Rapidograph

Fun with Fonts

Last week we were introduced to a font editing program called Glyphs, (glyphsapp.com). This program has a set of simple vector and shape tools that let you create each letter, number or symbol from scratch. I managed to create a complete set of capital letters in two days. I based this simple sans-serif typeface on the style of lettering created with a Rapidograph drafting pen.

This was a lot of fun! It was interesting to see, and exploit the relationships and similarities between certain letter groups. This allowed me to keep a consistent style across the set of letters without having to rebuild everything from scratch.

Less fun was the keming (keming, n. the result of bad kerning). The default space between letters produces wildly inconsistent spacing between different letter pairs. Some letters collide while others have way too much space. Letter pairs with slants or overhangs are the worst offenders.

Each pair is easy enough to adjust, but there are a LOT of pairs. The number of pairs is the square of the number of letters, so, with only capital letters there are 26 x 26, or 676 possible letter pairs. When you add lowercase letters, that number goes up fourfold! I’ve gone through and kerned the A’s, most of the C’s, and a sprinkling of the more obvious pairs. It helps that many of them don’t actually need adjustment.

I would like to make a fully functional font out of this before the Glyphs demo expires, so if I get the chance, I’ll move on to constructing the lowercase letters, then numbers, and also… um… punctuation marks and symbols. Wow, that’s looking like a lot of work.

Kern them! Kern them all!