Intro to Comic Craft: Selecting a Font

While at SCAD, I took a course on handlettering.  I realized a couple things while taking handlettering- I hate my own handwriting, even when designing fonts, and it's difficult for me to maintain a font when it's handwritten.  Although most of my comics are traditionally drawn, I opt to digitally letter most of my work, and I find that many of the skills taught in this class are relevant and useful in my current work.

Handlettering is a skillset all its own, with tools and techniques to help you achieve consistent lettering, but we won't cover that here on this blog.  Instead, we're going to focus on digital lettering techniques.

Over the next four posts, I'll take you through selecting a font for your comic, blocking and placement within your page, creating word balloons, and final cleanup/adding in handdrawn sound effects.

I highly recommend you check out Nate Pieko's lettering tutorials over on the Blambot site- they're excellent, and he's a pro.

For today's homework, I recommend you read Comic Lettering Tips: The Essentials

Digital Lettering Part 1:  Selecting a Font:

For 7" Kara, I created a custom font that reflects the tone of the story.  This font was created from a handlettered, color pencil base, adjusted in Adobe Illustrator and saved as a vector, and turned into a font using FontForge.

I don't plan on covering font creation on this blog (unless someone is willing to submit a guest post), but I do have some resources available for those interested in creating a custom font.

Kara Regular

Selecting a Font:

There are different types of fonts to consider:

Fonts for Sound Effects
Fonts specially designed for use as sound effects

Fonts for Special Effects
Mumble fonts
Cursing fonts (all special characters)
Typewriter fonts

Design Fonts
Typically used for titles

Fonts for Lettering Dialogue:
For other comics, including anthology submissions, I usually turn to Blambot's wonderful library of fonts designed for comic artists.   Comics created for comics are kerned properly for comics- other fonts may require adjustment. My favorites for dialogue are: 

Note:  All of these fonts were lettered in the same size- 60pt.  Font size can vary greatly between fonts.

Anime Ace
Manga Temple
Milk Mustache
Anime Ace 2 BB
Back Issues BB
Digital Strip BB
Digital Strip 2 BB
Indie Star BB
Kid Kosmic BB
Letteromatic BB
Mighty Zeo 2 BB
Webletterer BB

For dialogue fonts, you generally want a sans serif font, with the exception being Capital I's, as non serif I's often read as lowercase L's.  Dialogue fonts should be easy to read at a glance.  Dialogue fonts can be mixed case (upper and lower) or all uppercase.

Make sure the font you select has a license that allows your intended use.  Not all fonts allow for display on web, or commercial use, so read carefully!  Blambot offers Pro fonts (fonts you pay for) and Free fonts (fonts for indie creators)- you can read more about usage here!

Fonts specifically designed for comics have been kerned and leaded for comics and dialogue.  If you're creating a font, or repurposing a non-comics for for comics, you may want to read more about kerning and leading for comics.

Blambot also has amazing lettering tutorials and resources, so if you're interested in learning more about lettering, please check out their wonderful resources.

Second Opinions and Outside Resources:

I highly recommend you check out Nate Pieko's (Blambot founder and letterer) guides for lettering

Comic fonts for Comic Artists

Other Useful Font Resources
Google Fonts

Font Creation Resources:

7 Free Tools for Creating Your Own Fonts 

Font Creation Software:
FontForge (free, donation suggested)
FontLab Studio ($650)
Raster Font Editor (free)
FontStruct (free)
BitFontMaker (free)
Type light (free)
gbdfed Bitmap Font Editor (free)
Bird Font (free)
Font Creator 11 ($79)

More on Lettering:
Guestpost:  Selecting and Using Fonts for Webcomics
Pre-Lettering Pages
Relettering and Redoing Word Balloons
Super Easy Lettering Hack
7 Awesome Free Comic Lettering Fonts for Commerical Use and How to Use them
Comic Book Lettering Tips By Patrick Brosseau

Lettering Practice and Pangrams
When I was 13- Lettering Process Part 2
Lettering Practice- Dialogue and Blocking
A Guide to Hand Lettering Your Strips
Klein Letters:  How It All Began
Klein Letters:  Lettering, Continued: The 1970's
Klein Letters: Computer Lettering
Klein Letters: Computer Lettering, continued
Klein Letters:  Hand Lettering Basics
How To: Cartoon Lettering for Comic Books:  Art Techniques
The Art of the Comic Book:  Learn to Write and Draw Professional Comic Books: Lettering with Speedball Pens

Text, Type, and Font Basics:
Web Typography 101
4 Key Considerations When Choosing Web Typography
An Introduction to Software for Text Design


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