About this project
What if you just upgrade your most common creative apps to design and export fonts? Font creation would become much easier and faster, right?
No more a daunting task, requiring specific skill sets, dedicated tools and a lot of time to iterate.
Fontself instantly turns your favorite creative software into font creation tools.
With your support, I want to release two software extensions that I am building for Adobe's flagship apps: Fontself for Photoshop (#FS4PS) and Fontself for Illustrator (#FS4AI) (for CC & CS6 only, no compatibility with CS5 or below).
Making fonts. The easy way.
Creating your own fonts in Photoshop & Illustrator is really simple and fast once you install the Fontself extensions:
- Draw / sketch / paint / scan or photograph your alphabet.
- Select it.
The Fontself extensions will also allow you to turn all of your original lettering into usable fonts, including colors, textures, alternates, ligatures, illustrated words, smileys, icons, or anything else you might come up with.
You can make, edit and export fonts in minutes without leaving your beloved Photoshop or Illustrator: the Fontself extension shows up as a new panel, as shown above, where you turn any shape or image into a font glyph. From here you can export your creations into regular font files (like Opentype .otf). These fonts are then compatible to use on your computer, tablet or smartphone (read FAQs below for more details on supported features).
Oh, and check this out: you also get an instant preview of your font, next to your designs. No more guesswork, you can tweak your font as you keep working on your project. Now, isn't that cool? ;-P
Color fonts. As colorful as you want.
As I built working prototypes to automatically convert any shape into regular fonts, I also designed a new workflow tocapture colored or textured letters.
You will be able to create fonts that display all the color range and visual richness of your designs: whether you're using felt-tip pens to doodle your creative lettering, watercolor or ink to shade your titles, a pencil to sketch alphabets, or a stylus to draw perfect letters.
These tools will allow to maximize your creative potential... We simply ask that you please use this responsibly :-)
Vector fonts. VS. Bitmap fonts.
This sounds a lot like the debate "Illustrator vs. Photoshop"?
Our answer: just pick the right tool for the job!
Because creativity should never be constrained by the tools we use. Whether you love the precision of vector shapes, the contrast of black and white typography, or the organic richness of colorful handmade lettering, you should be able to create fonts with whichever tool suits you best to keep that creativity intact.
While current font technologies are based on vector shapes, it has been a real challenge in the past to embed color & texture informations into font files. Hopefully, tapping into recent developments in modern operating systems, we can now embrace the best of both worlds:
- Fontself for Photoshop converts your artwork into bitmap fonts. So you can really render anything you want in a font, any shape, color, texture, even photos.
- Fontself for Illustrator converts your artwork into vector fonts. You get everything you expect from traditional scalable vector shapes.
Note: so what about exporting color vector fonts from Illustrator? Or creating vector fonts in Photoshop? Or even bitmap fonts from Illustrator, for instance to use color designs in software that do not support color vector fonts, like mobile game engines.
These are perfect use cases for Stretch Goals... Let's hit the first milestone and you will be able to vote for these next features!
▧▧▧ NEW: STRETCH GOALS
#1 Sell and share fonts right from Photoshop & Illustrator
Just announced Fontself Catapult, a new feature that will be integrated in the PS & AI extensions and that will make it super easy to monetize your fonts across other font marketplaces and distribution services, to share your fonts on social networks, or just to install them on your mobile devices.
- Read more about Fontself Catapult on this related news post
- UPDATE: Catapult's social sharing feature goes FREE for all backers
Note that this is just a mockup for a concept feature, none of the illustrated services above have yet agreed to partners on that project... But am working on it ;-)
#2 Discover new fonts & get inspired by the Fontself community
Fontself Nation will be the go-to-place where font makers can discover other fonts and learn more about their makers - and their creative processes -, to get inspired by their artwork and also to find educational material to quickly learn about typography and lettering practises. You can learn about Fontself Nation here...
Font creation. For everyone.
- Students: give life to the creative alphabets you've been passionately drawing after class and use your very own fonts to pimp out your projects - or just to impress your friends.
- Graphic designers: your client/boss (pick the most appropriate =) keeps asking for last minute changes on lettering titles you spent hours to compose by hand? Next time, build a font and make all the edits you need in seconds.
