James Barnard set out to do what seems to most like an impossible mission: creating his own typeface, Odibee Sans, in just over 24 hours, given his already existing conceptual work for it. And boy, should you stick around for this one.
If you’re curious about the thinking and process that goes into creating a typeface, James provides a good amount of detail to wet our appetite:
I went straight to Adobe Illustrator with the two or three letter styles I had sketched out. I set up five grid lines on my artboard, one each for the descender line, baseline, x-height, cap height and ascender line. I then decided on a width for the capital letters, and from there, the thickness of the stem (e.g. the width of the letter I).
X-height = 2 × height of ascender/descender.
Stem width = ¼ capital letter width
Lowercase width = ¾ capital letter width
Given these constraints, he chose to start designing (as in, on vector) the letters O and B, first. Why? These letters allowed him to focus on the rounded shape of the corners he intended for the type design:
The outside corner would have a 12mm radius, and the inside had 6mm. With these rules agreed, plus a height for my crossbar (across the letter H) I started churning out my capital letters.
(and you should really be reading this article on its original form, as he provides graphic descriptions of what’s happening at every stage).
With the uppercase letters done, he had a good overall shape for what the lowercase letters should look like. As usual, the f, g and a prove to be the hardest as they often require their own set of new rules.
With the vector work done, he moved onto using Glyphs, a well known application to create the actual fonts from the designs. James provides a good bunch of video tutorial links, so you can stick around for that if you’re curious. A good amount of time is, of course, spent tweaking the kerning between certain pair matches; just think about the extra white space you’d end up having between a V and and A (VA)!
Of course, it is impossible to design a complete character set (think about the thousands of glyphs needing design, as well as diacritics) in just a day, so James only focused on a basic set.
I have since added all the extra glyphs (I think) required for extended latin support. I also made some major changes to around 30 of the glyphs, including new styles for the letters (caps) S, B, R, and lower case s, c, y, a, e, r, f, t, p, q and j, as well as a couple of number tweaks.
All in all, a great insight into what goes on when creating a font file. Jump the link for the full article, with visuals.