Create a Handwritten Font: A Beginners Guide | Gwen DeGroff | Skillshare

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Create a Handwritten Font: A Beginners Guide

teacher avatar Gwen DeGroff, Pattern Designer + Hand letterer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Create a Handwritten Font - A Beginners Guide


    • 2.

      Basics of Typography


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Character Design


    • 5.

      Upload and Edit


    • 6.

      Final Thoughts


    • 7.

      Handwritten Font Project


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About This Class

Hello! In this class you will learn how to create your own handwritten font without the need for any expensive design software.  I’ll demonstrate how to design with pen and paper using a template specifically for this class. I’ll address editing, spacing, and sizing your characters and how to publish, download and install your font.

This class is an excellent resource for anyone just starting out in font creation or hand lettering. Our project will involve creating your own handwritten font and also creating a promo image (jpg) to display the name of your font and all of the characters included.

Upon completion, you will have a handwritten font ready to install on your computer, to distribute to friends or to sell online.

Meet Your Teacher

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Gwen DeGroff

Pattern Designer + Hand letterer


Hello! I'm Gwen! I'm so glad you're here! 

I'm a glass 'half full to overflowing' kind of girl. Forever optimist. Pattern designer. Hand letterer.          Weight lifter. Mama bear of three.

My designs and illustrations are full of bright cheerful colors and I love mixing patterns. I was a freelance graphic designer for over 10 years before breaking into the beautiful world of pattern design and hand lettering, which I actually learned here on Skillshare!

I'm thrilled to join this wonderful community of brilliant and creative minds. 

I have several different shops at the moment for fabrics, fonts, and fun. 

I'm also on Instagram working on my new series: #childhoodachievementawards. 