- Illustrators: what about this amazing hand-drawn lettering you've been using for your captions? Wouldn't it be great if you could reuse it in other projects?
- UI designers: so you've got all these beautiful icons that you want to embed in your next app? Just pack them all in a font file, and share it with your developers. Need to update the font with a new icon? Boom. Done.
- Web & mobile developers: a UI designer (not the one from above :) just sent you all his designs in a giant Illustrator file. Package all the glyphs, logos and icons you need into a single font file (or simply tell him about the Fontself extension. Duh!).
- Educators: yes, I know, typography can be intimidating at first, and some students fear its depth and complexity - especially before they enter your class. Help them get on board by letting them craft their own font on day 1. They'll quickly learn about the dedication that type creation requires, and also about the joy it provides.
- And so many more creative minds... I can't wait to see what different people will come up with and do with these tools!
Typeface design. Redefined.
At Fontself, we always ❤ Adobe apps & services, not only because they are amazing tools that we enjoy using every day, but also because they are highly interconnected and extendable. This allows exciting new approaches to font creation that combine the best tools with mobile devices to match every creator's unique workflow.
Creative Cloud + Fontself = W00T!
Check how easy it is to turn your hand-drawn sketches into fonts once you embrace the Creative Cloud: start the Adobe Shape app on your smartphone, shoot your lettering, and voilà! You can now drag each drawing in Illustrator and turn it into a font's glyph from Fontself's panel.
Let's make it happen. Together.
I've been working on these extensions since the beginning of this spring 2015, and I now have functional prototypes. I can also tap on 9 years of experience building font creation tools and type technologies to ship great software. Yet these recent efforts have been entirely self-funded (yes, I am eating a lot of noodles :) so your support will have a tremendous impact to complete this project.
Are you fully pumped up? Cool, here's what you can do:
Back this project now: whether you just want to express your support or want to get your hands on these font creation capabilities, pick one or several of the rewards on the right of this screen =>
Early backers will get an exclusive invitation to try to our private beta by Christmas 2015, with a release by January 2016.
- Spread the word: you certainly have friends who are into the "type thing" and who fiddle with Photoshop or Illustrator. Tell them about this Kickstarter campaign.
- Say it again, LOUDER: post your love on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #Fontself #FS4PS #FS4AI or #GoFontYourself (the most gorgeous & funniest posts will get exclusive rewards).
Every support counts. Especially yours.
Your rewards. Our pride.
So you are psyched about the creative possibilities of such tools? Whether you intend to design fonts on your own with Fontself's extensions or simply want to help make it happen, there is something for you.
I am extremely pleased and honoured that some of the best creative minds around are supporting this initiative by designing exclusive letterpress greeting cards, just for you, Kickstarter fellows. Welcome to the world of Sebastien Touache, Mathieu Julien and Steffie Brocoli.
These folded cards (A6 format, 105 x 148 mm. / 4.1 x 5.8 in.) will be printed by one of the finest print shop in France, LETTERPRESS DE PARIS, and I will personally greet every backer who orders our cards with a handwritten note, signed on one of their collection's coolest cards.
FYI - you can also combine different rewards. For instance: you want the CREATIVE reward with one extension just for Illustrator (€49 / $55) and would also love to get the SUPER FAN letterpress cards (€19 / $21)? Then pledge €68 / $76 for the higher reward tier (in this case the CREATIVE reward) and send me a brief message afterwards. I will ship you both rewards when the campaign completes.
- FANS: get our exclusive letterpress cards to share the love with your pals.
- STUDENTS: Get one or both extensions to start creating fonts (picking both via the STUDENT PACK pledge is also cheaper) or go for the ULTIMATE STUDENT PACK to get all the tools & services. ▧▧▧ BREAKING NEWS
- 1) All students can now get a gratuitous access to both Fontself extensions when their school pledges for a CLASSROOM PACK or SCHOOL PACK reward.
- 2) If you already backed Fontself as a student and your school then gets one of these pledges, no worries: every student who previously pledged for a STUDENT or STUDENT PACK reward can either pick another reward (like one our FAN plans with awesome letterpress cards) or just cancel their pledge. No hurt feelings =)
- 3) If you really cannot convince your school dean to get Fontself for you & your friends at school, well, I just re-uped the number of available student rewards.
