Creating Fonts, Conquering Fears

As someone who appreciates type, the idea of designing an entire font has always been intimidating to me. There’s so much nuance and subtlety and balance – an infinite number of ways that it can all go wrong. In college, I chose not to take a typography course because it sounded way too difficult. (As a reformed slacker, I regret this very much.) But, years later, I’m now a serious graphic designer and currently have four working fonts under my belt.

I’m writing this post and sharing these secrets as an attempt at encouragement. Creating a font doesn’t have to be scary. And making something simple is the best way to get started.

The first font I created is called Podriq.

It is ridiculously simple, and I think that’s the source of its charm. It feels like a modernist take on learning how to write. The perfectly centered x-height and single-width lines feel like they were drawn by an AI in elementary school.

It’s constructed by stacking two circles and building out each character from that base, using the same curves when possible. There are a few cases where I had to break this system, such as with the ampersand. (It didn’t seem to work as an ampersand without shifting the center line up a bit.) But because the guiding force behind its construction is so straightforward, it was fairly easy to create characters that feel part of the whole. And that’s one of the most enjoyable things about creating a font – no matter how simple the individual pieces are, seeing them come together as a usable font is very rewarding.

Something more straightforward.

Anvyl is another one of my fonts with a super simple base. Each character was constructed from an 8×15 grid of squares. Stopping here could have created an 8-bit font, which is cool enough on its own. But to take it a bit further, I added in curves on alternating corners. Combining the existing hard edges with these new soft curves gave it a very unique feel: industrial, yet friendly – retro and modern.

As I was building out the characters, I posted some progress on Dribbble. The post caught the attention of Russian designer, Dmitry Sivukhin, who volunteered to design the Cyrillic characters based on my initial concept.

That’s what’s so cool about making and sharing stuff: What started as a simple, personal design exercise is now a font that has been downloaded over 1,500 times and can be used in multiple languages. This stuff doesn’t have to be intimidating or mysterious or overly complicated. Now, go make something and tell everyone how you did it.✌

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