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10 Top Tips on Font Design (Create Your Own Font)

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So you want to create your own font? And why not—the world of font design has positively exploded, with hundreds of new fonts making their debut every year.

10 Top Tips on Font Design10 Top Tips on Font Design10 Top Tips on Font Design
In this article we'll cover how to create a font with examples like this cool font from Envato Elements.

Today we will share our ten top tips on how to design a font.

Top 10 Tips on How to Design a Font

Tip 1: Know Your Typefaces, Know Your Fonts

A typeface refers to a collection of letters, numbers, and symbols that share common design features. There are three major typefaces: Serif, Sans Serif, and Script. Here you can read a detailed guide:

Serif vs Sans SerifSerif vs Sans SerifSerif vs Sans Serif
Times New Roman is a serif typeface, while Avenir Next is a sans serif typeface

Serifs can be easily identified because they have a small stroke (serif) attached to the end of a larger stroke.

Evoque : vintage serif font family
Serifs have a small stroke attached to the end of their larger strokes. Font from Envato Elements

Sans serifs can also be easily identified because they do not have serifs.

Axon typeface
Sans serifs have no serifs—small strokes attached to their larger strokes. Font from Envato Elements

Script fonts are designed to resemble traditional cursive handwriting.

Elegant Fonts
Script fonts are designed to resemble traditional cursive handwriting. Font from Envato Elements

A font is a particular weight, style, size and effect of a typeface. Most typefaces include a number of fonts, although there are a growing number of contemporary ones that just offer one font. Helvetica typeface, for example, is made up of 51 fonts of differing styles, sizes, and weights.

Proximity Sans
A font is a particular weight, style, size of a typeface. Typefaces include a number of fonts. Font from Envato Elements

Want to know more about typefaces vs. fonts? Check out this video:

Tip 2: A Little Inspiration Goes a Long Way

Custom typeface design should start with a deep dive into the pool of inspiration. Study a selection of serif, sans serif, and script typefaces, carefully paying attention to the unique characteristics of each. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to heighten your awareness of each type.

Elegant Fonts
Study the characteristics that make one typeface unique or different from another. Font from Envato Elements
  • What are the characteristics of each typeface?
  • What makes each typeface unique or different from another?
  • How many fonts make up each typeface? How are they different from each other?
  • What do you like or dislike about each typeface? This is important because your preferences will guide you when you start to make your own custom typography.

Tip 3: Have an Audience in Mind

Before you create a custom font, you need to think about who you are creating the font for. For example, a custom typeface for a luxury jewellery store will look very different from the custom typography for a toy store.

Suga Rush Kids Block Font
The typeface for a jewellery store will look very different from the typeface for a toy store. Font from Envato Elements

The thing to remember is that fonts are not neutral. As is the case with all designs, fonts have personality and communicate mood. So think about who you are making your font for and how you envision it being used. This will lead to a more successful and powerful design.

Tip 4: Write a Short Design Brief

Don't skip this step. I know you're tempted, but don't. This step is all about getting clear. Think of it as creating a roadmap. Call it: "how to make your own alphabet". Just kidding! Kidding aside, before you make your own font, you need to get clear about your intentions for that font.

Elegant Fonts
Writing a brief gives you clarity of purpose when creating a typeface. Font from Envato Elements

We talked before about identifying your audience, so write your brief with that audience in mind. It can go something like this:

I'm creating a sans serif font for a children's clothing store sign. My inspiration is .... typeface (this is where the research from Tip #2 comes in handy). Or I am creating a serif typeface containing three fonts—light, regular, and bold—that can be used by banks, law firms, and corporations for body text as well as headers. My inspiration is .... typeface.

Margreta Cursive Font with Tails
Add adjectives like playful, strong, sharp, feminine, etc. to guide your creative process. Font from Envato Elements

You can add adjectives—like playful, quirky, strong, sharp, formal, etc.—to your brief to help guide you during the creation process. This kind of writing gives you clarity of purpose and helps you stay on track in the push and pull of the design process.

Tip 5: Sketch a Prototype Font

To create your prototype font, don't rush to your computer. Find a comfortable spot with a pen/brush and paper or tablet, and try to get down the shapes that reflect your vision.

Emyrla Futuristic Minimalist Font
Sketching is a great way to develop your vision for your typeface. Font from GraphicRiver

You don't have to create your own alphabet in its entirety at this point. Instead, focus on specific characters like a, g, R, S, H, O, I, d, and p to establish the DNA of your typeface.

Tip 6: Choose the Right Tools for Digital Typeface Design

Photoshop and Illustrator are your friends when it comes to font design, but the Fontself Maker extension is your best friend.

Caride Old School Script Font
The right tools can make font creation fun work. Font from Envato Elements

You can scan your drawings into Photoshop and Illustrator, but you will need Fontself Maker to develop your prototype font fully and polish it to perfection. Interested in learning to create your own alphabet? You can learn how to create a font using Illustrator or making your own handwritten font in these tutorials:

Tip 7: 'Hamburgevons' Your Custom Typeface

While you create custom fonts, you may find yourself becoming obsessed with individual characters to the exclusion of the whole, but it's important to keep your eye on how the font will look as a whole, so remember to pay attention to the spacing and kerning of the letters by combining a series of them during the process.

Magnita Popular Serif Font
Use the word "Hamburgevons" to test your letters. Font from Envato Elements

After you create your own alphabet, use the word "Hamburgevons" to test your letters, because the forms of its letters include all of the curves and abutments normally found in a font.

Print your work regularly during the design process, as seeing things in print often makes it easier to spot subtle mistakes.

Tip 8: Great Design Takes Time

wedge serifs
Great Design Takes Time. Font from Envato Elements

One of the most important things to remember when you design your own font is that great design takes time. If you are designing just one font, in one case, with one weight for one specific purpose, it is possible to complete your design in a couple of weeks, but designing a complete typeface could take anywhere from three months to a couple of years, so work hard and be patient.

Tip 9: Make Use of Multiple Font Formats

In this digital age of ours, there are so many font formats it's hard to keep track. There's TrueType font (TTF), OpenType (OTF), Embedded Open Type (EOT), Web Open Font Format (WOFF and WOFF2), and Scalable Vector Graphics font (SVG).

Akur Cool Minimalist Font
Use multiple font formats to create a consistent experience for your users. Font from GraphicRiver

Why is this important to font designers? Because in spite of the huge number of formats, not one of them works in all browsers, so by using multiple font formats, you are able to deliver a consistent experience to your users.

Tip 10: Sell Your Fabulous Font Designs

Whether you're a pro font designer or dabbler, after you've spent all that time and effort creating a font you can be proud of, why not share it with the world on Envato Elements and GraphicRiver?

Elegant Fonts
Envato Elements is a terrific marketplace for up-and-coming font designers. Font from Envato Elements

There are tons of gorgeous fonts there to keep you inspired, and they're always looking for cool new font designs to add to their library. So now that you have some helpful tips on how to make your own alphabet, why not check them out today?

Make Your Own Font Today

Learning how to design a font isn't the easiest design challenge, but with these tips, plus your talent, top-quality software, and a marketplace waiting to support your design practice, we're sure you're up to the challenge.

And if you want more font inspiration, take a look at these helpful articles below:

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