- 4) And if you are an independent group of 8-10 students, you can also pledge for the CLASSROOM pack, it will be even more affordable.▧▧▧
CREATIVES: get one or both extensions to start creating fonts (picking both via the CREATIVE PACK pledge is also cheaper).
▧▧▧ NEW: get an early access to Fontself Catapult, our solution to sell your fonts across other font marketplaces via the ULTIMATE CREATIVE PACK ▧▧▧
- EDUCATORS: whether you want to equip a small classroom or a whole school, we have specific pledges for you.
- PARTNERS: as a MEDIA PARTNER you've got a great product to show to other creatives, and as an INTEGRATION PARTNER you have special needs to customize our software? Check our unique pledges at the bottom of the list.
Behind Fontself. Our story.
It all started back in 2006 in an attic. A graphic designer (Pierre Terrier), a coder (Marc Escher) and I (Franz Hoffman) came up with this crazy idea to redefine font creation processes and type technologies to turn the impossible possible: making font creation accessible to anyone and unlocking the potential of colorful, expressive typography.
We called this project FONTSELF and made a printed manifesto, showcasing the innovations we had crafted to make colorful & handmade typography a reality, in a big A3 600dpi printed book.
Since then, the project has had a fairly rocky journey. Pushed by our will to bring these creative tools to a broader audience, Marc & I founded a startup company that exposed its creative fonts and technologies to more than 2 million users on the web (we had released a free online font creator in 2010 that 100'000 enthusiasts enjoyed, as well as companions apps to send messages on Facebook and Yahoo! Mail).
Despite the users' enthusiasm, we didn't succeed to build a sustainable business. The whole team had to shut down operations in 2011.
After spending a lot more time with many of our early users and partners, I decided to give another shot at the project. Based on the formidable feedback I collected from Californian teens and students (we had met at workshops in schools and universities across the Bay Area), I managed to convince a handful of people to support the return of Fontself in the form of mobile apps, allowing messaging app users to express themselves with color fonts in 2013.
Yet, even with 500'000 users who enjoyed our apps, it turned out to be a real challenge to convince more partners that this could have a more significant impact on the way people express themselves.
Alas, in 2014, Fontself - the company - was finally shut down.
But the dream kept alive.
What if this was all just the beginning? What if all these failed attempts where just the starting point of something that would really last, something with a greater impact. What if I used my experience to build tools that any creative could use, without the need for our - now defunct - proprietary technologies?
What if anyone could easily create expressive fonts, colorful fonts, and use them anywhere?
Well, today, it's 2015, and I am back in town with exciting new tools to share, and many more to come.
Because, every single day, I remember what the old man used to say:
“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”
What version of Photoshop or Illustrator does this require?
The Fontself extensions require a copy of Adobe's creative apps above (and including) version CS6 - so all CC versions up to CC 2015 are supported (they will NOT WORK with CS5, CS4, CS3... :(
Color fonts. How do they work?
Traditional font technologies are based on vector shapes, which scale great when you enlarge them, but do not contain any color information. However, over the past few years, larger companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla or Adobe started designing and implementing different color font formats to fit each others needs. Besides several independent attempts to bring color fonts to the market (including with bitmap font formats by Fontlab and even Fontself), they didn't appear until emojis took over the world: as web, desktop and mobile apps started to implement these colorful images as a very expressive way to communicate, all the key players decided to implement their own technology to support color fonts (along other advanced font features).
Today, while most have been standardized under the OpenType umbrella, support for color fonts is still depending on each operating system and on a per-software basis, so we still need to export fonts with several color formats to match the targeted platform.
Hopefully, as more creatives start making and using color fonts, all the key players will see sufficient demand from the market to implement a universal solution...
Where can I use the fonts exported with the Fontself extensions?
All the vector fonts exported from Illustrator will work EVERYWHERE you can install other fonts. On any Mac, PC, or mobile device.
Regarding the color bitmap fonts exported from Photoshop, you will be able to use them in MOST OSX, iOS and Android apps... EXCEPT Adobe's own apps.
