Episode 091

Episode 091 – Comic Bubbles

by Richard Querin

In this tutorial I demonstrate how to create simple comic-style speech and action bubbles using Inkscape 0.46. This one is relatively short and simple. I have seen a few different ways people create these types of things, and I think the method I use here is one of the simplest and most customizable.

This episode marks our switchover to the OGG format. Heathenx will be posting about it soon with more details, however if you’re using Firefox 3.5 (or beta versions of Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, or any other browser that supports HTML5) you should be able to view the episode right in your browser. If you don’t, you can download the ogg file and view it offline. We recommend SMPlayer or VLC for that.

Given the aforementioned change in format, we fully expect to hear about any problems or questions in the comments to this post. Feel free to tell us how it works (or if it doesn’t) and we’ll help out in any way we can if you have problems.

Hope you like it.

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34 Responses to “Episode 091”

  1. Richard Querin (rfquerin) 's status on Monday, 06-Jul-09 14:50:59 UTC - Identi.ca Says:

    […] Episode 091 is up! (http://screencasters.heathenx.org/episode-091/). Now in Ogg goodness! […]

  2. screencasters.heathenx.org/blog » Blog Archive » Episode 091 – Comic Bubbles Says:

    […] Episode 091 is now up. This was a fun one. And while it was nice and relatively short, I spent quite a bit of time chit chatting back and forth with Heathenx, fooling with video codecs, resizing, tagging etc. because it’s the first since our switch to Ogg video format. By all means, watch it streaming on any HTML5 capable browser or download it and watch it offline. Let us know how it works for you. […]

  3. Wil Says:

    Just a note that I have had no problems watching it (Vista FF3.5). Thanks for switching over!

  4. rfquerin Says:

    @Wil – Thanks for the quick feedback. Glad to hear it’s working.

  5. Ufuk Says:

    I am using Opera 10 Beta build 4464 on Ubuntu and I am getting error saying no support for HTML5 video tag. I know it has HTML5 support but not for videos?

  6. heathenx Says:

    I don’t keep up on Opera betas. It was my understanding that it worked in Opera 10 beta something or other. Is 4464 the latest beta? How about downloading and playing. Did that work?

  7. Mark Says:

    I am using Safari 4.0 (530.17) and all I get on the page is blue question mark and the words “Episode 091”. I thought this was supposed to work with Safari?

  8. Ufuk Says:

    Downloading works. I just wanted to give feedback about Opera. As far as I know, it is the latest snapshot of Opera 10. I haven’t tried it with other snapshots or in normal beta builds. And since Firefox 3.5 has not been default for firefox meta package in Ubuntu, I have not tried it yet. It is not much of a problem for me, I can download an watch in Kaffeine 🙂

  9. Vadim P. Says:

    Just a fyi: safari does not support ogg theora and they’ve screwed video support in html5: http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2009/07/decoding-the-html-5-video-codec-debate.ars

  10. heathenx Says:

    Alright. Looks like Richard and I will have to go with the Cortado applet instead. Firefox is used by the majority of our viewers but perhaps Cortado can be used in the meantime until the rest of the browsers catch up. Sit tight. We’ll get something up and running soon. 😉

  11. David Says:

    I love the new html5 video tag! 🙂 Much quicker now without flash on ubuntu. 🙂

    The video was great too. Before I always used to do a union with a triangle and an ellipse. It’s so much easier to just to convert it to a path and create 3 new nodes! 🙂

    Thanks for the great tutorials!

  12. Rob Ville Says:

    I’m using FF3.5 in openSUSE 11.1 and the ogg file is working very good!

    I’m waiting for the next episode!

  13. K.Oz Says:

    Worked fine with FF3.5 in Fedora 11 too. Even the intro played pretty good, only the first 0.2 sec or so were a little bit choppy.
    And I liked the screencast, of course 😉 I would never get the idea to simply add nodes and drag the middle one away on my own ^^

  14. heathenx Says:

    I modified the html on ep091 and added a java fall-back (Cortado) for those who are not using FF3.5 or don’t have HTML5 Theora support.

