font creation framework

Dear TypeDrawers, I am a young graphic designer who has been admiring the beauty of your craft for the last 2 years, now the moment has come when I also want to create font. An opportunity has come my way to create a font for a pc game created by my cousins. I have a general idea and understand the basic issues regarding fonts. I would like to ask you what is your process of creating fonts, how to be efficient and how to avoid beginner mistakes. Also I want to point out that I will use FontLab 8 for this so anything regarding FontLab would be also usefull. Thank you for your answers.


Comments

  • You're writing about PC games so I think you're on Windows like me.
    And I use Fontlab 8 after working on Fontographer, Studio 5, Fontlab VI and 7.
    I really think this is a good choice, even if I use Font Creator sometimes, specially as a proofing tool. "Glyphs" is not available on PC.

    I just want to say that the FL8 manual will be soon available but you can use FL7 manual as a starting help.

    I'm not a professional type designer, more an expert amateur. But I find here on this forum some good advice and some tricks, even if it's "sometimes" a bit garrulous.

    For me, beginners' mistakes are:
    - mimicking existing fonts
    - not being creative (a bit the same)
    - neglect readability
    - not starting with good sidebearings definition and kerning too soon
    - not working and revising ALL glyphs a lot of times, specially if you work on your own

    And finally, not reading some good books like "Designing Type" by KarenCheng or "Type Tricks" by Sophie Beier.

    I wish you success with your game!
  • Most of the good advice one might get is independent of a specific font editor, luckily.

    My favorite book right now is this one:
    https://stbridelibrary.bigcartel.com/product/how-to-create-typefaces

    Cheng’s book is fine, but more a complement than a replacement for a more general good book. It has a LOT of material on specific characters, one by one, focused on western European languages.
  • I am just going to link to a bunch of James Edmondson’s articles because I think they are very helpful :)

    Getting Started in Type Design
    Spacing (I would say the most common beginner mistakes happen in spacing, however, it is definitely something that takes time to get right. Setting your space character as too wide is all too common)
    Spacing Blenny
    Ohno Type School
  • +1 to "from sketch to screen" and "type tricks." you might check out lynne yun's online type design course - I believe it is oriented towards glyphs for mac, but you could probably follow along just fine in modern day fontlab. it's worth mentioning fontlab has a ton of youtube content to view as well.
    other books: "the origin of the serif" by edward catich (helps understand why a lot of letters are the way the are), and "the stroke" by gerrit noordzij (a very technical look at how pens work / why pen writing is the way it is). you don't have to be a calligrapher but it definitely helps to know how the tools work. "counterpunch" by fred smeijers is also a nice one in that (and other) regards 
  • oh and on this point:
    your process of creating fonts, how to be efficient
    IMO, from a workflow efficiency perspective, the best thing you can do for yourself is learn to write scripts in python. fontlab8 has support for python 3
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,323
    edited September 9
    Python is THE scripting language for font-related stuff, including most major font editors. Not only FontLab, but also Glyphs and Robofont.

    The secret reason: the person who invented python (Guido van Rossum) is the sibling of a type designer and programmer (Just van Rossum), who created a key font-support library called “fonttools” that made it easy to do font-related work in Python. FontLab adopted Python back in the late 90s, and so did many other tools, font editors and libraries… it became a self-reinforcing system very quickly.

    Moving forward, we will be seeing more font tools in Rust, for performance and security reasons. But Python is definitely the place to start, still!

    P.S. “How to Create Typefaces” has the subtitle “From Sketch to Screen”; it is non-obvious, but Jeremy and I are recommending the same book!
  • Thank you all for your answers, I found this link which I find also really helpfull http://ku-viscom.com/type1/typography_p1_modularfont.html




  • Cheng’s book is fine, but more a complement than a replacement for a more general good book. It has a LOT of material on specific characters, one by one, focused on western European languages.
    The new edition goes far beyond the original; the first edition was as you say tho.


    other books: "the origin of the serif" by edward catich (helps understand why a lot of letters are the way the are)
    I think this book, while famous, is wrong, and https://lettermodel.org is much better to explain why letters are the way they are.

  • Cheng’s book is fine, but more a complement than a replacement for a more general good book. It has a LOT of material on specific characters, one by one, focused on western European languages.
    The new edition goes far beyond the original; the first edition was as you say tho.
    I had totally missed the publication of the second edition! I have a copy arriving tonight.

    But just from reviewing the table of contents, I can see that as you say, there is considerably more of the general/broad coverage that was missing from the first edition. Looks promising.
  • I think this book, while famous, is wrong, and https://lettermodel.org is much better to explain why letters are the way they are.
    Do you see Catich's and Blokland's theories as contradictory? I thought they were largely focused on rather independent aspects of letters (the tool-dependence of shapes, and the proportions, respectively). And what do you find wrong in Catich?
  • jeremy tribbyjeremy tribby Posts: 118
    edited September 13
    other books: "the origin of the serif" by edward catich (helps understand why a lot of letters are the way the are)
    I think this book, while famous, is wrong, and https://lettermodel.org is much better to explain why letters are the way they are.
    maybe "why letters are the way they are" was a stretch for me to say initially, but I think they are complimentary works. patterning won't teach you about the brush, why certain interior curves might have a slower taper than others, things like that. I agree dr. blokland's work is also highly relevant to this subject
  • @Thomas Phinney wdyt? :) 
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,323
    edited September 21
    I have just an initial take. I’ve skimmed the new sections, and read some of those bits in full.

    Broadly: In the second edition (white cover in USA, red in UK) of Designing Type, Karen Cheng took a book that was great as far as it went, and did a decent job of covering most nearly all the areas that were missing. This elevates the book from being a good choice as a second book to own on type design, to being at least a plausible candidate for one’s first book.

    I am still a big fan of How to Create Typefaces: From Sketch to Screen
    Unfortunately, its availability is limited. You need to order it by mail from the St Bride Library (see https://stbridelibrary.bigcartel.com/ for shopping), and shipping to the USA increases the cost from £24 to £37, but despite being a slim volume, it is very much worth having. Getting three complementary perspectives on some of the same issues is interesting and helpful.
  • @Thomas Phinney and @jeremy tribby: thanks for your kind words about How to create typefaces. :smile:
  • FettleFoundryFettleFoundry Posts: 3
    edited September 24
    As someone that has made many of the mistakes beginners make – and is still very much learning – this would be my advice. I’ve made and released a few typefaces that have needed updates post-launch due to my inexperience, so all of these are based on my own experience:

    - practice really does make you better
    - have a unique selling point for your typeface that drives the theory behind the design
    - refine your glyphs
    - work non-destructively 
    - don’t try and cut corners with tools that aid in spacing and kerning because you need to learn these foundations
    - relevant kerning strings you can find online help, but are often incomplete
    - spacing is really – really – important
    - kern only when spacing no longer makes things better
    - don’t forget to kern punctuation
    - learn about foreign languages and how they’re typeset
    - learn about readability and accessibility
    - learn about python and opentype features
    - when you think you’re typeface is done, it probably isn’t
    - sit on for a while
    - test your typeface
    - design with your typeface
    - it takes time to find your voice, so don’t sweat it and just enjoy it
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