Wait, what? Yes, both Photoshop & Illustrator do NOT YET support the display of color fonts, BUT WILL PROBABLY DO SO sooner than later (we are in touch with the folks at Adobe, as we share common goals). The short story is that they use a custom text rendering technology, whereas other apps rely on Apple's, Microsoft's & Google's own technologies, which already support color fonts.
On a Mac (OSX 10.7+), you can use your fonts in Apple's own apps (Pages, Keynote, TextEdit, XCode, etc.), embed them in PDFs, and in many other creatives apps (like Sketch or Pixelmator).
On a PC (Windows 8.1+), we plan to support its native color vector fonts format in a future release (or in one of our next Stretch Goals =)
On the Web, Firefox (26+) already supports color font formats from both Adobe/Mozilla and Microsoft.
As the project matures, we will release and update a more comprehensive list of all the software that support different font formats and features.
This easy creation process sounds so obvious, why didn't anyone make it before?
Honestly, I don't know. I guess that it is probably due to the fact that typography is a really complex matter, and trying to simplify sophisticated things comes at a cost. The Fontself extensions do not aim to replace any of the existing font creation tools and processes, but to open this wonderful space to new creatives, who might have felt a bit intimidated at first by existing solutions.
Don't expect Fontself to become a complex software. It will keep providing the most accessible yet comprehensive set of features, without compromising with the core belief than creative tools should be fun and easy to use.
My goal with Fontself is to simplify many creative processes so that anyone could really start designing and using fonts that really match their intentions, their emotions. This means there are a lot more things we need to streamline, and I hope this project will inspire others to build even more user-friendly creative tools.
Risks and challenges
Fontself was born as a creative project, and as any project it bears risks. But since I have already addressed so many challenges by working on this project and related font technologies for the past 9 years, I am confident it will be completed in the projected timeframe. Technically, all the main challenges have been solved during the prototyping phase while evaluating the feasibility of these extensions.
There is another reason why you won't be disappointed by this project, and why Fontself will always thrive. Over the past years, it has gathered a tremendous amount of support from dozens of friends, hundreds of supporter, and millions of users, without whom this project would never have occurred.
This Kickstarter project would never have been possible without the feedback, the enthusiasm and the relentless support of my dear ones, my family, Joël Galeran, Bachir Chihani, Manon Falise, Audrey Leroy, Mathieu Julien, Steffie Broccoli, Sébastien Touache, Bram Vanhaeren, Orietta Batzakis, Thomas Rio, Thomas David, Matthieu Bouillod, Mohamed Ghenania, Philippe Apeloig, Adèle Houssin, Alexis Taieb, Romain Ussel, Frédéric Dardion, William Hessel, Jeremy Landes-Nonnes, AnneLise Cochet, David Valy, Laïs Duruy, Arnaud Bertrand, Vincent Huguet, Alain Caradeuc, Jean-Frédéric Pouvatchy, Nicolas Vesin, Pepe, Marion Amirganian, Eve Duhamel, Camille Vallotton, Kaylin Zielke, Julien Perez, Naomi Ture, teams and students at the Academy of Art University SF / the San Francisco Art Institute / the CA Mouse Squads / the French American International School, Lourdes Livingston, Ryan Medeiros, Iris Clyne, Seth Hubbert, Anne Cuneo, Marc, Nicho, Zgui, Will, Fer, Tri, Lore, Béa, Flo and many others.
To all of you (and the ones I forgot to mention), THANK YOU !!!
PS: a special thanks to all the creatives whose lettering is featured in the video. Starting with Audrey Leroy, who's giving a human touch to Fontself's software, and also Mathieu Julien, Bram Vanhaeren, Orietta Batzakis, Lorena Prelaz and Pierre Terrier. You guys rock! Your work is what inspires & drives me every day. #respect. Oh, and to Mike Perry, David Milan, Tyrsa, Aleph corporation and all other featured Behance members, if you like this project and would love to use Fontself in one of your creations - or even want support us with a custom lettering design - please contact me :)
PS1: The video's soundtrack is "Cowboy Bebop" by Ici et Lui. Enjoy!
PS2: Stop playing. Start pledging.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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