Comic Talk and General Discussion

Let's talk about fonts!
HippieVan at 2:52PM, Nov. 14, 2015
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I always have a tough time with fonts. Is it too big? Too small? Too tacky? Does it match my art style? is it easy to read? Whatever small amount of talent I might have for art definitely doesn't transfer to typography. Izzy used to use a font that I had made using my own handwriting, but that's been lost to the ages unfortunately.
 
So, what fonts do you all use? And how do you decide on the size?
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ozoneocean at 11:37PM, Nov. 14, 2015
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*Comic fonts should be readable. That's the number one rule. So big, crazy, unusual, interesting title type fonts should be avoided. Even something like Impact- it's too blocky, thick, narrow and compact for small sizes.
 
*The size is dependant on two things only:
How much conent you want to fit on the page and the minimal readable size of the font. So smaller is better, but not too small.
*The smallest size is when the shapes that make up the letters are only represented by a few pixels.
*As a graphic artist, in my job I've had clients tell me “Ah, for that thing I want you to change the font to 30 point.” And I f###ing laugh and laugh… Points mean NOTHING when it comes to most things you're going to do with fonts these days. On the screen the PIXEL is god. When you're printing it's millimeters that make up the actualy physical area of the space you can fill… Simple physical limitations.
-For emphasis it's good to make a word or speachbubble encapsualted speach bugger than the rest, of course.
 
*Font properties:
1. Sens serif fonts for a start. Serifs add more detail to a font and look anoying on the screen.
2. The general rule with comic fonts (for speech), is to have something that “looks” hand written. It's NOT a hard and fast rule, but people like that more and are used to it.
3. Italic styles of fonts are something to go for, especially if you can't find a good handwritten font. They look energetic and dashed off, feeling more like “speech”.
4. Don't use comic sans. Most eople don't like it, it puts them off and will make them feel negative about your work. Same goes for brushscript and papyrus.
5. Speech is generally shown in all caps because that give the lines of letters a nice even profile and make reading easier- so your font has to look good and consistantly readable in all capitals.
6. Well written real hand written fonts you made yourself are the best way to go, if you can do a good consisten job. Wrting them by hand is even better- but you don't have spellcheck then and moving stuff around and editing is harder.
7. A general grphic design rule is not to use too many fonts on a page: Stay consistant with your choices and at most go with one font for speech, one for titles, one for effects, one for copyright notices. Or even better you could just one one font for almost everything…
That said, you can do what Amelius does in Charby and have a different font for every character! It works well in that instance :D
 
*My choice:
I think I just use Digital Strip, downloaded from Blambot.com. It looks handwritten enough, it's neat, compact and consistant. I used to use Anime Ace and Anime Ace 2.0 from the same site, but they're a bit too thin and don't look as good at small sizes.
-Font rules are not laws, you can do what you like, but a lot of this advice here is about what readers preffer and what they're used to, so remember that! Appart from the size advice, those ARE laws because it's based on the physical limitations of what you're asking people to read.
 
bravo1102 at 7:09AM, Nov. 15, 2015
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Readable, readable, readable.  Fancy fonts are fine but if I can't read them they've lost all worth unless you want the speech to be unreadable.  Here are few of my ruminations and preferences.

I cannot tell you how many comics put me off because of poor font choices and lack of contrast between effects fonts and background. Or fonts that take over the panel so you have these huge balloons full of text, massive effects and tiny pictures.  I'm also not fond of tiny text in huge balloons. Unless the person is whispering, mumbling or very soft spoken it is not necessary and means too much negative space. Such beautiful speech balloons and tiny font is there a picture in there? I can't tell…

I'd add the rule that fonts should stay within a reasonable range on a page. All the dialogue should be the same size for various forms of speech. Whispers are one, conversation is another and yelling is bold and maybe a tiny fraction larger. But each balloon in a conversation from panel to panel should contain letters that are the same size.  Add the lettering after everything else is done so you pay due attention to just the typography. It is not an afterthought and type should not be an integral part of a panel that is changed if you change the panel size. Type should also not be an integral part of a balloon so that if you move or resize the balloon the type changes. IT should be uniform across the page and ideally across the whole comic except for effects.

Fonts can add to characterization and can give some indication of how someone talks. I am no master of fonts or balloons but I've found I like italic for whistpering and bold for emphasis. More recently I've discovered that all caps can come across as yelling as in an email. Some all cap comic fonts actually have a slightly different look when indicating a capitol letter so you can get the variety of letter sizes that makes the variety of lower case and caps so wonderful for readers with tired eyes.  All caps is extremely tiring to read. Just ask any Medieval monk.
ozoneocean at 7:54AM, Nov. 15, 2015
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The kinds of all caps that are meant for comic fonts are less trying to read than normal mixed case.
This is because they're definitive, encapsulated statements, contained in word bubbles. They fit the sapce well because they're in nice even lines and the eye just runs across them.
 
