Sound Effects

Dynamic Sound Effects (image) - Nate Piekos

Adding Sound Effects to Comics: 10 Tips (video) - Mark Crilley

Comic Book FX (website) - Searchable database of sound effect examples from old comics.

Letterers often struggle with sound effects. Some use them a lot, while some don’t use them at all.

There’s a lot that goes into getting them right, so here are some tips to help you along:

  • This kind of goes without saying but make your effect actually sound like the noise it’s mimicking. The whole purpose of a sound effect is to help the reader experience a scene. If your sound doesn’t match the moment, it will just end up detracting from it. (Doing this intentionally could be hilarious though.) Try saying the effect out loud to test out if it works.

  • The larger the sound, the larger the sound effect should be. If an entire building is blowing up but there’s only a tiny boom in the corner of the page your reader will get confused. Match the size with the scale of the effect.

  • The shape of sound effects changes how we feel about them. Jagged lines make for a harsher sound. This is good for words like “Krak”. Rounded lines make for a more fluid sound. Think “Whoosh”.

  • Consider not using sound effects at all. There are plenty of creators who never use sound effects in their comics. By choosing to not use sound effects, your moments can stand alone. This can make them feel surreal or frozen in time. Limiting your use of effects also increases the impact when you actually end up using them later in your story.