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13 Important Resources for Learning How to Design Typefaces and Full Fonts

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Read Time: 6 min

If you're serious about creating a typeface design, then you'll need some solid resources to get started. Learn effective typeface design workflows, how to take an initial spark of an idea from sketch, through Illustrator, into Fontlab, and then work your creation into a complete and custom font design. Here are multiple tutorials that show you how to create fonts in Illustrator and Fontlab, and you can also dive into articles that describe the foundation of quality type design with ample inspirational examples.

Typeface and Font Design Tutorials

Designing a Typeface, With Illustrator and FontLab, from Start to Finish - Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

In this three part series Jesse Hora shows us how to design a typeface. He begins in Illustrator and works his way through to FontLab. Learn to find inspiration, utilize geometry to craft letters that work well together, vector your alphabet, and then bring it into Fontlab. You'll learn typographic terminology, the basics of constructing lettering, as well as intermediate to advanced detail, such as working with kerning pairs. This is a great series to get started with typeface font design.


Build a Geometric Typeface

Cypher13 (now known as Berger & Föhr) show us their process in how to design a geometric font. After sketching, Illustrator is an important part of their process. They use an isometric triangular grid to construct letters in phases.

Learn about creating Horizontal and Vertical Counters, as well as exceptions to various typographic rules you set when designing a typeface. While they mention the importance of Fontlab for taking their typeface design and working it into a full fledge font, that isn't covered in this tutorial.

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Design an Intricate Display Font

Dawn Lewandowski of HypeForType shows us how to take an intricate typeface design and turn it into a Font in FontLab. The display typeface created by Alex Trochut has very intricate linework and presents quite a few challenges for having it converted into a workable font. Learn how Dawn overcame these complexities in FontLab, grab advanced tips, and grow your font design abilities.


Design a Headline Typeface

Tom Muller shows us how to create a thick sans-serif headline typeface. This typeface tutorial doesn't get into turning the typeface into a font. It focuses on how to create a typeface design that feels well balanced, with various letter thickness and spacing, while being monoline. There is a great introduction for beginners on how to design a stylish thick typeface.


Develop a Themed Pictorial Font

Ana Benaroya shows how to design an illustrative typeface. The process starts with a hand-drawn alphabet, and then covers the process of converting this into a pixel based typeface in Photoshop. Of course, a vector workflow would be preferable, and more versatile to use, you can still learn some great tips from this tutorial.

I really like the artist's advice on appreciating the quirky and imperfect nature of hand-drawn letting, she even advises to avoid paying too much attention to reference images and focus more on creating your imaginative letters.


New Year Creating a New Typeface in Illustrator

Much of this tutorial focuses on letterform creation using Illustrator's Anchor Point tools. Fabio Sasso shows how to make a monoline smooth corner typeface design. Learn to work with basic shapes to create typefaces that have impact. This same process was used to create the Abduzeedo logo. There is an accompanying video demonstration to the written tutorial as well.


Create a Text Font in FontLab

This is a must read tutorial for aspiring font designers. In it typeface designer Dan Reynolds goes behind the scenes of text fonts Neue Frutiger and Ysobel to demonstrate the font creation process. You'll learn the basics of working on letterform and full font creation in FontLab with professional examples of the overall process.


How to Design a Font Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

Over at GoMediaZine Katie Major goes through her font design process in four consecutive posts. Learn how she gets typeface design inspiration from numerous sources. Go into her sketching process, and discover how she refines typeface designs with grids, explores multiple options, and finalizes her characters in Illustrator.

Then jump into FontLab and learn the process of converting your vector letters into a fully functional font. She walks you through her process for kerning and more. Throughout this series you'll discover terminology and numerous tips on how to design a typeface and turn it into a working custom font design.


Typeface and Font Design Articles

  • So You Want to Create a Font - Part 1 and Part 2

    This two part series on how to design a typeface and create a font that comprehensively covers the basics of getting started. There are numerous software options and character design choices to make. Should your "y" be composed of two or three lines? Should you have a one story or two story "g." These and other questions to answer will help differentiate your font.

  • The First One's The Hardest

    Jeremy Mickel tells the tale of how he fell in love with typeface design, got inspired to create his own font (Router), and worked on it for months to bring it to commercial fruition. This article gives a clear understanding of the time and effort involved with creating a custom font design. He also points out some great resources at the end of the article, such as < a href="">Typeworkshop.

  • The Making of FF Tundra

    Ludwig Übele designed the font FF Tundra. He describes the main features of creating the typeface, how the characteristics of the font were made, and how open spaces work with vertical stems. The type designer worked to create a font that works well on the horizontal. Learn more about the creation of this award winning font design.

  • A Few Things I've Learned About Typeface Design

    The author Gerry Leonidas is a Senior Lecturer in Typography at the University of Reading (UK) and Programme Director of the MA in Typeface Design. In this article he lays out some of the areas he's found students of typography should focus on, as well as deficiencies to avoid in the study of typeface design. You'll also get a good feel for the importance of having a methodology when creating a typeface design. Typographic history, working with type at various scales, and group type creation points are made as well.

  • 12 Sources of Inspiration for Creating Your Own Lettering or Typeface Designs

    If you dream of painstakingly designing the next amazing Open Type Font, desire to craft beautiful Hand Drawn Lettering, or feel the urge to create original Typeface Designs then this article is for you. In this article I wrote for GoMediaZine find an assortment of my favorite typeface designers and examples of their work. Grab tips on where to find typeface design inspiration, from hand painted signage to letter systems. The field of type design is ripe with exploration and creative possibilities.

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