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I have recently created my own font/typeface with Adobe Illustrator, and I would like to use it as a real font (e.g I would like to use it as I type something).

Is this possible in Adobe Illustrator or would I need a different software?

If so what program would be good for creating a font?

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9 Answers 9

up vote 16 down vote accepted

To create a font, you need a font editing program. FontCreator is quite popular and inexpensive. FontForge is an open source font editor, if you're up to the somewhat dense documentation. FontLab has a utility called TypeTool, a little more expensive but has a good reputation.

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You need a program that can make actual font files from your vector illustrations.

In the 'olden days' the primary tool for that was Macromedia Fontographer, which is now owned by Fontlab

Fontlab also makes FontLab Studio and several other Font creating and designing programs that much of the type design industry uses.

Alternatives to their offerings would be Glyphs for OSX or the open source FontForge

UPDATE:

I haven't yet tried it, but a new open source font editor has shown up called Bird Font:

http://birdfont.org/

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I suggest that you use BirdFont and follow these steps to import your work in the editor.

Draw a triangle and a rectangle. Use them as test shapes to decide what your x-height should be.

Overview

Compare your test glyphs to other fonts using the preview tab. (Ctrl+p)

Preview

Turn on grid and guidelines for x-height and margin. Create four rectangular markers at the bottom line, baseline, x-height and top.

Glyph template

Save your glyph template as SVG. (Edit -> Export glyphs as SVG)

Open your glyph template in Illustrator and turn on rulers (Ctrl+r). Drag down new lines from the ruler to the bottom line, baseline, x-height and top positions.

Illustrator

Insert your glyphs in to the template file.

Resize the glyph.

Save your glyph with a different name.

Import the file in BirdFont. (Edit->Import SVG)

Done

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Thanks for the info on Birdfont. It's on my list of apps to try out. –  DA01 Feb 21 '13 at 6:26
    
Great quickstart guide, thanks a lot! –  Kjeld Schmidt Jul 14 at 20:30
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This is the fastest, simplest, FREE method I've found so far to create a font from scratch. Although, if you have the glyphs already created, Fontforge can import svg files.

  1. Print off a template from MyScriptFont (or just save and import the pdf into Gimp or Photoshop, and write/paste your glyphs into their respective boxes). The template should be in TIFF or PNG and be at least 300dpi. JPG compresses images by default, which is bad for image quality.
  2. Upload the template and save the font file MyScriptFont gives you.
  3. To make it perfect, you will have to edit it. Two free font editing programs are: Type light and Fontforge, although Type light has a much simpler interface for basic editing, and runs natively on windows.
  4. I have found that MyScriptFont sets the x-height too large, and the descender depth too small.
    • You can fix this in Type light by going to Font > Metrics (in Type light).
    • Also, if your font is too small (i.e. size 12 is unreadable), you can change the "EM Unit Size" to be smaller. I used 650.
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There is a very careful procedure for taking your Illustrator work over to FontLab, should you decide to go that route. I've noted it before, but there's no harm in repeating I suppose.

Pulled directly from FontLab (they didn't bother to make theirs readable).

In Illustrator:

  • Edit > Preferences > Units & Undo or Units & Display Performance: Change all units to points (1 point is equal to 1 unit in TypeTool).
  • Preferences > Files & Clipboard: Disable PDF, enable AICB and select Preserve Paths.
  • Preferences > Guides & Grid: Gridline every 10 pt and Subdivisions 10.
  • Set the width of the document in points to be the double of the UPM size of your font (e.g. 2000 pt for a 1000 UPM font).
  • Set the height of the document to be the same as UPM size — Descender (e.g. 1000 — (-263) = 1263 pt).
  • Select Window > Info, View > Show Rulers, View > Snap to Grid.
  • Disable View > Guides > Lock Guides.
  • Optionally select View > Show Grid.
  • Position a guide at the height that has the same (positive) value as the (negative) descender of your font (e.g. 263 in our example).
  • Position a guideline and position it at 0.
  • Position the origin point to where the two guidelines cross.
  • Drag guidelines to the positions of your ascender, x-height, and caps height.
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One font creation tool that I find many Type Designers recently switching to is RoboFont (which was created by a Type Designer). You might want to take a look at that as well.

It offers tutorials to get you started along with some extensions for the program.

Note: Mac only

Edit: I forgot to add this video which shows some features - http://vimeo.com/34351633

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I find that Philippa Berry Smith's tutorials on YouTube are excellent, like this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSi1OgvuCPk

She shows you how to draw the font in illustrator.

And then, this one is great for how to make sure the fonts are the right size in illustrator, then how to export them to FontLab:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI-7e4nRNus

Plus she has an Kiwi accent, which is fun.

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Hi Chris. Welcome to GD. Very interesting videos, a good addition to the question! –  Yisela Feb 20 '13 at 22:07
    
No problem. Also, I've recently started using the Glyphs Mini app, which is actually similar to using the arc/pen tools in Illustrator, but is nicer in how you can work on an entire font set at a time and adjust the kerning properties on the fly. –  Chris Livdahl Feb 21 '13 at 9:18
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Seeing as this post is like a list of font-creation software, I'd like to add another for everyone to consider. I recently came across it on Kickstarter, and whilst I haven't tried it, it looks quite promising.

It's called Prototypo. It's a brand new alternative, and it's crowdfunded!

Definitely worth considering in future, though it's currently in private beta. You can subscribe to their newsletter to try and win access to the beta, I know I'm going to.

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I am trying to do the same thing.

I got fontographer and FontLab Studio from FontLab. I think there is a free demo.

The pen tool is less then rad in these programs. For my purposed I need to make layers because I'm going to stack them with CSS to make a logo.

So I made the characters in Illustrato. THEN -

I went through this turorial.

and I watched this tutorial.

I'm still pretty lost. My characters aren't showing up on the baseline properly.

But I think this should get you going in the right direction.

Good Luck!

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