Ever since I was given The Lettering Book for my eighth birthday, I’ve always wanted to dabble in creating a suite of letters with my own style and flair, but tackling the task using a professional tool always seemed too daunting.
FontShop’s online DIY font app, FontStruct, changes that. Built using a slick Flash-based interface, FontStruct is a perfect example of “social software” done right — a kind of Threadless for typographers. The font construction tool is intuitive and fun to use, and the gallery allows users to share their fonts, comment on other people’s fonts, and download people’s creations.
The tool allows for your masterpiece to be exported in TrueType format, and provides IP restrictions, so you can choose whether to throw your font open to the world or keep access restricted to a trusted group of friends.
There are limitations, of course. The tool could never be used to replace the likes of Fontographer. Notably, a large variety of shapes is possible with the building blocks provided, but they don’t come close to allowing for organic, free-flowing letter shapes to be built.
However, in terms of achieving the goal for which it was created — (re)igniting one’s interest in typography, building a community of budding type designers, and of course, advertising FontShop’s catalogue of professionally designed typefaces, FontStruct does everything in a remarkably slick way.
Oh, and it’s a lot of fun. That is, until you get to about “K”… then you start to realise just how difficult a job creating a beautiful font face is.
If you’d like to play font designer for a day, FontStruct is definitely worth a look.
Matthew Magain is a UX designer with over 15 years of experience creating exceptional digital experiences for companies such as IBM, Australia Post, and sitepoint.com. He is the co-founder of UX Mastery, and recently co-authored Everyday UX, an inspiring collection of interviews with some of the best UX Designers in the world.