Professional typographers and graphic designers know all too well that the perfect font can turn a boring document into an aesthetically pleasing and visually compelling design. But despite the millions of free and paid fonts available for download, it can sometimes be difficult to find that perfect typeface. The solution? Create your own.
While creating a brand new font from scratch may seem daunting, the font editor software available today makes font creation easier than ever before. Fonts are designed in one of three main methods: Take an existing font and modify it; hand draw letters, scan them and turn the images into font glyphs; or draw the letters in an illustrator program and convert them to font glyphs. Whatever your preferred method, there is a font creator and font maker software out there for you.
We've compared the best font generator software, like FontLab Studio, TypeTool and Fontographer. In addition to reviews on these products, you'll find the best font editor software comparisons and reviews, articles on font editing and tips on how to best utilize your new application. At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don't Have To.™
Because font editing and creation is a technically complex subject, it’s important to know exactly what tools and features you should look for – and which ones you don’t really need. As we reviewed the various applications, we were able to identify some of these features.
Font Creation Features
One of the most important features about font editor software is how many glyphs, or different character representations, the software supports. If you are creating a font with many glyphs (for example, if you want different variations of e, such as ẻ, ẽ, è, é, ê and ë, which are each separate glyphs), then you should look for an application that supports a full range of 20,000 glyphs or more. Arabic and Hebrew character support and the ability to create OpenType features or composite glyphs will help you achieve a wide range of characters as well. Basic, advanced and vector drawing tools are important for individual tweaks. A good application will let you create one font by blending two other fonts together, and will always include both manual and automatic hinting, metrics and kerning options. Though bitmap fonts are becoming outdated, you should look for software that allows you to import and trace bitmaps, so you can create fonts from handwritten glyphs.
Editing & Conversion Features
Almost as important as the creation features are the editing and conversion features. After all, you should have options if you chose to modify your font down the road. You should look for the ability to open and save as a wide variety of font types, including Type 1, TrueType/OpenType TT, OpenType PS, and even bitmap fonts. Vector EPS functionality will help as well. You should also be able to convert between font formats and edit individual glyphs and entire fonts, and change family and style names as needed.
Ease of Use
Because this is such a complex subject, your font editor software should have a simple, intuitive user navigation and workflow. Being bogged down with a difficult interface will make an already tedious project take even longer. Buttons and menus should be clearly labeled and easy to find, and windows or tool panels should not obscure your work area.
Help & Support
In the event that you need outside help, the software developer should offer a variety of support options. Most important is an extensive user manual, preferably one with appendices like a glossary or a list of common kerning pairs or OpenType functions. Other useful tools include a way to directly contact a support team, like an email address, contact form or phone number. Online tutorials and user forums are an added bonus.
You probably won’t need all of the tools and features mentioned, depending on how you want to create your font and what features you’d like to be able to change in any given font. But having an idea of what tools you do need will help you make an informed decision when the time comes to purchase high-quality font editor software.