Practical Font Design

Simple techniques in FontLab Studio 5 to efficiently create your first fonts or streamline your workflow

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  • Lectures 26
  • Video 7.5 hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion

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About This Course

Published 4/2014 English

Course Description

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.

What are the requirements?

  • Basic typography knowledge and experience in using fonts
  • A copy of FontLab Studio 5

What am I going to get from this course?

  • 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)

What is the target audience?

  • 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

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What you get with this course?

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30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: The basic tools of this course, plus an intro to the font design process
137 pages

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.


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.

2 pages

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.


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.


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.


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.

1 page

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.


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.


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.

Section 2: Drawing the font with spacing

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


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


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


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

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


Building the b, d, p, & q characters

Section 3: Letterspacing, adding characters, OpenType features, and kerning

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.


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.

Where you should be now

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


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.


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


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


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


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.

Instructor Biography

David Bergsland, Author, teacher, and publisher at Radiqx Press

  • I began my art & design career in 1967 doing posters for my psychedelic rock band in Minneapolis
  • Earned my BFA in printmaking & painting in 1971
  • Illustrated for publishers as soon as I was graduated
  • Became a graphic artist in 1979 in West Virginia
  • Grew into Typographer & Art Director in 1983 in Albuquerque at a large commercial printer
  • Began teaching commercial printing in 1991 in a large community college in Albuquerque
  • Started writing textbooks in 1994 beginning with “Printing In A Digital World”—the 1st textbook on the all-digital workflow
  • Began designing fonts to use in my books
  • Developed digital publishing degree in 1996
  • Initiated on-demand publishing house for print & ebooks in 2002—which developed into a full-time effort in 2009

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