One of the reasons I like creating a thought balloon in Inkscape–as opposed to using a comic creator software with pre-designed template balloons–is that each balloon can be tailored to the background behind it and the scene it’s a part of. (This is true also for exclamation balloons, and more complex speech balloons, both of which I’lll cover in a later tutorial.)
I’m beginning with a bordered image already.
I’ve also put together a simple speech balloon with text (but no tail). There’s no need to worry about aligning anything right now. The text and imported image on one layer, and the balloon on separate a layer.
On the Inkscape canvas, I’ve placed the text balloon away from the text, simply out of perference. By hiding the text and image layer, I’m left with the balloon all alone.
A thought balloon’s outline isn’t made up of an ellipse, but rather of a lot of ellipse put together. Using the ellipse tool, I draw ellipses all around the main ellipse (using it as a guide).
Try not to go overboard. That is, unless you’re going for a complex-looking thought balloon. This one’s tettering on the edge of overboard.
Select all the ellipse, then union the paths (Ctrl+Shift+=). If any bubbles look too big or small, simply undo (Ctrl+Z), resize, then union again.
Now I can unhide the other layer. The balloon was too big, so I had to resize it to fit the text better. The balloon had no fill, set I set its fill to white. I aligned the text within the balloon to finish, then grouped the thought balloon and text (Ctrl+G) to easy move them around together. I resized the object a little smaller and positioned it over the background.
Looking at it like this, the thought balloon came out too complex. I can remove some of the ellipses, but that’s beyond the scope of this tutorial. I’ll simply continue.
The tail of a though balloon is a series of bubbles. Like a tail, they are larger near the balloon and smaller near the speaker. Simply draw the bubbles with ellipses, resize if needed, and keep them using the same width stroke.
Finished! And an Azumanga Daioh reference, too.
That’s enough for a simple tutorial.