People are always surprised when they hear you’re interested in typography. The appreciation and interest in the shape of letters and symbols is definitely a little more unusual to find as a hobby but it’s actually quite fun!
Here’s a few ideas I hope will prove my point.
This game shows you some text in a certain font then asks you to name the font from one of them in the list. It isn’t as difficult as the name sounds!
Hmm, it’s odd how cheeses and typefaces often have similar names. See if you can tell the difference.
Many fonts contain extra information telling the computer how to adjust the spacing between individual pairs of letters. If you think of an AV for example the top of the V might start before the A ends or be very close. This game lets you move the letters around until you think you have optimal spacing then you can see how well you did.
The ultimate font game! See if you can reshape disported letters back to their original forms by adjusting the lines and Bézier curves. The computer will score your efforts by comparing to the original.
Find a font
This newsletter is both infrequent and interesting so it gets to come directly to my inbox. It contains interesting new fonts, news and designer spotlights and is a great way of discovering new typefaces to use.
Asks you a series of specific questions about letters in the font on a continual process to narrow it down to the hopefully right one.
This tool is a little more automated, upload the picture and it should identify the letters although you may need to fine-tune the recognition (also available as an iPhone app)
This flowchart takes you through a bunch of decisions to choose a typeface. Don’t expect to find anything too original though!
Smarten your site
If you have a web site you might want to look at using a custom font to help stand-out from the crowd now that they are compatible across many browsers. Yes, I should do this for damieng.com :)
Font squirrel have a great site full of many free fonts and have prepared the necessary font and CSS files required for the subset available for use on web sites.
Canva’s Design School list 100 free fonts that they think you should be using. Some nice entries and a reminder that sometimes free fonts aren’t to be found in Google Web Fonts.
Monotype’s hosted service is similar to Google’s but contains just their own commercial fonts including well-known ones such as Museo, Gill Sans, Bodoni, Rockwell and many of Microsoft’s typefaces. Prices start at about $40 a year for small sites (250k visits a month) but they have 30-day free trials.
MyFonts have a huge collection of fonts – some 40,000+ – most of which are available to use on the web for the same price as buying the font. This makes it cheaper than FontsLive but you need to host the files and CSS on your own server.
These Helvetica based playing cards are very stylish, bold and modern. If you’re going to play cards why not do so with something a little different.
Get a daily dose of typography in this compact little desk calendar. The designer’s equivalent of a word-a-day.
Not just a movie about the design of this iconic font but also the modern movement it was part of. If you like this keep an eye out for Linotype: The Movie due in Feb 2012.
Create your own
If any of that has been enough to pique your interest why not have a go at designing your own font?
FontStruct lets you start simply by building your own from a library of pre-build shapes you place on a grid. It’s like LEGO for typography and is very easy go get started.
If you have an iPad then you can also try out iFontMaker for an easy way to make hand-drawn fonts (it lacks fine editing facilities). I actually used a Pogo Sketch for my Damien Typewriter but it is too soft so you could try other styluses. Once you’re done it publishes to their web gallery where you can download the TrueType font and a Web Font too.
If you enjoy that but crave more control then try the free FontForge editor which runs on many platforms and lets you create real fonts or hack apart other people’s (remember to not redistribute changes to other people’s fonts unless the license allows it).
If you get stuck on some letters then try my favorite Designing Type book that devotes a page or two to each common character and shows how a number of well-known typefaces express it.