A Fonts Tale.

I’m back. Did ya miss me?

My last post on this blog was nearly a year ago. I have been working on something big which didn’t leave me much time for other things but that is finished now so I now have time to post again.

So, what have I been doing?

Well I have been a connoisseur of fonts for a long time, back before the days of true type I designed bitmap fonts for the Atari ST.

Since getting the PC many years ago I haven’t actually designed any fonts, just used and collected them, and I have a sizeable collection.

I was always looking for the perfect font for body text. One which fulfilled my personal preferences. There were many which ticked a lot of the boxes but there wasn’t one which ticked all the boxes.

For body text you want something which is very legible and without too much character, Fonts with a lot of character are fine for titles or short captions but if you are reading long passages of it then bland is best, having said that there are certain elements of style which are beneficial in body text.

In January 2015 I became aware of a program called Font Forge, it is a true type font editor which is free and open source. I downloaded it and started work to create my perfect font.

But it was hard work, there is a lot to learn. Font Forge is cumbersome and non intuitive. Some parts of it, like hinting, are very arcane. And then there were the bugs, the program hasn’t been finished to a point where it is stable. I kept getting crashes. To be fair the community surrounding this program is very helpful and new versions are constantly coming out to fix problems when they arise.

One of these new versions fixed some of my problems and the program was much more stable after that.

About two or three months into the development of the font I bought a font editor program called Font Creator. At the time I wondered about the wisdom of spending so much but looking back it was a good move.

Many of the Font Editors which are available are very expensive so I was surprised at the modest cost of Font Creator compared to some font editors , it is less than the price of a well known word processor (you know the one I mean).

Font Creator automates a lot of functions which are done manually in Font Forge. The drawing tools are quite intuitive, for anyone with experience using a mechanical CAD program they will be very easy to learn.

At some point I will do a comparative review of Font Forge and Font Creator, but that will be a separate post.

At first I had intended to do a small font just for my own use with a minimal set of characters but then other people became interested in it and I decided to make it suitable for a public release. I tried to make it generally useful to as many people as possible and so I started filling in the blanks, the European accented characters, the Eastern European characters, the Nordic characters and eventually Cyrillic, Armenian and Georgian.

At this point I had to come up with a name and it seemed that all the sensible names were already taken. If you do a search for ‘<prospective name> font’ on a web search engine then it always comes back with a hit. One of my colleagues at work suggested that I call the font after my main character on the MMORPG Guild Wars 2 and so the name of the font is ‘Kelvinch‘ for reasons which are unlikely to become clear to anyone who doesn’t know the origin of that name.

Kelvinch Advert

A friend on the font forum called Bhikkhu Pesala gave me permission to use some of the blocks of characters from his Pali font and so my font acquired Dingbats, Miscellaneous Symbols, Geometric Shapes and Arrows. Bhikkhu Pesala has produced many really fantastic free fonts.

Eventually my font grew to about three and a half thousand characters, there are some easter eggs in there as well. If you want to know where these can be found you might find some clues in the fontlog.txt file which documents the development of the font.

Kelvinch was started in January 2015 and finished in May 2016, a lot of work has gone into it and it is yours for free, all you have to do is download and install. It can be downloaded from the Deviant Art website. Don’t let the ‘Deviant’ bit put you off, Deviant Art is probably the largest art repository on the internet and only a very small percentage of the content is pornographic.




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