When it comes to creating a design that feels uniquely “you,” sometimes the standards – like good ‘ol Times New Roman, Arial, or Helvetica – just won’t do. Instead, if you want to design a font that feels totally original, you need to take things into your own hands by designing your own font.
Designing your own fonts can lend your designs the one-of-a-kind feel necessary to make a lasting impression on your audience. But how, exactly, do you go about designing your own fonts?
Gather Style Inspiration
Every design needs some inspiration – and that includes font design.
Creating an inspiration board for your font can help you make important stylistic decisions. Is your font inspired by whimsical or abstract elements? If so, it’s going to look different than it would if you were pulling inspiration from more classic or traditional elements.
Spend a bit of time before you start designing to see what inspires you. Then, use that inspiration to drive the design process.
Lock in the Basics
Once you have inspiration for the look and feel of your font, it’s decision time. Here is the groundwork you’ll want to establish before designing your own font:
- Will the font be Serif or Sans Serif?
- Is the font going to be in a handwritten or more geometric style?
- Will your font be simple text (that can easily be used in small or large font sizes)? Or, will it be more intricately designed (which is typically better viewed at a large font size)?
- Where will the font be used? For example, is this font for headlines or body text?
- How will this font be viewed? For example, will people be looking at your font in print media or on their tablet screen?
- What will make this font unique? Is there a need it will fulfill that other fonts can’t?
- What feeling will this font inspire in readers?
Uncovering the answers to these basic questions will help you establish a general framework before you start designing. And, you’ll save a TON of time during the design process.
Do Your Research
Once you have a general framework for your font, it’s time to do a little research.
The whole point of designing your own font is to create something unique. The last thing you want is to spend countless hours perfecting your font – only to find out something nearly identical already exists.
Before you start designing, do your due diligence and explore the fonts already on the market. If there are a ton of fonts out there similar to your idea, don’t waste your time. Instead, go back to the drawing board and come up with an idea that’s truly unique.
Sketch It Out
Once you have an idea you want to run with, you’re ready to start designing. Huzzah!
When it comes to sketching out your font design, we recommend kicking it old school and sketching it by hand – at least at first. Sketching certain things on a digital screen (like circular shapes) can feel a little awkward and take WAY more time than doing it by hand. Plus, when you take the “pen to paper” approach, you can experiment with different techniques (like moving the paper instead of your pen to get a smoother shape) while you build the structure of your font.
Once you’ve got the basic framework of your letters, try testing different words to see how the font flows. In terms of which words to test, you want to go with words that have a variety of letters and shapes (sometimes those words can be weird).
Create Your Font
Once you’ve sketched out the design of your font on paper, it’s time to actually create it on your computer.
To get into the nitty-gritty of how to build a font from scratch, take a look at these awesome tutorials that will walk you through the process:
How To Make A Font in Photoshop, Photoshop
Creating 3D Type with Photoshop and Maxon 4D, DigitalArts
Now, remember: there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for creating fonts. It’s all going to depend on what software you have access to, how comfortable you are with that program, and what style you’re going for. Go with whatever approach feels best for you.
Promote Your Font
Once you wrap up your font design, congratulations! You have officially created your own font. And while you’ll likely want to use it to add your unique style to your own designs, why not capitalize on your creative prowess and share your font with the world?
Promoting your font is not only a great way to get your name out there in the design world… It can also be a great way to make some extra cash.
You have a few different options when it comes to promoting your font (and making a pretty penny in the process).
You can partner with a font publisher, which makes and distributes its own fonts to resellers. When you work with a font publisher, you’ll often get access to a decent set of perks, like customer support and marketing. When you sell your font to a publisher, you typically give up the rights to your work. They take control, and you get a cut of sales. (For more information on partnering with publishers, check out this tutorial from CreativeBloq).
Your other option is to sell your font directly. You can sell it through your website or directly to other font resellers. In this case, you’ll have more control and will get a larger cut of the sales – but you also will have to do all the work yourself.
Choosing to partner with a font publisher or to sell directly is a personal choice, and each has its pros and cons. With a publisher, you’ll do a lot less work. But, you’ll give up a large percentage of sales to your publishing partner. When you sell direct, there’s an opportunity to make more on sales – but it’ takes more work to get there. Weigh the pros and cons and figure out what’s right for you.
Designing a font can feel challenging. But, now that you know the step-by-step process, you’re well on your way to creating unique fonts that make a real difference in your designs. (And, if you promote them right, you can make a real difference in your bank account.)