How to create a typeface?

Ever since I started my graphic design journey, I have been wanting to create a typeface, problem is I don’t have the slightest clue where to begin. It seems like such a meticulous, complex process that seems very rewarding but also, really tricky. Are their any type designers on here that can explain their creative process when designing a typeface? I would love to learn!
Thank you in advance!

I’ve built a few commercial fonts already on the market. I’m finishing up a new type family of 42 fonts and hoping to release it, maybe, in June or July.

So the first thing is developing an idea of the typeface you have in mind. Sketching out (by hand) several of the more representative glyphs from the typeface is important — maybe an e, m, S, s, O, t, etc, then refining and expanding your sketches to make sure you can carry over your idea in a consistent way throughout the entire typeface.

As for actually drawing the glyphs, most beginners tend to want to use Illustrator because they know it and feel comfortable with it. Unfortunately, it’s a bad tool for type design. For example, the glyphs in all vector-based fonts are built on a fine grid. A thousand-unit-high grid has been the standard, but most type designers now are heading up to around 2048 gridlines to capture greater levels of precision. Anyway, all anchor and control points must align to the intersection of the grid lines. Illustrator just doesn’t have a feature that facilitates this kind of thing or any of a few dozen other things that are essential for type design.

There’s a free downloadable application called FontForge that actually has most of what a beginner needs to build a font. It’s primitive, but it’s free. I use a combination of font-building applications called FontLab and Glyphs.

Designing the typeface, though, is the easy part. The extraordinarily tedious and time-consuming part is building all the glyphs, which involves endless tweaks, thousands of kerning pairs, interpolation issues, OpenType features, hand-hinting for low-resolution legibility, compiling and testing, then making adjustments. Honestly, it’s horribly tedious, but I’m able to focus for hours on the kind of thing that would drive a normal person crazy with boredom. A good, quality font family (upright, bold, italic and bold italic) takes me about a year. This mostly averages an hour or so per day for me, though. Still, it require creating a couple thousand glyphs just to get a standard set of four fonts.

Anyway, I could write for pages about this, but this is enough for now. If you’re serious, start small and don’t worry (at first) about half the stuff I mentioned or you’ll never get your first font done. :wink:

2 Likes

Thanks a lot for the response. That was wildly informative. I was thinking just the typefaces themselves were difficult, I didn’t even take into account the glyphs. I’m gonna check out fontforge and give it a go. Thanks again!

I’ll tell you the common consensus from my professors in school: don’t. lol

Here’s the thing. If you are really really good it’s a serious money maker, but building a font is more akin to drafting than design imo. It is a very very difficult process to come up with an original, usable font.

Then you still need to copyright it and sell it - when we all know these graphics people aren’t to be trusted with fonts. :slight_smile:

So, if it’s something you want to do, by all means, go for it. But expect to spend a LOT of hours on it.

Great answer. Gold star! :slight_smile:

1 Like

I’m also new in this field, definitely interested.
Not sure if this is worth a try.

area

I don’t think that this type of font is popular (except maybe in some music niches, sports-mma maybe, skateboarding etc…).

©2019 Graphic Design Forum | Contact | Legal | Twitter | Facebook