Making Fonts on Linux

I made a font of my handwriting tonight, on my ubuntu laptop. Capitals only at this point, and I don’t have a full set of punctuation in there, as I just threw it together.

Here’s the font:

Making Fonts in Linux
Anyway, here’s the recipie:

  • Make sure you have the GIMP, potrace, imagemagick, and fontforge installed.
  • Write the alphabet, numerals, and punctuation on lined paper, like graph paper.
  • Scan it in. Adjust the levels in an image editor like the GIMP so that the light graph-paper lines disappear.
  • Here’s the tedious part: break it apart into individual files, one for each letter, digit, and punctuation mark. Wish I knew a way to automate that easily. Name the parts obvious things, like A.png, B.png, comma.png, etcetera.
  • Here’s a one-line script to convert them to pgms, which you’ll need in a moment: ls *.png | while read FILE; do convert $FILE `basename $FILE png`pgm; done
  • And here’s a one-liner to convert those pgms to xfigs, which you’ll need: ls *.pgm | while read FILE; do potrace -b xfig $FILE; done
  • Now start up fontforge. Create a new blank font or base it on one you’ve got installed. In the menu under Element/Font Info fill in base information like the name of your font as you want it to appear in menus.
  • Go through all the letters, numbers, and punctutation you bothered to write out. For each one, open up the glyph in fontforge (shortcut: just type the letter or numeral or mark), import the appropriate xfig file– there’s your glyph, badda bing, badda boom. Move it smack up near the left edge of the box and move the right edge of the box in tight toward it or you’ll have a really splayed out all over the page font.
  • Save frequently just in case (never crashed on me but it doesn’t hurt to be sure).
  • When you’re done, choose File/Generate Font. Generate a TTF or whatever you want! Rock, you’re there!
  • To actually use your font in Ubuntu, check this out.

Took me a couple hours total but I was figuring it out as I went.

2 thoughts on “Making Fonts on Linux”

  1. Awesome! I tried a couple of different ways to make fonts in Windows, but I couldn’t find a way to do it without shelling out cash for programs I wasn’t sure would do what I wanted them to do.

    This rocks. Thanks!

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