Putting words into someone's mouth is a deplorable habit, unless, of course, you are scrapbooking. Go ahead, embellish those photos with your witty comments.

Stick-on balloons are fun to use, but here are some advantages for creating text balloons with digital photo editing software:

  • Save supplies (assuming you are printing the photo anyway)
  • Create text balloons of any size, within the limits of your printer
  • Crisp, neat lettering, compared to hand-written text
  • Create textured backgrounds from your own photos
  • Number of designs limited only by your skills

In this article I provide the steps of adding text balloons to digital photos and for creating text balloons for scrapbook cutouts. The steps are given for Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 and 3.0. If you are familiar with another digital photo editing software, you may be able to follow the steps and apply them to your own software.

Adding Text Balloons to Photos

Text balloon inserted into digital photo with editing software

Text balloon inserted into digital photo with editing software

First, we start by adding a text balloon to a digital photo. This image may have been taken with a digital camera or scanned in from a traditional photo.

There is almost no limit to what you can do with text balloons. I will walk you through the steps for creating a white balloon with black text, like the example to the right.

  1. Open the photo in Photoshop Elements.

    Command: File > Open

  2. Rotate image, if necessary.

    Command: Image > Rotate

  3. Make sure that the Layers palette is visible. Note that in most cases an opened image becomes the Background in the Layers palette.

    Command: Window > Layers

  4. Create the text balloon.

    Commands:
    • Click the Custom Shape Tool Custom Shape Tool.
      Custom Shape may be hiding behind the Rectangle Tool Rectangle Tool.
    • On the top toolbar make sure that the Shape box has the desired text balloon selected.
    • On the top toolbar set desired Color. In the example I used white.
    • Drag your mouse over photo to draw the text balloon.
    • If you need to flip the text balloon, do the following:
      • Click the Move Tool Move Tool.
      • Drag one of the corners of the text balloon shape past the other side.
      • Point inside text balloon shape and drag to move, if necessary.

  5. Make sure that the Styles and Effects palette is visible.

    Command: If only the title of Styles and Effects is visible, click on the right-pointing triangle to the left of title to show the palette.

  6. Make sure that the text balloon layer is still selected.

    Command: Click on the Shape 1 layer in the Layers palette

  7. Add the Wow Plastic layer style to the text balloon.

    Commands:
    • In the Styles and Effects palette select Layer Styles and Wow Plastic.
    • Click on the Wow-Plastic White style box. Now the text balloon has a beveled plastic appearance.
    • In the Layers palette double-click on the Shape 1 layer style indicator Layer Style Indicator to bring up the properties dialog box.
    • Adjust style settings as desired and click OK when finished.

  8. Add text to the balloon. Don't be too concerned about making your text fit the balloon on the first pass—we will adjust the size later.

    Commands:
    • Click the Horizontal Type Tool Horizontal Type Tool.
    • On the top toolbar select desired font. In the example I used Calligraph421 BT.
    • On the top toolbar set the font size to 48 pt. We will size it to fit the balloon later.
    • On the top toolbar click the Center text Center text button.
    • On the top toolbar set desired text Color. In the example I used black.
    • Click approximately in the middle of the text balloon and type your text. Press Enter within your text to start a new line.
    • When finished typing, click the Move Tool Move Tool.
      (If you need to change the text at any time, click on the text layer, click on the Horizontal Type Tool, and click your mouse on the text.)

  9. Position and size text inside the balloon.

    Commands:
    • Click the Move Tool Move Tool.
    • Make sure that the text layer is still selected by clicking on the text layer in the Layers palette.
    • While holding down the Shift key, drag one of the corners of the text box to size it.
    • Drag inside the text box to move text to center of the balloon.

  10. Save the photo with text balloon as a new file name, so you don't loose the original.

    Command: File > Save As, and enter a new file name

    NOTE: If you are printing the file at home, save it in the Photoshop (*.PSD; *.PDD) format. If you intend to have this photo developed by a lab, save it in the JPEG (*.JPG; *.JPEG; *.JPE) format.

  11. If you have a printer, print the photo and put into scrapbook.

    Command: File > Print

  12. If you do not have a printer, upload photo to an online developer (see Online Digital Photo Developing).

Creating Text Balloon Cutouts

Three text balloons in a single image to be used as cutouts

Three text balloons in a single image to be used as cutouts

Next, I walk you through the steps for creating three text balloons on a single photo to be used as cutouts. The image can be printed at home or developed online, and the balloons cut out and applied to scrapbook pages.

