In this article, we’ll be talking about fonts! Have you ever tried making one? Even if you haven’t ever thought about this, you might get inspired after reading my story.
I’ll tell you how I decided to try my hand at font design, how I prepared to create my very first font, and why you should try and make your own font too! The process is really challenging and calming at the same time. You will learn so many new things while digging through a new creative field.
We can’t help but notice a vast variety of fonts surrounding us in our everyday life. Any product you pick up in the shop, any website you look through on the internet, and any advertisement banner you stumble upon in the street will usually contain at least one word or phrase typed with a heavy sans-serif font or a playful handwritten script typeface.
Fonts can be of any kind, depending on the purpose of the design. They can be geometrically perfect or curvy with bouncing letters. A font can even be something apart from letters, such as a symbols font with icons or doodles instead of letters.
Looking at all this feast of typefaces around me, I noticed hand-written display fonts and whimsy script fonts becoming more and more trendy, making any design look fresh and unique. You can easily spot such fonts on GraphicRiver, for example, or check out the following articles about stunning handwritten and cursive fonts:
I became really inspired by the idea of trying something new after working as an illustrator for many years. So why not channel my passion for drawing… into drawing letters?
How I Created My First Font
After reading several books about typography and studying the theory of font design, I moved on to practicing my calligraphy skill. At this point, the endless drills began. I printed tons of practicing sheets and practiced those upstrokes and downstrokes whenever I had a free minute. I can’t help but notice how calming this process is. Apart from making your hand firm, it helps you to focus and get rid of the unwanted thoughts, just the same as if you were meditating.
As I became more acquainted with the typography, calligraphy and lettering world, I finally decided to make an actual typeface, one you could install on your PC and use in programs like Adobe CC, Affinity Designer and Corel Draw for designing or Microsoft Office and Pages for typing and formatting documents.
This is what differentiates a font from a set of vector letters or alphabet—you can just install it like any usual font that you download from the web, and work with it in any software instead of constructing a word from single letters in a graphic program.
To start off, I decided to create a font duo consisting of a simple uppercase display font and a set of doodle symbols for decoration. Such a font duo is great for making fancy designs in a few clicks as you already have everything you need included. Apart from that, such a playful hand-drawn font goes perfectly with other serif or sans serif fonts if you need a heading and a subheading.
And this is how the Bananito Font Duo was born!
After the font went online, it was handpicked for a promotional email newsletter and also got included in a big font bundle.
Inspired by the first results, I decided to continue developing my skills in this field and try something more sophisticated: a script font.
Script fonts look really elegant when involved in a design. Here is an inspiring article about stylish cursive fonts:
Here is a quick tip if you're thinking of creating a font but don’t know how to start. Yes, the amount of work to be done may scare you away, but only if everything is disorganized and done in a chaotic order.
Start with a simple font, and don’t try to add all the bells and whistles in your very first typeface if you’re not sure whether you’ll have enough strength and motivation to finish it. In any case, it is better to try and make at least one simple font than to give up in the middle of making a more complex one.
So let me tell you about the process of how I designed and created the Bananito Font Duo, from scratch to finish.
How to Create a Symbols Font
How to Draw Out the Letters
To start with, we need to draw all the letters. I was going to make only the uppercase version of the font, so I needed to depict the 26 letters of the English alphabet. The style of your font is fully optional and depends on many factors. While thinking up a new font, try to keep in mind that it should be:
- trendy (look through the top fonts on GraphicRiver, for example, in order to realize what is trending at the moment and which fonts have a higher rating or were handpicked by the Envato staff)
- easy to read in both big and small scale
- useful for various types of design, hence, multipurpose
It doesn’t have to look like your own handwriting, but it certainly can if you want it to (besides, handwritten fonts are one of the hot trends).
If you prefer a brush pen and paper, go for it! You may also prefer to use a pencil as it is easy to correct with the help of the eraser. When you’ve finished drawing out all the letters on paper, go on and scan it or use your phone to make a photo.
It's better to draw everything in one take, without postponing the work for the following day as the letters might look a bit different. I noticed that my hand behaves differently each time I draw—sometimes it feels more tired and firm, and another day it's easier to make light, swirly lines. In fact, it will be much easier to draw all letters in a consistent style if we draw them all one by one. And don’t forget about the figures and punctuation marks! Sometimes people need them for designing as well, so why not add them to our typeface?
Take a look at Calligraphr (formerly known as MyScriptFont.com), where you can find a very useful template containing all the glyphs for our future font. Just print it out and use it as a guide, or import into your programs if you’re working digitally.
By the way, a few words about working digitally. At first, I started practicing calligraphy on paper. However, later on, I moved to drawing everything on iPad, using the Apple Pencil and the Procreate app. You can find some really great brushes for lettering and calligraphy, or even make your own as I did. I spent a few hours playing with settings and textures until I created a perfect brush that behaved like a real brush-pen, making the whole process smoother and faster.
There are some advantages in drawing letters digitally, such as the opportunity to undo and edit anything, change the scale and colors of the elements, and transfer the completed image into your computer just in one click.
However, the option of drawing digitally is not for everyone: there are many people who enjoy drawing on paper because it gives you a pleasant tactile feeling of the real paper texture and more control over the strokes. On the contrary, the glass of the digital screen might feel too slick and slippery for drawing, and the strokes of the digital pen are not so precise as those of the real brush pen. However, drawing digitally may turn out to be much easier because of the automatic smoothing of the lines, so that you don’t have those wobbly, shaky strokes.
