Teaching Materials - Exercise

Speech bubble – words, sound and tone

Name of Artist Educator: Doreen Chan
Excercise Category: Class Prelude, Imagery Reading

Comic is literally an illustration without sound. With the limitations of soundless, how could we convey the sounds, tone?

Concept / Inspiration:

Comic is literally an illustration without sound. The speech bubble becomes the carrier of words, sound and tone. With the limitations of soundless, the shape, size, space and the movement of the characters could also be the medium to express the sound and tone. Meanwhile, texts in the comics could also become the image itself. For instance, the font styles, lines, sizes and punctuation could explain the sound and tone. While texts could be a medium to explain content, someone attempts to let go of text and convey messages only by speech bubbles. Students will first be trained to do voice-overs for the comics. They are reminded to be aware of the uniqueness of the speech bubbles, and try to transform image to sounds. Texts, another form of tools will then be taken away. This is to allow students to explore some other forms of speech bubbles to express the ideas when there are restraints. Students will also be asked to imagine some corresponding scenes regarding to the design of the speech bubbles and add the lines and images for the speech bubbles. Each of the stages could be seen as an additional process. It aims to allow students to think for the uniqueness of different elements and the way to recover to its original or keep the ties with the original elements.


  1. To enable students to grasp the ideas of using images to express sound and tone without words.
  2. Students are able to add some words into the speech bubbles in order to get the idea of using lines, sizes and colours to express tones and sounds.

Materials / Equipment:

  • Drawing paper
  • Marker
  • Camera
  • Comics from artist Danny Yung



Workshop Description:

Part One │ Comic voice actor (40 minutes)

Aims: Without words, students try to express the sound and tone with the use of images.

  1. Each student brings their favourite comics and do voice-act for it. During the process, students have to pay attention to the design of the speech bubble, i.e. sizes, shapes. These elements are the medium to express the tones, voices and emotion of the characters.
  2. Artwork appreciation: Danny Yung
  3. Fill in the blanks with reference to the pictures. Each of the students has to select a piece of work from Danny Yung’s work which they can relate to their personal experience. They could write down whatever they want in the speech bubble. Students are encouraged to understand the artwork of Danny Yung in order to experience the close connection with the artwork and also to try out the possible matching of the speech bubbles and the illustration.


Part Two │ Comics in reality (40 minutes)

Aims: To allow students to add words to the speech bubbles in order to know that its lines, sizes, shapes and colours can also be the medium of delivering sound and tone.

  1. Students have to design ten different styles of speech bubbles on ten pieces of paper. They have to think of a wide range of settings and different sounds in order to create various styles of speech bubbles. They are allowed to image anything settings they want. Instructor could also provide students with some themes in order to facilitate creations. (e.g. the sound of hiccups, farts, sounds people made when they argue with partners)
  2. Students are divided into two groups (e.g. Group A and B). Each group will have to make use of the speech bubbles that they have drawn to create a four-panel manga. The story has to be related to the styles, colour and feeling of the speech bubbles. The significance of designing the contents is to actualise the concepts learnt from the lessons and to make use of the speech bubbles to see whether the speech bubbles could deliver the meaning and also to practise how to use those speech bubbles.
  3. After designing the contents, they can choose the most suitable ones from the speech bubbles that they created and fill it in with the lines. Instructor should also remind the students that words could sometimes modify the contents of the original pictures while the lines and font styles could also deliver the tone and sounds.
  4. Group A and B have to take turns to be in different roles. While Group A would be the characters of the manga , Group B is the photographer. Group B could also observe how Group A uses the speech bubbles. They are welcome to raise their ideas at once when they come up with something better. Meanwhile, instructor could also teach the students some simple shooting skills.
  5. Sharing and discussion


Note 1: If the students do not have much ideas of creating the speech bubbles, instructor can try to demonstrate the examples gradually. For example, demonstrate five at a time and check their understanding. Ten at a time after that. This is to assure the understanding of the students.

Actual Outcome:

During class:

Part One “Comic voice actor” : One of the students brought Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Instructor asked questions in accordance with the illustrations of the pictures, i.e. “What would be the changes of the original picture if there is a change of the size of the bugs?”

Part Two “Comic in reality”: Photo shooting.

Instructor is introducing students some simple shooting skills. She found that light contrast of the students’ work was too big which was not suitable for the atmosphere. Sometimes the object that the camera automatically focused was not what the students wanted. And hence, she introduced metering mode.



Part One “Comic voice actor”
7 6 5 4

Part Two “Comic in reality”

The theme for this group is to compare the appearance.

The theme for this group is the situation in the library.

Reference Materials:

Danny Yung’s “Tian Tian Xiang Shang