How to create a font with minimal sketching

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So you want to make your own hand drawn font. Maybe you've even enrolled in my Skillshare font class. But drawing the letterforms is still super intimidating.

In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how thinking critically about your letterforms is a great way to save time, while simultaneously making your uppercase font feel more cohesive.

Is this the lazy man's font tutorial? Hardly. It takes forethought and abstract thinking in order to build a font from scratch.

How to create a font with minimal sketching -

So how to build a font from just these? Because this is a visual exercise, I'll show you with images.

Uppercase Typography Anatomy

Before we dive in, here's some quick uppercase typography anatomy so you know what I'm talking about below.


Drawing a Capital A and U

Depending on the style of your font, certain letters are going to lend their pieces to other letters. Because I really liked the style of this soft A, I can also use it for the U, upside down.


Drawing a Capital B, I, P

B is the next logical letter to draw. The stem for the B is going to be used in several letters, even past the ones I mentioned here: it's also going to be used for the stem for the D, F, K, M, N, and the lower half of the Y.


Drawing a Capital C, O, G, S, Q

C can be taken apart easily too by making it into an O first. The round structure for the O and C can then be translated into a G (using the smaller arm from the F). The S also fits in here by adding a spine and thinking how it fits in with the curves of the O. The Q is easy to create by adding a tail to the O.


Drawing a Capital D

The D stands alone with its big bowl, attached to the B's stem.


Drawing a Capital E, F, H, L

Draw arms/legs for the E and F, with the stem from the B. Use the middle arm and two stems for the H, and move the top arm down to the bottom to become a leg for the L.


Drawing a Capital J

The J is actually a portion of the U. I can see now that I've drawn too much in my sketch!


Drawing a Capital K, R

The leg for the K can also be the leg for the R, adding onto the bowl from the P and the stem from the B.


Drawing a Capital M and N

The M and the N use the same stem from the B.


Drawing a Capital T and Z

Draw a longer leg for the top of the T, and use these twice with the middle portion of the N for the Z.


Drawing a Capital V and W and X

These diagonals can be used multiple times. Draw the W first, then use the two diagonal stems to form the V. Use these same two stems to make an X.


Drawing a Capital Y

Use a similar angle from the W and draw the top half of the Y. Use the original lower half of B's stem.




So there you have it, a full uppercase alphabet with a few pencil strokes. This set isn't perfect, but you can begin to see how important it is to have uniform widths and similar shapes so the set looks cohesive.

You can easily switch the style of your font whether you have different stem choices, serif versus sans serif, etc., but I hope seeing how to think through a letterform set will help you create more visually united fonts and hand lettering pieces. These principles can also be applied to creating a full font suite, including lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

Want to learn how to apply this method by watching video tutorials?

Want to speed up your font design in general? Take my full Skillshare hand drawn font class (it's only 55 minutes long) and make sure to download my cheat sheet!