Design Your Own Fonts: From Paper to Screen | Natanael Gama | Skillshare

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Design Your Own Fonts: From Paper to Screen

teacher avatar Natanael Gama, Type Designer

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.

      Let's Start


    • 2.

      The ABC's of Sketching


    • 3.

      Diagnose: Sketching Your First Letters


    • 4.

      Improve Your Sketch


    • 5.

      File – New. Digitize Your First Letter


    • 6.

      It's “On”


    • 7.



    • 8.

      A Pain in The “S”


    • 9.



    • 10.

      Therapists Need Good Spacing


    • 11.

      Kern Nerd


    • 12.

      Export and Print


    • 13.

      Do it All Over Again


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About This Class

To design a font might look like an overwhelmingly tedious and extremely difficult task, and in a way it is. No magic bullets here. However there are ways to speed up the process as well as to make it fun!
In this class the Type Designer Natanael Gama will teach you how to create your own fonts without going nuts. From paper sketching all the way to export the digital font file. The only thing required for this class is a bit of courage. Remember that the bigger the challenge the bigger the reward. To type your own font can be an epiphanic experience!

Meet Your Teacher

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Natanael Gama

Type Designer


Natanael one day decided to play with fonts and never stopped. Inspired by the typography classes while taking his degree in graphic design and multimedia in ESAD.CR he started drawing Exo. It was a successful project on kickstarter and is part of the Google Fonts Library. Since then he has already released two more types via Google Fonts, Cinzel and Exo 2. Apart from other commissioned works he has been creating his own typographic library. 

His work has been used by brands like Google, Lego, Fifa, AMG, Blizzard, among many others. His fonts were downloaded hundreds of thousands of times and are seen every day by millions of people.

Although the play became work, he hasn’t stopped having fun drawing fonts.

