Practical Font Design
3.3 (80 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
515 students enrolled

Practical Font Design

Simple techniques in FontLab Studio 5 to efficiently create your first fonts or streamline your workflow
3.3 (80 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
515 students enrolled
Created by David Bergsland
Last updated 3/2016
English [Auto]
Current price: $29.99 Original price: $49.99 Discount: 40% off
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This course includes
  • 5.5 hours on-demand video
  • 2 articles
  • 5 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • By the end of the course, you will have the knowledge to develop the skills to produce your first professional quality font.
  • You will set all the font metrics
  • You will develop a special glyph used to keep the font consistent
  • You will design the caps, lowercase, numbers, and accents
  • You will add the accents characters
  • You will produce the rest of the characters in a 256 character font
  • You will add OpenType feature sets for small caps, oldstyle figures, lining figures, small cap figures and more
  • You will professionally letterspace the font
  • You will kern the font
  • You will generate the font for your use and for sale (if you desire)
  • Basic typography knowledge and experience in using fonts
  • A copy of FontLab Studio 5

This course will introduce you to the basics of font design using the leading software, FontLab Studio 5.

This is not a design class, but a production class. This is a practical method shared by a font designer with 35 years experience in typography and font design. Included is a sample font to get you started, discussions of concepts, and many practical demonstrations of the process of creating a font.

If you have been wanting to design your own font, this course will give you a basic production procedure you can build into a workflow that fits your working style.

The course materials will serve as a visual reference to complement the content of David's popular book, Practical Font Design Third Edition Plus. A downloadable PDF copy of the book is included with the course, plus a sample font you can use to start your new fonts. He will show you how to use the sample font.

You can complete the course in a week or two, but the production of your first font will take several months up to nearly a year to complete.

The course materials will remain a reference as you progress in your craft of font design.

Who this course is for:
  • The course is developed for graphic designers and typographers who are experienced in producing professional typography by using professional software like Adobe's Creative Cloud (or Suite) and/or QuarkXpress
Course content
Expand all 26 lectures 07:42:56
+ The basic tools of this course, plus an intro to the font design process
9 lectures 01:07:57

This book is supplemental materials. The lectures contain the newest techniques.

The popularity of this book is what brought this course into being. The idea of sharing practical production techniques had never been done before in font design.There's no intellectualizing or high concept discussion here. This course is about how to produce a font quickly and efficiently. The design problems are only hinted and are completely up to the individual designer. There is an explanation of font categories, and a lot about readability. But again, that has to do with practicalities and not aesthetics.

The PDF is set up in spreads so you can read it like a book. Normally $10, it's included with this course.

"Practical Font Design With FontLab 5" the book which resulted in this course
137 pages

An intro giving you a little of my background, showing you briefly some of my font designs, and describing the focus of the course and for whom it is designed.

Preview 08:59

This PDF defines vertical font metrics using an image from the supplementary book. I'll be using these terms, and assuming that you understand them, as we go through the course. One of the main surprises for many new font designers is the concept of optical alignment zones. This will show you what to look for.

Terminology of Type Metrics
2 pages

This is a basic 10-step guide to the process of designing a font presenting the idea of working on the font as a whole and efficiently moving toward the finished font.

Preview 06:28

This shows the setups which need to be made before we can start drawing the font. The only thing else requires is in the next lecture where you'll decide how you want to letterspace the font.

Setting up your font and adding a mask to generate your character slots

This lecture breaks down the complexity of letterspacing into a concrete method which quickly trains your eye. The result is that you will be able to enter the sidebearings as you draw the characters, and you will have good letterspacing at the same time as you finsh drawing all the characters.

The basics of letterspacing

These are the tables talked about in the previous lecture for you to print out and tack up next to your screen as you work out your letterspacing.

The letterspacing tables
1 page

This is a quick introduction to using one of FontLab's best features, the Paint toolbar. It's Pathfinder in a tool, Plus, some other things like the transform handles and more.

Drawing tools

This sample font is yours to use as you wish. I gives you an excellent start for a new font of your design. Download the zipped archive in supplementary materials for this lecture.

The sample font
+ Drawing the font with spacing
8 lectures 02:15:35

A presentation showing how to add a special glyph for character assembly and letterspacing.

Adding the measurement pieces glyph

A demonstration of drawing the cap I and then adding the pieces to the special glyph.

Drawing the cap I

A demonstration of drawing the cap O and adding the pieces to the special glyph

Drawing the Cap O

Follow David through the design process for the new font as he covers the lower l, i, period, dot accent, diaeresis, and h

Drawing the lower l, i, & h, plus the period
Exercises you should be doing now...
Finishing the period and accents,then doing the n & m

Building some more complex characters like the B, P, & R

Drawing the B, P, & R

Building the b, d, p, & q characters

Drawing the b, d, p, & q
+ Letterspacing, adding characters, OpenType features, and kerning
9 lectures 01:59:23

Here we check the letterspacing using the Metrics panel. My method gets us pretty close, but I left some pretty severe mistakes in my sample font so you can see how easy it is to fix the letterspacing even if you seemingly mess it up. You will learn how to do this quickly.

Checking the Letterspacing

At this point, we add all of the accented characters necessary for the various languages supported by the basic 8-bit font. This is what Windows calls the Upper ASCII characters. There are more than this, but we can add the accented characters very quickly and efficiently—over 60 characters in a couple of minutes.

Generating the composite glyphs or accented characters
Where you should be now

A very brief introduction to OpenType and why we need it.

What is Opentype?

Importing a .fea file to produce your OpenType features and to automatically add the new glyphs needed for those features. The glyphs are added in a logical order which greatly speeds up you character production.

Adding OpenType features

Some practical demos on converting your caps to small caps while keeping the same stroke weights.

Producing the small cap glyphs

This is a quick general discussion about what kerning is, why it is important, and why it applies less to book design.

Some basic kerning information

Here are a bunch of tip, techniques and demos—inclusing the generating of kerning and metrics classes

Kerning your font, a demo

Now you generate the font and use it in your daily work until you are sure it's ready to go. Then you can sell it a MyFonts or if it is of professional quality.

Generating your font