Mixed case doesn't work quite as well there, it chops up the contained space too much and means that lines have to be spaced further appart vertially. It's also not as relaxing for the eyes because they can't just run along the lines as easily.
 
On a page it's very different:
When you have large blocks of text you appreciate the variation in font size of mixed case to break up the lines! If fonts in a large block are in all caps you can more easily get lost because as soon as you rest or take a pause or look in the wrong place it's really hard to find where you were by the shape of the text so you're forced to concentrate harder and encouraged to read the whole block without taking many pauses.
 
But comic panels are another matter:
This explains why big blocks of all caps text are really hard to get through, while title text in all caps is easy.
The use in speech bubbles is like the use in a title or headline: you don't have much text there, the lines aren't long and are often of varying lengths, so they don't have the disadvantage of all caps used in a large block of text while they DO have the advantage of catching and holding your eye like a title does.
 
Things just work beter in different contexts and worse in others. It's like off-road 4x4s have properties that make them very good when off-roading, but not so great on city streets, and vice versa with normal cars. That doesn't make either superior to the other, just superior in the connect contexts.
 
last edited on Nov. 15, 2015 8:16AM
HippieVan at 9:40AM, Nov. 15, 2015
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I definitely prefer all-caps fonts for my comics. They're much neater-looking and easier to fit into bubbles. I've heard they can be difficult for people with dyslexia to read, but I imagine that's a fairly small percentage of the population?
 
I think I always have the hardest time deciding on font size. As a reader I really dislike large fonts and I tend to have very small handwriting, but I also try to be aware that not everyone likes to squint at text/has my good eyesight. So generally I think that font should be slightly larger than I would prefer, but it's hard to know exactly where that balance lies without having someone else take a look at it.
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usedbooks at 10:50AM, Nov. 15, 2015
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I like mixed cases and large enough I don't have to strain. I prefer sans serif in fonts that look handwritten. I don't know why I can't bring myself to use all caps. I know it's the standard and looks proper for comics, but I just don't like to. I find mixed case easier to read and more natural to write. I've always been more of a novel reader and writer, so there's some precedent. (Also, all caps does weird things to my brain sometimes, especially if I'm skirting a migraine.) I can't handle small print. It hurts my bad eyes, and bifocals don't work as well on a computer screen.
 
In reading, I definitely love hand-lettered work the most. I have never been able to myself. My writing is sloppy and inconsistent. Lettering is more drawing than writing if you are doing it right, and I have much respect of those who can do it well.
 
 
 
I also have a collection of fonts for use in sound effects. Those look better handdrawn too for those who have the talent. I am just terribly lazy and dumbfounded when it comes to sound effects.
KimLuster at 5:20PM, Nov. 15, 2015
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Do people really hate Comic Sans that much…?  I use it in my comic first because it had ‘comic’ in it, but also because I thought it looked approachable, simple, and readable - exactly what I understood it was designed for.  If it's THAT annoying to people I'll switch…  But…. I do find it highly annoying if people don't like it just BECAUSE it's commonly-used!  Hipster-think!  *grrr*
usedbooks at 6:47PM, Nov. 15, 2015
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There are a lot of nice free fonts similar to Comic Sans. Honestly, I think it's a matter of oversaturation. Some fonts just bother people because they have gotten used on everything. Comic Sans is supposed to look handwritten, but somehow it looks kinda childish and also not so handwritten since we see it everywhere. We've come to associate it with unprofessional signs and children's science fair projects. It's an unconscious association at this point. Most of the “default” fonts have the same failing, but it's worse if we can put a name on them – if ou can see it and immediately say, “I see you used Papyrus font.”
  
Quick search for comic fonts: http://www.1001fonts.com/search.html?search=comic&page=3&items=10 
 
HippieVan at 7:53PM, Nov. 15, 2015
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KimLuster wrote:
Do people really hate Comic Sans that much…?  I use it in my comic first because it had ‘comic’ in it, but also because I thought it looked approachable, simple, and readable - exactly what I understood it was designed for.  If it's THAT annoying to people I'll switch…  But…. I do find it highly annoying if people don't like it just BECAUSE it's commonly-used!  Hipster-think!  *grrr*
 
I think people most dislike it when it's used everywhere other than comics, which is most of the time. It looks really bad when it's used for things like store signs, brochures, or basically anything that is meant to look professional. To be honest, though, it's not my favourite in any context.
 
