I love fonts (is fontaholic a thing?) and have always wanted to create my own. The difficulty is getting what I want from paper to computer in a method and time frame that doesn’t have me wanting to scream. Luckily for me this is now reality with the help of Adobe Shape, Adobe Illustrator and a new Illustrator plugin, FontSelf.
Create the font
OK, theres another reason I’ve not gone into font creation, I’m really not that skilled at drawing. So I’m going to keep it simple.
I’m going to create the font of my own handwriting, written with a Sharpie over a ruler;
Getting the Drawn Font to The Computer
This has become a lot easier with the introduction of Adobe Libraries and the Adobe Capture app. Using the app I can grab, refine and save the shape really quickly. The image that’s saved to the Adobe Library is a vector graphic, so native to Adobe Illustrator.
In Illustrator drag the image from the Library onto the artboard. In my case the alphabet needs rotating and resizing, I’ll do this from the Transform dialogue box;
NB The Alphabet should be on one line, capturing on two is fine but you should move them now.
The Fontself Plugin
The Fontself plugin can be downloaded here. (Use the code fontself_PF20 to get 20% off!) At the time of writing its selling for $49. The install is quick and straightforward. Once installed there’s a helpful practice sheet, instructions and even a remote help button.
Selecting the Letters
Selecting the letters is as easy as making a marquee around them. Once selected drag the letters to the Fontself panel on the relevant section, Uppercase, Lowercase or Numbers.
What you might find that you a dialogue box warning you that you have too many letters selected, in my case a total of 27!
A quick look along the selection reveals where the problems lay. There’s a couple of letters that are made from two paths, like here on the Y.
All I need to do is select both of the paths that make the Y, by using the White Arrow tool and clicking on one path and the shift and clicking on the other. Then from the Object menu choose Group to group the two paths together;
Once all the grouping has been done I’ll again drag the paths to the plugin panel;
The first time I performed this I couldn’t help but yelp with delight. Instantly the plugin recognises the paths and puts them into their corresponding box.
Tweaking The Font
A quick look at the font shows that the letters are well below the baseline and they need tweaking. Easily done, just click and drag them to the right position.
This could have been avoided however. Before dragging over the lowercase letters I’ll straighten them and add a guide along the text baseline. Fontself understands that the guide is the baseline and adjusts the font accordingly;
I can also change the letter spacing by dragging the vertical lines around the letter. For my font I later discovered that I should have spent a little longer on this step as my kerning was all over the place!
Saving the Fonts
There’s a choice here, Install or Export. Installing makes the font available now but Export means I can install the font permanently on my system.
This means that this nice new shiny font is available to me on any application;