Letter News Newsletter
What font is this?
That's one of the questions I hear all of the time. And ask.  Gone are the days when you stood a chance of being able to name 95% of the fonts or of finding a typeface by it's features in Rookledge's. If you are often asked (or ask) the question, then you should check out and bookmark What The Font?! on MyFonts.com.

Simply scan a version of the font you are trying to identify, upload it to their site and it will come up with the font you are looking for (and/or many close to it). Sometimes fonts have not been digitized, are proprietary or are hand lettered so you won't always find precisely what you are looking for. Just follow the directions on their site as to the file size and how to upload. It really helps the search process if each word is widely letterspaced, ie: if you move the letters further apart than normal so they don't overlap.

Bruno, an Adobe font
by Jill Bell.

A few of my explorations for Phulay Bay.

Phulay Bay explorations
We saught to capture the feeling of Thailand in this logotype and I looked at a wide variety of Thai scripts while working on this project.

There's a lot more of my lettering work
to be seen:
original lettering, logotypes, fonts
and more.
Take a look.
Issue 6           
January 2009
New in 2009
escape...Phulay Bay, Thailand

Ah...would I love to escape to Phulay Bay in Thailand on this very cold, January day here in the midwest. It's incredibly appealing.
Here are a few fabulous new hotel ventures (including the above)  that I had the pleasure of creating a logotype for, that are getting started in 2009.

Hotel Felix

The Hotel Felix is a lovely, upscale, eco-friendly boutique hotel in Chicago.

The Ultimate Stay

The Ultimate Stay is a new hotel reservation service which helps you select a hotel with all the features, amenities that you require during your travels.

Phulay Bay

Phulay Bay is the gorgeous and exotic new Ritz-Carlton luxury resort (pictured above) located in Krabi, Thailand.

With thanks to all the great art directors who hired me!

Instant handwriting fonts!
What could be better? A lot, it turns out.

The lure was too great: upload your handwriting to Fontifier.com and get a font of your own handwriting that you can use on your computer for $9. What a bargain (and it used to be free)! So I gave it a try.

I downloaded and printed out the template, grabbed my italic fountain pen, put a character in each box, scanned and uploaded it. My first font was a total disaster as the program picked up traces of the boxes from the template and the letters were literally all over the place.

Each subsequent attempt got better. I tried drawing a baseline on the back of the template in order to make the notches they provide as a writing guide into an actual baseline, and then wrote the letters in using a light box (getting complicated already). One could also pencil in lines and then erase them before scanning. It turned out a little better although the glyphs still sat very unevenly in the font. They came out slightly better on the next try when I cleaned up my scan and centered the characters more precisely in the boxes in Photoshop. Not for the layman.
casual italic from Fontifier
Fontified casual italic...my second attempt.

I found that connecting strokes were tricky indeed and that you were better off avoiding them altogether (see tail on "a" above which creates a long space after it). The program literally interprets whatever part of the character that extends the furthest to the right and left the sides as being its actual side. This creates spacing problems throughout the font in all but an upright, serif-less font (see how wide the pairs are above: fg, ij, rs). So much for most slanted handwriting! Obviously there is no kerning, no adjustments made for the too-far-apart pairs such as those above (and there are so many more). This part of font creation (creating kerning pairs) often takes a pro as long as drawing the letters, glyphs.

Upon inspecting my font in a vector program (Illustrator), there were nearly a hundred Bézier points in each letter which is the sure sign of converting to vectors from a low-res scan. It made the edges an ugly mess. It probably wouldn't be noticed when printed at small sizes but it is obvious that automation created the letters.

I finally arrived at a half-way decent solution by creating constrained, upright characters with no connecting strokes. However it still did not produce a font that was usable in any real sense. So I opened it in Fontographer and after a few hours of work, moving and adjusting the characters slightly and doing a small amount of kerning, I had a reasonably decent looking font that I have actually used to address envelopes and write notes with.

Jill's upright italic

Fontified upright italic, my fourth attempt at a font,
three or so hours of additional work in Fontographer.

So if you print when you write and are willing to give it a number of trys, you may get a half-way decent font. Fontifier lets you view a sample of the font that it has generated online before you buy it. Although you can't test it with various texts, you are not committed to paying for a font that isn't working for you.

I'd save my $9 and my time and go online and find one of the multitudes of well-made, handwriting based fonts created by pros, pay a little more, and know that it is actually going to work and look like someone's handwriting.

Note: Although I have not tested Scanahand, Your Handwriting and the other cheap, do-it-yourself Windows handwriting font creation programs, they function much the same and I would anticipate similar problems. Creating the seamless modularity that a functional font requires is simply not accomplished by automatically converting lo-res scans to vectors and plopping the glyphs into the correct slots. At least not yet.
Note from Jill

While there is always much to worry about, particularly with all the rampant greed, self-interest and financial disasters we have been exposed to the past few years, there is also a lot to be hopeful about. My optimism is topped by the prospect of a new President and along with his election, a renewed national respect worldwide. I wish him the fortitude, integrity and power to manifest the change we all seriously need.

I hope your new year is productive, prosperous and fulfills your expectations as well.


 Jill Bell Brandlettering provides distinctive,
one-of-a-kind lettering solutions
tailored to your individual needs.