Language and Letterform Font Project



Prior to my Thanksgiving break, I was assigned by my Language and Letterform professor my next project for the class, which involved designing my own font and then bringing it to life using programs like Adobe Illustrator, and Glyphr Studio, so they could be used in future assignments in the text box function of my Adobe programs. I was told to create letterforms for all the letters of the alphabet, and expand from there by including numbers, punctuation, lowercase letters, and other miscellaneous glyphs.

For inspiration, I looked at some fonts commonly used in both science fiction and fantasy book covers and movie posters/advertisements so that my own unique font could best reflect my esoteric interests and overall personality. I wanted my font to be a suitable extension or representation of myself and my passions in fantasy and science fiction. I wanted to create  a truly alien font understandable both by humans and a hypothetical alien civilization (nerd out!). Using graph paper initially to test out and draw with pencil the shape of my letters, I took a liking to the sci-fi font Earth Orbiter, and the fantasy font of the Daedric alphabet from the Elder Scrolls/ Skyrim series, and combined them into one unique font that retained the sleek simplicity and modernism of the former (Earth Orbiter), as well as the sharp, pointy edges and ancient “texture” of the latter (Elder Scrolls). After multiple reiterations, I finally managed to create the font’s numerical symbols from 0 to 9, then did the letters, and finally pushed myself further and did some symbols for digraphs for sounds and letter combinations like oo, ee, sh, ch, th, and more. When planning out the size of my glyphs based on the x-height of the capital x of my alphabet, to make things easier for me I decided to use only capital letters for my font and make them all the same size (four square units by four square units, or 1 inch by 1 inch).

Following the steps of the font project, I afterwards scanned and uploaded the files containing my numbers and letters/digraphs into Illustrator as .png black and white files (to make the text stand out from the graph paper background), then .bmp, or Bitmap files. I then selected, copied, and pasted the grid squares where each of my individual letter, number, and digraph glyphs were onto separate Illustrator .bmp files, meaning I had 26 individual files for each letter of my font’s alphabet, 9 for the font’s numerical sequence, and about 6 for the digraphs. For each file thereafter, I used the erase tool on Illustrator to eliminate the black lines of the graph paper background, then used the blob brush tool to fill in any holes in the scanned renderings of my pencil-filled original font glyph designs, or to straighten out any crooked, broken, or jagged edges from my pencil drawing. For each file I also traced the image of my font’s glyphs, ignoring the white in the background, and expanded them to create crisp glyphs for all my files.

Saving/converting each of my font’s .bmp files as .svg files, I uploaded all my letter, number, and digraph files onto a program my professor introduced us to called Glyphr Studio, which had numerous bugs and was recommended for beginning font designers rather than intermediate designers or those already well-versed in the industry, and adept at using better softwares like Glyph Mini. Numerous troubles arose in the past when font files uploaded incorrectly, and when unexplainable freezes in the program forced me constantly save my progress by downloading the source codes of my glyphs and loading them into Glyphr once I restarted the program. Glyphr Studio itself did not have options for digraphs, so my final result used only capital letters and the numerical sequence I mentioned before (and if it did, I would have to do some digging around for the Unicode values of the Latin digraphs I based my glyphs off of, which would take too long).

Near the home stretch of the duration of my project, I used various functions on Glyphr Studio to test out the spacing, ligatures, kerning pairs, and size values of my font’s individual glyphs. Since all my glyphs were the same size, my only concerns were the spacing between individual glyphs of my font, and the spacing between individual lines up and down of the font. As a final step, I converted all my .svg files into otf files using Cloud Convert, and managed to download my font as an actual font to use on Illustrator using my default Mac program Font Book. In the end, I was satisfied with my work, and decided to call my font FONTRUNNER. The name is taken from the word “Forerunner”– a synonym of the word progenitor, predecessor, or precursor, or meaning “the first”. In the context of science fiction, many novels and stories contain tales of the first alien races to colonize planets and sometimes entire galaxies, forming galactic empires who at the peak of the glory and advancement fell into ruin for one reason or another, natural or artificial (war, cosmic disaster, etc). The Halo series for example, has had the Forerunners as a staple species and plot device in the game’s universe.


Leave a reply

Skip to toolbar