I made some letters! How do I make a typeface?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by bungiefan89, Apr 22, 2016.

  1. bungiefan89 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2011
    I made my first typeface in Adobe Illustrator! Here's what some of the 70+ characters I made look like:


    These characters are all vector-based images that were left over from a logo design I did (I got carried away!) and I wanted to put the typeface in my portfolio.

    However, while I have experience working with typography I have never actually made a typeface before ... like, gone from drawing a thing on a screen to becoming a file that works in Font Book. So, where do I start?

    Also, I'm not looking to make any money selling this (it's mostly for my portfolio), but I am worried about someone taking credit for my idea. Do I have to copyright something like this? Is typeface theft a thing I should even worry about?

    Anyone willing to hold my hand through this learning adventure will be most appreciated! :)
  2. davidinva macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2009
    Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, USA
    Beyond my expertise, but I do subscribe to a free email newsletter from Blambot. The owner of that site makes typefaces for use in comics among other things. He might be worth contacting for advice. He both gives away and sells fonts thought the newsletter.
  3. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502


    Sep 11, 2007

    In order to take your vector work and turn it into a font, you will need to use a program like FontLab Studio (http://old.fontlab.com/font-editor/fontlab-studio/) or Fontographer (also a fontlab program now, it used to be Macromedia) or Glyphs (https://www.glyphsapp.com). They are a little expensive but if you are going to get into making typefaces, then it is worth the investment. I used to use Fontographer, but that was a long time ago. I've never tried FontLab Studio nor Glyphs but I've heard good things about them both (and I'm always thinking of buying one of them and getting into making fonts for fun). I'm sure they both have free trial downloads. It is a lot of work to make a typeface but if you are willing, I'm sure that you can do it! Good luck! In the past, the style of a typeface wasn't copyrightable but the name was (which seems odd). I don't know if that is true now or not?

  4. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    Mecha has given good advice here. I started my career as a type designer and, while I do not do much of it anymore, I do occasionally lecture on it.

    If you are new to type design, Glyphs is the program to use. It is visual, user friendly, and the web site has many useful tutorials. Glyphs is both approachable and powerful and I know of a few professionals who now use it exclusively. Robofont is the current industry standard, but it is not a tool for beginners. It is popular because of its extensibility and scriptability (most folks would be surprised how much coding is involved in modern type design) but it has almost no manual and a minimal interface. FontLab is another pro-level tool, but it is quite out of date and desperately needing a refresh.

    The first thing you will notice when you move your characters from Illustrator into a font design tool is how small they are. Fonts are significantly higher resolution than illustrator. Working in a type tool will teach you to draw with a new level of exactness. Here is a great tutorial about proper node and control point placement: http://theagsc.com/blog/tutorials/s...th-horizontal-vertical-bezier-handles-anyway/

    Drawing quality really does matter. Your node placements define how the typeface is auto hinted when you generate the font, so poor drawing equals typefaces that print poorly and look fuzzy on screen.

    In terms of protecting your fonts: You can't. Letter shapes cannot be protected by the courts. You can copyright a font name, and you can try to protect the digital data of your font, but once your font is out in the world there is nothing that protects you from someone opening your font in glyphs, moving a single point, saving it under a different name, and selling it.

    In all truth, I get more pleasure from seeing my fonts used out in the world than the paltry royalties I get paid on them. There is money to be made in type design, but it is mostly for corporate commissions. Most fonts that are released for sale don't bring a tremendous amount of money. There are a few rare exceptions, of course.

    So, in short, download the free trial of Glyphs. Try it. Buy it. Make your font and give it to the world.


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