See full profile

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1. Let's Start: - My name is I am Designer, based in Lisbon, Portugal. I started designing forms in 2011 and probably no, some of them like eggs, which is a free font you can download for free on my website. In this class, I will teach you out of uniform. We'll start by sketching, just trying to find some good ideas and then you don't want need some paper and Ben Seal or family whatever you prefer. And then on the computer room, use Glimpse, which is a former editor software. You can download the trial there upside for free, but if you don't Mac, you can also use Illustrator. It's OK, so let's do it. 2. The ABC's of Sketching: So you want to design your own phones? That's a good idea. Big crazy, though The first thing you need to know is that this is not a lettering project. When you're doing lesson, we just doing, like, award and very pretty work. But when you're doing topography, you want to think about the full text. So you want to create a system where every letter will match every other letter, both in spacing and in style. So why sketch we have computers couldn't be doing in the computer in the first place? Well, we could, but sketching is a very powerful to because you can, in a very fast way, do some quick prototypes and toe Evan idea if that's a good way to go. But it's the wrong way to go, so that's why we sketch, and that's what we're gonna do. Basically, there are two ways of sketching letters. One is focused on the outlines. Another is focused on the feeling. This one that I'm using first is focused on the outlines. The advantage of this matter is that you can focus on details and create really accurate terminations and cars. However, for the first sketches, you can do just something very rough. You can improve them later. The 2nd 1 is based on the feeling With this one, you can understand much better the balance in the contrast of the letter. But you don't have that much detail on it. Try to keep your strokes in the same angle. I'm using a 30 degree angle over here, but you can experiment with other angles. Finally, there is a combination off both throwing Marites. This is where you want to go in the in. So if you started with feeling now, you can do a more refined outline. If you decided to design your strokes first, now you can feel them and just the Outlands as you do it. Start by designing the lower case letter A. Not because it's the 1st 1 but because it is a very distinct shape that conveys a lot of personality to your phone. It is also one of the most common letters in the Latin off. Keep designing variations of your first leather until they're satisfied. There is a lot of space for experimentation here. Try to keep your sketches near so you can copy what you like and improve what you don't after d A. You can design the lower case Letter n and lower case letter O D N Indio are the basis off the lower case Latin alphabet, vertical strokes in circles. That's basically it. From these letters, you derive almost every other letter. Try to keep consistency in those three letters. They must look like they shared the same DNA. In my design. I decided to emphasize this sort off 30 degree angle. All the strokes that cross A's vertical stem look parallel. This is not necessarily the way to do it. I did it for stylistic purposes, to be consistent. I also applied this 30 degree angle on the end dio as the same contrast of the end nd a What I mean, by contrast, is the relation between horizontal and vertical strokes. Wheat. 3. Diagnose: Sketching Your First Letters: Now you are ready to design your first testing word. I used the word diagnose these word content Sufficient letters for you to see the feeling of your design designed the baseline and X ite line. Now draw your diagnose Keeping the style of your first design letters while designing the d . Think about the Ascender line. Normally the bull the wrong part should be similar to the right part of the O. But here I decided to innovate and risk keeping this 30 degree angle. I'm not sure if I will keep this in the final version, but it's worth doing this test. - The G is a very art shape to design. I designed the Devil Story G because I think it fits better with humanistic Callie. Graphic feel of my design. But you can do a simpler version. The single story. Gee, the one we'd only one circle, maybe for a more geometric design. A single story G will work better. - DS is a bane in D s. It's difficult to design and asked that is not leaning forward or backward. Remember, you don't need to create the perfect design for that. We have computers. You just need to capture an idea 4. Improve Your Sketch: So you get your first phone, You like it, or are they pretty? It may be there, but you can improve it. So what we're gonna do next is to look at what we like and try to repeat it. And even in primitive, it's and get rid of what we don't like and try to find a way to do it in a way that we like to improve. I'm going to use tracing paper. It makes things easier, but you can just do it by looking. What I am doing is redesigning the shapes I liked, and while I'm doing it, I'm doing some improvements. I also used the tracing paper to correct the spacing between letters. Okay, now we don't your previous design under the tracing paper, do some adjustments and start feeling your design. I'm using a brush because it's much faster, but you can just feel it with your pencil when I am using the brush. I am not only focusing on the shape, but in the negative space as well. Try to create some nice inner cures. After death, I pick up a pen and start noting what didn't go the way I wanted it needs to be improved. Now you can repeat this process using another sheet of tracing Piper in refining the design until you're happy with it. However, there is not a need to create mathematically perfect designs for that we have computers. 