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Creating Multiple Weights

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Hey all. I'm working on my third typeface right now. My first two were display types with only 1 weight. 

I'm currently working on a typeface suitable for body copy as well as display uses and I'll be tackling multiple weights on this one. (You can see my progress here.)

How do you, personally, create multiple weights? Are there best practices for this? I've heard of using interpolation but I don't know much about it. I'd hate to draw all my glyphs in 8 different weights if there was an easier way to do it.

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George Thomas

To interpolate you must have more than one master. To get to that point, generally most designers design the lightest or regular weight along with the boldest weight, then interpolate between them. The results are not always perfect so some manual touch-up likely will be required.

Nothing worth doing is easy or quick.

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Ralf Herrmann

In that specific case, where you have a rather geometric design with no stroke contrast, I would probably start with actual strokes, not outlines. You can use the same skeleton, apply different stroke widths and at some point turn it into outlines and refine the details. 

In general, using interpolation can make sense for any family with more than 2 weights or multiple widths. You just draw the extremes (for example: light/black or consensed/wide or both) and then you create any style you want inbetween. It’s a common practise and used for many of today’s type families with many styles. And all professional font editors like FontLab Studio or Glyphs support it. 

It needs some practise of course. One problem is that you usually only draw the extremes and for example your regular style can only be controlled indirectly. The extremes also need to be compatible, which means to have anchors at the same spot. So there are limitations when working with interpolation and it takes practise to deal with that. 

Here is an overview regarding FontLab Studio with general information about the topic as well. 


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