Font Resources

A compendium of resources for finding, buying, using, and being inspired by fonts.

We love fonts. We rank font selection right up there with choice of music and color scheme when it comes time to design a spot. Therefore, we’ve amassed quite a large font library over the years. Which then begs the obvious questions:

  • Where do you get your fonts?
  • How do you keep them organized?
  • What are some good design resources to inspire the use of fonts?

We’d like to share with you a few tools, links and lists we’ve found to be handy over the years.

Editing & Organizing

We’ve been through numerous font organization utilities over the years; it seems that as soon as you get comfortable with one, it’s discontinued. Operating systems offer their own font organization tools (such as Font Book on the Mac), but we currently prefer LinoType FontExplorer X. This free utility is currently available for the Mac, with a Windows version promised soon.

Every now and then, you need to change something about a character in a font. A great tool for this is TypeTool from Fontlab. This lightweight font editor is designed for modifying existing fonts, as well as for creating new fonts from existing characters and Illustrator files. Its features include the ability to add ligatures, old style figures, fractions, currency symbols and foreign characters to your fonts; make your own dingbat or clipart fonts; make font variations; and add correct em dashes, en dashes, quotation marks and apostrophes to your fonts. In other words, just about everything most graphic designers would need.

If you need an even more serious tool to edit or create fonts from scratch, then look into FontLab Studio. On the other hand, if all you need to do is quickly convert the format of some fonts (such as from Postscript to TrueType- some plug-ins are limited by what types of fonts they can access), then look into TransType. All three – TypeTool, FontLab Studio, and TransType – are cross-platform.

Inspiration & Resources

We have an extensive graphics library in the office, and one section of it is dedicated to fonts and typography. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Indie Fonts is considered the defacto reference for fonts from independent foundries. There are three volumes now; here are the links for Indie Fonts 2 and Indie Fonts 3. They come with CDs of free fonts, which help defray the investment involved in getting all three.
  • The Designer’s Guide to Web Type is a showcase for over 100 designer fonts from leading foundries both big and small, with examples of graphic designs using those fonts. Note that you can pick up a used copy for a song from places such as Amazon.com.
  • Lewis Blackwell is one of the “lions” of the field. He has two books of particular interest: 20th Century Type, which is used as a textbook by some, and 20th Century Type Remix, which Amazon.com describes as “a remix of Lewis Blackwell’s critically acclaimed Twentieth-Century Type. Analyzing, editing and augmenting his own text and choice of images, Blackwell provides a radically new assessment of the cutting-edge culture of typographic-led design in the late twentieth century.”

  • David Carson is one of Chris’ muses when it comes to design, particularly for the way he shows that you do not need to reveal the entire image (or word) for the viewer to “get it.” The seminal book on his design work is The End of Print, which was co-written by David Carson and Lewis Blackwell.

Online you’ll also find an excellent source of font information , a webzine available from ITC Fonts. If you prefer a blog or forum format where you get more immediate news and feedback to your questions, then check out the web site Typofile.

Many of the books above focus on type design for print, which isn’t always applicable to video where you often have less space, resolution, and time to ponder the text. Therefore, you might want to also check out the web site Art of the Title – it’s a great source of both inspiration, and for commentary on what does and doesn’t work.

The next page contains an extensive list of font foundries – both commercial and free – which can be accessed online. Be prepared to set a few hours aside as you go exploring…


Following is a linked list of places where we to go browse and buy fonts. First we’ll list the commercial foundries both big and small, as they tend to be more stable (some free sites disappear, or become overrun with ads), and the fonts tend to be of higher quality. Note that many commercial foundries may have a few freebies (such as the Pro Bono page on Fountain’s site), so poke around!

Commercial Font Foundries

Places that create fonts, which you can purchase for commercial use:

2Rebels (make sure you click on “Enter” to get the English version of the site)

AscenderFonts

Don Barnett Typography (very stylized)

Bitstream

Chank (they also offer free fonts, and a custom font design service)

Cool Fonts (big into grunge)

dafont

Emigre (a classic foundry for design-oriented fonts)

fontBoy

The Font Bureau

Fountain

GarageFonts (one of the original grunge collections)

ITC Fonts (another classic foundry)

LetterHead Fonts (vintage looks)

MiniFonts.com (specializes in fonts for web and mobile devices)

Nick’s Fonts

P22 (another classic)

+ism (warning: the web site is stylized to the point of being near-unusable)

Psy/Ops

Shift Font Library

SynFonts

T.26 (another classic)

Test Pilot Collective

Typodermic

Commercial Font Distributors

These folks distribute fonts from multiple foundries (including those listed above):

Font Haus

Font Marketplace

FontFont

Fonthead Design

Fonts.com

FontShop

MyFonts

Phil’s Fonts

Freeware & Shareware

Note: The distinction between free fonts and paid fonts are beginning to blur, as many previously freeware site are now charging for at least their new fonts (such as Blue Vinyl and Misprinted Type), or for the media or bandwidth required to deliver larger collections.

If you’re using a freeware or shareware font for commercial purposes, be sure to read any Read Me file: many licenses are for personal or non-profit use, requiring payment for commercial applications. Also, if you’re a Mac user, many freeware fonts come as PC Truetype only. They should be readable under OS X if placed directly in the Fonts folder, though a converter like FontLab’s Transtype (see the previous page) is nice to have around.

AEnigma Fonts

Astigmatic One Eye Typographic Institute

Blue Vinyl Fonts

the Dingbat pages

FontFreak (a gateway to other free font sites, but beware the tidal wave of ads you may unleash…)

Font River

fuelfonts

HPLHS Vintage Fonts (we used their OldStyle in the opening titles for Cold Mountain)

Misprinted Type

Urban Fonts

And if those are enough to explore, also check out A+ Font Links and the Fontlover.com site.

Identifying Fonts

Finally, if you’ve already seen the perfect font, but don’t know its name or foundry, there are a couple of “font finders” you can try:

  • Identifont asks a series of questions you can answer to try to narrow down the candidate. You can also type in a font’s name and see a sample of it.
  • MyFonts’ What The Font allows you to upload an image of the font in question, which it then tries to identify using recognition software.

The content contained in our books, videos, blogs, and articles for other sites are all copyright Crish Design, except where otherwise attributed.


Chris and Trish Meyer

Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, HBO, PBS, and TLC; in opening titles for several movies including Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley; at trade shows and press events for corporate clients ranging from Apple to Xerox; and in special venues encompassing IMAX, CircleVision, the NBC AstroVision sign in Times Square, and the four-block-long Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. They were among the original users of CoSA (now Adobe) After Effects, and have written the numerous books including “Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects” and “After Effects Apprentice” both published by Focal Press. Both Chris and Trish have backgrounds as musicians, and are currently fascinated with exploring fine art and mixed media in addition to their normal commercial design work. They have recently relocated from Los Angeles to the mountains near Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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