5. File – New. Digitize Your First Letter: so you're happy with your sketch, but you don't want just the sketch. You want to type your own letters, and for that we need to go to the computer screen. You don't need to scan your sketch. We can do it by hand, and it's probably faster to design forms. We use busy curves. Zier curves might be our to understand, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature. A few basics. Two points Make a line points of handles that will curved line. Every curve fits inside an imaginary triangle. If you're curve comes out of the triangle bounds, it is a bad curve. This means you will need more points to create that curve in a controlled way. There are three types of points. The corner. These ones are vergis ease. They can have handles or not this smooth. The handles are always aligned to create a curve without bums and the ancient. This is what you want to use to connect the straight line with the curved one. When you open beliefs and create a new phone file, this is what you have. You have boxes with letters in each box you have to place the correspondent letter design easy. If you don't have Gleaves, you can apply the concepts you will be learning in. Illustrator. If you go to file found info, you can set up a lot of parameters. For now, you can just put your phone name when installed. This is the name that your fund will have and the master stopped. You can set up some guidelines that will make it easier for you to design like a sender id X ite and so one. We will come back here later. For now, just leave the defaults. Now the ball. Click the letter O and let's convert our sketch into a busy occurred design. I'll start by designing a circle a circle as four smooth points control the points. In order to create the other shape, you can use the transform box in the bottom two easily insert measures. As I moved the point, the curve got really sloppy. I could move the handles but leaves as these neat feature that lets you easily correct. - Now I am going to create the inner cure. As you can see the review Onley shows a black circle that is because we need to reverse the counters so the computer knows what is background in what is foreground. Just go to layers. Reverse contours, just the curse until you feel it is all balanced as you notice my strokes. Vertical week is smaller than yours. This is an optical correction. Let's talk about optical correction. The triangle appears to be smaller than the square, and the circle appears to be smaller than the square in the triangle. You need to adjust the height so they all look the same. The same happens with funds. Keystrokes are all the same week, but the agonal appears to be thicker than the vertical, and the horizontal appears to be tinkered than the other two. They need to be adjusted. We need to apply these adjustments in our phones as well. Lastly, smaller shapes appear to have a bigger stroke than bigger ships. Even though the stroke week is the same, they need to be adjusted as well. Back to our I now know that circular shapes appear to be smaller than square like shapes. This is why I am creating a no over ship. I am creating an alignment zone for my overshoots, so I don't need to be measuring it every time I want to do an adjustment 6. It's “On”: Oh, he's done. Let's do the end. I start by designing a rectangle because it is a square like shape. It touches the excite line, but not the overshoot line. Daddy's for Ron Shapes. Round shapes appeared to be smaller both in height and in wheat. That is why the those horizontal stroke is thicker than the ends. Horizontal stroke. I am noting all the measures, so I won't forget. Now I use the pen tool to design the other part of the end. If I click and drag, I create a smooth curve. If I just click, I create the corner to convert the straight line into a curved line. All to click the segment. You want to convert a corner. A smooth, attain Geant CEO, I am using all the note types. Remember to always close the shape. Now we faced the same problem we had with the O. We need to reverse contours off the second part of the end, or simply do layer correct path direction. Align every note and make sure it eats the vase line just your shape. Until he was satisfied. Normally, all the angel's should be kept a resentful or vertical, but Sometimes you can have diagonal handles to smooth curve. - All right, you can add notes to the shape by just clicking with the pen tool on the stroke. To delete, just select the note and breast backspace. Green points are tangent points or smooth month. Blue points are corners. You can change a point caller by selecting it and dressing. Enter to change between outline and feel view. Just breast space. I am now adding a detail that I have not designed. This is totally okay. Computer is not just a finishing toe. It is also a place where you can experiment. To do these, I copied and based determination and rotated it, using the bullet burdens. To open a closed path, you have to press out and backspace on a selected point. Then just drag the open point toe another open point, and they will magically connect 7. Extending: the second part of the end is not necessarily the base for the eight. However, in my design, this makes sense, Luke and get my early sketch. I make an interpretation off the second part of the A. Using the busy it curves. See how I am creating new letters, having the existing ones as a base. This is not only faster, but it also facilitates uniformity you need in a typographic system. Normally, the P is irritation off the team in the queue. I rotation off the beat, but this is not the rule. It's only something that we are more used to see when you want to merge two different bats just use filter, remove overlap guidelines helped me keep the 30 degree angle all over my griefs. However, I am not following the strict rule over here. My high is sovereign over the design. In the end, I just keep what looks good. - One rookie mistake is to make an M size off two ends. This would make a very wide leaf, so you should just the distance between the stems off the end. - The U. S. Tighter than the n for them to look like they have a balanced with adjustments need to be made 8. A Pain in The “S”: Now it comes the really difficult part. The lower case, G and TS are the cliffs that normally take more time to do. It's OK to leave them and finished and start doing other stuff. Actually, this is what happens. Changes are always happening in all letters. When you add it, one you feel that you should edit other as well. Speed up the process of creating Garmin ized curves. I have a Blufgan called harmonizer. This Blufgan is part of a set off floodings called ramic stools. You can install this plug in if you want. Basically just adjusts my angel's so I don't have to do it manually because the S is such a difficult shape. I start by designing only a single stroke. When I am satisfied, I use filter off sent Beth and I get a shape like the others. Then it's just a matter of it. Over. Just get the tip I can give you on. These is to use more your high than your ruler. You want your phones to look good, not to be mathematically perfect. If something doesn't feel good, changes some stuff, I do it even without thinking about it. Try to look at the adjustments I make and take some lessons for yourself. - I made the tea from my L in the F is based on J. But this is not the rule in a different style. I would probably not do it like them. - You have worked well so far. You deserve a break. 