Creating speech bubbles in Photoshop using the Custom Shape Tool

Speech bubbles are used a LOT around the web in logo designs and as icons. Photoshop comes with a set of speech bubble shapes just waiting to be used, but they are hidden away a little bit. Here’s how to create your own speech bubble graphics.

*Note: This tutorial has been recently updated (August 2011) and uses screen grabs from Photoshop CS5. However the method is the same for older versions of Photoshop

1. Select the Custom Shape Tool on the toolbar.

Speech Bubbles1

2. On the Options bar at the top of the screen, choose the paths option.

Speech Bubbles2

3. Again on the Options bar, click on the drop down box called Shape. This opens a set of default shapes that can use for drawing vectors. Click on the triangle on the top right corner – this opens a drop down menu – and from there choose Talk Bubbles.

Speech Bubbles3

4. A dialog box will open asking if you want to Replace or Append the current set of Shapes. I usually choose Append, and this adds the new set of shapes to the end of the currently visible shapes.

5. Now scroll down through the shapes and you’ll see a lovely set of speech bubbles.

Speech Bubbles4

6. Click on the bubble you want to draw and the click and drag out the shape on the image window. Hold down Shift to constrain the proportions on the bubble.
Speech Bubbles5

At this stage you’ve drawn out a vector path but there are no pixels at this stage. We can stroke or fill (or both) the shape at this point  but first it’s important to set up the colours and brush that we’ll use.

8. On the colour picker on the toolbar, choose your foreground. I picked dark red #990000.

Click on the brush tool and in the options bar choose a size, hardness and shape of the brush that you want to use. The size of the brush dictates the width of the stroke you will apply to the path you’ve just drawn.

Speech Bubbles6

I chose a hard, round 15 pixel brush. This will vary for you depending on the size of the path you draw and how thick you want the stroke to be.

9. Open the paths panel. At the bottom of the panel click on the Stroke Path button.

Speech Bubbles7
This adds a 15 pixel stroke to the path.

The path will still be visible, so to turn it off click anywhere on the grey area under the path name (it will say Work Path unless you changed the name) on the Paths panel.

Speech Bubbles8

10. If you wanted to fill the bubble with colour you would do the same steps as above but click on the Fill button on the bottom of the palette.

Speech Bubbles9

11. (Optional) You can of course add all kinds of styles from the layers panel or choose Windows > Styles to add extra oomph to your bubbles. Here’s a few examples;

Speech Bubbles10

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64 Comments

  1. Just found your post about speech bubbles on Photoshop and this is great. One question…can you flip the bubbles so the tail is pointing the other way? The tails on my bubbles all point to the left. How can they be flipped to point to the right? Thanks!

  2. Hi Gary
    It’s easy to flip the bubbles. Select the Bubble layer in the layers panel, then choose Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. That should do it.

  3. Thanks so much for the reply on flipping the speech bubbles Jennifer!

  4. Hi Jen,

    Thanks for the tutorial! You`re right.. the speech bubble shape tool would have been a little hard to locate.

    How`s the weather in Ireland? Was over for a short visit last summer. Can`t wait to visit again!

    Slainte!

  5. Great tutorial! But it won’t let me select the stroke path button? What am I doing wrong?

  6. Thanks a bunch! So simple, it’s exactly what I needed. :)

  7. Dear Sir:

    How do you add the Speech Bubble to Styles?

  8. Hey Jennifer, I am going to make a logo out of speech bubbles. Being new to Photoshop I knew there had to be an option for creating speech bubbles but was not able to find it. Your article helped. :)

    Thank you

  9. i was looking at you tube they all were very complicated, , i did not that i have bubbles already in my cs5.
    thank you so much looking forward to learn more.

  10. Brilliant -just what I need, thank you! Such a clumsy novice in Photoshop

  11. Hello – probably a dumb question but how do you switch the little point at the bottom so it points from the other side?

  12. I’m ‘STILL’ looking for the ‘right’ ”BUBBLES” !!!—

  13. Where does one look to open the paths panel? It is driving me crazy…

    :-S

  14. Thanks! That was very helpful!

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