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The Process of Designing a Font with Timelapse Video

By Gary simon - Mar 20, 2018

While I've designed for 20 years, I've never actually designed a font. I've wanted to in the past, and the farthest I've ever got is to design a few characters here and there for wordmarks.

One thing that held me back was the costly software and a lack of understanding of basic concepts. Well, I decided to give font design a go. With the help of the extension Fontself for Adobe Illustrator CC, I spent a single evening designing a single weight, style of just the upper and lowercase letters of a font.

The work involved in designing a very small font project is impressive. I tried to convey this through the timelapse video above. But this example is hardly indicative of what goes into a serious font project.

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Here's the font I created in the video above

I decided to call it SlasherX due to the 45 degree angles of negative space that are cut into most letters.

It's more of a title font, so I designed a wallpaper for it in Photoshop using the font:

Click here for a full 4k resolution version!

Fonts are Diverse

Some fonts are built for very specific purposes and only require a single weight & style. Even still, under these requirements, it can take a month or more to produce a solid font.

Others, however, can require full font families that can include a wide range of font weights, styles and languages. Collectively, they can contain thousands upon thousands of glyphs.

How long does it take to design a font?

A single font weight with a single style can take anywhere from a week to a few months. The larger projects with a lot of needs can take years to develop

In fact, an article from states: 

"So far, our record for the font with the slowest gestation is Ideal Sans, which between its first drawings and its initial publication, there passed twenty-one years."

Of course, the time it takes not only depends on the project specifications, but also on the size of the team and the skills of the typographers.

How much does a font cost to produce?

Again, quite a subjective topic here! Depending on the skill of the typographer, a small project as defined above could cost a few thousand dollars, whereas a more robust project could cost close to $xxx,xxx!

In either case, if the end result is good, these guys earn their money. The process would be incredibly tedious and monotonous to your average individual.

What Software is Used to Make Fonts?

The software that I personally used is:

  • Adobe Illustrator CC
  • Fontself
    This is an extension that can be purchased to work with Adobe Illustrator CC or Adobe Photoshop CC. It allows you to use the respective programs to design the font, and it will handle the rest of the work in producing a font that others can use.

There are, of course, other alternatives.

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