    Here are my limited findings so far:

    FF3.5 – Ubuntu 9.04/WinXP – Perfect. No problems. 🙂

    Opera 10b1 – Ubuntu 9.04: Video played but the Java applet loaded less than perfectly. Browser never crashed but sometimes the video was pushed to the side cropping most of the video. A page refresh seems to help fix the problem but it seems to want to load the java applet again.

    Opera 10b1 – WinXP: Video played great. Java applet loaded perfectly.

    IE8 – WinXP: Video played great. Java applet loaded perfectly.

    Honestly, I am not a fan of the java applet and I’m pretty sure you won’t be either but it’s better than nothing at all. I’m pretty sure FF3.5 will handle things perfectly but we could use some feedback on some other browsers on other operating systems/distros. I would like to get some Safari and Chrome feedback.

    Please remember. You can still download the OGGs for offline viewing if you experience online playing issues. The OGG files are smaller than our AVIs now. 😉

  15. Marble Icons Inc. Says:

    Video didn’t work on Safari 4, just gave me a blue question mark. Worked on Firefox, but it had a bunch of feedback added onto it, like the ogg files on Wikipedia. When I downloaded it, it was just fine, again like Wikipedia files that have a bunch of feedback added onto them unless you download them, regardless of browser or OS.

    Why do ogg files do this online?

  16. rfquerin Says:

    @MarbleIconsInc – Was this with Firefox 3.5? While the Safari4 problem was noted above, I don’t think anyone’s had any problems with Firefox 3.5 (although I would be surprised if oggs worked perfectly with everyone using FF3.5). Let us know what version you were running when you tried it.

  17. cliff Says:

    Thanks very much for this tutorial – coincidentally, I was translating a comic from French to English – and wasn’t quite happy with the result (i was using Gimp) – but thanks to your tips, the result now is way better 😉

  18. Marble Icons Inc. Says:

    @rfquerin I was using FF3.5, but I was on a Mac before, and for some reason my Mac always plays streamed ogg files with a cackling noise added to them. When I first experienced this on Wikipedia a while ago, I thought they had to add it to songs or something because of copyright issues, but now I see it just has something to do with my Mac. Anyway, did it on Windows, worked fine on Firefox.

    I know ogg is the open-source way to go and everything, and playing ogg won’t be a problem for most of your audience, but I think Flash made it more cross platform/browser than ogg. Still a great tutorial though, looking forward to more (even if I’ll have to download them for VLC)!

  19. Asaleh25 Says:

    It works fine on google chrome, except, and this could be just my computer it buffers a lot, but otherwise it works perfectly and it downloads perfect with no problem.
    The tutorial was great, it was just what I was looking for, now if only I could find a tutorial on how to draw bottles. (Screencast number 93 maybe);)

  20. Darth_Gimp Says:

    Not sure why, but I am not able to control volume or video actions like pause. Thus I had to stop the video rather than pausing. Ever since, its not loading online and ended up downloading it. Ubuntu 9.04 and FireFox 3.5.5

  21. Asaleh25 Says:

    I almost forgot to mention, I couldn’t control the volume on Chrome.

  22. Antonio Says:

    Just a note about the last part of the screencast where you create the “BANG” text. You don’t have to convert the text to a path to do that. You can use manual kerning with alt + Left/right/up/down and then resize each character individually. The benefit of this is that text can still be edited afterwards. See here for more information on it http://troy-sobotka.blogspot.com/2008/04/inkscape-tutorial-2-text-and-simple.html

  23. rfquerin Says:

    Thanks for the tip Antonio. Although kerning adjustment will only let you move the characters horizontally relative to each other. If you want to adjust the scale, vertical position or rotation of each character relative to one another then you need to break it apart. I do it this way just to have that additional flexibility in modifying the text.

    Thanks for the link to Troy’s blog. I love his work.

