How to make your own font

How to make your own font

Morgan Smith's Layout avatar

If you’re here, you’ve probably been scouring the internet for hours looking for that perfect font you need —and you didn’t find it. You’re under a lot of pressure to make this look *just right* as the bar for creative brand storytelling keeps raising higher and higher. Now, your plan of attack is to create your own font, and might I say how great that idea is!  

A man and woman looking at font ideas on a smart phone.

Creating a font is not as hard as it sounds and you open the floodgates of opportunity when it comes to customizing the look and feel. You now harness the power to control your line weight, serifs, density, and so much more.

There are a couple different ways you can go about this. And depending on what style you’re going for, there are ways to create digital solutions, as well as hand-drawn ones. For now, we’re going to focus on the hands-on method and learn how to turn your artwork into a real-life typeface. Let’s get started!


1. Choose the site you want to use

If you Google “make your own font,” you’ll find more than enough websites capable of bringing your artwork to life. Overall, they mostly follow the same system, so don’t stress too much about this. To help you sort through everything, here are three sites I recommend:

For this tutorial, I’m using  Calligraphr to get my project off the ground. This platform is free and super user-friendly to beginner font designers.


2. Gather your materials

You’ll need a few things to get started. At the minimum, a decent pen and paper is a good starting place. To jazz up your creative process, grab a ruler, protractor, and your computer to look up creative inspiration. This will help with your drawing consistency, especially if you’re adding a lot of bells and whistles to your custom font! 

Let your creativity run wild. If you want to make perfect curves and lines, go for it. Want to grab your 3-year old and see what they come up with? Utilize them too. That’s the best part of making your own font — you can determine however it looks according to your client creative brief.

A man practicing his font design work on a notebook.

No matter the style, you’ll want to use a dark pen for the final product on template paper. Nothing too skinny or heavy — find something with a medium weight. I used a traditional Sharpie, so you can see how that turns out in the final project (spoiler alert: The font looks really thick).

I’d suggest starting with a pencil. Remember, you can always sketch and then refine with the pen. Just erase your scribbles before you’re finished!


3. Time to practice

Depending on how natural your font is to draw, you may or may not need to practice before attempting the final version. I chose a simpler path — I’m just doing my own handwriting, so I didn’t really practice for my font.

On the template sheets you’ll download in the next step, you’ll have to put multiple characters on a single sheet of paper. That means if you mess up one letter and aren’t able to fix it, you may have to redo an entire sheet of characters. And if your font is really intricate, that’s going to be incredibly draining on your time and patience.

Even if it’s just once, practice your font, and hopefully you’ll avoid the bumps in the road during the final version.


4. Do it for real now

Once you’re ready, download the paper template from the site you chose. This probably looks like a couple pieces of paper with a designated area for each letter. Like you’ve practiced, just draw your letterforms as you want them.

The font templet sheets.
Your template sheet will look something similar to this!

Since the artwork on the templates will be your font, you want it to be right. Go slow, double-check your characters, and leave yourself enough time to do this without being rushed. The last thing you want is to discover mistakes in your font after you’ve installed it on your computer and are trying to use it for a project.


5. Time to upload and create it

Custom font on a template sheet.
Here’s what mine looked like with all the letters drawn!

Once you’re satisfied with your work, it’s time to upload the templates to that site you chose in Step 1. Scan your templates and then make sure you look at the specific requirements of how they need to be uploaded. Just follow the site’s instructions, and wait for your font to be created. With Caligraphr, my wait time was approximately seven seconds, so it’s a pretty fast turn around.


6. Install it and go

Your font is now just like any other that you would download, so install it the same way you would any other font you found online. It’s really that easy!

font3

A few things I learned:

  • See those two dots in between the two lines of text? No idea where those came from, but they’re attached to the “M” character.
  • Writing on the template can feel very awkward. Think back to kindergarten when you were first learning how to write; it’s a very similar experience. Maybe consider practicing on the template sheets to get the hang of it.
  • The Sharpie looked nice on paper, but its lines look much thicker as a digital font. And the ends of my letters didn’t get copied very well, resulting in the rather childish-looking font you see above.
  • Although it’s difficult since you design each letter separately, try to keep in mind how all the characters relate to each other. For some reason, I drew my lowercase “t” much smaller (and higher) than the other letters, so it looks a little out of place.

Honestly, for your first font, it may take a couple tries. While it’s a simple process, you’ll probably learn new and better ways to go about making your own font each time you do it.

Want to download Morganly? Great news, you can! Here’s a free download on me.


Conclusion

Custom fonts and lettering have been on the rise as the demand for unique brand storytelling pushes our creative ceilings higher and higher. I hope this tutorial eases your frustration because you now have the power to bring your custom lettering ideas to live through this process! 

A man practicing his first letter of his custom font.

How Simon Walker created Pizza Hut’s new lettering

If you’re nervous about this creative venture, look no further than to our friend and custom letterist, Simon Walker, for a little push in the right direction. Pizza Hut’s legendary 1960’s logo made it’s official modern debut in the form of a custom font created by English Graphic Designer Simon Walker and GSD&M for the pizza giant.  

So how did he turn seven letters from an old logo into full-fledged alphabet characters? Well, we (virtually) sat down with Simon to chat about the project details! Learn what he had to say here.

Contributor

's Layout avatar
Content + Social
Kathy Nguyen
Marketing intern

Comments (0 )

Join the discussion