When designing a font, and typography in general, it can be tricky to create something that really stands out. It’s not necessarily a case of lacking originality, but more so that there are so many different fonts out there to deal with. So, you’ve got to be clever in how you navigate through this - and you’ve got to do everything you can to be unique.
Today, we want to take a look at this practice and see what we can do to help those of you who are heading down this path. Designing a font is something many of us have tried at one point or another, whether it be while scribbling on a piece of paper or messing around on our laptop. Alas, it takes a special kind of effort to really get something like that off the ground in a professional environment.
With that being said, it’s take to take a look at this journey through the world of fonts and how to make the most of it.
At the heart of it all, unique typography is important because it gives you a distinct edge over any competitors you may have in your field. Alternatively, if you’re hoping to distribute your typography to the masses, it’s important because you want to stand out from the crowd. There’s always a risk that the design process could drift into something a bit messy, but we’ll touch on that more later.
When you’re putting together the finer details, it’s critical that you don’t get tripped up on anything that could impact you in the long run. So, we’ve opted to run through a quick “guide”, if you will, to give you a few simple pointers.
We said simple, and we meant it. It should really go without saying, as this is a pretty common thing to do in any working environment, but you need to be heavily researching what else is out there. From serif to sans serif and beyond, there are so many different elements you have to consider when you’re dealing with a project like this.
Firstly, you need to break it up into categories. Is it going to be classical? Edgy? Harsh? Wacky? There are endless possibilities, and you need to find an identity that’s going to work for you and your brand. If you can’t do that from the word go, then you need to re-evaluate your plan before kickstarting this mission.
It’s an art in itself to be able to sketch and get everything you want down on paper. It’s also the first step that many of us take in the creative process, and font design should be no different. It allows you to run free with your ideas, and if you make an error or you whip something up that you don’t like, it doesn’t matter because there’s no pressure here.
It also gives you the chance to take your work in directions that you otherwise wouldn’t have been expecting. Perhaps an entirely new design will pop into your head without realising it, all because you were just going through the trial and error phase. It’s exciting to consider what could stem from this, especially if you’re going in with an open mind.
When you’ve been able to sketch out what you consider to be the perfect finished product, then you can begin to move further up the ladder by going digital. This is where it was always going to end up, and making that jump is exciting. Alas, the difficulty that comes with it shouldn’t be underestimated because theory can only take you so far.
From general font software to Adobe Photoshop to Adobe Illustrator, there are plenty of ways to get started with this. It helps to start working on the glyphs and the alignments, understanding how every letter fits into every space. You may have started off thinking this was going to be a walk in the park, but once you get to this point, you’ll realise you were mistaken.
Graphic design is sort of what we do here at Hatchly, and when you’re working with a brand new font, it can’t hurt to test things out - which is why you should think about incorporating your font into some other work samples. It’ll allow you to see how they match up to different advertisements or marketing tools, and from there, you can get into how it’d look on your standard Word document or website.
It’s all about the layout and making sure you’ve got every base covered. You may be prioritising a font that’s going to be used as a one-off tool on a poster, or perhaps you want to create a piece that’s more substantial. It’s hard to break through in a field like this, which is why you can never have too many different plates spinning at once.
It all comes down to feedback. If you’ve spawned the idea from your own imagination and in your own image, then it can be difficult to see things clearly from a different point of view. In your eyes, it may be the best thing since sliced bread, but for others, it may not quite click. So, work on putting together a focus group that can come at you from a bunch of different angles.
Different tastes, different ways of giving constructive criticism - it’s all valuable. Sure, you can throw it onto the World Wide Web if you really fancy your chances, but that feels a little bit careless. We all need to know when to take a step back and ask for some assistance, and with a font, you’re going to benefit greatly from both the good and the bad comments.
It’s never a good feeling when you’ve got to admit that you made a mistake, but these things can make us so much better in the long run. Still, it’d be nice if you had the chance to bypass that altogether, which is why we’re here. We want to run through a few quick and avoidable mistakes that many people out there continue to make. If you sidestep them, you’ll be off to the races.
Look, we know that there’s a certain instinct to make things look as fancy or jazzy as possible, especially in typography. However, the detriment to that is the readability. If you try too hard to be alternative, then you’re going to wind up worse off than when you started because you’ll run your plans by the masses, and their first response will be, “what does it say?”.
It pays to be bold and brave, but you also have to find your limits, and sometimes, people can skip over things like readability purely because they like the design they’re working on. That’s all well and good, but you have to think about the bigger picture before leaving yourself on the back foot with a project that isn’t likely to fully get off the ground.
When you’re trying to create a new font, it’s really, really important that you take the hierarchy into consideration. What do we mean by that? Well, basically, you want a structure that’s going to work throughout the entirety of a design or piece of writing. The best way of getting this done, in our view, is to divide up the responsibilities before executing them.
You’ll want a larger heading that is the most prominent, a slightly smaller sub-heading, and then the body text. It all has to work in association with the others, and ideally, it needs to be seamless. If it looks like three different operations are being strung together, then it’s going to come across as an unprofessional product, and nobody wants that.
This entry can go hand in hand with the first when it comes to making mistakes, but we felt as if it was important to really analyse why the text space is so important. You need to start by modifying the spaces between the lines to make them fit before going on to kerning, which involves adjusting the space between two individual letters.
You then proceed to tracking, where you modify the spacing between the entire word. There can be a temptation for any creator to just slap a sticker on your work and be done with it, but you can’t allow complacency to creep in here. If you get this right, then it could be the final piece of the puzzle en route to getting this out there for the public to see.
At the heart of so many different fonts is a desire to create something special - and that usually goes beyond the realm of just the typography itself. It can often revolve around many different ideas and briefs, but more often than not, you do get quite a lot of crossover with graphic design - and everything that runs alongside it.
Here at Hatchly, we have a lot of experience in that department with our unlimited graphic design service. We’re here to help with any and all concerns you have with graphic design, typography, and much more.
If you’re interested in learning about what we have to offer, feel free to check out our website and get in touch!