Creating fonts...

longlegzs80's picture

Ijust recently got a new computer and the main programs I have is Photoshop 7, Image Ready, and Paint shop pro. Anyways, I have been creating fonts that can be scanned into the computer. I know I don't have the appropriate software, but is there anyway I can just work with what I have and not have to get Font lab or Fontographer? Now, sure I would love those programs but there is no way I can afford that stuff now. Maybe someone can give me some helpful advice as far as how can I create the fonts using the programs that I have if it is possible.

kakaze's picture

Photoshop, Image Read, PSP, they're all bitmap programmes, they don't deal with vectors (which is what fonts are) except in a very limited fashion.

If you don't want to spend the money on Fontlab or Fontographer, you can try FontTool from the people who make Fontlab. It's a "light" version of Fontlab, perfect if you don't need to take advantage of all the high end features. You can check it out at

If you know German, there is a free tool out there called Manutius.

rs_donsata's picture

What about piracy?? It

kakaze's picture

*cough cough* of course.

porky's picture

TypeTool is a good place to start as its cheap, good, and there is an upgrade path to the full FontLab for when you get more adventurous. You're also supporting an active developer community, unlike Macromedia's shameful treatment of Fontographer.

Incidentally, if you are pondering stealing font software, do bear in mind the people who produce it. In the case of FontLab, its a few eager enthusiastic developers who want to create a great product for the type community and hopefully make a living from their efforts. In the case of Fontographer, its a bunch of idiotic short-sighted suits with a cash cow who they never feed.

Give some money to the nice Russians, thats what I say.

emor's picture

Photosop 7 has vector capability...

kakaze's picture

Yes it does, hence my "they don't deal with vectors except in a very limited fashion" comment.

Photoshop's vector capabilities are crippled compared to Illustrator's.

emor's picture

I agree it's limited, but still capable if bezier curves etc - might work on a limited budget.

hawk's picture

Sarah, are you the student, BFA, visual asked about type design (a month ago ?)? 1. do you have a pen? pencil? paper? 2. do you have illustrator/freehand? 3. start to draw. then buy FontLab - ONLY leagal copy!!!!!!!! 4. try to obtain : "anatomy of a typeface" by Alexander Lawson. ? "letters of credit" by Walter Tracy. ? "creative lettering today" by Michael Harvey. 5. go to - great artist. 6. go to - Julian Waters - THE MASTER of the fine art of lettering (englishman, of course :-) and there is Hermann Zapf, of course :-). by the way - Waters was his student ).

hrant's picture

Hey david, nice list!

Some variations:
- Probably TypeTool instead of FontLab.
- I'd be careful about getting so calligraphic.

BTW, it's *Jill* Bell.


hawk's picture

ohhhhhpsssss. sorrrrry. thanks.

longlegzs80's picture

thank you to all that have responded. Thanks to David for his list, I do appreciate it, but I don't have illustrator or freehand. My computer only has Photoshop 7, Image Ready 7, Paint Shop Pro for only 30 days trial run, and that is it. So, instead of me going out and buying software with what little amount of money I have, I am going to work with what I have. I really appreciate everyone helping me out. I will take your suggestions DAvid and get the books and study and read and do all that good stuff. Thanks again.

ric's picture


yesterday i was at a friend's house and saw the latest MacAddict (i think it is the August issue, #84). it has a tutorial on TypeTool, and at the end there is a sidebar about a *free* font editor you can get on the web. this program is called PfaEdit and it is open source (i think the article said it was UNIX-based, but i'm not sure)... according to MacAddict this program is very buggy and even the author of the program recommends saving often. the website includes a manual and many comments on installing, etc. this program lets you create new fonts or edit existing ones. i have not tried it myself, but if you are interested, here is the link:

good luck,

kakaze's picture

You gotta love OpenSource.

Even if we didn't have the benefit of it pissing Microsoft off, we still get all sorts of cool software.

Ramiro Espinoza's picture

The site "Notes on type design" is the only complete type design handbook free and on line.
Very useful IMHO...

tomnix's picture

TypeTool was given away (full version) on the Computer Arts coverdisc, April 04 issue, also there was a tutorial in the magazine. You should be able to get an issue from

cdave's picture

Write the alphabet on a sheet of paper, scan it into your computer and save it as a .jpg or whatever you are comfortable with. Crop each seperate character and save it as A.jpg, a.jpg, etc. Go to:

Download their pdf or check out their online manual, download their Font Creator Program for a 30 day free trial. Open a "new font" and name it. Copy your letters one at a time and paste them into the appropriate edit windows. Look at the results in "Test Font." Start making corrections and adjustments.

You will soon know if you want to continue on or not.

Joe Pemberton's picture

Don't let the lack of font software stop you from using your

If you want to use your type in a limited way - to set a
headline or a logotype - you can treat your glyphs (each
individual letter) like you would line-art or illustration. It
just requires that you compose them as individual shapes,
instead of using it like a font (with the type tools). But, like
Chris said, you'll most-likely want Illustrator or Freehand if
you go that route.

Of course this is not an ideal long-term solution, but it will
save you having to buy and learn font software. Unless of
course, you're willing and ready to do that, then don't let
me discourage you!

anonymous's picture

I do have Illustrator, Photoshop, IR, and other stuff. I want to make a font of my handwriting. Can anybody give step-by-step instructions (or where to find) for how to do this?


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