Creating Fonts, also with Photoshop?

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Over the recent years there has been a growing interest in typography and the development of new fonts among artists and crafters. Luckily, this interest was recognized by industry manufacturers and software creators. In honor of this expanding art, let’s take a look at some of the top three tips for anyone that wants to begin creating their own fonts, regardless of their knowledge and expertise level.

1. Start with a Brief

Creating a typeface from scratch can be a drawn out and time consuming process so be sure to pack a bit of patience. It is best to begin the process only when you feel that you have developed a strong and clear vision of the final product that you are looking to achieve in response to a brief. In order to develop the brief, you will need to invest some time into research, as well as, some self-reflection. Take into consideration how you intend to use the font, whether it be just for your own personal use or for a project that will be used or seen by others. Just like with anything that you create, it is important to remember to consider your audience and base your design off of what will appeal to their tastes. Also consider what you are trying to achieve with the development of the new font. Is it strictly for personal expression or is it going to be used to alter the formatting of an important document? The sky is the limit in terms of options so it is important to make sure that your direction is firmly set when necessary.

2. Get Hands-on

Once you have decided on a clear and focused direction for the development for your typeface, it is often suggested that you go back to the basics and begin to draw or sketch it out with pen and paper. This is a good idea because there are no limitations when it comes to free-form handwriting, whereas many computer software programs can make the initial design more time consuming and frankly, awkward. It is also recommended that you use a good quality paper and writing utensil to help everything flow together more smoothly. Once you have everything you need, begin by sketching out a few characters of your typeface, being sure to outline the defining features that will be carried throughout the other characters of the font face. Once those have been clearly defined, it will be easier for you to develop and design the remainder of the characters on a digital platform.

3. Selecting your Software Program

Now that you have designed at least the first few characters of your typeface, and you are ready to get them into the computer to continue with your design, you will need to select a software program. It is a good idea to do your research on a few different programs and be sure to pick one that will work best for you based on your comfort level and the complexity of the program itself. The majority of illustrators will likely select Adobe. However, if you are not comfortable using a program like that there are other options out there like Lyphs, Robofont, and FontLab Studio. Most programs will be available on both MAC and Windows operating systems. Keep in mind that the majority of the software programs out there are pretty expensive but if you are just getting started out, you may be able to find smaller versions or trial versions of the programs available for free or smaller fee than the full version online. Again, be sure to do your research ahead of time to save yourself a great deal of time, money, and frustration down the line.

This process is meant to be one of self-expression, creativity, and fun. Do not let yourself get bogged down in the gritty details that could transform the enjoyable craft of developing a new font into a chore. Do you research, develop your focus and goal clearly, and enjoy the ride? For those that get good at it, there may even be an opportunity to sell the fonts to others for their own use and projects. Just like with any artistic skill or craft, typography is something that will take time to develop and get good at. The more that you practice and play with your characters, the further you will develop your skill and expand your creativity. Before you know it you will find yourself developing special characters and new font faces without even thinking about it.

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