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Home > Tips > Lettering: 'Trapped Inside' Balloon

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Lettering: 'Trapped Inside' Balloon

Eric writes:

"I'm creating a poster with a character who's trapped inside something. How can I Illustrate yelling from within. Something like, "Help, I'm trapped in here!" I don't think just a word balloon would work and I'm not really a comic junkie so I haven't seen it done before. If you could give me some examples (something visual preferably) I would really appreciate it. Thank you very much."

The traditional way to illustrate this is to put a little "burst" on the end of the tail, kind of like it's splatted up against the surface of whatever's containing the speaker. I believe it's meant to convey the idea that the sound is coming from a general area rather than a specific point. I drew the below examples in Illustrator using the pen tool and tweaking the bezier curve handles.


1. Draw a word balloon around the text using the oval tool. Start the tail by clicking inside the balloon with the pen tool and dragging.

2. Click and drag two points to form the first curve of the burst. Then option-click on the second point to remove the outer handle.

3. Click and drag the second curve, and option-click the point.
4. Make your way around the burst, and finish off inside the balloon. Select the tail and balloon and click "Unite" in the "Pathfinder" palette to join them.

5. The finished balloon! You can also try adding a zig-zag to the tail, to emphasize that the sound is coming from farther away.

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