I've seen a few people cite actual reasons that it's not a very good font, such as it having poor kerning. But I also saw someone on the internet referring to comic sans as the crocs of the design world, and I actually think that more accurately sums up why it's not always the best choice. Like, there might not be a good logical reason that you shouldn't wear crocs, but you can probably find some nicer, more presentable shoes that do the job just as well.
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bravo1102 at 1:59AM, Nov. 16, 2015
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With all the fonts out there you don't have to use Comic sans. There are other better options and it is perceived as laziness to use it. Just like the world used to be set in Times New Roman and a handful of chiseled fonts. It's not 1890 anymore and just the same Comic Sans should be left in the 20th century.

The same way as font can indicate what kind of comic you're reading. A comfy day in the life might work better with mixed case rather than italic all caps the evokes great emotion when in fact everything is calm and peaceful. 

When I did the awards extras and presentations I purposely used mixed case to indicate a more relaxed atmosphere. That it wasn't the official world of the comic.

And having to read old manuscripts without case gave me a huge preference for mixed case despite standard design practice.  Also having  to read endless handwritten and typed all  caps reports has turned me against them even in speech bubbles. To me it's all official and distancing and someone yelling that this is IMPORTANT READ THIS! But I use all caps comic fonts because it is design preference. The worst thing in the world would be a font based on my handwriting. It'd look like a scribbled prescription. 
ozoneocean at 3:51AM, Nov. 16, 2015
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KimLuster wrote:
 
Do people really hate Comic Sans that much…?  I use it in my comic first because it had ‘comic’ in it, but also because I thought it looked approachable, simple, and readable…
 
Basically it's meant to look like a comic style font, hence the name and the reasons you give for using it, but it's too regular… It's like an Ariel alphabet that has just been slightly handwriting-a-fied, so it seems somehow “off”, a little too regular and mechanical while faking the handwriting syle… ad the kerning is off as Hippie said; specifically  the leters are spaced too far apart.
 
Don't take what I said about it too much to heart Kim, that was just a general impression people have. Obviously when the rest of the comic is really good people completely overlook such things- as they've always done with Godstrain.
 
And there are a lot of other great fonts out there, as Bravo and Usedbooks have said. Blambot.com is a great resource for fonts designed especially for comics: http://blambot.com/
 
KimLuster at 4:37AM, Nov. 16, 2015
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Well I simply have never been a ‘Font Expert’.  I had no idea about the current connotations concerning Comic Sans (unintentional illeration ;)).  Gonna try another Font - not sure which though…
bravo1102 at 7:59AM, Nov. 16, 2015
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I second going to Blambot as that was even where I found the Star Trek fonts. 
El Cid at 8:52AM, Nov. 16, 2015
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Personally, I like smaller fonts and lots of white space in speech bubbles. It just looks more professional to me. When I see big fonts, or text pushing right to the edge of speech bubbles, it looks haphazard, like it's just been thrown together at the last minute. Mixed case doesn't really bother me much in and of itself, but usually when I see someone using mixed case, I think they're trying a little too hard to stand out.
 
I bounced around a lot of fonts before falling in love with Zud Juice. It's a “comicky” enough block font, but it doesn't look super clean either.
 

 
It's not on the Blambot font list anymore, so I guess it's gone extinct. Note to self, remember to back up fonts in case of another hard drive crash. I also have a ton of sound effects fonts from blambot, dafont.com, and 1001freefonts.com, but I don't use them much anymore, since I've kinda gotten away from doing sound effects. I think sound effects are kinda tacky and almost never necessary. They're okay in moderation, I guess, but I'm trying to wean myself off them entirely.
 
I'm not much of a font snob, so I've never understood the anti-Comic Sans thing either, and I already ranted about that in another thread. There are a million fonts with bad kerning, and you can adjust that in Photoshop anyway. I do it all the time. I think it's just become cool to say Comic Sans is uncool, and that's just that. Honestly, I hadn't even noticed that ‘Godstrain’ used Comic Sans. Now that I know that, I can't stand to look at it anymore (kidding). But yeah, seriously, you may want to keep that on the down-low. (kidding) (no, not kidding. seriously)
El Cid at 8:59AM, Nov. 16, 2015
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…Oh, and bolding for emphasis. I do that a lot too. There's no rhyme or reason to it; I just do it to break up the monotony of the font so the reader's eye doesn't get tired, and I think it helps “dirty up” the look of things. I've been nagged about it before though, and it's a delicate art. I've seen comics that use random bolding poorly and it can make the dialogue tedious to read. I don't think I'm that bad with it though. I hope not.
KimLuster at 12:54PM, Nov. 16, 2015
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Yeah…  Did you ever wish you remained blissfully ignorant…!  I hadn't CLUE ONE about the world of Fonts and the Comic Sans hate-meme…!  I picked Comic Sans as my font without any outside influences.  I picked it because I personally liked it the most out of all availables, for how it looked, how it fit, etc…
.
But now, in my newfound enlightenment, I simply cannot use it anymore.  I cannot unthink what I've read about Comic Sans - and any pages of mine that have it will always and forever more stare back at me…  I've browsed through other fonts and I don't like them as much, but I will use still another Font in a few pages anyway (not gonna change current backlog), and probably a different one after that, until I find something I like enough…  Nevertheless I will never use Comic Sans again…!
.
I have no backbone! ;)
usedbooks at 2:10PM, Nov. 16, 2015
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I picked Steel City Comic because it looks most like what my handwriting would look like if I could write neatly. It's a pretty plain font, but functional.

