I’ve always been very interested in fonts. Each one is new and different. Some are awesome, some are just plain awful. This love of fonts led me to work for a font foundry back in the early 90s. That company had all kinds of software tools for creating fonts. And even while the digitizers at the foundry were using Macs to digitize fonts, I was playing around with creating some in CorelDRAW.
Even back in early versions of CorelDRAW it was possible to create your own fonts. The key is knowing where CorelDRAW is best used and where it should not be used.
Today someone posted a nice story about a font designer who is using CorelDRAW to create some really cool fonts. They are retro, yet hip. He didn’t go into all the technical details about how he uses CorelDRAW so I’ll have to try and fill in the blanks with my best guess. This guess is based on the process I use to create fonts with CorelDRAW. For those who want to read more about it, there is a chapter in my CorelDRAW X3 Unleashed and CorelDRAW X4 Unleashed books about it.
Set up a template in CorelDRAW with a baseline, cap height, x-height, descender line and any other guidelines you might need. Design each character for your font. That is probably the longest step in the process as a quality font has over 200 characters and possible more. Once you have all the characters drawn, export them one by one to a font file. CorelDRAW can export to either TTF or PFB files.
Where CorelDRAW is severely lacking is the technical aspects of the font. The spacing is creates is OK. It does not include any kerning data and it does not hint the font. Hinting makes a font look good at smaller sizes or on lower resolution devices. Because of this, I’ll take the font I export from CorelDRAW and import it into FontLab. FontLab makes it easy to adjust the font’s metrics and to add kerning data. The process can be completely automated or you can manually adjust to your heart’s content. When it saves a font, it will include very good quality hinting. Yes, you can draw the font in FontLab, but I find it much easier to use the tools in CorelDRAW. If you are looking for a lower-priced editor, the folks at FontLab also offer TypeTool.
All in all, I find that CorelDRAW is a great tool for designing fonts as long as you know its limitations. Even if you don’t want to design an entire font, it is still handy for doing a few special characters for a design project or for a client. Just one more thing that CorelDRAW can create!