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Type Series 1: Tools Needed to Create a Font

For Christmas, I asked for Adobe Illustrator because I wanted to learn how to make my own fonts and after a few weeks of sketching, digitizing, and kerning I finally have some progress to show of it.

The font is a work in progress, the weight or thickness of the letters are a little off, and I have yet to ink the lowercase letters, however, this is my first font and I can only improve from here. One of the things that I noticed when creating fonts is that people were willing to show you how to turn your own handwriting into a font, but not many people were willing to share their full process of creating fonts. So while I am still learning new things daily I want to bring you into my process of creating fonts with my new Type Series. For the first edition of my Type Series, I want to talk about the tools you are going to need and why you need them. So let’s get started.

Basic Tools

Graph Paper

When creating a font Graph Paper is going to make your life so much easier. The thing about fonts is that they are usually pretty uniform and cohesive and to get that consistency across your letters you have to constantly measure and re-measure your letters. If you are trying to get that hand-lettered feel it won’t matter quite as much, but graph paper will save you from all of that extra time prepping your paper for the letters.


If you ask an experienced hand letterer they might suggest you get one of those fancy led holders that are used primarily for drafting, however, you don’t need to spend the money. The pencil is not really important for this project since you are just going to cover it up anyways so a mechanical or #2 pencil will work just fine.


I wrote a review a while back on my favorite artist pens I use for hand lettering so I am going to insert it here. The pens are used to outline your letters so when you scan them into the computer they will be easier to see and to outline with Adobe’s pen tool.


A ruler is good if you don’t have graph paper or if you are going for a font look that requires really straight lines. I don’t usually use a ruler, but you will not always have graph paper laying around so a ruler is needed to create your ascender, cap height, x-height, baseline, and descender lines while also making sure that the widths of your letters are roughly the same.


Adobe Illustrator

There are a number of software programs that would work for this portion of the process, but I am familiar with Illustrator so that is what we will be using. Adobe illustrator is used for digitizing your letters. It’s where you will be doing the bulk of your work because we will be working with the pen tool and there is a definite learning curve to the pen tool.


Glyphs is a software specifically used for type design. It’s what brings your font to life and turns it into a unique typeface for personal use or sale. With type design software you can spend in the $600 dollar range for good font software, but this is a cheaper alternative. Glyphs offer a cheaper version of its software called Glyphs mini in the app store for about $45 dollars and that is what we will be using. Unfortunately, Glyphs/Glyphs Mini are only compatible with Mac Computers, but these ideas taught here can be applied to other type design software.

These are for the most part all of the basic tools and supplies you are going to need to create your own font. Stay tuned for episode 2 of my Type Series where I go through part 1 of the type design process: drawing your letters.

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Type Series 1: Tools Needed to Create a Font


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