Typeface design, hard?

I have need for some custom fonts, have downloaded fontlab and have been playing with it. It seems OK, but font design always appeared to be an abstruse art. Is this a time consuming path? Any pointers to good resources on learning how to make a typeface?

What exactly are you looking for? Perhaps someone can suggest an existing font that is satisfactory.

Font design IS an abstruse art. Like any craft, it requires skill, knowledge, artistry and practice. There are plenty of books on the subject, and lots of design courses include modules on type design.

That having been said, there are already about a kadgillion fonts out there, half of which are decent. Unless your requirements are very specific, I’d be surprised if someone hasn’t produced something that either fits the bill, or which acts as the starting point for modification.

Our problem is copyright - font copyright is a downright mess. For this project where the font is embedded they require you to track your monthly usage. For a font. Never mind the million other 3rd party assets we’re using, a stupid font requires exorbitant fees and tracking. Besides which no there’s nothing I’ve found combing the archives that quite works, and I also need it for some music notation.

So yeah looking for books, tips or websites on getting started.

You need to talk to Abraham Lee at Music Type Foundry.

By coincidence, I saw a post about a brand new book on this topic, which was just published. I haven’t read it, but it looks interesting. More details here.

Sorry guys I didn’t word my post well and it led you astray, it should have been “Font licensing terms are unacceptable, there’s no budget for a font developer, I’m also a 3D & technical artist which is much more difficult material - so what’s the shortest shortcut to learn how to develop a basic font?” :smiley:

Thanks Daniel that looks great - UK only print for now unfortunately, but unless something better comes along I’ll see if I can get it shipped across the pond. If you have any other tips (I was hoping you’d post to this) with pointers I’m all ears.

My wife recently made a font using an online tool called Calligraphr (https://www.calligraphr.com/en/). She said it was pretty reasonably priced. You can see hers near the bottom of http://debfoxdesign.com/manlys-pioneer-route-west.shtml. If you have graphic design experience, I’m sure you can figure it out.

This is really, really interesting. How hard would it be to make these characters SMuFL-compatible?

I’d like to create my own clefs to imitate some handwritten hymnal designs, so I’d only need a handful of symbols in total.

The problem with this approach is getting rid of the little artefacts and turning the initial idea into something coherent.

It’s the same basic problem as sample libraries. The first time you notice your piano sample has a B flat that sounds a little bit “off”, you don’t really mind. After all, no real pianos are perfect. But after you have heard it “a bit off” exactly the same way 1000 times, you don’t want to use those samples any more!

If it’s just a few glyphs, then they don’t even need to be SMuFL-compatible: you can still swap them in for some of the ottava clefs in Music Symbols editor.

The shortest way to learn is to make a font yourself.

I’ve been working with Florian Kretlow to create a SMuFL font. Essentially, I see it as an exercise in learning how to make a music font for Dorico. When it’s finished: then I’ll be in a position to start! :smiley:

By the way, I’ve tried to contact him a few weeks ago. Since I received no answer, and don’t see activity in the company’s fb page, I wonder if he is still well and kicking, and is still working on his wonderful fonts.


You might also check out the website notat.io for numerous posts concerning music fonts and music font creation. There’s a new one about creating SMuFl-compliant fonts.

I found a book that’s in world wide distribution that just made a second printing Designing Type by Karen Cheng

She cut and pasted handwritten characters, so it’s certainly possible. No idea on SMuFL…

Why not use one of the existing music fonts available under open source licensing, such as Dorico’s own Brauvara?


Because while it’s a great font, it’s not one-size-fits-all…

That’s the whole point of having more than one font. Would you ask Robert Slimbach why he needed to create Minion Pro, since we already had Times New Roman?

Or closer to home, why Robert Piechaud created November 2, when we already had Maestro?

The https://www.smufl.org/fonts/ link is out of date. Google for “smufl music fonts” to find more. Here are some more: https://norfonts.ma/product/bopmusic-fonts-for-dorico/ (also see the links at the bottom of the page) and https://www.musictypefoundry.com/product-category/smufl

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