And the world rejoiced!!!!
I just figured out how to make delicate-looking word balloons in Illustrator that have actual line weight but without filling in the close gaps with black or looking overdone--Illustrator's a pain in the ass when it comes to controlling line weight. THE WORLD SHALL REJOICE! XD XD XD XD ALL DANCE HAPPILY IN CIRCLES! XD XD XD XD
It's simple, really. But you need a tablet to do it:
1) First, open your document in Illustrator. In this case, I opened a new document at approximately 5x7--rough size of a TP graphic novel. Now, create a new caligraphic brush, diameter set at 1 pt, click the pull-down menu beside it and change to "pressure", and change the line variation to 1 pt.
2) Double-click the paintbrush tool, and change the settings to smoothness: 0%, fidelity: 2 pixels. I tried messing around by choosing "keep selected" and "select within 3 pixels" but Illustrator is wonky and kept erasing my lines or changing the shape of the balloons. So keep those unselected. I'll show you how to connect the balloon and fill in a bit.
3) Now, you want to draw the initial balloon outline. For this page, I also created a grey background so you can see that my initial balloons have a black outline but no fill.
4) Next, draw the tail, then zoom in and connect all the points of the balloon and tail (or anywhere you've left gaps, picked up the pen to continue a line, etc) with the vector tool. Select your balloon and change the fill to white. (I'll also adjust the balloon shape and smoothness at this point if needed)
5) Since the balloon is rather thick, I changed the line weight to .5 points. You'll have to play around and see what fits your art best, but I prefer having my balloons just slightly thinner than my lineart so they pop out a bit and don't blend in with the art too much.
Finis) Et voici! All done! :)
Misc tips and tricks:
-Try and keep a steady hand when drawing the balloon.
-DON'T vary pressure too much or it'll come out looking overdone.
-DON'T rest your hand on the tablet. Keep your wrist up and draw using a whole arm motion rather than your fingers.
-Keep points thin and dips thick. It just looks prettier.
-The two points where the tail and the balloon meet often look nicer if they thicken a bit where meeting. This also makes it easier to connect the lines in illustrator without mishap.
-A little increase in pressure when drawing the bottom of the balloon will help add weight and make it feel more natural.
Hope that helps a few people. I absolutely HATE the way my book was lettered by Tokyopop, so hopefully this'll help spread the awareness and STOP THE BAD BALLOONING. XD
And okay. I'll turn comments on so people can share their own thoughts, tips, and tricks on the matter of ballooning. :) FREE THE BALLOONS! XD