How to Transfer Your Drawing Onto the Computer
Once you are happy with your hand-drawn letters, it’s time to open them in Adobe Illustrator and use the Image Trace function to turn them into nice clean vectors!
Your Image Trace settings may be different from mine, depending on the thickness and size of the letters and on the brightness and contrast of your letters if you're drawing on paper. I usually keep the Threshold somewhere between 120 and 170 if I want the letters to be more or less detailed. I also set the Paths and Corners to 75%, leaving all other options as default.
Once you've finished, click the Expand button in the control panel on top to turn the letters into curves. Remember to delete the white background by clicking it with the Magic Wand Tool (Y).
It may require some time to clean up the letters after tracing, making the lines smoother and getting rid of the unneeded elements and stray points.
As soon as we’re happy with the result, we can place each symbol in its own cell and prepare for export.
If you're a Windows user, I would suggest trying out FontLab, a very powerful program for creating fonts! This set of tutorials will be very useful for creating your first font from zero up to the very end:
I prefer using Glyphs. However, it is only for macOS, and that is its only drawback so far. The program itself is very easy and fun to use with its user-friendly interface and descriptive guides and tutorials. So if you’re a Mac user, try its free 30-day trial and go for it.
If you’re not sure whether you want to study new software and create more fonts in future, you can try something simpler for starters. For example, Calligraphr, which I mentioned earlier in the article, is a great chance to check how your font functions. Just follow the comprehensive instructions on the website and create your font quickly and easily!
This is my favorite moment, when the font is finally tested and exported and it goes live! Now you can use it in your own designs, creating banners, flyers and whimsy postcards much faster and easier than if you were combining the letters into words one by one.
Also, here are a couple of descriptive and comprehensive step-by-step tutorials about creating a font from scratch up to the very end. Check them out!
Why You Should Try to Create Your Own Font
Still hesitating whether you should go for it or not? Here is a list of reasons that come to mind instantly after I've decided to dive into such an engrossing process as font making.
- This is a great opportunity to try something new. If you're stuck in the middle of your way and feel as if you're losing the creativity and motivation of doing the things you've got used to doing, making fonts can be a breath of fresh air. The process of creating fonts is very interesting and challenging. You may also find it meditative and calming.
- Designing a font is a good way to try both traditional and digital media. Some of us enjoy drawing letters on paper, using various brush-pens, brushes, and calligraphy pens. Others choose digital calligraphy on PC or iPad, trying out various brushes and creating our own to find a perfect combination of size, tilt, opacity, and texture.
- Your drawing skills will improve. While completing drills, making all those upstrokes, downstrokes and circles day by day, you will find that your hand becomes steadier and that you're now drawing long, straight strokes with firmness and confidence. No more shaky lines here! This skill will also be helpful for other fields of illustration as it is always great to have a firm hand while drawing.
- A curious fact about the chemical aspect of our body is that learning new skills makes your brain work more, causing it to create new connections between neurons, replacing some of those we lose over time. Isn’t that awesome? Apart from that, new experiences increase your level of dopamine, giving you a feeling of joy.
- It is always a plus to add some new skills to your CV. This will obviously score you more points in the eyes of your future boss or client, whether you’re looking for a job or freelancing.
- You will become more proficient in design by learning how to pair and combine fonts. Beautiful font combinations make any design look better, while inappropriate fonts can spoil any good design.
- It is convenient to use your own fonts in your designs without caring about what type of license you need depending on the purpose of your end product.
To Sell or Not to Sell?
Another point of creating fonts that's worth being mentioned here is the opportunity to make some money. Although there are many free fonts, you can still sell a good-quality font.
Once you’ve spent enough time learning and finally created an outstanding product, try uploading it to the Fonts section of GraphicRiver and promote it by making a presentation in your portfolio. Hand-drawn and script fonts are top trends in modern design—you can find them almost anywhere in product design, package design, clothing, advertisement, and in the interior design of shops and cafes. What's more, such fonts make a product unique, whereas free fonts tend to become overused among designers.
On the other hand, competition among font designers is rising and more great free fonts are appearing, so people don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a stylish poster or flyer. Apart from that, making a free font has its own advantages too:
- It is a good way to promote yourself by distributing freebies and showcasing your other projects at the same time.
- It is a great opportunity to increase the quality of your future fonts by practicing.
- It will help you to become a better font designer while trying out new styles of writing and sharing them with the world.
To sum up these two points, you can actually make a difference between a font that you give out for free and one that you sell. A free font might not have all the features like ligatures, letter alternatives, enhanced punctuation, webfont or multilingual support. All these features may be added to the full version of the font.
The last but not the least thing to mention here is licensing. If you want to make fonts to sell, you should definitely study all the types of licenses and the differences between them in order to know how the price varies and for what purposes people might need your font.
Although most online markets have descriptive FAQs about all types of licenses or even have the relevant type of license already selected for you, knowing this information for yourself is very important anyway. Some of your customers may have questions or doubts whether they can use your font or not, and in that case, you’ll be able to resolve any question without hesitation.
Give It a Try!
And that's it! I hope you’ve found out some new interesting information about creating fonts and gathered enough inspiration to try it out yourself! It’s not as difficult or scary as it might seem, in fact. Just remember that you can start with something simple, gradually moving to something more complicated step by step. If you find this process bringing you joy and relaxation, you won’t be able to stop, that's for sure.
And remember that if you liked the Bananito Font Duo which is mentioned in this article and you want to use it in your designs, you can get it right from GraphicRiver just in a few clicks.