A lack of variation is a common critique of digital comic lettering, which is a shame since variation can
be added to fonts! To help remedy this common issue, I decided to make a tutorial about one way of achieving letter variants in FontForge.
Eventually, I hope to make an appendix to this tutorial that lists a bunch of substitution rules that achieve different kinds of variation.
There are other ways to achieve variation, but I haven't discovered how to use them in FontForge yet. If I do, I will make tutorials about them too!FontForge
is a free font creation/editing program, it is available for every major OS.
This tutorial assumes some familiarity with FontForge because it's about a fairly advanced font feature. If you want to learn the basics of FontForge, there are several tutorials online, including the official one
Since FontForge supports importing fonts, you can even add variants to fonts you've downloaded! However, if you modify a font you didn't create, make sure you do not redistribute your modification unless the original font's licence allows it!
One thing I wanted to cover in the tutorial but opted not to is the serif I, which some letters use exclusively for the pronoun "I", with the sans serif I being used in all other contexts. Most comic fonts (especially free ones) will have one or the other, even though it's not hard to make both. For now, this part of the official FontForge tutorial
should do. It's the same process as I use for my serif I variant, except serif I replaces one letter while the tutorial example replaces two. That tutorial covers glyph classes fairly well, so it would be silly to make a tutorial on the same subject.