How to Draw Cartoons > Cartoon Balloons and Spots

A cartoonist need not be an expert in handlettering. However, the more clearly and attractively he can form and space his letters, the more acceptable his work will be. What the characters in the funnies say is usually shown in "balloons."

Letters therein are kept clear and very simple. Words are emphasized by using italics, or boldface letters, or underlining. Often the outlines of speech balloons are varied according to who is talking in the comic, what he is saying, and how he is saying it. Thus, quavering lines show fear and trembling.

Broken lines show unspoken words. Sharp, well-defined lines give emphasis. Most balloons are lettered in capitals. Develop one simple lettering style and stick to it until you master it. You will grow gradually more efficient, as you gain experience by constant repetition.

The lettering below is a conservative style. You can vary it in either direction, making letters which are still more formal, or more careless and loose. Use the way which is easiest for you.


Wherever there is a printed word, in magazines, newspapers, trade journals, local news sheets, employee house organs, there is a place for the spot. Other names for !he spot are "quick sketch" or "decorative vignette." Spots are little pictured commentaries on life. With few lines and no words, they talk.

Put down in sketch form the little everyday things you observe. Don't try to draw them "correctly." Don't try to follow any set rules. Just comment, pictorially. If you do this without restraint or inhibition, your spots will be acceptable everywhere. They'll be unique and individual because they're you and what you're thinking. They'll be understood by other people because, fundamentally, other people feel just as you do.

Above all things, remember that drawing is free, joyous expression. I've given you some fundamentals which artists follow at the start. But the sooner you forget the rules and draw as unconsciously as you write, the happier you will be and. the more pleasure you will give other people.

Continue to Cartoon Drawing Techniques

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