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R9 Type+Design is an independent type foundry from Canada. We specialize in modern and contemporary typeface/font designs.

How I became a type designer

Travel along with me on my off-the-beaten-path journey to become a self-taught Canadian type designer from Vancouver, Canada.

 

Filtering by Category: My Journey

STEP 1: How to Choose the Right Type Design Software.

Tana Kosiyabong

Soon after I decided to deep dive into my very first type design project, it took me about a week to research on which app to use. I knew that I was looking for a software which complemented to my skill set and was somewhat affordable. At the time there were quite a few options on the market which range from free to several hundred dollars. Here is the list of the contenders: FontForge (Free/Donation Appreciated), TypeTool ($48), Glyphs Mini (€50), Glyphs (€249), Fontographer ($259), Fontlab ($459), and Robofont ($490)

Right of the bat, I decided against FontForge, the only free software on the list. I wanted a more robust app with extensive documentation and an active user forum. Unfortunately, at the time, it wasn’t as well-developed as other paid apps. But a few years have passed. Now, FontForge worths checking out.

TypeTool, Fontographer and Fontlab were all from the same company. None of them had been updated for years. Although many type designers has been using it for years, it had a very steep learning curve, and the price was on the high end. Recently, however, FontLab has launched the long-awaited new Fontlab VI which looks very interesting. It comes with several useful tools and time-saving features. It’s also definitely worth checking out.

Robofont was the priciest of them all. The software developer wrote this app in Python, the same language used to write script for fonts. Robofont is very scalable. You can even code your tools and extensions to make the software fits with your design workflow. If you like to tinker with your software and are proficient in Python, Robofont is possibly a fit for you. However, it seemed way more than I needed. Heck, I don’t even write in Python.

A glimpse of Glyphs user interface (UI)

A glimpse of Glyphs user interface (UI)

The only two left on my list were Glyphs Mini and Glyphs. The Mini is a competent software for its price. You can create a simple, yet well-design, single font with it. However, if your big dream is to work on a font family which comes in several weights and styles, you should go for Glyphs. The interpolation tools alone would save you a lot of time from drawing the in-between font weights from scratch. As you’re getting deeper and deeper into font design, you will also start to appreciate its scripting feature, the extensive Open Type support, and many others. That’s precisely why I chose Glyphs over Glyphs Mini. The UX/UI design of Glyphs is very intuitive and makes it easy to learn. The software was also well-documented and actively supported by the forum. I learned a lot from browsing through the website and posting questions on the forum. A few years have passed, I am still pleased with Glyphs. The developer has been improving the software regularly. Glyphs is the right type design software for me.

If you’re still could not make a decision after reading this post, the good news is that most of the software offers free trials. Just dive in and give each of them a try. Once you find the one that works for you. It’s time for STEP 2: Design your letters which I will see you on the next post.

GROUND ZERO: The Inspiring Sketch that Started It All

Tana Kosiyabong

After a long stint assisting hundreds of clients with their creative and design needs, I decided it’s time I start building a brand of my own. For weeks, I had explored tons of ideas over several buckets of fried chicken wings smothered in sweet Thai chili sauce. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to fit my utmost critical criteria: I must enjoy doing it.

Who would have thought that my off-beaten-path-journey had turned up out of nowhere? One day, while doodling in a coffee shop, I stumbled upon one of the letterings I sketched. I like the design enough that I decided to take one step further and created a digital version out of it. One thing led to another; That little drawing has now turned into an extensive typeface, Alio™. And most importantly, even after several months of working long hours, seven days a week and countless of kerning pairs, I found myself falling in love with type design more and more every day. I am now a proud self-taught type designer from Vancouver, Canada.

This sketch is the starting point of my type design career.

This sketch is the starting point of my type design career.

This is the finished version.

This is the finished version.

A partial glyph set of Alio™ Pro, an extensive type family.

A partial glyph set of Alio™ Pro, an extensive type family.