  24. heathenx Says:

    @Antonio & @rfquerin
    Actually, Antonio is correct that one can use kerning to adjust horizontal, vertical, scale, rotation, and position of the individual characters. BUT, there is one key element of why Richard did not use it. One cannot overlap characters randomly like Richard shows in the screencast. The first character will always has the upper hand in the z-order. In other words the right character will be underneath the left character. Although, if there is a way to move individual characters by z-order with kerning then please let us know. Perhaps that can be controlled in the xml editor. 🙂

  25. Antonio Says:


    I was just about to say that and you beat me to it 😛

    I’ve submitted a bug report about it (https://bugs.launchpad.net/inkscape/+bug/398408) as well as a request to change the centre of rotation for text. Currently it rotates from the bottom left of the text.

  26. rfquerin Says:

    Wow.. I did NOT know you could do anything other than horizontal adjustment of characters that way without converting to a path! Thanks guys for straightening me out on that. When I think of kerning, it means only the horizontal spacing between characters. I guess calling it a kerning adjustment is a little limiting.

    Thanks guys.

  27. heathenx Says:

    Regardless, there are always about 10 different ways to achieve the final result in Inkscape. We might not always show the best way but we show a way that works for us. Two people always seem to draw differently anyway. That’s why I enjoy Richard’s screencasts. I can see how he goes about achieving something.

    By the way, there is an extension floating around called Split Text I think. Instead of breaking apart text, one can use this extension to do the same thing except that the extension leaves it editable text. It also splits words and lines in paragraphs too. Google it and I’m sure you’ll find it. 😉

  28. Antonio Says:

    On the contrary, I think you guys do show the best way. All I’ve mentioned is a different way of doing things. At least by following this screencast people can see the difference and benefits of breaking text up i.e. not having to rely on installed fonts

    I do a bit of teaching using inkscape and always point my students to your screencasts (seems like some children don’t like reading 😛 )

    I’ll give that extension a go, surprised that I haven’t heard of it before!

  29. JavierSam Says:

    […] En este corto e interesante episodio, Richard Querin explica algunas maneras de hacer distintos tipos de globos de texto para comics. Al comienzo recomienda una página en dónde buscar tipografías apropiadas para este tipo de tareas: blambot.com. Desde allí eligió y descargó para este ejercicio la fuente LetterOMatic!. […]

  30. Paul Mena Says:

    Este es el mejor lugar para aprender inkscape de manera facil y sencilla.

    Gracias heathenx y Richard por su magnifico trabajo.

  31. Sprechblasen in ein Bild einfügen | Tipps & Tricks zu FixFoto | Die beste Bildbearbeitung der Welt Says:

    […] Eine sehr große Auswahl an freien Cliparts gibt es bei opencliparts.org. Die dortigen Bilder kannst du alle auch als PNG herunterladen. Allerdings sind die PNGs meist recht klein. Wenn du sie in höherer Auflösung brauchst, kannst du auch die entsprechende SVG-Datei herunterladen. Mit dem freien Programm Inkscape kannst du diese Dateien laden und als als PNG mit den von dir gewünschten Maßen exportieren. Mit Inkscape kannst du aber auch eigene Sprechblasen anfertigen. Wie das geht, zeigt u.a. dieser Film. […]

  32. isxpro Says:


    I followed the video step by step, but when I get to the part where I send the dropshadow bubble to the back it won’t go there. Is there some setting I’m missing? Even trying “Switch to Layer below” doesn’t work, because I guess I don’t have any layers.

    This is frustrating as I’ve tried it 3 different times and can’t get that dropshadow bubble to go behind the speech bubble…

    TIA for any pointers on what I’m doing wrong.

    Inkscape 0.48 on Mac OSX 10.7.3.

  33. heathenx Says:


    I’m not sure what is happening. I cannot duplicate the problem. I’m using version 0.48.2-1 on Win7. How about selecting your bubble, go to Filters menu>Shadows and Glows>Drop Shadow. More than one way to skin a cat.

  34. isxpro Says:


    Thanks for the quick response….I’m a total newbie at this, so I haven’t had a chance to experiment with all the different feature.

    I’ll try the same thing on win7 and see if I have any issues…

    Thanks for the interesting tutorials – they’re very cool.