A font made by the people one letter at a time.

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What is FrankenFont?

FrankenFont is a free TrueType font designed by members of the public at Dublin Maker 2023. Using a combination of free software and some custom scripts, myself (Ted Burke) and Shannon Chance worked together with visitors to build the font one letter at a time over the course of the day. Each visitor drew the outline of a single glyph (a symbol used to represent a text character, such as an upper case letter, lower case letter, or digit). We photographed their drawing, digitally extracted the outline of the glyph and then added it to FrankenFont using Inkscape's SVG font editor. Finally, we converted the SVG font file into a TrueType font (i.e. a .ttf file) using FontForge, which is also free software. Each visitor received a printout of the complete set of characters added to the font up to that point and a magnetic pin to stick it on their fridge when they got home.

Thanks to each of the talented artists who contributed a letter to this typography masterpiece for the ages!

What is STEM Ensemble?

FrankenFont was one of three and a half STEM Ensemble exhibits at Dublin Maker 2023. STEM Ensemble is a diverse and inclusive group of makers, artists and educators who work together to deliver workshops, exhibits and installations for the general public in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). We stage workshops in a variety of settings, including libraries, schools and other venues. Our workshops typically focus on robotics, electronics and/or programming. We regularly exhibit work at festivals and other events - most of our installations involve some kind of interactive experience that teaches visitors something scientific or technical.

What software did we use to create FrankenFont?

Our Dublin Maker exhibit used several different free software packages, including Inkscape, FontForge, Jotz Live (Linux on a bootable USB flash drive, built with Debian Live), PHP, Python, and various other utilities - all Sellotaped together with some custom Bash scripts. However, if you're just interested in designing your own font, or editing the existing version of FrankenFont, all you really need is Inkscape and FontForge. Actually, all you really need is FontForge, but I find it much easier to edit the glyphs in Inkscape and then I just use FontForge for the final conversion from SVG to a TrueType .tff file, which can be used to install the font on any computer. YouTube has lots of good tutorials for font design using Inkscape and FontForge. Both are available for Windows, Mac and Linux. They're completely free and quick and easy to download and install.

Why did we create FrankenFont?

FrankenFont is basically a collaborative art project - an opportunity for a diverse group of artists and makers to come together to create a unique artwork in a medium most people haven't worked in before (font design).

Some specific objectives included:

  1. Bring the Dublin Maker community together to create something unique on the day (a brand new font).
  2. Raise awareness of typography and type design.
  3. Raise awareness of Inkscape and other free software that can be used to create fonts (and lots of other things). Inkscape is freely available to anyone who has a computer. It's one of the greatest pieces of free software ever created. It's a huge part of my creative life and I love spending time with it. I want everyone to discover it.

Personal objectives:

  1. Artistic expression: I had an idea that wanted to be brought to life.
  2. Spend time researching typography and font design.
  3. Learn how to create a TrueType font using free software.
  4. Learn more advanced features of Inkscape, including the SVG Font Editor, bitmap tracing, etc.
  5. Learn to write Inkscape extensions using Python. Wow, what an amazing rabbit hole!
  6. Refresh my skills in Python, PHP, BASH scripting, etc.

Uploaded images of hand-drawn letters

Click a link below, wait for the page to reload, then scroll down to see the selected drawing.