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Font Making

Discussion in 'Fonts and Typography' started by SouthPaw, Feb 17, 2005.

  1. SouthPaw

    SouthPaw Member

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    Dec 27, 2004
    Hi all,

    I've got some ideas for letterstyles that I'd love to make into computer fonts. One is from an old FORMATT book (they used to sell press-on letters or something to the sign industry, I think). It's a highly unusual font that used to get used more often before the computer age, and now, to my knowledge, no computer font exists for that letterstyle, which is a pain because one of my clients has this letterstyle as their logo (and I know they'd love to use it for more applications than just their logo).

    I've also discovered that a young lady I work with has a very unique handwriting that I think would do well as a font.

    Then I've got a few ideas based on my own handwriting.

    Blah, blah, blah...

    Anyways, I know I need some font-making software (fontographer?) and then I would need to copyright and market them. Any suggestions on which software to use and how to copyright and market fonts would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    --SouthPaw
     
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  2. HSG

    HSG Guest

    SouthPaw,

    This is a good topic for discussion. I've often wondered the best way to go about designing and marketing your own fonts.

    HSG
     
  3. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    Sep 11, 2003
    Olympia, WA
    There are several solutions for making fonts with Macromedia Fontographer probably the most widely used .... and there the Macintosh version is much more competent than is the Windows version. It is also of great benefit to couple it with either Macromedia Freehand or Adobe Illustrator for creating and editing the glyphs before bringing them into Fontographer

    It is a complicated and tedious process. To end up with something of professional quality is far from easy but going through the process can be a great learning experience.

    Although, lots of free fonts on the internet are autotraced, hand drawing of each character is a must for professional quality. In doing this, you must pay careful attention to uniformity from character to character as to correct relational height, weight and recurring artistic features. You also need, for a marketable font, to create the full character set including accented characters and extended keyboard special characters and ligatures.

    Once you've done that you next bring them into the font creation application in such a way as to preserve the relational height of the characters. Each character is placed in its own cell observing the baseline of the entire character set where character spacing is also set. Then you get into intercharacter spacing and kerning so that every possible character pair fits together in a predetermined and acceptable way. Finally you can generate the various font versions.

    The font you mention sounds like it would fall under the heading of a revival unless a foundry still has rights to be considered. these are usually limited to the name only .... which is all you can copyright under US law. Most revivals are created from 2" film strips used in the old headlining machines and not from commercially produced dry transfer letters or other forms of printing or image setting.

    Marketing your font(s) is a whole other problem and you're probably best advised to work through a publisher who is already reaching the marketplace and is willing to not only help in that regard while paying you a royalty, but will also assist you in properly creating the assembled digital font in the first place.

    Two members here are in the business of publishing fonts. Steve Contreras of Signfonts and Chuck Davis of Letterhead Fonts. A third company comes to mind as well which is Dave Simpson of SignDNA.

    Keep us posted as to your progress.
     
  4. SouthPaw

    SouthPaw Member

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    Dec 27, 2004
    I don't have the 2" Film strips, of course. What I do have is a page out of an old FORMATT book, which I scanned and vectorized (which due to the small size of the letters on the page, really means I just used the scanned image as a template to trace over.)

    The other fonts would present no problems copyright wise, since my friend would probably love to see her handwriting sold as a computer font (and she could be compensated, too...some portion of the royalties). And I certainly wont fight myself over rights to fonts uniquely mine.

    Thanks for the info and links Fred.

    --SouthPaw
     
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