Designing a Retro-Style Superhero
Illustration by John Hersey

Selecting a font-creation software


Designing a Retro-Style Superhero

with Deke McClelland

Video: Selecting a font-creation software

In this chapter, we're going to create our Now, we're going to create and modify the letters inside of illustrator. And then we'll turn around and paste them into a font creation software. And there's all kinds of font creation apps out there.
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  1. 41s
    1. Welcome
  2. 13m 6s
    1. Masking a person from a white background
      8m 20s
    2. Smoothing out the edges of a jagged mask
      4m 46s
  3. 28m 52s
    1. Adding power and motion with Liquify
      8m 21s
    2. Puppet warping the legs closer together
      6m 36s
    3. Applying a perspective-style transformation
      5m 34s
    4. Smoothing and removing details with Liquify
      8m 21s
  4. 28m 34s
    1. Filling and stroking the silhouette
      3m 47s
    2. Drawing with the Pen and Brush tools
      7m 56s
    3. Hand-painting the face
      8m 56s
    4. Refining brushstrokes with Median and Minimum
      7m 55s
  5. 39m 2s
    1. Adding complementary colored clouds
      5m 28s
    2. Drawing a handful of spikes in Illustrator
      8m 34s
    3. Creating a burst pattern with Transform
      9m 36s
    4. Adjusting the spikes for a better effect
      7m 20s
    5. Bringing the burst pattern into Photoshop
      8m 4s
  6. 51m 4s
    1. Creating the extreme paths for the grill lines
      7m 31s
    2. Blending the grill lines in Illustrator
      9m 42s
    3. Correcting potential blending problems
      9m 58s
    4. Bringing the blended paths into Photoshop
      8m 27s
    5. Simulating pressure when stroking paths
      5m 35s
    6. Contouring the grill lines onto the face
      9m 51s
  7. 23m 47s
    1. Drawing a hand with the Pen tool
      9m 29s
    2. Converting the hand path to a shape layer
      6m 2s
    3. Finishing off the hands and gloves
      8m 16s
  8. 28m 49s
    1. Blend, scale, and rotate photographic flames
      6m 17s
    2. Filling in gaps with symmetrical flames
      7m 15s
    3. Shooting flames out of the hero's hands
      7m 34s
    4. Stroking the composite flames
      7m 43s
  9. 19m 13s
    1. Drawing cartoon flames as a shape layer
      5m 56s
    2. Enhancing the flames with layer effects
      5m 32s
    3. Adjusting Puppet Warp and Expansion
      7m 45s
  10. 16m 56s
    1. Installing a free comic-lettering font
      3m 59s
    2. Formatting the monologue text
      5m 43s
    3. Drawing the talk balloons (a.k.a. speech bubbles)
      7m 14s
  11. 43m 10s
    1. Selecting a font-creation software
      5m 17s
    2. Drawing consistently rendered letterforms
      9m 10s
    3. Pasting the letters into Glyphs Mini (Mac only)
      8m 11s
    4. Copying capitals into lowercase positions (Mac only)
      6m 45s
    5. Generating an OpenType font (Mac only)
      7m 56s
    6. Stylizing the custom font in Photoshop
      5m 51s
  12. 4m 24s
    1. Time lapse of the retro superhero
      3m 4s
    2. Until next time
      1m 20s

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Watch the Online Video Course Designing a Retro-Style Superhero
4h 57m Intermediate Jun 30, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Learn what it takes to design and create your own custom silver-age superhero. Join Deke as he starts by tracing a photo to create the hero's body and then jumps into Illustrator for the creation of the final effects. Finally, Deke takes us through the steps to lay out our own custom type to complete the comic.

Topics include:
  • Turning a person into a silhouette
  • Adding power and motion with Liquify
  • Drawing with the Pen and Brush tools
  • Creating a dramatic background
  • Adding grill lines and flames
  • Inserting talk balloons
  • Creating a custom comic font
Illustrator Photoshop
Deke McClelland

Selecting a font-creation software

In this chapter, we're going to create our own custom fonts, specifically, the one used to create these words, down here, at the bottom of the screen, FIRE UP! Which is also the name of the font. This is live-time, by the way, so, if you open this document at this stage of the game because we haven't created the font yet. You will get a font warning. Now, we're going to create and modify the letters inside of illustrator. And then we'll turn around and paste them into a font creation software. And there's all kinds of font creation apps out there. The one that I'll be demonstrating is this guy right here, Glyphs mini. Which is a great little program, does just about everything you ever needed to do and generates awesome results, costs just $45, so it's priced to sell, really great investment.

Here's the problem, notice that I'm viewing the program here at the Mac app store and that's because it's available only for the Macintosh. It is not available for the PC. If you're looking for a cross platform solution, well probably the best one out there for the price is type tool, and you can find it at right here, it costs about 100 bucks, either for the mac or the PC, so you can go that route, if you prefer. If you don't want to spend anything, there are free font programs out there but they are challenging. A great example is this guy right here, FontForge. And you can learn about it at But it is an interesting user experience at best. And it's a little bit challenging to even download and install the program. You can also locate some font creation software reviews out there like this. Notice that number two is Type tool, so that's a good sign. The reason it's number two is because another FontLab product, FontLab Studio,. It's pretty much the gold standard in the industry. The thing is it cost six hundred and 50 dollars.

So you pay a pretty steep price. In any, case you can use any program you like. We're going to start here in a PC because that's where I usually record. And we're going to start inside of illustrator as well, so I can give you a sense of how you start roughing in your characters. Now, of course if all you want is the words flame up, and you never intend to use that style of type ever again, you can just draw the characters inside of Illustrator, and then paste them inside of Photoshop, and go that route, and you can do that along with me too, if you want. I'm just creating a font because presumably I might want to use this type treatment in a future project. Anyway, I went ahead and sketched out the word flame using a pencil and a piece of paper and then I scanned it in and I placed the image inside of illustrator and then what I would do is double click on a layer that contains the imported image and turn on the template check box, so that we have a tracing template.

And then I'll click OK. And now, I'll go ahead and automatically dim that text. And then I would trace it using the pen tool which I've done in advance because this is fairly standard fare. So, I'll go ahead and turn on my trace letters. And I've made the fills translucent, so you can see that I've pretty accurately or really scrupulously followed my sketch lines. Problem is, that doesn't necessarily mean the letters are going to look consistent when combined with other letters. So, they look great with each other for the word flame, but we do have a few, sort of, idiosyncrasies from one letter to the next.

Which is why I ended up taking a different approach over time that resulted in these characters right here. So, you can see that they no longer match my sketch, at all. However, we have a great deal of consistency between the F, the L, and the E for example. They're almost exactly the same letters. And then the stems associated with the A and the M, subscribe to the same angles as well. And, so to pull this off what I did was, I assembled all of the characters in one overarching document, and I identified the letter forms that are similar to each other in order to simplify the process. So, you can see here all of these red characters are more or less elliptical so they're all based on this O right here, so we've got the Q, the C and the G all based on the O, and then these blue characters are all the vertical characters essentially, they're all based on this I shape right there.

Which is modified to some extent, along with a bar for the H, and a couple of different bars for the F, three bars for the E, and so forth. And then, we have the combo characters which include more or less vertical stems, along with round pieces like the D and the B P and R based on each other, and the R and the K share similarities as well, and then we've got these diagonal characters such as the A M X and Z, and then the upside down versions which I've made dark green, which are the V, W, and y. And then finally, we have these just playing free-form characters, that go their own way which are the J, s and U. And I'll show you how I assembled this letter forms inside of a single, over arching illustrator document in the very next movie.

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