Creating RDot

For the first time in 2020, I took a couple of weeks off to recharge my batteries a bit. As I’m wont to do sitting at home in this lovely weather, I picked up three side projects all of which are chugging along nicely.

This one I probably cherish the most and didn’t expect to finish, at all. But I did. I created a typeface pretty similar to my own handwriting 😱. You’re reading this particular post in RDot. Just covering a few basics

Why create a typeface?

  1. Because I can 💪
  2. I wanted to write online the way I write in a notebook and even though I have a horrendous handwriting as is clearly evident, it feels like me.

How did I do this?

Step 1. Understand the anatomy of a typeface

Anatomy of a font

Picture credit:

I have been following typography for a while so I already understood basic terminology like kerning and ligatures. What I didn’t understand, I read and tinkered with tools such as the above one to individually move configurations and understand them better

Step 2: Add salt to taste

It is a visual artform and I used 3 approaches in progression to keep chipping away till I was happy

  1. Using the Metaflop modulator, I used the “Bespoke” font as a base version and tweaked it to match my handwriting over 2-3 hours. It’s a bit of trial and error but worth the effort. The flexibility here to tweak individual letters the way you wish is limited but it’s a great first step. Then I exported this version as an open type font (.otf). An alternative to this approach could just be to borrow an open source font from Google’s excellent font library.
  2. Importing this open type font into Glyphr Studio allowed me to add specific letter elements, ligatures and kernings. For instance: “R” has a circular element which gives the font its name (RDot) and ligatures like “th”. Glyphr was way more time consuming and I loved the ability to test drive all the changes I was making here as I was tweaking. Again exported this output as .otf exact Glyph for r

exact Glyph for r

  1. Tweak individual glyphs using Font Forge to get the exact shape you’re after. Glyphr is web based and has its limitations on Bezier curves and moving points around neatly. I absolutely loved the way “w” shows up in Raleway as a font and modified individual points to get it exactly the way I wanted it to. Super happy with the way that turned out 🥰 exact Glyph for w

exact Glyph for w

Step 3: Convert the .otf to web font type .woff

There are multiple online tools for doing this. I used this one. The next step was quite straightforward. I added that .woff to this blog’s css and Voila! The only basic element to change was that my handwriting is pretty tall (and so is this font). I needed to tweak other margins / line heights to make sure that the change from Helvetica doesn’t seem bizzare.

I wish I could just post the .otf here for anyone to experiment but the reality is that the type is deeply flawed! It just has latin glyphs and just one size: regular. In this controlled environment, it might look ok but in a slightly different setup, it likely won’t. Maybe I’ll extend it later but pretty happy that I could get this out of the door and I wish this is the first of many type experiments I eventually run.


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