Shelley Bassett



Setting guides for Fontself in Adobe Illustrator

How to use Fontself

August 24, 2018

Want to know how to use Fontself to create custom fonts? This easy step by step guide will get you started.

I’ve fallen in love with Fontself. It’s a great plugin for Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop, providing an easy way to create custom fonts, both in standard black and colour SVG. Follow along with this tutorial to learn how to use Fontself. It’s not hard to get started, all you need is your editing program, the Fontself plugin, and an idea. 

There are several font creation systems on the market, but Fontself has quickly become one of my favourites. When I reviewed it, I’d only had a really short time to play with it. Yet I’d already managed to make a complete typeface. It’s a nifty little program, and well worth the price. If you’d like to save 10% on your purchase, you can use this link.

Installing and Updating Fontself

Once you’ve bought Fontself, installing it to your computer is easy. It’s an executable file, and does the hard work for you. Just follow the on-screen prompts, and enter the key that was emailed to you during the purchasing process. If you get lost, the Fontself forums have a great FAQ section. I think it’s always a good sign when developers write good tutorials.

After installation, Fontself is available as a panel by visiting Window > Extensions > Fontself Maker in either Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop.

Updating is also a cinch. From the Fontself panel, open the menu and select check for updates. Newer versions will even self-update, making it even easier to access the latest features.

How to use Fontself

Now for the fun part, making a font! The hardest part of this step is coming up with an idea and designing the letterforms. I like to brainstorm a bunch of ideas before settling on the one I want to work on.

Some hand lettered ideas for fonts from my sketchbook

Some hand lettered ideas for fonts from my sketchbook

The it’s just a matter of creating each letter in the program that has Fontself installed. If you bought the Illustrator licence, you’ll need to use Adobe Illustrator, but if you have the Photoshop licence you’ll need to use Adobe Photoshop. They each have advantages and disadvantages, and if you’re not sure about which licence you’ll need, try creating your letterforms before installing the plugin. This lets you choose the plugin based on how the letters are created.

When creating the letterforms, be careful to ensure that any lines are expanded into shapes, and that loose parts of each letter are grouped together. Think about the letters i and j, you don’t want to lose those dots!

Another tip is to use guides. Fontself can automatically align your letters to the correct baseline, x-height and cap height if you set up the guides correctly. Simply create the guides at the appropriate spaces, and rename them accordingly. The image below might help if you’re not familiar with typography terms.

Setting guides for Fontself in Adobe Illustrator

Setting guides for Fontself in Adobe Illustrator

Once you’ve designed all your glyphs, and set the guides to match, making the font is crazy simple. Just highlight/select everything, then in the Fontself window press the A-Z button. Fontself will automatically populate the glyphs into the font, ready for refinements! That’s all there is too it. From here, you can adjust each letter, play with kerning, add extra symbols, or just refine the styling.

Adding letters into the Fontself window

Adding letters into the Fontself window

Typing with your custom font

Once you’re happy with the way that the letters look, it’s time to export then install the custom font you’ve just created. Like all things with Fontself, this is only a few clicks away. Use the Font Infos tab to set a family name, weight, and designer info. This lets anyone who uses your font know that you made it! Then, it’s time to export. Follow the prompts in the plugin window to save your letters as an open-face font type, then double click on the created file and work through the installation. Once that’s finished, you’re ready to type!

Not ready to jump in and create your own font? You can browse my shop for great additions to your fonts library.

This blog contains referal links which pay me a small amount for each purchase. By shopping through these links, you help support me at no addional cost to you. Thanks!