5 Keys to Create a Balanced Font

Today, there are an impressive number of downloadable fonts, of all styles and for all uses, free or paid, and under several possible licenses. How to navigate to make the right choice? How to acquire the right reflexes when creating your own font?

Here are 5 key points to see more clearly and understand the process of creating a font.

Article written by Raphael Le Garrec, a graphic designer registered on Graphiste.com.

For What Purpose?

As a first step, it will be necessary to determine which use will be your policy.

Is it for the body of a text or rather for titles?
Will it appear on paper or on screen?
Will it address a particular audience (children for example)?
Will it have the special characters of foreign languages?

These questions will help you choose some of the most important aspects of your font. A serif font will be ideal for dense text volumes, such as novel pages, serifs allowing the reader’s eye to follow a constant line.

However, this rule is not valid on screen. Because of the lower resolution (72 dpi), the serifs of the letters of a text will tend to blur the whole.

If your font is intended for a specific audience such as children, it will avoid stylization and move closer to a drawing of handwritten letters reminiscent of those learned at school (cursive).

It All Starts on the Paper

The best way to start thinking about drawing your font is to start your sketches on paper. This allows you to be more free of its tracks without having to juggle the various tools of a software.

Starting with drawing on paper, you do not need to think about what your hand should do to get to a particular path, so you can focus on drawing and let your creativity run free. It is best to use a grid to create balanced letters with smooth curves.

The Extent of the Series

If you want to create a complete and usable font in different contexts, it is advisable to think about the fonts that will compose your font.

The same writing font is actually composed of several fonts. For example, Times New Roman is a font of which one of the fonts may be Times New Roman Italic 12 points.

It will therefore be necessary that your font is the most harmonious possible even passed in italic or bold. Remember to decline it, do not just tilt the characters a few degrees to create an italic or increase their size to get a different fat. On a script font whose letters are normally linked together, a badly constructed italic will result in a brutal separation of each letter, and make it very unattractive.

Hunting and Approach

These two concepts are important in the process of creating a font, they will determine the comfort of reading and readability of letters.

The approach represents the empty space between each letter of a word. This space is specific to each font, and must be thought according to the design of each letter. For example, an “i” in its very narrow form will not have the same approach value as a “w”.
This setting will be much according to your eye, not strict numeric values. The idea is to determine what is the best balance.

Hunting (also called “advance”) represents the width of the character with its approaches. Basically, it can be fixed or proportional. A fixed chase will be the same size for all characters while a proportional chase, the most widespread, will vary depending on the letters.

Again, it is to be determined based on visual comfort.

Work in Vector

In order to correctly build your font, the most suitable method is to work with Illustrator in vector, once the overall design of each letter has been determined.

This will allow you to get very sharp lines, without pixelation on enlargement and especially a perfect curve layout.

Indeed, if you have the opportunity to spend a lot of time working on your font, keep in mind that each letter must remain harmonious as well on a text standard size that is expanded to appear on a poster 4 by 3.

The layout of a font must be extremely precise, which is why working in very large drawings of each letter is essential. This will allow you to detect imperceptible imperfections in reduced size such as broken curves or errors on angles and tips.

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