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Level: Beginner

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1. Create a Handwritten Font - A Beginners Guide: Welcome to how to create a handwritten font. This is a beginner's guide. If you've never created a font before, maybe the process seemed intimidating or you didn't think you had the right software or equipment, you are in the right place. This class, we are going to walk through the process of talking about typefaces, how to let our characters on our template. Then we'll be uploading our template to edit. Finally, we'll be publishing a font file that you can then install on your computer for personal projects to share with friends and family, or to sell online in an online marketplace. I'm really excited to get started. My name is [inaudible] I'm a Freelance Graphic Designer from Westminster, Maryland. I also have experienced in pattern design and hand lettering and font design just came naturally after that. I really look forward to diving in with you and seeing you in the next class. Thanks. 2. Basics of Typography: In this lesson, we are going to cover the very basics of typography. Just see that we're all on the same page moving forward to design our handwritten font. Typography is simply the style and appearance of printed matter. It's how our letters look. A typeface is a font family, and it's a set of one or more fonts that all look the same in some way, so they have common design features and attributes. One example of a typeface is Times New Roman, which is a Serif Font. Serifs are those little feet that come off the letters, the ends of each letter of Times New Roman. It makes for very good readability. You often see Serif Fonts used in book layouts and design. Another example of a typeface that's very common is Arial, which is a Sans Serif Font, because it does not have those little feet on the end of each character. It's very clean, very modern. You see Arial used more online and on websites. Next we have a font which is really just a specific part of a typeface. An example of a font within the Times New Roman Font family would be the Bold Italic Times New Roman size 36. Font is just dialed in more specifically to show the different attributes within a font family. Next we have character, which is a symbol representing a letter number. For our font, we'll be designing 75 characters, including basic punctuation, all of the numbers, and lowercase and uppercase letters of the alphabet. Finally, I illustrated this little diagram just to show the invisible lines that are letters are going to line up with one another against. The first line of the top is the ascender line, and that's where the bar of the lowercase h, reaches that a ascender line. As you can see, it's just slightly above the cap height line where the uppercase T reaches. That cap height is for where all of our capital letters are going to reach. The x-height is the height of the main part of the lowercase letters. l, r, and a all reach that x-height line. We're going to try to keep that consistent as we design our characters. Another thing we want to watch out for is our baseline, so that our characters are falling along this invisible line that helps keep our words straight. Then we have our descender line, which is where the tail of the y, the p, and the g, these lowercase letters, all loop down and touch the descender line. This is a very basic overview of typography. Hopefully with these terms, we will be able to move forward and create our hand-written fonts. In our next lesson, we'll be covering our materials and the template, and then we'll get to designing your font. I'll see you there. 3. Materials: In this lesson, we're going to talk really quickly about materials and then we're going to get started on creating our handwritten font. I have in front of me the template that I've provided in the resource section of the class and I also have a pencil, and this is my marker of choice. It is a wet erase marker because I've covered my template with clear contact paper so that I can reuse it. If you are not going to do that, then you can use any marker of your choice. Sharpie work great, Crayola markers, anything with a nice dark black line. I've used jumbo brush pens and I've tried microns, really anything. I've even had success with a dried out marker that gave a real nice brushy texture to me my letters. Play around with it. The pencil is, if you want to practice rating your characters and not committing to anything quite yet. Feel free to fill in your template with a pencil. I'm just going to go straight to marker. About this template, you will see once we get to the website that there are multiple options for sizes and I chose this size because it fits all on one page and I found that to be the most convenient and efficient way to do this. I also added a few characters to this that are not on the default list that has. I wanted to have a full set of basic punctuation, all of the numbers and the uppercase and lowercase letters. That's what you'll find on the template in the resource section of the class. Feel free to download your own to use. But I just found this to be the most simplest, and that's what we're going to get started with. I'll see you in the next lesson. 4. Character Design: Now I get to the fun part. We're going to fill in our template. On the template that you should have in front of you, it's hard to tell in my copy, but there are little gray guidelines that show you where your baseline should fall, where your cap height should be and if your printer is better than mine, you might also see a faint grayed out letter in certain character to show you which character that you're going to be filling in. But otherwise you can just follow along with the little characters above each box so that you know what we're going to be drawing. I'm just going to start from the top and I'm just going to go for my natural handwriting. You are free to make this more fancy, if you'd like. That's why it's handwritten font. You can really decide what you want to do with it. So just go through, fill out each letter. Something I'm just trying to be aware of is where the baseline of my character is false. You can see I'm trying to keep all of my numbers on the same baseline. The cap height is also the same. These are probably a little bit larger than they should be and we'll be able to tweak that once we upload them to the website. I'll walk you through how to do that and make edits on We will be using the free version of the website, which I feel like is plenty for what we're doing and learning this. I am planning on releasing another class to show how to use the subscription version, which allows you to do ligatures and connect your letters to make a font. That would be especially helpful if you are into hand lettering or would like to make a script font. Pull this is up. Something I'd really like to try is to have my kids fill this out and make a font out of their handwriting. They're in first and third grade. So I feel like that'll be a really neat way to preserve their handwriting. You could also do it with friends and relatives and just really have fun with it. That is not suppose to be. The at sign I already did that. So since I have contact paper down, I can just erase my marker. There is also a way to upload a new letter. You just fill out as another template and upload it and it'll ask if you want to replace existing letters, and so you would just say absolutely. I'm trying to keep my baselines little wobbly there we'll fix that. But I'm trying to keep my x height the same as we go through. I need you to do some tweaking and that's totally fine. That is it. I've completed this template. So the next thing I'm going to do, I'll zoom out a bit, is I'm going to take a picture or scan this and then upload it to In the next lesson, we'll go over making edits and publish my font. 5. Upload and Edit: In this lesson, we are going to make our font. We're going to upload our template, do some editing, and then we'll be publishing this thing. This is the website we'll be using They have a basic free version that is all we need for this class and to complete your project. I'm going to click ''Log In'' and sign myself in. You can register for free to do this, and then it gives you a list of first steps. To create a template, you click this link right here. I'm going to choose minimal English, I'm going to add minimal numbers, and also minimal punctuation. That will tell me that I have 79 characters selected and that's for too many for their