Hello everyone, today we’re stepping away from the world of coding and delving into the realm of design. I’ll guide you through the process of crafting your very own font. I previously tackled this topic on the site four years ago, and it became quite popular, possibly even the most popular article I’ve written. You can find it here, “How to Create a Custom Font: The Letter R,” where I used Adobe Illustrator to demonstrate the design of the letter R. However, I didn’t cover the crucial step of exporting it into a font file that others can install and use on their computers. That’s what we’ll focus on today.
The font we’re about to create is called the “OMG” font, and I’ll show you how to use Adobe Illustrator to design all the letters. There’s one caveat that some of you might not like—it involves using additional software to convert the paths we create into a usable font, and it comes with a small cost. Fortunately, when I started with font design, most other font creation programs were expensive and not very user-friendly. The one I recommend is quite the opposite. It’s called Fontself, and you can find it at fontself.com. I should note that I’m not being sponsored by them, and there’s no affiliate program; I’m simply sharing this because I found it easy to use.
Now, let’s move on to the process. You can purchase Fontself for $49 for Illustrator CC or Photoshop CC. There’s also an option to get both for $79, but for this tutorial, I’ll be using Illustrator for designing the fonts.
After you’ve installed Fontself, open Adobe Illustrator, and under the “Window” menu, select “Extensions” to find “Fontself Maker 2.2.1.” This extension is where we’ll start our font creation journey.
Inside Fontself Maker, you’ll find a font template with essential guides for font development. You can enable or disable these guides using the “Window” > “Layers” menu. There are guides for the descender, baseline, x-height, cap height, and ascender, each serving a specific purpose in letter design.
Now, let’s create our first letter, a simple “O.” Using the Ellipse tool in Illustrator, draw an ellipse while paying attention to the baseline and cap height guides. These are the critical guides for uppercase characters. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect; we can fine-tune it later.
To add some uniqueness to the font, we can manipulate the letterforms. For example, we can create diagonal cuts within certain 45-degree angled lines to produce adjacent letterforms. Use the Pathfinder tool to cut out these shapes and adjust their thickness for readability.
Repeat this process for other letters, keeping an eye on strokes, which need to be converted into outlines for consistent design. Once you’ve finalized your letters, you can proceed to merge shapes and apply unique treatments to create a distinct font style. Balancing the thickness of negative spaces is crucial for readability at different font sizes.
Remember, font design allows for creativity and experimentation, so feel free to explore various possibilities and make your font stand out.
Now, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty details. As you can see, we’ve been working on refining the letters, like our M, which is now looking intriguing, especially when we apply the same treatment to the remaining characters. To keep things organized, let’s create a copy of the letter by pressing Ctrl+C and Ctrl+F. This way, we can reuse it later.
Now, let’s focus on a specific letter, such as the capital I. We need to subtract the portions that are cutting into it. With both the I and the other shape selected, we’ll use the “-front” operation. Great, that letter is now complete. Let’s repeat this process for the other letters.
As we continue this process, let’s discuss where it makes sense to apply these treatments. Take the letter G, for instance. We’ve already applied it here. Now, let’s consider where it could work for the remaining letters. We’ll drag the copy of the M over here, reduce its size slightly, and create a slanted 45-degree appearance. The goal is to ensure it creates a point right there.
Now, we’ll select both shapes and use the “-front” operation again. But there’s a little hiccup: it didn’t work as expected due to a shape beneath it. To fix this, we need to take a step back and ensure that these edges meet correctly.
We’ll lock some of the elements temporarily, then use the Direct Selection tool to select the anchor points on one side. By moving them into place, we can ensure a smooth connection. Once done, we’ll unlock everything and create another copy to work with.
We’ll repeat this process for other letters, like the B and the F, ensuring that the edges meet smoothly. The key is to pay attention to details and make adjustments where needed.
Now, let’s deal with the lowercase letters. We’ll do the same process for the O, I, and G, ensuring that everything is centered correctly. It’s important to note that creating a font involves a lot of meticulous work, especially when dealing with uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as special characters.
Once all the letters are fine-tuned and in their correct positions, it’s time to consolidate them into a single path. This involves merging various shapes and ensuring that everything is in order. We’ll go through each letter, combining and renaming them as necessary.
Now comes the exciting part. We’ll use Fontself to bring our font to life. We’ll open the Fontself extension, select each letter individually (or all at once), and drag them into the extension. Fontself will automatically generate a live preview of our font as we progress.
Finally, after importing all the characters, we can export our font. We’ll name it, specify a location, and save it. Once exported, we can install it like any other font. Now, when we create a new document and use our custom font, we see that it works seamlessly, even at different sizes.
Creating fonts is both an art and a skill. While it may be a challenging endeavor, it can be incredibly rewarding. Whether you’re designing fonts for personal use, to share with others, or even for commercial purposes, the possibilities are endless. So, give it a try and explore the world of typography and font design.
Our font design journey has taken us through the intricacies of crafting a unique and personalized typeface. We began with the creative process, sculpting each letter with attention to detail and innovative treatments. The interplay of strokes, shapes, and angles transformed our characters into something truly distinctive. From the captivating “M” to the engaging “G” and every letter in between, we explored the art of font creation.
The Fontself extension proved to be a powerful tool in bringing our vision to life. By exporting our meticulously designed letters and installing the font, we witnessed our creation in action, demonstrating its versatility and readability. Fonts, after all, play a pivotal role in visual communication, and crafting our own font has allowed us to convey our unique message in style.
Font design is a skill that combines creativity, precision, and a touch of artistry. Whether you’re creating fonts for personal use, sharing them with others, or even venturing into the world of font commerce, the possibilities are limitless. So, as we wrap up this font design journey, I encourage you to explore the realm of typography, where you can continue to shape and redefine the way we communicate through words and design.