Fontself Tutorial: Bring Your Type to Life!

We recently shared wonder software Fontself by interviewing its creator by Franz Hoffman. To further share the potential of this revolutionary programme we enlisted the help of John Palowski, one of our Manchester teachers who runs his own type foundry, Adoxo Projekt (match made in heaven right?) to shed more light on the capabilities of the software with a step-by-step tutorial. 

Rather than test one of his new typefaces John saw the perfect opportunity to bring to life recent graduate Dan Crossley’s typeface, designed during his time on the full-time course, as part of the Nike ID brief. Dan joined the course straight from school, with no previous experience other than a passion to learn graphic design and get straight into the industry. On the decision to come to Shillington over the more predictable route of applying to Universities Dan explained;

“I started at Shillington because throughout school I knew that I loved Graphic Design and it was something I wanted to do as a career. I was tempted to go down the University route but the idea of 4 years at Uni really didn’t appeal to me. One of my friends had been to Shillington and recommended it to me. As soon as I found out more about it, I knew it was perfect for me as I just wanted to get out in to the real world as soon as possible.”

Now working at Manchester based agency Buffalo 7 with fellow graduates Hannah Tyson and Steph Slater, Dan is spending every day doing what he loves. Read on to watch John transform Dan’s first typeface ‘Crossley Colour’ into a functioning typeface using Fontself! Remember there’s a 50% discount for all Shillumni, find the code on our website

These steps show how to to create a Bitmap Colour Font using Adobe Illustrator and FontSelf for Photoshop CC 2017—to be used in Photoshop for Mac.  

Step 1—Get inspired! Like any project, designing a typeface needs to have some thought behind it. You want your typeface to have a concept and a personality so don’t scrimp on the research stage. Grab your sketchbook and draw out your typeface as you would with any other thumb-nailing. Dotted notebooks are ideal for this as they lend themselves to the letterforms rather than a blank surface. (Ignore this step if you already have an idea or the making or a typeface in mind).

Step 2—Set up your document in Illustrator. It’s much easier to experiment, compared to Photoshop. In Shillington tradition remember to use layers correctly; keep your guides and artwork separate and label your guides for your Ascender, x-height, Baseline & Descender. Think back to your quizzes for those definitions!

Step 3—Construct your letterforms A—Z & 0—9 (plus lowercase & punctuation if you want to push it that far). Analyse. Test. Print. Mark up. Tweak. Finesse. Repeat that process until it’s perfect!

Step 4—It’s now time to make the switch from Illustrator and set up your Photoshop Document. Bitmap fonts do not have infinite scalability unlike normal Vector based fonts so the resolution of your document and physical size of each character is very important. For this demo, the document is set to 300dpi and each letterform is 45mm in height. This will equate to a maximum usability size of 180pt for printed documents—before the characters start to pixelate.

Step 6—Bring in each character individually by copying from your Illustrator document and pasting as a smart object. Make sure they are perfectly aligned to your guides.

Step 7—Now to let FontSelf work its magic! It’s easier if all the characters A—Z are in a single row, as they can be dragged and dropped in as a single batch. The software will recognise that there are 26 characters and will give you the option to place them into the uppercase or lowercase generator panel. Do the same with the numbers too, making sure that they’re the right order (0—9). You can either grab the characters from the workspace, or the Layers Palette. 

Tip: If you have only designed the uppercase characters, then add the same characters to the other lowercase panel to aid usability when using the font later.

Step 8—Once all the characters are in, don’t forget to fill out the important Font Information before hitting ‘Export’.

Step 9—Install the .otf file through Font Book (it’s better if Photoshop is closed during this operation), which will be added to your font collection. Currently bitmap fonts will only function through Photoshop CC 2017, but that will hopefully change in the near future! Be patient for the font file to be updated in the Photoshop font list as it will likely be a bigger file than every other font in your collection. 

Step 10—Once it’s installed, get stuck in & enjoy!

Love this Crossley Colour font? Download the Open Typeface via Google Drive!

If you’re part of our Shillumni remember that there’s a 50% discount code available over on our website. It’s the ideal tool for pushing typography to the next level and bringing your designs to life. 

Thinking of enrolling at Shillington? Our April intake is just around the corner in London, Manchester and New York. Find out more at one of our upcoming Info Sessions