For the example I chose a cloudy sky background to add some texture. You may choose a clear background, solid color, or another photo for texture, as desired. Depending on the size of the cutouts, you may be able to fit more or fewer balloons on a single image.

  1. Open the background photo in Photoshop Elements. In the example I used a cloudy sky.

    Command: File > Open

  2. Rotate image, if necessary.

    Command: Image > Rotate

  3. Make sure that the Layers palette is visible. Note that in most cases an opened image becomes the Background in the Layers palette.

    Command: Window > Layers

  4. Create the first text balloon. In the example this is the one in the top left corner in the shape of clouds, indicating thought or sleep.

    Commands:
    • Click the Custom Shape Tool Custom Shape Tool.
      Custom Shape may be hiding behind the Rectangle Tool Rectangle Tool.
    • On the top toolbar make sure that the Shape box has the desired text balloon selected.
    • On the top toolbar set desired Color. In the example I used white.
    • Drag your mouse over photo to draw the text balloon.
    • If you need to flip the text balloon, do the following:
      • Click the Move Tool Move Tool.
      • Drag one of the corners of the text balloon shape past the other side.
      • Point inside text balloon shape and drag to move, if necessary.

  5. Make sure that the text balloon layer is still selected.

    Command: Click on the Shape 1 layer in the Layers palette for the first balloon, Shape 2 for the second, etc.

  6. Add desired layer effect to the text balloon.

    Command for first and second balloons: In the Layers palette set Opacity to about 20% so the background shows through while the balloon is visible just enough to cut out.

    No layer effect has been applied to the third balloon in the example.

  7. Add text to the balloon. Don't be too concerned about making your text fit the balloon on the first pass—we will adjust the size later.

    Commands:
    • Click the Horizontal Type Tool Horizontal Type Tool.
    • On the top toolbar select desired font. In the example I used Abadi MT Condensed and Calligraph421 BT.
    • On the top toolbar set the font size to 48 pt. We will size it to fit the balloon later.
    • On the top toolbar click the Center text Center text button.
    • On the top toolbar set desired text Color. In the example I used black for the first balloon and white for the second and third.
    • Click approximately in the middle of the text balloon and type your text. Press Enter within your text to start a new line.
    • When finished typing, click the Move Tool Move Tool.
      (If you need to change the text at any time, click on the text layer, click on the Horizontal Type Tool, and click your mouse on the text.)

  8. Position and size text inside the balloon.

    Commands:
    • Click the Move Tool Move Tool.
    • Make sure that the text layer is still selected by clicking on the text layer in the Layers palette.
    • While holding down the Shift key, drag one of the corners of the text box to size it.
    • Drag inside the text box to move text to center of the balloon.

  9. Repeat steps 4 through 8 for the second and third balloons, with the following changes:
    • Second: Use dark blue for the balloon shape color, white text color, regular text balloon shape (not the cloud).
    • Third: Use pink for the balloon shape, white text color, regular text balloon shape (not the cloud), leave shape layer opacity at 100%.

  10. Add drop shadow to the text layer of the third balloon.

    Commands:
    • Slelect the third text layer by clicking on it in the Layers palette.
    • In the Styles and Effects palette select Layer Styles and Drop Shadows.
    • Click on the Soft Edge style box. Now the text has a drop shadow appearance.
    • In the Layers palette double-click on the text layer style indicator Layer Style Indicator to bring up the properties dialog box.
    • Adjust style settings as desired and click OK when finished.

  11. Save the photo with text balloons as a new file name, so you don't loose the original.

    Command: File > Save As, and enter a new file name

    NOTE: If you are printing the file at home, save it in the Photoshop (*.PSD; *.PDD) format. If you intend to have this photo developed by a lab, save it in the JPEG (*.JPG; *.JPEG; *.JPE) format.

  12. And that's our forecast
  13. If you have a printer, print the photo, cut out the balloons, and put into scrapbook.

    Command: File > Print

  14. If you do not have a printer, upload photo to an online developer (see Online Digital Photo Developing).


I hope you enjoyed creating the text balloon examples in this article. Now you have the skills and know-how to experiment with various designs that fit your scrapbook layout.