How to Make a TTF Font in Ubuntu

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Ubuntu is an open source, freely available operating system under the GNU General Public license. There are other free, open source programs that work seamlessly with Ubuntu--such as Gimp (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) and Inkscape--that are useful for creating fonts. A TrueType Font (TTF) can be generated with a font-creating program such as FontForge. Other programs can be run on Ubuntu through Wine (which stands for WINdows Emulator).

  • Write the alphabet on a piece of paper (preferably a template; see Resources for an example) using a felt-tip pen or marker. Ballpoint pens are not ideal for this task, so avoid using them if possible.

  • Scan your handwritten alphabet into your computer using a flatbed scanner. Scan at a minimum 300 dpi resolution, in grayscale, in the bitmap format.

  • Import your scanned bitmap image into an image editing program, such as Gimp. Gimp can be downloaded from the repositories by selecting "System," "Administration," "Synaptic Package Manager" then searching for "Gimp." Other programs (Photoshop or Corel PhotoPaint, for example) can be used as well. Clean up the letters, or glyphs, and apply filters or other effects if desired.

  • Open your bitmap in a vector graphics editor such as Inkscape, also freely available from the repositories, or your preferred graphics editor (like CorelTrace [CorelDraw] or Adobe Streamline). Vectorize the image by selecting "Trace Bitmap" from the "Path" menu in Inkscape, then saving as an SVG file. Type must be saved in the vector format to enable scaling and resizing.

  • Import the SVG file into FontForge or a similar font-creating program (such as Fontographer or FontLab Studio). In FontForge, choose "File," then "Import." Make adjustments as necessary and generate your font. Click "Generate" from the "File" menu and save your file with a .ttf extension.

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  • Photo Credit letterpress type blocks image by pdtnc from Fotolia.com
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