How long does it takes for you to finish a typeface?

I'm just curious, let this be a fun thread.
The term "finish" will vary a lot (styles and glyph count, version and redraw)
But let's keep the answer simple.

Longest: __
Shortest: __
Average: __
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Comments

  • Alex VisiAlex Visi Posts: 132
    If there’s nothing original in the typeface (say another faceless neo-grotesque), it can be done pretty quickly, perhaps a couple of weeks or less (assuming the production quality is average for a retail type). But once you start pushing it out of the comfort zone, that path is literally endless; you can easily spend months within the basic alphabet and then revisit it years later and discover that you know how to improve it.
  • My font for the movie "Tick Tock Trick" was done in days. Nour&Patria, I've sold copies of, but it's not "finished", and it's been over 20 years.
  • Igor FreibergerIgor Freiberger Posts: 190
    edited May 25
    I started the Palimpsest Project in January 2010 as a ~400 glyphs, 4-style font. It grew to ~11,000 glyphs, 72-style family. Should be released in middle 2022, after 12,5 years…

    (Small sample of the regular style)
  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 587
    edited May 25
    In 1981 I did detailed tissue drawings for a proposed full typeface; in 1993 I digitized it in two weights, then put it aside again. I started working on it again as time permitted around 2015, adding Cyrillic. For the past year I've been finalizing it -- with many corrections and/or changes. Hopefully it will be finished this year. Maybe.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,351
    I have never made a typeface from start to finish to the exclusion of all else. They tend to happen in disconnected, concentrated stretches. I also don't usually keep track of my time, especially on retail fonts, which is most of what I do.

    Among my released fonts, I probably spent the least amount of time on my first release, Felt Tip Roman (one style). The initial work on it in 1989 took a week or two. When FontHaus agreed to publish it in 1992, it took me another month or so to finish. Nowadays, given better tools and more experience, I could probably do it in a few days.

    I first started thinking about the concept of what would become Proxima Nova in the early '80s. The initial push happened in the early '90s (sketches, initial drawings in Illustrator). It took me about two years after FontHaus agreed to publish it to finish Proxima Sans (six styles, released 1994). I started working on a new version, Proxima Nova, in 2004. It took me about a year to finish (42 styles—built from 8 masters, 4 roman, 4 italic). I've probably spent another year or two total doing updates and expansions since then. So about five years total, spread over 30 years. Again, this doesn't mean five solid years, but five years in which I was working on it.

    It generally takes me one to two years from start to finish for a new release, working in stretches, depending on the number of styles. It's difficult to say how much time I spend on each one total, though.
  • Depending on complexity, it's three to six weeks for me on average, but I've also spent months on a font. My problem is that my quality dial only has one setting, i.e. I never know how to cut corners if a client wants something quick and dirty. Any hints?
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 640
    2 days tops.
  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 587
    I never know how to cut corners if a client wants something quick and dirty.
    They can hire someone else; I won't touch a project like that.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,735
    The thing is, there is always some new format to adapt the design to, and script and language extensions to be done. So I don’t think I’ve ever actually “finished” any typeface—although I have abandoned some!

    I’ve produced some custom fonts to very tight deadlines, seven days, very long days.
    But those are basic Latin encoding, and no OpenType features. For “proven” clients.

    I spent many years developing the Modern Suite (Scotch Modern and Figgins Sans) prior to publication, but a lot of that was studying Cyrillic and Greek typography, and preparing a 160-page specimen book.

    These days, as was touched upon in a recent Typedrawers item, I’m spending more and more time producing collateral marketing material, which should probably be included as part of typeface production.
  • @Igor Freiberger Wow 11,000 glyphs? If the "main" character set is finished, why don't you released them first, then release the updates later?

    @Mark Simonson Interesting, this is sort of things that sometimes people doesn't get the picture. Thank for sharing.

    @Oliver Weiss (Walden Font Co.) What kind of character set coverage are we looking at for a font that took 3-6 weeks?

    @Vasil Stanev I don't know is this is a joke or not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ but I've seen some do lowercase+uppercase in less than a day. What do you get done in 2 days?

