New fonts from existing ones

13/01/2009

Take an existing font and go crazy with it! Fonts can be edited using CorelDRAW to achieve different text effects. In this case we prepare a font for a cool Vintage wood inlay effect by making two more fonts out of it.

Designing a font from scratch is a tedious task. It does take time and effort to get a good result. An easier approach may be to modify an existing font, but check the Copyright first!

Gary Bouton has a good tutorial on how to create fonts from scratch using CorelDRAW.

Font with floral patterns

Web-to-print floral pattern

We needed to add a floral pattern to a font for wooden inserts design. We ended up with two fonts:  the base font and the base with floral patterns cut out of the glyphs. They overlap in this web to print template, so that they match perfectly, but PowerClip different textures. The process of creating a modified font is the focus of this article.

Creating the base font

The font used in this example is 1.laitos.

Web-to-print first character/

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Set up a CorelDRAW document with a 1000 by 1000pt page size, type in the first letter (A) on the page with a font size of 1000pt.

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Web-to-print measurement dot/

Pitfall: Vertical alignment

To ensure the same vertical alignment of the two fonts, place a small dot above the character. This dot doesn’t need to be visible since its only purpose is to set a common vertical size for all glyphs.

Create base outlines

Select the character and the dot, copy them together on as many pages as you need for the number of glyphs in the new font.

Change the characters on every page as you go along (Ex. “A” on the first page, “a” on the second, “B” on the third and so on.). It does help to rename the pages as well for easy navigation.

Pitfall: Single curve

CorelDRAW can export an object as a font glyph only if it’s a single curve. Select the glyph and the dot above it and combine them into a single curve. Repeat this step on all the pages.

Export

The glyphs are now ready to be exported as seperate font characters. Select a curve representing one character and press Ctr+E on the keyboard.

Web-to-print export window/

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The export window appears. Chose TTF – True Type Font as the file type, check the “Selected only” checkbox, select the font file where you want the new glyph added and click Export.

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Web-to-print font export window/

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In the next window, select the character that you want replaced and click OK confirming the overwriting operation.

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Note. Repeat this step for all the characters to end up with a base font.

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Creating the floral font

Web-to-print floral pattern/

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Use the same file that you ended up with while creating the base font and add some cool floral patterns on top of each glyph.

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Pitfall: number of nodes

A glyph may contain no more than 1400 nodes per glyph. Keep your patterns as simple as possible.

Cut and place patterns on the glyphs

Depending on your design idea, the patterns may be the main element of the font or just a complimentary feature. Either way, make sure that the font is still readable. Consider these common mistakes:

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The pattern obscures the flow of the letter.

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The pattern is too big.

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The pattern make a letter look like something else. In this case the letter “e” can be mistaken for the letter “L” at first glance.

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The pattern takes a weird shape distracting attentions. Sometimes a complex pattern can distract the viewer ’cause its shape simulates some other object.

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The same pattern on similar looking letters makes it hard to differentiate, e.g. i,j or something like that.

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After you’re done drawing/modifying patterns, cut them out of the glyph to form a cavity inside each character with the shape of the floral pattern.

To do this, you need to position the pattern curve on top of the glyph, select them both with the Pick Tool and click on the Back Minus Front icon in the top menu.

Note. Weld or Combine the glyph curve with the vertical alignement dot on the same page. You should end up with a single curve containing the dot and the glyph with the pattern cut out of it.

Pitfall: make a copy before welding

You may need to come back and re-visit the pattern placement. Many problems become apparent only when the font is put to use.

Export

Use the same steps as we did while exporting the base font to export the floral font in a separate TTF font file.

Remember that each character needs to be a single curve to be able to export it as a font glyph! The .CDR file you end up with should be similar to this font template file.

Pitfall: font name conflict

Since we exported the glyphs to an existing font file, we can’t install them both on the same system because they have the same name. Changing the file name does not change the fonts name and we need to use some font editing tool to rename them.

We now have the 1.laitos_B and 1.laitos_floral fonts created and ready to use in our template.

Test your font

The best way to test it is to install it and type some text. Does it look OR? Can you read it? Do your eyes struggle to make out the shapes and recognise the letter?

Try typing something meaningless. Random key pushing will do. Can you read the text? It’s surely different from reading real words because your brain doesn’t need to recognise the shape of every letter if the spelling looks familiar.

Ask someone else to read your text.

See also: