Orange shirt speaks second.

Notice how the speech bubbles are centered. This is to avoid breaking the overall flow by having one tile high and the other on the left.

Now for three characters. We will make them the same height for simplicity. It is difficult to fit 3 speech bubbles across the top or bottom of the panel so we will need to split them up.

Orange shirt speaks first.

Black shirt speaks second.

Blue shirt speaks third

Black shirt speaks first.

Orange shirt speaks second.

Blue shirt speaks third.

Orange shirt speaks first.

Black shirt speaks third.

Blue shirt speaks second.

Notice how the two effects from a 2 character panel are used in combination for the three character panel. Also notice how the top-right and bottom-left corner are not used at the same time. This is to prevent confusion as a reader may not know if they should continue reading right or down.

But something still hasn't been addressed. What if Orange shirt speaks last or blue shirt speaks first. You want to try and avoid crossing your speech pointers or making them really long, while also making sure they are reaching the right characters.

Blue shirt speaks first.

Speech pointers are crossed and two long.

Black shirt speaks second.

Orange shirt speaks third.

Blue shirt speaks first

Speech pointers are to short and don't point to the correct character.

Orange shirt speaks third.

Black shirt speaks second.

When the lines are two short you can't properly tell who is speaking as the speech bubbles do not point to the right characters. And if you have long or crossed pointers then your panel can look more cluttered or unprofessional.

You'll have to get inventive with these situations. Here is a creative way to format this scenario.

Orange shirt speaks third.

Blue shirt speaks first.

Black shirt speaks second.

It may appear that the overall flow was broken in that last panel but because of the positioning of the two tiles it is easy to tell which comes first.

If you feel like you are in a situation where you need to break the overall flow then try positioning the tiles in ways that promote the correct read order.

Second bubble

First bubble

Second bubble

First bubble

First bubble

Second bubble

Third bubble

A tip that may help is when placing tiles imaging a red line stretching from the bottom-left to the top-right of your panel. Move this line across your panel. It should hit your speech bubbles in the order you want them to be read.

If you would like we can make a second part explaining a 4 character panel and screen realestate.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this comic.

John Pietracupam

pietracupam

I hope these lessons were helpful for you and taught you something knew about comics.

Hello Everyone. My brother when reading comics on this site has at times gotten confused when trying to determine which speech bubble he needs to read first in a panel. Here are some instructions that can help organize your speech bubbles so people read them in the correct order. Remember these are guides not rules and therefore you do not have to follow them perfectly. Here is a diagram | First you need to consider the reading direction. For English it is left to right, top to bottom. Line Order | Reading Direction | Overall Flow Because that is what is expected. | Your speech bubbles should be organized in the same way that words are organized on a page. Furthermore try not to break the overall flow by organizing bubbles perpendicular to it. Line Order | Reading Direction | Overall Flow When your speech is organized in this way. | To know what to read first. | It is very difficult. Following this works when you are using one character but it gets more difficult when there are more characters in your panels. So here are some ideas that may help. With 2 characters in the panel and the character on the left speaking first the text can just be above or below the characters heads. Orange shirt speaks first. | Blue shirt speaks second. Orange shirt speaks first. | Blue shirt speaks second. This gets more difficult if the character on the right is speaking first. In this case it is best to place one speech bubble above the heads and the other below. Blue shirt speaks first. | Orange shirt speaks second. Notice how the speech bubbles are centered. This is to avoid breaking the overall flow by having one tile high and the other on the left. Now for three characters. We will make them the same height for simplicity. It is difficult to fit 3 speech bubbles across the top or bottom of the panel so we will need to split them up. Orange shirt speaks first. | Black shirt speaks second. | Blue shirt speaks third Black shirt speaks first. | Orange shirt speaks second. | Blue shirt speaks third. Orange shirt speaks first. | Black shirt speaks third. | Blue shirt speaks second. Notice how the two effects from a 2 character panel are used in combination for the three character panel. Also notice how the top-right and bottom-left corner are not used at the same time. This is to prevent confusion as a reader may not know if they should continue reading right or down. But something still hasn't been addressed. What if Orange shirt speaks last or blue shirt speaks first. You want to try and avoid crossing your speech pointers or making them really long, while also making sure they are reaching the right characters. Blue shirt speaks first. | Speech pointers are crossed and two long. | Black shirt speaks second. | Orange shirt speaks third. Blue shirt speaks first | Speech pointers are to short and don't point to the correct character. | Orange shirt speaks third. | Black shirt speaks second. When the lines are two short you can't properly tell who is speaking as the speech bubbles do not point to the right characters. And if you have long or crossed pointers then your panel can look more cluttered or unprofessional. You'll have to get inventive with these situations. Here is a creative way to format this scenario. Orange shirt speaks third. | Blue shirt speaks first. | Black shirt speaks second. It may appear that the overall flow was broken in that last panel but because of the positioning of the two tiles it is easy to tell which comes first. If you feel like you are in a situation where you need to break the overall flow then try positioning the tiles in ways that promote the correct read order. Second bubble | First bubble Second bubble | First bubble First bubble | Second bubble | Third bubble A tip that may help is when placing tiles imaging a red line stretching from the bottom-left to the top-right of your panel. Move this line across your panel. It should hit your speech bubbles in the order you want them to be read. If you would like we can make a second part explaining a 4 character panel and screen realestate. | Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this comic. | John Pietracupam | pietracupam | I hope these lessons were helpful for you and taught you something knew about comics. | Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or concerns about this.

