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InDesign: Create speech bubbles and quickly change them

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Or: Many ways lead to the speech bubble, but only one allows flexibility

Whether speech, text or thought bubble - the small clouds with an attached graphic element such as a pointed triangle can take on all kinds of functions in designs.

Sure, first you think of comics. But there are many other ways to use speech balloons as well. For example, I stumbled upon (in a positive sense) the following design by Stefan Riedl, which he presented here on in part 1 and part 2 of a video tutorial:

The design shown contains icons from: Fotolia © miceking; Screenshot from a tutorial by Stefan Riedl

Here you can see the not yet completely prepared back of a door hanger. The three speech bubbles should stand out, although they function more as icon carriers - just an idea, just one application for what is described below.

Let's switch over to another Stefan, namely the one with the last name Petri. Some time ago he showed in a video tutorial how you can design such speech bubbles in InDesign. He presents three ways, the last of which is probably the best because it is the most flexible.

The whole thing is demonstrated using the example of a round speech bubble with a pointed reference line. This can of course also be transferred to other forms.

Before you really get started, be prepared first of all, which serves as a starting point for all three methods:


Open InDesign and a new document. Then go for the Rectangle tool and draw a colored rectangle over the entire area. It doesn't matter whether it's pink, blue, green or orange - the rectangle only serves as a contrast medium to make the later white speech bubble clearer.

Now it goes on with that Ellipse tool (1). With it you draw a circular or more elliptical shape, just as you like. This defines the shape of your speech bubble. And as already mentioned: In theory, you could also use other forms here.

The settings for the circle (2) are also exemplary: Simply give it a color (I decided on a classic white) and a contour (here, too, I fall back on the more classic black). This should then still have a certain strength, whereby I opted for 5 pt.


Method 1: adding with the Pathfinder

If you already know from the heading what the following is all about, you can jump straight to method 2. Everyone else grab the Crayon and put a triangle. At first it doesn't matter where, it is only important that you close the mold.

Now you give the triangle the same properties as the circle shows. Just use the pipette (Shortcut I) and with the triangle still selected, click once on the circle.

Now position the triangle where you want it to stand out later.

Open the Pathfinder (Window> Object and Layout> Pathfinder), marked using the ShiftPress both objects, i.e. circle and triangle, and then click in the Pathfinder once on Add. The result: a speech bubble, as shown in the picture.


Method 2: additional anchor points

You will achieve a similar result with method 2. We start again with the circle above, but then we do without the one Crayon set triangle.

Instead, you choose that Add anchor point-Tool (1) and clicks to place two additional anchor points (2) on the edge of the circle, for example like this:

Grab that Direct selection tool (1) and click with it and while holding down ShiftPress once on the middle of the three anchor points (at 2). You can then touch it and pull it down (arrow at 2). The result is the speech bubble at 3.

If that seems too round to you, you can still push the two grip points to the left and right of the anchor point (4) inwards ...

... and then receives the sharp inlet (1). With F10 or about Window> Outline do you still have the option to use the tip over the Corner-Setting in Contour-Change control panel. Two examples are given in the picture (2):


Method 3: grouping & effects

Anyone who has followed the two previous methods should have recognized that there is little that can be changed afterwards. Therefore, method 3 is recommended, especially if you have to create different speech balloons over and over again:

You need the circle and a triangle again. You can use the triangle as in method 1 Crayon pull up or you use - as shown here once - the Polygon tool.If you double-click on it, the will open Polygon settings, where you enter three pages.

You give the properties of the circle back to the triangle you have drawn by adding the pipette applies (leave the triangle marked with the pipette click on the circle):

Push and rotate the triangle still in position. Then you mark both elements (circle and triangle) with the ShiftButton (1) and group them over Ctrl + G or by right-clicking and Group.

Not really what we imagined. But just one, two or three clicks and we're there: double-click on the triangle to select it. Open that Effects-Control panel and select the contour who you ...

… on To multiply negative puts:

Already better, but what is missing is the contour on the triangle. To get this back, activate the checkmark next to Isolate the fill method.

There it is, but only half as thick as desired. Therefore you finally have to use the Contour-Control panel still determine the position of the contour that is to be aligned on the outside in this case.