Distress your fonts

Looking to give your fonts a grungy, distressed effect? Then look no further. Thomas Schostok explains how to vectorize your bitmaps using Illustrator CS2’s new LiveTrace function to modify a typeface in FontLab 4

Grungy, distressed, dirty or trashed typefaces, you can call them what you want, but they are always an interesting possibility if you're designing something that needs a used look. But what if you need a special corporate typeface in a 'trashed up' look and your favourite type designer doesn't offer it? The answer is simple - you do it yourself!

In this tutorial you will learn how to apply a distressed look to any existing font. You can spend hours messing about with old typewriters, photocopiers and scanners trying to mess up type to create a suitably distressed look, but all you really need is Illustrator CS2's new LiveTrace function (you can also use the Trace tool in Freehand MX) and FontLab for further modification of the typeface you create.

Over the following pages you'll be shown how best to trace a bitmap image for optimal use in FontLab and how to optimise vector paths by simplifying, reducing and modifying each of the contours.

Badly produced grunge typefaces often cause trouble. They can contain optical bugs or generate print errors, for example. Some of them simply have too many vector points and let your applications slow down or crash. Here you'll be provided with basic tips for optimising vector points in Illustrator and FontLab so that you can avoid these problems. You'll soon be adding trash effects to every typeface you see!

Click here to download the tutorial for free