Even though there are thousands of available fonts you can easily download, there are also occasions when you need something unique. Knowing how to make your own font is an asset for any designer and gives you an edge over your competitors. Imagine a typography hierarchy that includes your font as the top of the pyramid and gives your entire design a distinctive look.
Although it’s impossible to predict the exact number of styles in the world, a quick search of font finder What Font Is turns up results for more than 572,000. In addition, some companies create versions they don’t license to anyone else. Even though you can likely find something similar to what you need, it may be quicker to create your own style. Here are the steps for how to make your own font.
1. Choose a Style
Your first step is figuring out what style works best for the tone of your project. You could go with a more formal serif font, a sans-serif for a modern look or a handwritten custom look. The most important thing to know about how to make your own font is that each one has a unique personality. It’s been said a good font blends into the rest of the page and isn’t noticeable. While this is true for body text, it might not be the case for headers and word logos, for example. Find some similar styles to what you’d like to create so you can get a feel for what you might like to design.
2. Understand the History of Fonts
Take time to study the history of fonts and some of the more popular styles used by other designers. You might have favorites you use time and time again, but there are likely ones you haven’t considered before. This is your information-gathering stage. You are simply learning from the greats who’ve come before you. If you already have a firm grasp, you can move on in the process of how to make your own font.
3. Sketch Some Ideas
One of the first steps in the font design process is getting your design down on paper. You could create your design online, and there are even programs such as Calligraphr to help with this. However, if you want a truly stylized, individual font, you’ll need to design the way professional typographers do. The process isn’t quick, but it is worth the effort.
If you want to learn how to make your own font, start by sketching your ideas on paper. You may go through several ideas before landing on one you really like. If you’re doing the work for a client, include them in the process so they can guide your sketches and help you come up with a finished look they like. Once you have an idea of what your design will encompass, create a brief with specifications you can follow.
4. Refine Your Design
Once you have a favorite design, work on it a bit more, paying careful attention to the weight of the letters. Consider where it will be used and appropriate X-height and width. How to make your own font involves a little bit of math, but it isn’t overly complicated. Just have some basic measurements in mind. If you’re adding serifs, what do they look like? Are they decorative or simple with straight lines? Most font designers start with what is called control letters. These set the size and tone for other letters in your design.
- Lowercase n
- Lowercase o
- Uppercase H
- Uppercase O
You can then add other letters, using your control styles as the basis of your design.
5. Upload to the Computer
Your next step is getting your finished font onto your computer. You can use a tracing program, but if you want exact accuracy, you might do better manually tracing the design and making sure you hit every point. Take your time with this process and use the best tools you can afford. At a minimum, you need a digital pen and sketchpad that is compatible with your computer. How to make your own font isn’t just about sketching it and converting it to digital, though. You must still clean up your design.
6. Draw the Letters
If you’ve done everything else, you should have an outline of each letter. Now, you have to turn to your design software, such as Illustrator CC, and make sure they meet measurements and are filled the way you’d like. As you start this process, create a master of each character and do any additional work on copies. If you make a mistake, you’ll still have the initial letter you sketched into your computer. Study groups of letters as well as individual ones. How do they look together? Is the spacing good, or are some spaced further apart than others? Make any adjustments needed.
7. Scale and View Your Type
You have one final step in how to make your own font before you’re done with your design. You need to study your font in different sizes and with various words and characters. Make sure the font scales up and down and is still readable. If not, examine similar fonts and figure out where the fault is. Make any adjustments needed so it looks as sharp in a larger size as a smaller one.
Use Your Font
You’ve worked hard on how to make your own font, and now it’s time to reap the rewards. You can either upload it for personal or commercial use or keep it for a specific client or yourself. Make sure you take credit for the design by putting your name on it as the creator and start thinking about how to make your own font for your next project.