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pietracupamjohn

pietracupamjohn

I'm from The Limestone City, Canada.
Joined April 27, 2017
91 comics published

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18 comments | 9 people | 2 languages | 5 countries

Moggie

Moggie 4 mos ago from Canada

Very helpful. I find the placement of dialog tricky sometimes so this was a good guide to follow :)

pietracupamjohn

pietracupamjohn 4 mos ago from Canada

Thank you.

Selsley

Selsley 5 mos ago from United Kingdom

what if im Chinese Japanese Taiwanese, or Korean?

Selsley

Selsley 5 mos ago from United Kingdom

ok i get the idea and i do think my comics are easy to read, but sometimes the 6th person speaks 1st and its hard to get their bubble on the left, i try to stick left to right top to bottom where possible or, highest txt is read 1stbut i do agree i read a lot of comics where the person on the right speaks 1st and is under the person who speaks left, all the way through, simple comic dynamics would have been to just mirror the frames

pietracupamjohn

pietracupamjohn 5 mos ago from Canada

If I am understanding you correctly then yes. Also, I did mention that this is for English as I did not want to write a list of exceptions. For languages like the ones, you mentioned these tips are mostly the same but the diagram is different. <pietracupam>

NiereNione

NiereNione 5 mos ago from United States

An excellent, informative comic. I don't think we have enough discussion about the actual mechanics of comic-building around here. I would definitely encourage you to continue the series with a screen real estate comic - sounds fascinating!

pietracupamjohn

pietracupamjohn 5 mos ago from Canada

Thanks for the comment. I'll see if my brother can start working on it. <John>

Kao

Kao 5 mos ago from Denmark

THANK YOU!!! I've been saying this for years! Finally someone made a comic explaining!!

pietracupamjohn

pietracupamjohn 5 mos ago from Canada

You're welcome.

Georgy Girl

Georgy Girl 5 mos ago from Canada

It was very easy to read so kudos to you.

pietracupamjohn

pietracupamjohn 5 mos ago from Canada

Thank you.

Percy Epsilon

Percy Epsilon 5 mos ago from Canada

I really enjoyed reading this, very informative and interesting to read. Thank you for sharing the insightful tips :)

pietracupamjohn

pietracupamjohn 5 mos ago from Canada

You're welcome.

Chloe-sama~

Chloe-sama~ 5 mos ago from France

that's indeed an interesting and helpfull comic for those who are confused with speech bubbles position, great job, I wouldn't do as much as yours :)

pietracupamjohn

pietracupamjohn 5 mos ago from Canada

Thanks,

Marleen Miepje

Marleen Miepje 5 mos ago from Netherlands

ooh this is actually really helpfull!! do you have more examples of doing the speechbubbles wrong?

pietracupamjohn

pietracupamjohn 5 mos ago from Canada

I don't want to point out anyone in specific but I do see it frequently on Pixton. I'm sure me and John can create a comic that shows a series of confusing speech bubbles and things to try and avoid doing. <pietracupam>

Marleen Miepje

Marleen Miepje 5 mos ago from Netherlands

oh yes I would very much like to see that! I sometimes too have some difficulties with speechbubbles you see.

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