When you've worked out the shapes of the basic character set, you're ready to begin digitizing. There are two basic strategies for creating Bezier outlines: use a drawing program like Illustrator, or draw directly in a font development tool like Glyphs.
- [Instructor] Digitizing type means creating boundaries around our forms using bezier outlines. The two most common methods for digitizing are a drawing program, like Adobe Illustrator, and a type design software, like Glyphs App. There are benefits to using Glyphs App. The tools are more tailored to drawing type, and it avoids the second stage of translation between two programs. However, graphic designers tend to be more familiar with drawing in Illustrator and can begin work quickly.
Scan your drawings at a consistent size and resolution. Make sure you have enough resolution and detail to follow along faithfully with your digital outline. If you're not sure, do a test letter from a scan before scanning all of your drawings. Be sure your drawings are straight, with a perfectly flat baseline. If you're using Illustrator, create a 1000 by 1000 point canvas. Points in Illustrator correspond directly to the unit system in Glyphs.
Place your scans in a background layer and draw on a dedicated layer above that. Use Illustrator's guidelines to set your baseline, x height, ascender and descender lines, and cap height. The 1000 by 1000 unit square is called an M square. It represents the vertical boundaries of the typeface. Maximize your letters within that space.
The ascender should reach the top and the descender should reach the bottom. If your letters exceed the M square, there's a good chance that ascenders and descenders will bump into one another in multiple lines of text, or in some cases get cut off. If your letters are too small on the M square, your typeface will appear tiny or scant compared to others. It may be helpful to use a stroke as you draw so you can see the path of the pen in contrast with the background image.
But, and this is important, when you've finished your path and closed the shape, fill it with black and be sure that there is no stroke. Strokes make a mess when they are imported into Glyphs App. Letters with interiors, like the lowercase o, should be drawn and inverted into compound paths via the Illustrator object menu. Print your digitized drawings and judge them. Compare them to your original drawings and make sure you've not lost any essential details.
Adjust as necessary, and when you've finished with your work, eliminate the background scan and save the drawing as an EPS named with the character name, o.eps for instance. Keep a separate folder for uppercase and lowercase characters to avoid naming conflicts. It's possible to work on multiple glyphs in one file, but if you do, they'll import into font software as a single glyph that will then have to be separated. Glyphs App will automatically import multiple EPS drawings into their proper glyphs cells if you name them correctly.
When your drawings are done, you'll import them into a font software like Glyphs App where you'll refine them further, set side bearings, and export them as a working font. With that goal in mind, you may wanna take the time to learn about using Glyphs App to avoid the middle step of drawing in Illustrator.
- Why study typography?
- What makes a typeface great?
- Stroke angle, weight, and contrast
- Shape variations
- Finding good models
- Typeface vs. lettering
- Drawing the basic glyphs
- Producing a functioning font
- Printing, critiquing, and revising