Questions on creating a font, general processing and software used

Hello everyone, I’m new to this site.
Not sure where to post this, but I just started creating my own fonts, and needed some guidance, help and advice on what the typical process is in building or creating a font. In other words, how do you start out or begin the process? Do you start drawing the letters, glyphs, etc. first, then move onto the software programs? If so, what software or computer programs are normally used for creating a font? I’ve started creating fonts using FontStruct, but it uses blocks to build the fonts, and I was hoping for something else where I could just either handwrite my letters/glyphs or draw them out. If anyone here can offer some feedback and/or advice on what I should do, I would gladly appreciate it. Thank you!

It really depends on just how serious you are about it.

I typically start out by deciding what kind of typeface I want, sketching a few characters, then thinking through all the letters, numbers, punctuation, symbols, etc. I’ll typically start building a few glyphs in Illustrator to see how it’s all working, then start moving the vector outlines into to the font editor for tweaking, determining sidebearings, kerning, adding accent marks, etc. Lots of type designers skip the Illustrator part and head right to the font editor’s drawing tools. It’s important to think everything through and yo be very methodical about it or you’ll end up wasting lots of time redoing things.

Most independent commercial foundries use either Fontlab, Glyphs or Robofont. Fontographer is also an option, but it’s showing its age. Glyphs and RoboFont are only available for Macintosh.

I started out with Fontographer, probably, 25 years ago. I built a few fonts then gave it up. About three years ago I decided to pick it up again, and bought a copy of Fontlab, which is the successor, of sorts, to Fontgrapher. The latest version, however, is buggy and, in my opinion, awkward to use and just a bit ill-conceived. After getting frustrated with it earlier this year, I switched to Glyphs, which I’m really liking a lot.

These applications cost money, though. Fontographer is $399, FontLab $689 and Glyphs, which I like far better anyway, is a relative bargain at $300. RoboFont is $490, but I’ve never used it. If you’re looking for free, there’s FontForge, but you get what you pay for. If you looking for a Windows option, FontCreator is $79, but I know nothing about it.

There’s a serious learning curve with any of this software. The ins and outs of designing, building and fine-tuning fonts is complicated and tedious if you want to do it right. If you’re less careful, it goes a lot faster, but you’ll end up with substandard work of the sort that all the free font sites specialize in giving away.

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