Type design process.

Christian Robertson's picture

I'm interested in hearing about other people's process.

Do you draw out the face by hand, then trace it? Do you start out in illustrator? What do you do in illustrator? Do you start with a lineal version, then flesh it out? How do you flesh it out? Do you employ stroke width, then polish it, or are you a purist, and render only the outlines? Do you start from geometrics, then move them around, or do you just draw the characters with the bezier curve tool? Do you copy and paste from one character to another? If so, which characters? What are your building blocks? How do you approach different weights? Italics? How about references? How much do you use your research while you're designing? How do you go about checking your type in a block of text? Do you revise most at this stage or before?

Something to think about. I'm interested in what other designers have to say.

Christian R.

hrant's picture

Too many questions! :-/

In terms of "where" I design, it depends on the nature of the typeface. I used to do everything on the computer, but the type of designs I've started to like to do I really need to draw them out first, if not final glyphs, at least good approximations. But a *lot* of tweaking still happens after the stuff goes bezier.


peterbruhn's picture


David Lemon has written an article on hinting
you can find it here:


ricardo's picture

During the time I had been working with PC ( windows). On begining it was complicated because I started to draw the forms with corel draw and
I generated the true type with the same program. It was a very hard
way to control the potencial of the work (clean forms and good syntax).
But during that period I tryed to experiment very technics to tasted the potencional of the programs and the process. ( lots of people think's poor guy, which work with PC :). So I founded the Fontographer and all kind of difficults of the past are gone!!!. I also work with Fg on MAC and I made some type faces with freehand but sicerely I prefer my old corel draw 7 to draw my work because I like the tools and the way to control the bezier points. Normaly I creat my own factory or a table to work the layout and the forms of letters. ). Some of my type faces were are draw directly on paper the idea and some notes to desenvolve and devolepment with a digital technology. I created a standart layout with the rigth dimentions to use as a true type font 2048 (points), but sometimes I make some adjustments to some special situation. I continue to draw and generate the true type with corel draw ( temporary file ) which I only used to work only to draw my type faces, next I opean the file on Fg to correct all forms and finnaly the syntax correction. I had been make some corrections with prints prof on paper (300 dpi) to make the visual correction. But since I had been presentation my stuff on typophile forum I had been make some corrections to adapted the print function as a display type face. I also would like to know the way to transport the vectorial (BCP) information from freehand to Fg? (only curiosity).

anonymous's picture

Speaking in broad generalizations, I design in Fontographer, on the computer, starting from geometrics (rectangles, usually) and convert points to curves/Beziér control points (BCP) as needed.

On rare occasion, I will draw something, scan it, then convert it to outlines. More frequently I will draw out an idea on graph paper (taking note of approximate locations of vital extrema points and angles), then redraw it in Fontographer.

I have also found that what they say is true: the fewer control points, the better. You'd be amazed at the control you can get using only endpoints and the cardinal extrema points (north, south, east & west). I rarely even use a control point at the directional change in the midpoint of the spine of an "s", for example. I've found that (usually) a smoother curve can be obtained (with remarkable control) by limiting myself to the east and west extrema and controlling the shape of the curve by dragging out these two points' BCPs.

As for italics and weight variations, I've found that the most success comes from redrawing the characters from scratch. I'll usually paste a copy of the original glyph in the working window for reference, but trying to convert one glyph to another usually leads to more cleanup work that it is worth. Similarly, using Fontographer's skewing or weight change options often (but not always) leads to more work than simply starting the glyph from scratch.

I do, however, rely a great deal (some may say too much, I suppose) on cutting and pasting parts from one glyph to build another within the same font.

I also find myself using mathematics a lot to compare widths, length, and often BCPs of similar or rational curves. For example, if the BCPs at the top of the uc "C" are 150 units away from the extrema point, then I make sure they are similarly 150 units away on the bottom extrema point.

I'd still love some hints on hinting, however. :) Anyone?


anonymous's picture


Thanks a million. That's a big help!


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