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Gilbert - An iconic font made with Fontself

The story behind an iconic font made with Fontself

April 20, 2017
TypeWithPride Gilbert font

Last week, we got a surprise email at Fontself:

“Hi, we’re the Design team at Ogilvy New York and we’d love your help to spread the news about a cool type project.”

Ok, so when one of the largest marketing and advertising agencies knocks on your door, you wonder whether A) this is a big misunderstanding or B) you’ve finally done something that people really care about…

We took the call to learn a bit more about the project and got really excited when we saw what Ogilvy’s team had worked on during their pro bono time: they crafted a complete color font family to honor Gilbert Baker, the designer of the iconic Rainbow Flag.

The project was named Type With Pride and they *just* needed some help to generate their Gilbert Color font. We love challenges so we were like:

“Sounds great, what’s your deadline?” — “We’re releasing it next week!”

Gasp…

Gilbert Color Bold — a strong design to second a powerful icon.

Font creation. The (too) easy way.

When we launched Fontself, we had a single goal in mind: to produce a font creation tool so easy to use that creatives could entirely focus on their typeface design, and not on the font fabrication process.

Turns out Ogivly’s team had already started using Fontself Maker to craft a vector font out of their original design, and they now counted on us to apply the same basic recipe to make a rich colorful font, with alternates characters (including color variants) and a couple font weights.

But after we’d introduced powerful concepts like drag & drop glyph creationin our Illustrator & Photoshop add-ons that thousands of designers already use, we still had a long road ahead to turn into a full-featured font editorthat could smoothly handle complex cases. Our Illustrator add-on did not yet export color fonts, and the color bitmap font format in our Photoshop add-on was not suited for a sharp typeface designs like Gilbert Color.

In front of this amazing project, we felt like it was a unique opportunity to speed up our efforts to deliver everything we had promised to ourselves, our users and Kickstarter backers: a designer-friendly font creation tool that can handle sophisticated projects like the Gilbert font family from beginning to end, so many more creatives could start making & refining their own color font families in a snap, entirely within Illustrator or Photoshop.

Create color fonts in Illustrator
The original Illustrator artwork (Hum, so where should we start now? ;)
The expected outcome (Yeah, that looks so easy to the eyes, gonna be fun. Let’s do it :)

Looking for Richar… errr, for Fontself Maker 2.0

After a quick look at the original artwork created by Ogilvy’s team, it became obvious this project was the best use case we could get to ensure we can generate both standard fonts as well as color vector versions:

  • The color font support will require to convert Illustrator’s color vector shapes into the shiny new color font format OpenType-SVG, which — just as its name suggests — can include Scalable Vector Graphics into an .otf OpenType font format. While color fonts are not widely supported yet, we know we can count on Photoshop CC 2017 to display and test such color fonts, while their development will entirely be done with a custom build of Fontself for Illustrator… #EatYourOwnDogFood
  • Handling hundred of characters per font will require specific utilities to manage the complexity. We’ll definitely have to automate more tasks as we will iterate both on the fonts & the tools to create them.
  • Refining a world-class typeface in Fontself will require more precise spacing editing and (finally!) the support of kerning pairs.
  • And adding alternate characters & color versions will also demand that we integrate more OpenType features into a tool that we aim to keep as accessible and easy as we can.

It turns out that we had already started rewriting our entire code base several months ago and were getting closer to release a first beta of Fontself Maker 2.0, the foundation of what will be an exciting new chapter since our Kickstarter campaign…

So let’s help Ogilvy’s team turn this typeface into a font in just 1 click !!!

Join the movement: create your own artwork & share it with #typewithpride

There is so much we would like to tell you about this exciting project, including more details on the people & story behind it, but time flies and we have just a couple months left to complete the Gilbert font family (and ship a souped-up Fontself for Illustrator to make it happen).

As we’ll keep working hand-in-hand with Ogilvy’s Design team to fulfill the promise made to the project’s partners, NewFest and NYC Pride, by mid June 2017, we invite you to join us on our journey over the weeks to come:

  • Heart this post & share it with friends, and follow us as we’ll write more posts on this color font chronicle here on Medium
  • Download a free preview version of the Gilbert & Gilbert Color fontsand get all the project’s artwork on www.typewithpride.com
  • Comment below or shoot an email to hello@typewithpride.com as we’ll grow the font family based on the community’s feedback
  • Use the fonts to create & post your own artwork with the #typewithpride hashtag (we will soon launch a creative contest)
  • Check more awesomeness on Instagram & Behance
Type With Pride — actually way more than just some type…

We’d like to say a very special & warm THANK YOU! to Akiko, Chris, Robyn, Rodrigo, Justin, Bill & the rest of the crew for their wonderful project, gorgeous artwork, plus the total trust & amazing support they gave us. It’s a real honor to be part of this adventure.

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