9. Diagonals: now do diagonals, K, V, W, X, y and Zed. As we saw early that the agonal strokes appeared to be thicker than the vertical strokes, they need to be adjusted as a starting point. I will use the week off the vertical stems and then skew it. Well, skewing it, I am already adjusting its with. But if I used the rotation toe, I will let to adjust it afterwards when we have acute angles. The connection off the strokes appears to be bolder than the rest of the shape. This needs to be fixed. Adjust your diagonals until they look the same week off the rest of letters. A good measure for the wheat off the V is the wheat off the old? More or less. This is not a rule. What is important is if the latter feels right in the end to access the background layer. Just go to layer Eddie background. I just based in my O in the V background layer. I made the middle stems off the W thinner to balance the shape because there we have less negative space or white space. If the stems remained the same way, they would look bolder. - Asai was designing the K. I decided that maybe a slightly curved diagonal would look nice to be career int. I applied this style to some other diagonals. And this is it we have designed. All are lower case letters. Congratulations. 10. Therapists Need Good Spacing: so the next stage in designing your phone is to space your characters. You want to make sure you ever been spacing so you can have uneven shape of text that will make your text much more readable. And you will love what some nasty mistakes for that you will need to space each character. And then you will also need to space. Cem pairs off characters that is called curtain, so let's stick get it. To illustrate the importance of good spacing, let me tell you a story. A therapist needed to identify his office, and so he asks for a letter sign in his door. Unfortunately, the fun choosen at the spacing problem. And instead of reading therapist, everybody read the rapist and thats so you ruin your reputation with a badly spaced fund because you don't want to ruin anyone's reputation. You correctly space your phones, typing a lot of ends. You want to ensure that both the right and left side veering are correctly spaced Before you do anything else, make sure that the spacing is not too tight nor to lose. Do some experimentation until you fight this sweet spot, then do the same with Oh, oh! Is a symmetrical letter, so it does the same metric value on both sides. Find a good spacing and now start mixing ends with those and make the needed adjustments. Once you're satisfied, create a string of text where you place in an at the back and at the front of each lower case letter. I have already my text string stored in beliefs. I access them by clicking edit, select sample text. Now I space every letter keeping the rhythm I made with Deion's. It might be useful to have more ends at the front and at the back where ever more clear notion off the reason you are making some characters shared the same spacing instead of copy, pasting the values you can, simply typing the character that you want to copy the metrics from. Sometimes it might be helpful to turn on the measurement line so you can measure the white space between characters. Maybe by this time you're asking if there isn't any automatic way of doing this. There are some ways, but I have learned that when you are designing space that is influenced and influences the design of the shape itself so I think you should not rely on a machine to do it unless you are very sure of what you're doing. Because my end as these little Sary's when I was facing the you and some other letters, I used the Q and to be as a reference for space. This also means that I we left to use cunning for perfectly spaced these bears. 11. Kern Nerd: turning is the spacing between specific pairs of glyphs. Turning is normally negative, but sometimes there are some current pairs with the positive value to insert a cunning, just insert the number in the little box with the number case. Kay. By now, you might be saying, this will be an awful amount of work. Yes, it will, but you can speed it up. We can create groups so that when we current a specific leather, all other letters that share the same shape will be effective, for instance, like the left part of video in the left part of the queue. To do these, we will assign groups to our letters. I am no putting the left part of the Q Indio in the same room. Make sure the little lock I can is locked. You only unlock it when you want to create an exception inside the group. This can happen when you have letters with the critics. For example, let me take a look at the word typography. There is a lot off space between the rnd a here. I don't need to create the group because there are no letters that share the same shapes. Now I also spotted that the B in the age look very far from each other. But I know that this is probably not occurring problem but a spacing problem. I assigned piece right side bearing to the O's right side bearing. But then I changed the o side bearing. The change is not automatic. You need toe abs. Eight metrics layer state metrics to create a very good kern ing. You should look at every possible combination year. I will only be focusing on some that probably need more attention. 12. Export and Print: it's very important that you export in best your phones to see if everything is working okay and also to wear a different look then you have on the screen. I would also give you some hints on how to test very perfectly your farm and to make sure you don't leave anything behind. Let's sprint. This is pretty much self explanatory. It's good to bring to your letters in big and small sizes so you can see how they behave in different conditions to create strings of text with the letters that you have designed, you can go to the addition text website and create a sample. Even if you have only designed the world diagnose, you can create the sample next week. It is very important to look at your designers system in see how it behaves in the text, and not only in small words. You should bring it and spot any mistakes. It's amazing out to see your work in a different medium awakens you for problems that you wouldn't see if you just get designing on your screen. Now it's time for some fine tuning. - Now that you are happy, export your phone. Go ahead file export. Choose any destination you like, and then install the front in your system. However, if you have adobe software, you can install it in the same path I installed it. This is good because in this folder you will not have any problems with front caches. And you can edit the file as many times as you want without any concern. Now open, illustrator and create the sample post. Have fun experimenting with your phone. This is your any funny moments types and be wards and also Web suffix. Use the sample decks you have created before. - I am sure your poster We'll look better than mine. Please show us what you've done. I'm really trailed to see your phone. Congratulations for all these amazing work. 13. Do it All Over Again: It's also important to leave your projects on the drawing for a few days. Are few meats. Then you could later look at it and maybe spots a mystic that you haven't seen before. So this is it. You have created your own phone and I try to see what you have designed. Please share. Now be really happy to see what you Good luck.