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How we created our own typeface

By : Suzanne

Today marks a milestone in my journey to create a typeface that I can share with the world and can be my rough around the edges legacy long after I am gone 😉 . Creating your own typeface can be a time consuming but very rewarding experience. I definitely enjoy the process and look forward to creating more custom Typefaces in the future.

To create this particular, font I used software called Birdfont which is free and open source. If you like you can make a donation on the website as well if you are feeling generous : There are Mac, Windows, Linux and BSD versions of Birdfont.

I was originally going to make a blog post with a step-by-step guide to how to make your own typeface, but throughout the process of creating this little guy, I realized that there are more than enough step-by-step guides all over the internet. Just Google it and ye shall find. Some of these posts demonstrate how one would start from a hand drawn image on paper, while others take a more digital approach. (Birdfont has some nice tutorials on their website as well)

I wanted to do something that was hand drawn, but then cleaned up a little bit in Illustrator. So that the typeface would have a hand drawn feeling, but wouldn’t be too sloppy. I took a trip to the art supply store and I got myself some graph paper, a nice mechanical pencil, an eraser and some graphic pens.

It’s not so often in my line of work that I get the opportunity to draw something out on paper, and translate that to a finished product. Usually I sketch things on paper and completely recreate them digitally, so my sketches are frequently sloppy and they are typically in the very early stages of a project, whether that is for a logo, a graphic element or a sketch / mock-up of a website.

This typeface creation project ended up being a process that evolved as I went. It was something that I planned to do when I had a spare minute or two. In the end however, I started to look forward to working on it and I spent more of my spare time.

The font didn’t really turn out to be perfect. It reminded me of learning to knit. There were mistakes that I had to go back and fix. There are a few letters that have imperfections that I actually ended up keeping, because I think that they have character 😉

I realize that it’s a pretty goofy looking font, closer in design to Comic Sans than it is to Helvetica or Trade Gothic. I see it being used for a chalkboard effect, or to perhaps to display a quote from a circus clown.

We decided to name the typeface Paper, simply because that’s where it started. In the end this was mostly a learning process, a starting point for my passage into designing typography.

Feel free to use it to design the invitation for your “Life Begins at Forty” birthday invitation, or your child’s lemonade stand :

DOWNLOAD shift8 Paper

If you have the time and the inclination you should try designing something yourself.

Thanks for reading!


At Shift8, we cater to all sorts of businesses in and around Toronto from small, medium, large and enterprise projects. We are comfortable adapting to your existing processes and try our best to compliment communication and collaboration to the point where every step of the way is as efficient as possible.

Our projects are typically broken into 5 or 6 key “milestones” which focus heavily on the design collaboration in the early stages. We mock-up any interactive or unique page within your new website so that you get a clear picture of exactly how your design vision will be translated into a functional website.

Using tools like Basecamp and Redpen, we try to make the process simple yet fun and effective. We will revise your vision as many times as necessary until you are 100% happy, before moving to the functional, content integration and development phases of the project.

For the projects that are more development heavy, we make sure a considerable amount of effort is spent in the preliminary stages of project planning. We strongly believe that full transparency with a project development plan ensures that expectations are met on both sides between us and the client. We want to ensure that the project is broken into intelligent phases with accurate budgetary and timeline breakdowns.

Approved design mock-ups get translated into a browse-ready project site where we revise again and again until you are satisfied. Client satisfaction is our lifeblood and main motivation. We aren’t happy until you are.

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