BY BILL FERRIS
As the perpetrator of some of the worst handwriting in a fifty mile radius, I’ve grown to love choosing the right font. The right typeface can produce the sort of artful lettering my hands can’t. Or so I thought. FontStruct lets me use my hands (by way of my mouse) to create my own fonts that I can download and use. Oh, okay, so it’s not exactly handwriting, but it’s the most legible thing my hands have ever produced.
FontStruct works via a grid method. Simply fill in the grid with blocks of various shapes to form each letter. Some of the existing fonts on the site allow you to clone them, so you can get a better look at how the magic happens. There are a lot of shapes to try out on the grid, and creating an entire alphabet will take some time, but isn’t it worth it to have your own custom-built typeface?
The most obvious use for FontStruct would be as an art project — students can really exercise their creativity, as well as learn about typography, an important skill for any future graphic designers. World-language teachers can get in on the act, too. FontStruct lets you develop letters for several different alphabets, including Katakana (Japanese), Bopomofo (Mandarin Chinese), Arabic, Hebrew, Bengali, and others. No matter what subject you teach, how much cooler would your classroom bulletin board look with your own homemade font? Maybe spice up your old worksheets and handouts with some new type while you’re at it.
It’ll takea little trial and error before you get a FontStruct alphabet that looks good (my early attempts are admittedly kinda ugly), but with a little perseverance you can create a typeface that’s uniquely your own. And, in my case, one that people other than me can read.