    @Nick Shinn Yes, I agree with that. You can always add something, it's always a work in progress. But I think we can define the v1.0 finish. Then release the next updates on later versions down the line. Basic Latin in 7 days is very impressive!
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 640
    edited May 26
    @Vasil Stanev I don't know is this is a joke or not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ but I've seen some do lowercase+uppercase in less than a day. What do you get done in 2 days?
    6-8 hours for the basic+extended latin set, and 5-6 for the kerning classes and kerning. I am a workaholic and always found it odd that some people distract themselves with facebook, coffee breaks, staring into space and so on. When I'm on my workstation, I work. When I am at my workplace, I do what I am paid for, I work.
  • Alex VisiAlex Visi Posts: 132
    @Vasil Stanev I don't know is this is a joke or not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ but I've seen some do lowercase+uppercase in less than a day. What do you get done in 2 days?
    6-8 hours for the basic+extended latin set, and 5-6 for the kerning classes and kerning. I am a workaholic and always found it odd that some people distract themselves with facebook, coffee breaks, staring into space and so on. When I'm on my workstation, I work. When I am at my workplace, I do what I am paid for, I work.
    That does sound realistic for a quick rough design, but do you manage to achieve a high quality without testing, proofing and doing multiple revisions?
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 640
    Alex Visi said:
    @Vasil Stanev I don't know is this is a joke or not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ but I've seen some do lowercase+uppercase in less than a day. What do you get done in 2 days?
    6-8 hours for the basic+extended latin set, and 5-6 for the kerning classes and kerning. I am a workaholic and always found it odd that some people distract themselves with facebook, coffee breaks, staring into space and so on. When I'm on my workstation, I work. When I am at my workplace, I do what I am paid for, I work.
    That does sound realistic for a quick rough design, but do you manage to achieve a high quality without testing, proofing and doing multiple revisions?
    I print an A3 or A2 black and white specimen (with some basic kerning) in two version - normal and mirrored. I look at both from all cardinal directions and mark the mistakes with red. That's pretty much it.
  • @Laurensius
    I do a modified Adobe OpenType Encoding, typically without math symbols, but with several additional glyphs, typically <450 all told. From Basic Latin to that level isn't a big step at all, so I don't consider the size of the character set. But I do spend a lot of time on the basic letterforms, and even more on spacing and kerning. It doesn't help that I can't draw for sh*t, so getting the desired shapes from my head into the computer is always a lengthy struggle. If I could draw letters like @Matthijs Herzberg can, I'd get everything done in half the time :)
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,735
    Basic Latin in 7 days is very impressive!
    It’s made possible by modifying a previous design, of which I have many.
    My last commission was for a high-contrast sans.
    So I looked at all the serifed faces I’ve produced in the past and zeroed in on one of them, from which I removed the serifs. A fair amount of “nuancing” was required, but it was way better than starting from scratch!
  • @Oliver Weiss (Walden Font Co.) Oh, you! For what it's worth, from the quality of your typefaces/ornaments, I don't think anybody would say you can't draw.
  • BTW it has averaged to about eight hours per glyph (including spacing and all the other stuff) in some disparate cases I've bothered to actually calculate: a 17th century punchcutter (I forget who), Dwiggins... and yours truly's second outline font.  :->
  • Nick CookeNick Cooke Posts: 113
    In answer to your question: Too f***ing long! Months at least. I seem to be getting more obsessed with the minutest details the older I get, which is rather annoying but hopefully leads to a better final product. 
  • I think it is incorrect to count only the time spent on the execution. A huge part of the work takes place in the mind, starting from the moment the idea appears. This part is difficult to calculate, since part of the work takes place on the subconscious.
  • A huge part of the work takes place in the mind, starting from the moment the idea appears.
    Like they say, "It took me a few minutes to do it, but it took me years to be able to do it in minutes"... except substitute "minutes" with "years".  ;-)
  • I'm just curious, let this be a fun thread.
    The term "finish" will vary a lot (styles and glyph count, version and redraw)
    But let's keep the answer simple.

    Longest: __
    Shortest: __
    Average: __
    Unless you are working on a single style, it’s difficult to evaluate. Also, timing is very different if you are doing an original design or reviving a historical one.
    If you are already enough experienced about the whole process, and if we consider a single weight as an example, without further masters, especially with simpler forms (sans serifs), I think a qualitatively accurate font can be finalized in a relatively limited time. Maybe the week exemplified by Nick requires super-skill, lots of hours and concentration, but let’s say a time between one and two months, considering a decent number of hours per working days, can be a reasonable estimate.