(Some of my backlog was handwritten. -_- And some was in Arial. :P Much shame resides in the archives.)
last edited on Nov. 16, 2015 2:11PM
HippieVan at 4:44PM, Nov. 16, 2015
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@El Cid: I really like random bolding! I might be in the minority though. I think I like it because it reminds me of old superhero comics.
 
KimLuster wrote:
But now, in my newfound enlightenment, I simply cannot use it anymore.  I cannot unthink what I've read about Comic Sans - and any pages of mine that have it will always and forever more stare back at me…  I've browsed through other fonts and I don't like them as much, but I will use still another Font in a few pages anyway (not gonna change current backlog), and probably a different one after that, until I find something I like enough…  Nevertheless I will never use Comic Sans again…!

Haha! Honestly, even as a comic sans hater I never really noticed it in your comic. It's not a huge deal.
 
Duchess of Friday Newsposts and the holy Top Ten
KimLuster at 7:05PM, Nov. 16, 2015
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No matter - I am utterly incapable of using it any more…!
.
Comic Sans Luster…!
PIT_FACE at 2:43PM, Nov. 18, 2015
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I just spit on it and call it a day. 

ozoneocean at 6:13PM, Nov. 18, 2015
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But before that final stage, you fill your pages with hand lettering Pit! That's quite a bit ahead of what most of us attempt.
 
HippieVan at 7:37PM, Nov. 18, 2015
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Hand lettering is seriously impressive. I think I would have a really hard time doing free-hand speech bubbles too.
Duchess of Friday Newsposts and the holy Top Ten
bravo1102 at 12:47AM, Nov. 19, 2015
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PIT_FACE wrote:
I just spit on it and call it a day. 
At least you wait until the ink is dry. Your hand lettering is superb.
KimLuster at 6:56AM, Nov. 19, 2015
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PIT_FACE wrote:
I just spit on it and call it a day. 
You are my Goddess…!
PIT_FACE at 2:48PM, Nov. 19, 2015
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Aw shit, guys, I wasnt expectin this! Well thank you very much! 

bravo1102 at 4:02AM, Nov. 20, 2015
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Zud juice is still available online. Try 1001fonts.com
http://www.1001fonts.com/zud-juice-font.html
I think I might have found a new font.  I kind of liked the Pig Iron family which was part of the old Comic Book Creator software. One of my comics was done in it. I've used Digitalstrip too. And now El Cid has revealed his font and I am one step closer to mediocrity! 
El Cid at 6:11AM, Nov. 20, 2015
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Oh, cool! Zud lives!
 
Hey, I'm a Zud enthusiast, so… Zud away!
Ironscarf at 8:27AM, Nov. 21, 2015
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I buy pro fonts, usually waiting for some kind of sale if they're Comicraft ones, whereas Blambot ones are a bit more affordable. I started off using free fonts and there are some which look as good as paid versions, but I soon got tired of their incompleteness compared to their paid equivalents. I want to be kind to my readers and make the text as accessible as possible, with nothing to impede smooth reading. A one off payment of fifteen quid seems like a small price to pay, considering how much time I spend on each word balloon.
 
As for sizing choices, more than once I've downloaded or scanned what I thought were well lettered pages and scaled them up as layers on a page in progress, so I could size my fonts accordingly. Awfully Decent Fellows uses a Comicraft font called Meanwhile and the lettering is done on copies reduced to publication size, not on the full size artwork.
 
tupapayon at 8:07PM, Nov. 21, 2015
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I don't use fonts… ever…
ozoneocean at 10:46PM, Nov. 21, 2015
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A lot of my fonts I got through work.
Scarf is right, they do have more variation. Mainly I'll use that for other graphic design stuff than comics.
Blambot does have pro versions of his fonts with extra characters.
 
Extra options in pro fonts include anything from just the normal italic and bold options, to special things like extra-bold, condensed, ultra-condensed, black, extra-black, thin, extended- then those things PLUS bold or PLUS italics, so in a font package you might be getting 10 or more font variations.
That sort of thing is important in Graphic design for trying to match a style that a client wants or just looking for the exact style you need for something, but most of us won't go quite that far in a comic.
 

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