How to Create Your Own Fonts Using Inkscape and Icomoon

Make your own custom fonts for free

Cropped Image Of Person Using Laptop While Writing On Graphic Tablet At Desk
Alexander Kirch / EyeEm / Getty Images

Creating personalized fonts doesn't require expensive software or great artistic abilities. It's possible to make custom fonts using Inkscape and IcoMoon, two free programs that work on any computer.

Instructions in this article apply to Inkscape version 0.92.4 for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

What You Need to Create Custom Fonts

Inkscape is a free and open source graphics program for Windows, Mac, and Linux. IcoMoon is a website that lets you upload your own SVG graphics and convert them to fonts for free. Inkscape must be downloaded and installed while IcoMoon works in any web browser. Neither program requires you to provide your email or any other personal information.

Aside from the software, you'll need a photo of some drawn letters. If you are going to create your own, use a dark color ink and white paper for strong contrast and photograph the completed letters in good lighting. Also, try to avoid any closed spaces in letters, such as the letter "O," as they will make things more complicated when preparing your traced letters.

If you don't want to draw your own letters, you can find free images of the alphabet online. Make sure it includes all of the characters you want to use including capital and lowercase letters A-Z.

You can also draw your letters directly in Inkscape. This might work especially well if you use a drawing tablet.

Sticks and leaves arranged as letters of the alphabet
Mecaleha / Getty Images

How to Create Your Own Fonts

To make custom fonts with Inkscape and Icomoon:

  1. Open Inkscape and go to File > Import.

    Open Inkscape and go to File > Import.
  2. Choose your image and select Open.

    Choose your image and select Open.
  3. Make sure Embed is selected next to Image Import Type, then select OK.

    Make sure Embed is selected next to Image Import Type, then select OK.
  4. If the image appears too small or large in the window, go to View > Zoom > Zoom 1:1 to adjust the view.

    To resize the image, click on it to display arrow handles at each corner, then drag one of the handles while holding the Ctrl or Command key to retain the original proportions.

    If the image appears too small or large in the window, go to View > Zoom > Zoom 1:1 to adjust the view.
  5. Click on the photo to ensure that it's selected and then go to Path > Trace Bitmap to open the Trace Bitmap dialog.

    Click on the photo to ensure that it's selected and then go to Path > Trace Bitmap
  6. Check the box beside Live Preview to see what the final product will look like. Adjust the settings to your liking, or keep the defaults and select OK.

    If using a photo of a drawing, you may find it easier to shoot your photo again with better lighting to produce an image with stronger contrast.

    Adjust the settings in the Trace Bitmap dialog and select OK.
  7. When the tracing is completed, the letters will appear directly over the photo. Click on the photo image and drag it to the side to separate the two layers, then press Delete on your keyboard to remove it from the document. You'll be left with just the outlines of the letters.

    Click on the photo image and drag it to the side to separate the two layers, then press Delete on your keyboard to remove it from the document.
  8. Go to Path > Break Apart to split the letters into individual elements.

    Go to Path > Break Apart to split the letters into individual elements.
  9. Some individual letters may be split into multiple elements. To group these elements together, draw a box around them with the Select tool, then go to Object > Group. Each letter should be its own single element, so it may be a good idea to do this for each character.

    Draw a box around each character with the Select tool, then go to Object > Group to make it a single element.
  10. Go to File > Document Properties.

    Go to File > Document Properties.
  11. Set the Width and Height to 500px.

    Set the Width and Height to 500px.
  12. Drag all of your letters outside of the page edges.

    Drag all of your letters so that they are outside of the page edges.
  13. Drag the first letter onto the page, and then drag the handles to resize the letter so that it takes up most of the page.

    Remember to hold Ctrl or Command to maintain the original proportions.

    Drag the first letter onto the page, and then drag the handles to resize the letter so that it takes up most of the page.
  14. Go to File > Save As.

    Go to File > Save As.
  15. Give the file a meaningful name and select Save.

    Make sure to save the file in the plain .svg format.

    Give the file a meaningful name and select Save.
  16. Move or delete the first letter, then place the second letter onto the page and repeat the process until each letter is saved as an individual .svg file.

    Move or delete the first letter, then place the second letter onto the page and repeat the process until each letter is saved as an individual .svg file.
  17. Open Icomoon in a web browser, then select Import Icons.

    Open Icomoon in a web browser, then select Import Icons.
  18. Choose the first letter in your custom font set and select Open.

    Importing multiple files at once can cause Icomoon to crash, so it's best to upload them one by one.

    Choose the first letter in your custom font set and select Open.
  19. As you upload each character, it will appear on the page. Once you've uploaded them all, click on each one to highlight it and select Generate Font in the bottom-right corner.

    Select the pencil at the top of the page to further edit individual characters.

    Once you've uploaded them all, click on each one to highlight it and select Generate Font in the bottom-right corner.
  20. Assign each letter to a unicode character. Click in the right side of the field under each .svg file and type the character you want to associate with it. Icomoon will automatically detect the appropriate hexadecimal code. When finished, select Download.

    Click in the right side of the field under each .svg file and type the character you want to associate it with, then select Download.
  21. Your font set will be saved as a TrueType font (.ttf) file inside a .zip file.

    Your font set will be saved as a TrueType font (.ttf) file inside a .zip file.

You can now import your font into Microsoft Word and other programs.