Starting a new design project is a great opportunity to do something new with typography. But it doesn’t always go to plan. With tight deadlines and a lack of creative ideas, it’s so easy to end up falling back on the same old fonts and font pairings.
New for 2017, these tools all aim to help you find new ones, so you can put a bit of sparkle back into your typography... and hopefully a bit of joy back into your design soul.
01. Fontface Ninja
Every wondered which font a website is using? Wonder no more. Fontface Ninja is a free browser extension that lets you lets you inspect, try and buy the fonts being used on any websites. Once you’ve installed the extension, you just have to click the icon and then hover over a font to see its name, line height, size and other specifications.
Click on any font you like the look of in the drop-down, and you can type into an overlaid box to see if it will work for your text.
Looking for free fonts? One of the best places to find them is Google Fonts, a collection of more than 800 fonts that are available to use for free on any website, whether it be personal or commercial. But finding the best Google fonts for your project can be tricky, so this handy new tool aims to make it a bit easier.
The idea behind this intuitive site is that you search for fonts according to visual categories rather than terms like serif and sans-serif. Tap the filter button in the left-hand vertical menu and it will all become clear. Once you’ve found a font you like, just tap its name and you’ll be taken through to its page on Google Fonts.
If you can’t find the right fonts, you always have the option of creating your own. Launched in February 2017 by Maklabu, Calligraphr is a tool for converting your own handwriting into fully functional vector fonts.
This app provides you with template to download. Complete it with handwritten letters and Calligraphr will then translate your writing into fonts. You can then go on to edit and perfect your fonts within the software, as well as creating your own ligatures. Pricing plans ranges from free to $8 per month.
Prototypo offers another easy way to create your own bespoke font. This tool provides you three basic typefaces – Prototypo Fell, Prototypo Grotesk and Prototypo Elzevir – and lets you customise them by changing more than 20 parameters, such as thickness, aperture and roundness, as well as fine-tuning the serifs. Once you’re done, export your fonts as .otf files for use on websites or the desktop. There’s a limited free plan, while full-featured plans start at $15 per month.
05. IDEO Font Map
Want to break away from the same old boring font combinations? Ideo Font Map offers an imaginative way to generate original and unusual font pairings. The creation of Kevin Ho, it’s basically an interactive map of more than 750 fonts that uses AI to surface new relationships across fonts. If that sounds obtuse, it all becomes clear once you start playing around with it, so go give it a try.
An offshot of the IDEO Font Map (see above), Fontjoy is another deep learning tool for finding new and unusual font pairings. Created by designer and engineer Jack Qiao, it allows you to choose how similar or contrasting you want your fonts to be via a slider at the top of the site. Then click the ‘Generate’ button and you’ll be instantly given a match.
07. F37 Foundry
Back in February, F37 Foundry, the type foundry of Rick Banks, launched a highly granular in-browser type tester to promote its typeface. Inspired by Adobe Illustrator’s features, it lets you test out typefaces within your web browser in an intuitive and sophisticated way.
You can, for example, move, resize and rotate text, as well as tweaking the leading, kerning, tracking and colour. This cool tool was created by Banks along with digital designer Francis Smith and developer Tom Duncalf.