6 Best Free Tools For Creating Your Own Fonts
Fonts give a powerful form to our content. They can influence the way it is perceived and interpreted. They are essential for the feel of the website, application or whatever is designed for users. Nowadays, typography is especially important (and popular as a topic) in the context of responsive web design. There are so many wonderful, free fonts available online, but what if you want to modify them or make your own font?
What is great is there are several free font editors out there that you can use to create your own fonts. Below, you will discover 6 best free tools for designing fonts.
You can use these tools to create your own custom font from scratch. You can also design your fonts in vector graphics editors like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape and then import the “.svg” file in Font building tools like FontForge (mentioned below) to convert into TrueType or OpenType fonts.
So, without further ado, here is the list of best tools for creating fonts.
FontForge is a free font editor for the desktop that can be installed in Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. You can create your own font from scratch or modify an existing font file. It can handle many font file types, including TrueType (.ttf), PostScript (.ps), OpenType (.otf) and more. Besides, users can easily edit the existing ones with FontForge. Users can convert one format to another.
In FontForge, you draw letters using curves and modify their shape and position. If you are used to drawing in Photoshop or Gimp, this will not be too difficult. The Spiro mode lets you perform detailed adjustments on curves. For better control over your drawings, FontForge offers layers, and it can import SVG and EPS files from Illustrator and Inkscape.
You can also use it to extract fonts from PDF files. Before exporting your new font into one of many supported formats. You can also check for errors and inconsistencies with the Find Problems option and the Font Validation Tool.
The user interface of this font editor might seem daunting to beginners at first, so to get you on your way, read over the “steps to creating a font” tutorial on the FontForge website. With innumerable features and ease of use it offers, FontForge becomes the best pick.
FontStruct is a free font-building tool that is sponsored by the world’s leading retailer of a digital type named FontShop. It lets you easily create fonts constructed out of geometrical shapes that are arranged in a grid pattern, like tiles or bricks. Once the users have done their part, FontStruct generates high-quality TrueType fonts that are ready to use on any Mac or Windows application.
The basic interface is pretty straightforward, with only a few tools. However, this changes when you switch to Expert Mode. Here you get access to more options, like brick compositing and outlines. You can zoom in and out of the work area, switch to full-screen mode and toggle different kinds of grids and guidelines.
Your new font is exported either as TTF or in a special “.glyphs” format that can be edited on Mac OS X. FontStruct cannot import existing fonts or turn your handwriting into a font, but it lets you browse and download dozens of beautiful fonts created by other users.
BirdFont is not only free, but also open source, and it is a well-documented desktop tool for creating fonts. You can use it to create fonts under SIL Open Font License. If you need other licenses then you need to upgrade. The interface is divided into tabs on top, the main area in the middle and a sidebar with tools which are grouped by functions and explained here.
To create fonts, you can draw on the grid, import SVG icons to make an icon font. You can also draw letters by hand in another program (or even on paper), then import that image into BirdFont as a background and draw over it, tracing the letter shapes. BirdFont can import drawings from Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator, and export finished projects as TTF, EOT, and SVG fonts. Step-by-step tutorials can be found on the official website.
4. Type light
Type Light is a fully functional, freeware OpenType font editor that lets users design, edit and convert OpenType, TrueType and Postscript fonts. It is a light version of Type 3.2 font editor that lets you create fonts with ease. Free for personal and limited commercial use, Type Light is worth trying out.
You have probably heard of icon fonts — instead of letters, they contain small images and look especially good on websites. Fontastic is a tool for creating icon fonts, and it offers a short guide to show you how. Users can upload existing icons as SVG files and convert them within Fontastic. You can also build multiple fonts and font collections, and modify every character with CSS to add shadows and color. Icons in your font will scale automatically depending on the device, so you can be sure they will look great everywhere.
6. Glyphr Studio
Glyphr Studio is a beautiful, powerful and practical application comes in a portable form — there is no need to install it, it just runs as an HTML file. You can import outlines from Inkscape and Illustrator, or even import entire SVG fonts and modify them. It is possible to adjust kerning and ligatures and create Linked Shapes which can be reused to draw similar letters. With Glyphr Studio, you get a live preview of your font as you are making it with the Test Drive option. Professional designers will be delighted by the Two Screen Mode, which lets you split UI across two monitors.
A few last words
Though there are many free font editors out there, the above are the ones we can comfortably recommend to both newbies and experienced users. But if you are the adventurous type, do check out other free font editing software and projects such as GNU Font Editor, and DoubleType.
If you know any other free tools for creating fonts? Share your recommendations in the comments.
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