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Lesson Material

References and teaching aids

Before Design Starts

Writing roman and itallic letterforms with the broad edged and the pointed nib dip pen forms a solid foundation for all further study of type. The instruction is simple and craft oriented. Getting aquainted with the pen and it's behavior on paper informs all future design endeavors. Read more?

Design Basics

Four basic lessons to understand type design theory.

The Design Space
Understanding type design in terms of navigating a multi-dimensional space containing all possible shapes opens the door to real creative thinking. Read more?

The Letter Model for Translation Typefaces
This modular system of building blocks illustrates the analogy of shapes throughout the alphabet. It turns writing with the broad nibbed pen into a tool for understanding the anatomy of the lower case alphabet. Read more?

The Two Kinds of Contrast
The two basic types of writing tool — rigid vs. flexible — are essential for understanding the nature of contrast in writing and by extension in type design. In the conceptual model of the design space expansion and translation form one dimension. Read more?

Two Types of Construction
Roman and italic, different motions in writing result in different character shapes. Read more?

Computer Basics

Before starting to get into the type design application there are a few basic skills to address.

The Keyboard
An overview of the keyboard of your Mac. What are the keys called and where can I find them? Most of the lessons farther down the list here will refere to the keys, which is one reason why it makes sense to memorize their names. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

The Job Folder
It seems trivial but when you start using the computer beyond browsing the web or writing emails, when you start actually creating things all of a sudden it becomes very important to store your files in a structured manner. There is a way to set up your job folder that is basically good practise and that will one day definitely save your bacon. Read more?

Getting Started with FontLab Studio
First things first: Setting up the application's Preferences and View Options to create the optimal workspace. Read more?

Font Info
There is a lot of information that ends up in a font file which goes beyond the actual drawings of glyphs. It is important to know which of the settings need to be taken care of. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

Bugs and Errors
Software bugs, advise and work-arounds for common software bugs and error messages. (This article is still waiting to be written.)


Technical know-how for creating fonts for the computer from hand drawn letter forms.

Different kinds of control points and the point structure, places where points belong. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

Drawing Tools
The drawing tools in different software applications. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

Good Curves
Four simple rules to help you build good curves (This article is still waiting to be written.)

Auto Tracing
From a scan to a font file in three easy steps. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

Strategies and steps to take when spacing characters in a font. Read more?

Strategies and steps to take when kerning character pairs in a font. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

Different Metrics Applications
Editing metrics data in FontLab Studio and other dedicated apps. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

Accents and Diacritics
Different Accenting Applications
Working with components or composite characters in FontLab Studio and in other dedicated apps.
A very good reference for shape and position of diacritics of all sorts is the Diacritics Project.
(This article is still waiting to be written.)

Placing accents (This article is still waiting to be written.)

Custom Glyphs
Adding glyphs to a font and crating a custom encoding file. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

OpenType Features
Different substitution features (like ligatures, swash characters or stylistic alternates) make custom glyphs acessible for design applications. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

FontLab Studio
Auto-hinting and Type 1 hints in FontLab Studio (This article is still waiting to be written.)

VTT, Microsoft Visual TrueType
VTT, Microsoft Visual TrueType (This article is still waiting to be written.)

The Font File
Font Formates
Th different file formats PostScript Type1, TrueType, OpenType and their qualities. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

Generating a Font File
Different file formats for different platforms. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

The Rasterizer
Different algorythms that turn splines into pixels. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

What does the output resolution mean for to a font. (This article is still waiting to be written.)

Online Resources

For many problems in type design there are excellent websites providing free information. These are sites that I turn to.

Untill this list grows too long it will stay here on this page
More Knowledge on the Web
Online community Typophile
Typebase is an outstanding list of foundries and designers compiled by connoisseur Donald Roos
The interactive Unicode database DecodeUnicode
EKI, the letter database
OT-Feature Tags at Adobe
Adobe, glyph naming syntax
Adobe, glyph list
Diacritics, a project by Typo.cz and Desiniq.cz
Polish Diacritics by Adam Twardoch
Mark Jamra's Academic Resource
Fontfinagler, a type utility for garbled output (font cache cleaner)
Linotype's FontExplorer X an alternative for the FontBook
FontNuke a free tool for removing font cache files on Mac OS X
Tal Lemming's Typesupply
Multidimensional interpolation and extrapolation in Letterror's Superpolator
RoboFab is a Python library for FantLab
(This article is still waiting to be written.)


The printshop is a logical next step to follow the design process of a digital typeface. Here type design is integrated in the larger context of graphic design and realized in a historic production environment. This illustrates quite powerfully that digital type with its somewhat abstract quality eventually will end up as a very real thing, as ink on paper. The student examines how their own font holds up on the letterpress.

Printshop Resources
When you get started in the printshop there are a number of supplies you will need. Here is a listing of essential addresses for polymer plates, metal dies, machine composed type and supplies for foil stamping. Read more?

ATF Instruction Cards
These beautiful cards were probably used for the instruction of printer and typesetter apprentices. Read more?

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