free version. I'm going to remove that percent sign, this says, "Do you want to delete?" Yes and do not ask me again. Then I'm going to remove forward slash, plus sign, and the equals sign. These are the characters included on the template that is in the resource section. Now if you want to make your own, you can go to Download Template. You can name it, whatever you want to name it, and then you can also change the size of the template cells. I think I have mine at the default size so that it prints on one page. You can make it larger if you'd like it to print larger boxes for you, it will just give you multiple pages that you have to fill out and then scan or take pictures of. I also kept draw helplines checked and characters as background checked. Then you click Download and it'll give you a PDF file that you can then print out. Since we've already done that, I'm going to stop there. Now that we have all our characters set, we are going to click the ''My Fonts'' link, and select ''Upload Template'', and then from here you'll navigate to the file that you saved your picture or your scan of your completed template. We're going to do automatically clean up templates just so that it will do a little bit of editing for us and then click ''Upload Template''. This is the fun part. It'll take a minute to process and then you'll get a preview. As it says up here, to add new variants, you can upload a second template after adding these characters, and then you can choose to create variants. What that does is as you're typing, if you do have a variant of your font, it'll give a little bit more of a natural feel to your letters and it will look like we're really more like your handwriting because each e will be different and each d will be different. They won't all be the same exact font. I'm not doing that in this class, but you are welcome to experiment with that. Down here I'm going to click ''Add Characters To Your Font'', and here we go. I like to start, let's say by clicking Edit Font Details. Here are all the characters that we've made on our template. You can see I have some editing to do, especially on the r, it looks like my scan didn't come out very clearly. I'm going to click on this three dot menu up here and click ''Adjust Baseline''. For this, I'm not going to worry about size right now, I'm just going to worry about focus on the baseline of each of the characters, so that they're all falling on the same line. So you just go through and adjust the taller arrow makes a larger jump, the smaller arrow does a little bit more fine tuning. I want all of my characters to land on the same line. In this letter, you can see that little line down here made it the width, almost twice as wide as it should be. I'm going to try to adjust that letter in just a minute. The L and the R are looking especially in need of some help. We've gotten through the alphabet, I'm going to click ''Save Adjustments''. I'm going to do to the L and when you click on a letter, you get this little menu, select ''Edit Character'', and then click ''Eraser'', and then you can erase that, ''Save and Close''. Then really you can go through clicking each letter, each character of your font. Maybe you see some little straight lines. You can zoom in, and delete, whoop, that was the brush not the eraser, so select ''Eraser'' and you can really fine tune this down to the pixel level. Which sometimes leads to of a rabbit hole of not knowing where to stop editing. I'm going to curb this line of the Q a little bit. The tricky thing is if you start editing too much and it takes away a bit of the handwritten look that we're coming for. I want to fill this and actually because, I'm not going for that brushy textured look in my letters. Somehow letting, scan rate. There I went a little bit over. I'm going to select ''Eraser''. When it turns purple, you know what setting you're on. Then I'm going to deselect Eraser set, I'm back to the brush setting and I can go back down here, and fill this in. So, you can experiment with the different brushes. They have slants, straight lines, circle, you can change the size, can erase that. Save And Close, and really just go through and make sure that each one of your characters is looking the way you want it. I'm just going to get rid of some of these extra little bits that aren't really doing it for me. Now that we're finished, I'm going to go back to my font, going to take a look at my letters. I'm going to click ''Edit Font Details'', and this is where you can name your font. I'm going to name this SkillshareFont. I have found the letter spacing to be quite generous on, so I'd like to lower it to about 50 percent, and then the font size also tends to be small, so I'm going to raise that to 120. Also going to learn my word spacing a bit, and I'm going to Save that. I've gone through and edited my font scan. I'm going to check the Baselines again on my fonts. Some of them right now you can see are a little bit taller than others, and before I tweak anything, I'm going to hit Cancel and I'm going to test it by building a font. You just select this link, ''Build Font''. I have my font name and I'm getting click ''Build''. I've found this gives me a better preview of my letters, then just looking at each one individually. If I scroll down, let's raise the size just a little larger. My Lowercase a is really bothering me, it's really large. The x-height was way too high, so that letter I really want to fix. But when I look at the Alphabet view, I really like all my letters. It looks like my handwriting. Here's the size comparison, so this is helpful. It shows you other standard fonts and what size your font is in relation to them. My letters are slightly smaller. I might raise my size on the other setting but, ultimately I'm really happy with this. I am going to tweak the a, and I'm just going to look through and see if there's anything else that really needs to be changed. Let's go back, my o's look a little large too, so meaning I'll change that too. At this point, if you're happy with your font, you can select the font files up here, skillsharefont-Regular.ttf and otf. They'll download to your computer and then you can install from there. You can even share with this button. But I'm going to go back, to find my lowercase a. I'm going to select ''Adjust Baseline and Size'' and then this will pop up to the little guidelines. I know it's too large, and I will just adjust the space so that the x-height is closer. I think I'm going to bring my c down a little bit too, my e, and my o, I might just bring the size down just a little bit, Save Adjustments. Go back to my font, Build Font, build it again. There we go. I like that a lot better. I'll raise the size, you can see my letters. I'll share a good baseline. The a looks better in relationship to the other letters around it, says that o and e, I like it. Now I'm going to select the files here and you can see they've downloaded to my computer. I'm on a Windows machine, I have a PC, but it's as simple as right-clicking the file, show in folder, right-click again, and then click Install, and it will install your font. 6. Final Thoughts: Thanks for taking this class, by now you've learned the basics of typography, the materials that we need to fill out our template for, how to upload and edit your characters as well as download and install them on your computer. Now I just wanted to show you real quickly, what you can do to make a promo image, and I'll give more details in the next video. But for now, thank you so much for taking my skillshare class.[MUSIC] 7. Handwritten Font Project: All right, so now it's time to talk about our class project. For this class we're going to have a lot of fun. We'll do it in two steps. The first step of your project will be simply uploading an image of your template filled in with your handwritten letters. This would be a great way for us to preview your font and see part of the process and hopefully encourage you to actually fill in the template and get uploading. Once you've uploaded your template, you'll have a chance to edit and then download the font file and install it on your computer. That's where phase two comes in. Once you've installed the font file on your computer, I want you to create a promotional image to display each of the characters in your font. This will be especially helpful if you plan on selling your font on an online market place, such as Creative Market or even on Etsy. I will list some resources and links in the resource section of the class and wait to see what you've put together.