Shelley Bassett



Should I use Fontself?

June 8, 2018

I've found a nifty little tool called Fontself. If you have Illustrator or Photoshop, this could be the font solution you're looking for!

I love lettering. I jump at every chance I get to play with letters. It’s where my love of fonts comes from. Many are based from simple scribbles in my skechbook. But transforming pencil sketches into a usable font can be quite a task. I’ve used many different applications to do this in the past, but now I can use a simple plug-in. Fontself integrates seamlessly with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and is a time-saving solution for artists and designers.

Digitising a Font

There are a number of different font creation tools out there, ranging from free to very pricy ($1000+!!). Like most things, price reflects value. The cheaper tools have far more limited capabilites, and often lack the ability to create nuanced designs. I’ve used several of these in the past, and have had mixed results with their applications.

Some hand lettered ideas for fonts from my sketchbook

Some hand lettered ideas for fonts from my sketchbook

One thing that all fonts require is a vector image. This is because fonts are all vector based which allows them to scale without becoming pixelated and grainy. Most font tools allow you to create these vectors within the program, but I have found it way easier to create them in Illustrator then copy them into the appropriate letters. This means I have a copy of all my fonts as sketches, Illustrator artworks and the final font file, as well as a file that the font creation program uses. That’s a lot of files to manage.

Why Fontself?

Fontself cuts out half of these files and many of the copy/paste steps. Chances are if, like me, you’re into typography and lettering, you already have a copy of either Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Yes, there are far cheaper versions out there now, but these are still very standard tools. And once you have a vectorised copy of your font, Fontself can easily turn it into an open type font.

It’s not cheap. Prices start at $65 for either Illustrator or Photoshop, or $120 for both. It sounds a lot, but honestly, it’s worth it. Their introduction video says everything about how easy and versatile this simple plug-in is. And if you’d like to save 10% off the purchase price, you can use my link.

Using Fontself

I’ve only had a little bit of spare time to use Fontself, but it’s super intuitive. The documentation is fantastic, and their support team and reasonably quick to respond. The two biggest challenges I faced were having a black font be registered as a coloured one, and having my letters misaligned. But both were easily fixed by going through the Fontself guides (my “black” wasn’t actually black, and I needed to use guides to set my baseline).

For me, I think that Fontself will likely become a part of my font and typeface creation process. It’s easy to use,  easy to update, and has excellent customer service (something that I really appreciate). If you’re into fonts, this is definitely a plug-in to watch.

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