Good news – my holidays have actually been slightly productive. I finally got around to making that font I said I’d do last year! Holy crap does it feel like an accomplishment, especially considering I was actively learning a new program at the same time. And as I said, I’m making it available to everyone for personal/commercial use under a SIL Open Font License. I figure since I use so many free resources already, it makes sense to give something hopefully useful back. So feel free to download the font below.
I’ve been pretty much working on this font for the past few days, it feels almost non-stop. I feel like it should be easier because it’s my own handwriting, but I’m scared to think how many more hours would be needed to create a complete font family with weights and ornaments. Can I just say, I have so much more respect for typographers after this project. Seriously. So much. I can’t believe how hard this would have been back in the day too, without digital technology.
I used a program called BirdFont to create the font, which is free if you license your font under a OFL license. Otherwise you can pay for a license to create commercial fonts, which I might do sometime in the future. Despite it’s flaws, BirdFont was by far the easiest and prettiest program I found to use. I tried a whole bunch of shareware and weird open source programs, even some free online ones? They’re all either really technical, really expensive, really buggy, or really confusing. I don’t know if it’s much different for macs but I didn’t end up exploring options there (maybe next time). I love that BirdFont is really simple and intuitive, it took a while to understand the basics but overall I’d definitely recommend it. In saying this though, I should probably send them some improvement suggestions and bug reports, because there were so many times the program crashed/lagged/failed to display glyphs.
Actually, creating the vector letters in the font was the easy part. The hardest part wasn’t even learning the program or technical terms (they were quite confusing for someone who’s just a beginner at typography though), it was the frickin kerning. I was literally kerning letters for hours on end, crying on the inside. I found this great resource here that has a whole heap of pre-typed characters for kerning. I don’t know how I actually came across it but I’m glad I did because it saved a lot of time manually typing characters (and the kerning tool in BirdFont is not the fastest…though it is pretty nice to use). I also found this site later on which came in really handy. Then there was this site which I used to look up glyphs (well…one in particular which was bugging me, the left quotation mark). I’ll probably come back to these when I make another font, because they saved me a lot of time.
I had some trouble with spacing the words though, kerning between letters is one thing, but kerning between words is another. Being the noob that I am, I kerned the entire set with an invisible spacer, making all the kerning between words wonky and uneven. I was SO CLOSE to shutting everything down, but I also knew if I left it I’d probably never really get back into it. So yeah, #1 tip for next time – always use a placeholder shape for the space before deleting! I know I hate badly kerned fonts myself, so getting it all right was pretty important to me. Which is why it took forever to complete. Even now I’m not sure if it’s all spaced correctly. >.<
But all in all, I did learn a lot from this.
If you do download and use the font, let me know and show me what you’ve created! I’m planning on doing a more proper, crafted font as one of my very far future side-projects. And I’d also love feedback so if you run into any issues or just want to comment on how awful/amazing it is, comment below.