The Kotofont and how to pick a font for your comics

When I first started ‘Millennials’ two years ago, I’ve been confronted for the first time to the ‘font issue’.

There is a tremendous amount of free fonts out there (in the wild wild internet), but only a few are fit to be used in a comic, and even less are fit to be featured in YOUR comic.

Well I don’t know, maybe not everyone is as picky as I am and for you a Google font will do, but in that case you don’t have a font issue.

If like me you’re terribly picky (almost annoying to yourself) then stick with me until the end 🙂

Also remember, you don’t need to spend hours looking for a free font: you can always buy one for (most of the times) about 20 dollars.

MY FIRST CHOICE

I started my font search where everybody does: dafont.com

Apart from the fact that you will for sure get lost for hours looking at all the mesmerizing fonts this website has to offer, I’d suggest you focus and go straight to your goal: to find a font that is:

 

  • compatible with your art style or at least fit for comics in general (for me this translate into ‘looking like it was hand-made’, you decided what this means for you)
  • perfectly readable
  • 100% free for commercial use
  • complete of all characters possible and imaginable

 

—> Here is an exemple of a filtered search for ‘comics’ and ‘100% free’ fonts on dafont.com.

free for commercial use fonts for comics artists
Help! Too many amazing fonts!!!

The first time around I was super lucky and bumped into Cardenio Modern, that became immediately my font for Millennials and most of my other comics. Cardenio is a beautiful font and it’s indeed free for commercial use. I thanked the author personally and credited him in my website’s footer. He was very happy to know that Cardenio ended up in some silly comics. Smooth.

Another popular fonts aggregator is 1001font.com.

—>  Here you find a filtered search for ‘free for commercial use’ + ‘comics’ + ‘handwriting’ on 1001fonts.com.

It’s up to you to check if these fonts are compatible with your drawings, readable and complete.

In my case I need to write french names pretty often, so I need the full set of EU characters (for ex. all those wierd ‘ç’ stuff). What I do is that I open the font page and I check if it has, at least:

 

  • lowercase characters or, in alternative, small caps
  • capital letters
  • numbers
  • basic symbols and also (often missing): ‘@’, €, $, #,  ©
  • EU characters in upper and lower cases

 

The font’s page should also show a preview of what the italic and bold versions of the font look like.

MY FIRST FAUX PAS

The second time around (for ‘La vie en grey’) I didn’t have that much time to dedicate to the font search so I had to skip Dafont.com and 1000fonts and do the thing that I always do when I’m confronted with too much choice: ask Google.

I typed something like ‘free for commercial use fonts for comics’ and ended up in a website that, they say, only lists ‘free for commercial use’ fonts.

The site is fontsquirrel.com, and the page I ended up in by following my Google search result is this one.

I picked my font from this amazing font list and started making new comics with it. I mean, the website said ‘free for commercial use’, what else did I need?

I now, I’m an idiot.

When you download a font usually it comes with a nice ‘read me’ document.

In that read me document that I completely ignored it was clearly stated that the font was free for personal use, but, being a freeware licence, I wasn’t authorize to use it for commercial use.

Why did you do this to me Font Squirrel?

Never mind all those super cool words that lure you in with their ‘free’ parts: freemimum, freeware, free demo etc. The only ‘free’ you’re looking for is ‘free for commercial use’, and it has to be stated clearly somewhere that your font is. In alternative it might be written that the font is 100% free.

Okay, let’s take a step back. I’m 16 episodes into my new series and a bell rings: was the font really free? Don’t ask me why the bell rang 16 episodes into the story. We will never know.

Anyway I double check my font and no, it wasn’t free for commercial use.

I go back to square one: I need  a font for my comics, in the style of my drawing, small caps, kind of hand-written vibe, clearly a comic font and free for commercial use.

Woa, not again please!

THE SOLUTION I FOUND

At this point I had several issues: the first one was time. I knew already that I was going to spend about the rest of my life converting all dialogues in a new font so there was no way I was going to spend even a single minute looking through fonts again in aggregators&co.

The second one was that I’ve gotten used to see my comics with THAT font.

No way I could distance myself from that style and feeling.

I first tried to check out premium fonts but I wasn’t able to find anything that looked close enough. And the task was already consuming way more time than I decided to allowed to it (again).

At the top of my frustration I took the most difficult decision: I was going to make MY OWN FONT.

Don’t get me wrong, making a font is a professional work and, as I was about to discover soon enough, it requires a terrible amount of time too.

KOTOFONT IS HERE!

But I was lucky enough to find Calligraphr, which is an oversimplified software that allows you to build your own font in a decent amout of time and for a reasonable price.

You can try it for free, but if you want a complete set of characters you’ll have to buy a licence. I bought a licence for a month and paid 8 dollars. Totally worth it.

The result is… the KOTOFONT!

For the moment is only available on my Google Drive but I plan to upload it on a few websites so people can download it and use 100% for free. Yes, also for commercial use 🙂

Now I’ll just have to take a deep breath and start the ‘re-font’ of La vie en grey.

 

What about your experience with fonts?

Any website you suggest?

Write it in the comments!