Monday, 18 July 2011

Designing new typefaces

My original question; sent out via e-mail or facebook on Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I need some advice on designing typefaces. I want to design my own typeface so I can use it in a graphic novel I'm creating.

Do you have any suggestions for good books or websites that will help me achieve this?

I really appreciate any help you can give me.



Karl’s comments:

I might have to pay someone to create the new fonts but at least I'll know how to brief them.


Thanks Paul
I'll follow your link and let you know how I get on. I want to create a typeface I can use in my graphic novel that people will identify as part of my visual language. Comics have a hand rendered Caps feel in the main and I won't stray too far from that but it will have my fingerprint.

Dear Jack
Thanks for advice on type variations. I can also use colour and vary shape of speech bubbles as necessary. You are right about the possibility of increasing confusion by having too much visual noise on a page or in panels.


Thanks Jack
wise words indeed. Very informative. You've given me the insight I was looking for. 2 years I don't have. Someone suggested using calligraphy skills to generate the letterforms. I want to design/ select type that represents the personalities of the main characters. A visual clue to their inner working.


Dear Sarah
thanks for your help. I want design a typeface for each of the main character's dialogue, plus one for narration and one for captions. I don't want it to look gimmicky but reflect the accents and biography of these characters. I will indeed post my results. Thanks again.


Thanks Claire
you're a star. You're correct the font needs to feel organic and hand drawn. I have some more research to do. Thanks : )))


Neil Barnett’s comments;

Perhaps an LCC typo student could create the fonts for you?

Typeface design blimey good luck. You'll need either Font Studio or Fontographer software. Below are a couple of books and a link to another software that I've not used.
Also you could contact Stephen Banham at his design company called Letterbox
He's designed several typefaces. Tell him I sent you!

Type 1: Digital Typeface Design by Nathan Gale
Designing Type by Karen Cheng

Typeface Design Software []
Make or edit your own fonts. Easy to use software. Download now!

Paul Bailey’s comments;

Hi Karl,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Darren and I have been busy getting a submission prepared for an upcoming publication Q U E S T I O N S / Q U E S T I O N S: (see attached).

Anyway - you're designing a new typeface - that's exciting! I have never actually gone through the motions myself, so I don't know how useful I will actually be to you. A friend of mine who teaches at Bristol (UWE) runs a brief with his first years using Font Struct (, which enables you to get pretty effective results without having to venture near the awkward and sometimes daunting world of Fontlab. Have you got any reference typefaces that you intend working from? That will identify the most appropriate route to take, I suppose.



Jacky Blake’s comments;

Ok re personalities you could simplfy and create strokes, weights etc that perhaps demonstrates this.
Be aware that too much difference could complicate the words. Happy to help with advice along the way.


HI Karl
I have not done this myself and it can be very labourous and time
consuming. Some font designers can spend 1-2 years on developing a font.
I suggest firstly looking-researching typefaces that may be similar in style to what you wish to achieve. Analyse their characters etc and this will enable you to get a better understanding.
Consider the style, weight, legability, audience, use etc. It it to be script (handwriting) Caps, u/l?

Firstly design the font by hand, sketches, using grid paper (if modular), consider your x height and cap height.
When you are happy with the drawings then you can take it into illustrator and draw up or straight into fontographer
Most students/designers use Fontographer to develop the letters etc.

Good luck

Claire Mason’s comments;

Hello Karl,
So good to hear from you. Hmmmmmm the world of type design is slightly different from the world of typographers ...we are indeed different creatures.

Saying that, there are tools to help you and books for you to cast an eye you want to start by looking at existing typefaces?... or are you looking for a 'how to' manual? There are font editing software in which you can adapt existing typefaces...type tool looks simple enough for the beginner...

you also have fontographer which I believe is a little more sophisticated all of these tools will enable you to make digital versions of a typeface design and therefore use it when needed. Books?... well as you know there are tons of books. If its graphic novel type.. it sounds like you are looking to design a typeface thats more cursive... I could be wrong there?... but if you are wanting something more hand drawn you could start looking at calligraphy books.

Hope this helps for now... contact me with any other queries that you may have or if I am way off the mark on the advice given here.


Sarah Hyndman’s comments;

Hi Karl, I've never actually digitised a typeface but it's one of those things I'd love to have a go at. I just did some Googling and I'd say this is the most helpful thing I found:

No responses from Sara Morrissey, Jonathan Barnbrook and Ed Fella

Thanks everyone great stuff to start with.


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