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You can have a lot of fun adding comic style speech bubbles or balloons to your photos and it’s quite easy when using the program Photofiltre. Manipulating photos this way, has been done for ages, which borrows elements of comic books and combines them with real pictures. Often the end result can be quite humorous by putting the words into the mouths of people who would not normally be expected to be saying these words, so the effect is often profound. The technique of using speech balloons has been used by political satirist for ages as it has more visual impact than captions. Not always is the intention comedy, it can be any message from serious to satire.

Read more of the history of speech bubbles here.

Styles of speech bubbles.

Speech bubble styles

There are many different styles of speech bubbles or balloons, but the examples above are popular basic styles quite often used.

The style of bubble or balloon used can be used to reflect emotion, such as surprise or shock, and the feeling of dread such as when something bad goes wrong. 🙁

Creating basic speech bubble balloons in Photofiltre.

Basic balloon text bubble

Example of basic speech bubble. White background, black outline.

Using the ellipse tool

The Ellipse Tool

Use the ellipse tool to create an oval shape then drag it into position.

Using Stroke and Fill

Position the mouse cursor inside the selected area and right click to bring up the menu, then select Stroke and Fill. Check the Fill box and select Color: White and Style: Solid. Make sure the stroke box is unchecked.

Click Ok and the selected area will be coloured white

Now unselect that area using the unselect button(as seen in picture)

The Polygon Tool

The next step is to create is the tail, this can be easily created using the Polygon Tool(as pictured above) pointing towards the persons mouth.

Stroke and Fill and unselect button

Use Stroke and Fill to colour the tail white. Then deselect this area.
Basic bubble balloon with border or text
Magic Wand Tool

Select the Magic Wand Tool and click inside the speech bubble. This will select the outside contour of the entire speech bubble including the tail.

Using Stroke to create outside border

Check the Stroke box, select Color: Black, Width: 2

Make sure the Fill box is unchecked. Click OK

The bubble and tail will now have a black border.

Adding text into the bubble

Select the Text Tool from the menu to bring up the text dialogue box.

The Text tool

Type in your text, and choose font, text size, alignment, bold italics etc.

Position your text into place with the cursor, inside the bubble.

Once your satisfied with the text, click on the hide selection button to validate.

Basic balloon text bubble

Completed basic speech bubble.

Creating other styles of speech bubbles.

The square bubble.

Square text speech bubble balloon

The square text bubble is created in the same way as the round bubble/balloon, but using the Rounded Rectangle Tool instead.


  • Create rectangle with Rounded Rectangle Tool
  • Fill it white
  • Create the tail with Polygon Tool, fill it white.
  • Use the Magic Wand to select the all the white area of the bubble.
  • Use Stroke and Fill tool to create black border around the bubble.
  • Add text

Cloud Style Bubble.

Creating cloud style speech bubble

  • Use the Ellipse tool to create a series of circles to form the cloud shape and then filling each circle white as you go.
  • Create the tail with the Polygon tool and fill with white.
  • Use the Magic Wand to select white area.
  • Put black border around the outside with Stroke and Fill tool
  • Add text

Creating cloud style speech bubble completed

With a few small circles this can also become a thought cloud….

Thought Cloud

Creating a surprise style bubble.

Surprise style balloon

  • Use Polygon tool to make a star shaped balloon.
  • Right mouse click to bring up menu and choose stroke and fill
  • Fill shape with white and choose Stroke to make a border.
  • Add text 🙂

Creating a curved tail

Speech bubble with curved tail

The curved tail adds some refinement and looks a lot nicer than the standard triangular tail created with the polygon tool.

Creating the curved tail takes a little more effort and unfortunately Photofiltre doesn’t have an elegant way to create the curve for the tail. BUT…I’ve found the easiest way to make the curve tail shape is by using two circles…like this:

Creating the curved tail

  • Create a large white circle and a small elliptical black circle inside

Creating the curved tail

  • Use the line tool to close off a section that will become the curve.
  • Use the Magic Wand to select the curved section.

Creating the curved tail

  • Copy this selected curved section to the clipboard.
  • Now goto Edit>Undo(or control z on the keyboard) to remove the small line and two circles.
  • Unselect the remaining curve.
  • Create the main bubble body.
  • Edit>Paste the curved section. Move it into position

Creating the curved tail

Creating the curved tail

  • Right click on the mouse to bring up the menu.
  • Click on Transform>Free
  • Rotate and position the curve part so it looks right.
  • Then finish the job by adding the black border and then text. Done.