    I have been working on De Vinne (three related width styles, and a historical revival which I tried to do with care, i.e. more than a source scan for single glyph when possible) since the beginning of the year, but again I was unable to devote the number of hours I wished to work so far. Let’s say an average of 4-5 hours per day. And I have to finish yet. But after that I will have set a system and logic for the set, which should help me to do and finalize other styles (including optical masters) in shorter time.

    As Mark said, work can happen in "concentrated stretches", but if it is continuous you constantly gain experience and the ability to realistically evaluate timing. Clearly designing a Garamond-like typefaces requires a bit more effort than designing an (albeit accurate) sans serif.
  • And of course, language coverage or Unicode blocks extension can always be done, as long and as much as needed. I was thinking of a basic character set, maybe not covering the full Latin Extended-A Unicode block.
  • Paul MillerPaul Miller Posts: 271
    Longest :- 'Kelvinch', it initially took about two years before it was released but that was a mistake, it was released too early. It took a further three years before most of the bugs were ironed out, but in actuality it is still under development.  The latest iteration is called 'Tobias' and hasn't been released yet but it is just a modified version of 'Kelvinch'.  'Tobias' is 'Kelvinch' as it should have been and would have been if I had then all the experience I have now.
    Shortest :- 'Wigners Friend', this was done over a period of about 10 days but it is only a single style with a small coverage and is a crude and simple font, not one of my best efforts but it served it's purpose at the time.
    Average :- there isn't an average.  Every font takes as long as it takes and every one is different.
  • @Vasil Stanev Wow. I wish I had access to see how you work. Pretty sure I'll learn a lot watching the process. What work did you do before the drawing session—those 6-8 hours? And how long does it takes after that to get the font released?

    @Claudio Piccinini Yes, I'm expecting a wide variety of answers. Thanks for the insights!

    @Paul Miller No wonder it took so long! Kelvinch has 3530 glyphs in Regular alone! How's releasing high quality free fonts worked out for you?
  • Paul MillerPaul Miller Posts: 271
    @Paul Miller No wonder it took so long! Kelvinch has 3530 glyphs in Regular alone! How's releasing high quality free fonts worked out for you?
    I don't know how it has worked out !  Honest I don't !  There is very little feedback except when someone finds a problem and complains.  If people are satisfied with the font then they use it and I don't hear anything.  Although Kelvinch has been used for the body text in a magazine in the USA.
    At this time Kelvinch has had nearly 30,000 downloads on Font Squirrel, Cadman has had nearly 18,000 and Munson has had nearly 22,000 but for all I know these people could have just downloaded the font and never used it.
    I make fonts as a hobby.  I am an Electronics Engineer by profession, although I am now retired.  I looked into selling fonts and concluded that there was very little money in it.
  • I am an Electronics Engineer by profession, although I am now retired.  I looked into selling fonts and concluded that there was very little money in it.
    But I also think it largely depends both on the goals you set and on how much the generic user has means to evaluate quality and/or innovation, useful features etc. in a typeface. The fact that the whole process has become relatively "easy" (not at all if you want to do things qualitatively well, in fact) does not mean that the little sales can be a unique indicator of value. Letting others know, promoting (not only in a commercial sense) seems essential now, in a pretty overcrowded market.
  • Paul Miller said:
    I looked into selling fonts and concluded that there was very little money in it.
    Retail is indeed generally the pits. Custom does hold good potential though.
    Claudio Piccinini said:
    The fact that the whole process has become relatively "easy"
    ?
    Actually as I like to say: It's never been easier to start a typeface, and it's never been harder to finish a font.
  • Paul MillerPaul Miller Posts: 271
    I am an Electronics Engineer by profession, although I am now retired.  I looked into selling fonts and concluded that there was very little money in it.
    But I also think it largely depends both on the goals you set and on how much the generic user has means to evaluate quality and/or innovation, useful features etc. in a typeface. The fact that the whole process has become relatively "easy" (not at all if you want to do things qualitatively well, in fact) does not mean that the little sales can be a unique indicator of value. Letting others know, promoting (not only in a commercial sense) seems essential now, in a pretty overcrowded market.

    As I said, I do it for the art, or as a hobby and it pleases me to produce something I think is good.  I think my fonts are of good quality but with no feedback on what I am getting right or wrong or what I could do better it is difficult to judge.
    I think getting paid to make a font would take some of the fun out of it.
    As for promotion, I would welcome any ideas or suggestions on ways to promote my fonts, I haven't been very successful at this aspect yet.
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