Web-tools for making your own fonts have been around for ages. But on the whole the vast majority are pretty cumbersome and not really worth your time.
Combine this with rather lumpy UIs and a whole load of compatibility issues and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why these ‘web-tools’ never really caught on.
Enter iFontMaker for iPad. An app that converts your iPad finger daubings into a beautiful font for you to use wherever you so choose (apart from on the iPad itself).
Launch the app and you’re confronted with a grid and a sample font as a guide, you can change the guide font to one of 10 standards.
Along the top of the app, which can only be used in portrait mode, are the symbols for each letter, number and punctuation mark necessary to create a full font. You simply select one and this brings up the guide font – then it’s up to you to get to work.
You’ve got four drawing tools with which to get your letters scribed, a brush, pen, pencil and line tool, with an independent thickness gauge, these work as you’d expect and once you’ve drawn a line or shape you can resize or delete it with a well-implemented edit tool.
Once you’ve filled in every box for every dash hyphen and ampersand you’re ready to export the font. And this is where it gets clever. You can either attach the font as a poster PDF or build it via 2ttf.com.
Choose the latter and it’ll bring up an email with a pin code and a link in it, send that to yourself then open it up on your laptop or desktop computer, hit the link, punch in the pin code and Bob’s your uncle, Fanny’s his transgender life partner, you’ve got yourself a font!
In the browser you can also edit the default spacing of the font, which is neat. You can also publish it to the big wide world or download it yourself to add to your custom fonts for use in Photoshop, Pages, Word or even on your own website via web fonts3.
iFontMaker is an ingenious app. The kind of the thing the iPad was invented for. Creating a font with it is a really rich and engaging, tactile experience — and seeing it transformed from your hand onto a page of text is really something, it actually feels like some kind of witchcraft.
Sadly, your first attempt at a font will inevitably look soul crushingly like Comic Sans, and thus you’ll want to throw yourself off a bridge, but fight that urge, and do a second font. Take your time, think what you want and you can really turn out some interesting and useful fonts.
The tools are slightly limited, a plethora of custom brushes would be awesome, and a way to use the brushes as erasers would also be handy. It’s also sad that you can’t use the fonts on the iPad itself, but these are minor criticisms of what is an intensely cool app.