Special effects

Progressive Contour

You can add some glowing colour to the inside border of the bubble by using progressive contour rather than having a plain background. Whether you like this or not, is a matter of individual taste and depends on the type of pictures you are working with. 

Progressive contour

How to add progressive contour:

  • While you have the area selected by using the Magic Wand, add the progressive contour effect but do this before you add the outside border.
  • From the main menu choose Filter>Stylize>Progressive Contour
  • Choose colours and width
  • Add border and text.

Progressive contour

Drop Shadows

Another effect you can use is Drop Shadow.

Drop Shadow effect

The drop shadow effect looks good with certain backgrounds, once again, it’s up to you if you like it or not.

Adding drop shadow:

  • Use the Magic Wand to select the bubble, then from the main menu select Filter>Stylize>Drop Shadow
  • Select position of shadow with X & Y coordinates. Click OK when done.
  • Add in border and text.

Drop Shadow effect

Saving a bubble pattern.

It’s a great idea to save your speech bubble as a pattern for future use once you have created it, especially if it is a more complex style, as this will save time in the future.

Saving a shape

  • The best time to save a shape is before you add borders, text or any special effects.
  • From the main menu select: Selection>Save Shape.
  • Name your shape and click OK, the shape is now saved 🙂

Flipping the Bubble.

You might find that when you are using a saved bubble pattern you would like flip it around so that the tail is pointing on the opposite side.

Flipping the bubble

  • Load the shape: Selection>Load Shape
  • Fill the shape with white
  • Copy shape to the clipboard: Edit>Copy
  • Edit>Undo Stroke and Fill to remove this bubble
  • Hide Selection
  • Paste it back in using: Edit>Paste
  • Right click mouse, choose Transform>Flip Horizontal
  • Image is flipped, you can proceed with special effects, border and text.

Flipping the bubble

Yes, I know. Flies don’t talk.


There are lots of interesting comic style fonts available for free if you wish to add a bit more style. Sure, you can use the Comic Sans font that comes with Windows, it’s ok, but a bit boring.

Take a look at these….


These fonts are free to download from many of the font websites.

There’s a good selection of comic style fonts to download at the bancomicsans website in alphabetical order. There are lots to choose from, so what are you waiting for?

Final Tips.

  • Make every speech bubble different. Classic comic artists often drew every speech bubble a different shape and size, this made things more interesting and less boring and predictable. Also other things like the frame sizes are different and contain odd angles for greater effect. It’s the nature of comics that nothing is predictable..not even the artwork. So apply some of these principles when adding speech bubbles into pictures.
  • When using shapes you’ve created and saved previously, a way to make them look different is by simply shrinking and growing them, rather that creating an entirely new shape. This is also a fantastic way of making the bubble larger to accommodate larger or more text.

Photofiltre is free to download and use. It’s a good honest photo editing program and does not contain any advertising or annoyances like that. This is one of the best free graphics program available for Windows and many people are using it. It’s light on system resources so you don’t need huge amounts or RAM or a fast computer to run. 🙂 

Photofiltre download page here (1.6Mb)

And…as they say. THAT’S ALL FOLKS 😉


12 Responses to “Photofiltre Basics: Creating Comic Style Speech Bubbles”

  1. Neo says:

    Good. Now I can create some talk bubbles.

  2. Jeff says:

    I expect to see lots of speech bubbles in your pics on your blog now 🙂

  3. Ian says:

    Thank you! These are excellent techniques and worked very well. Thanks for creating this instructional post!

  4. Jeff says:

    Thanks Ian, glad it helped you 🙂


  5. Lesley says:

    I LOVE THESE! Thanks so much. Bookmarked for future reference, in case I forgot 😛

  6. Cait says:

    Great tutorial, thank you so much xx

  7. Mary rose says:

    Thanks jeff!
    your the best…
    my PhotoFiltre is not english and its so hard to find the things like adding shadows inside of your bubbles it took me like 2 minutes to find it, can you help me?
    Love, Mary rose

  8. Jeff says:

    Hi Mary, What language do you speak? Photofiltre is available in different languages.


  9. Beverly says:

    Hi Jeff.
    I am struggling to get the text in the bubble. you mention “position your text into place with the cursor inside the bubble” i am unable to get this, the text shows up in the body of the photo.

  10. Beverly says:

    Hi Jeff.
    i have not heard from you regarding my request re text in bubble

  11. Beverly says:

    Hi Jeff.
    Please assist i get everything correct with the speech bubble except the text. How do you get it in the bubble with the cursor? the text always appears in the actual picture not the bubble.
    Please advise Thanks .

  12. Timo says:

    Thanks for this info!!!

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