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Create ZigZag Font Tutorial, How to generate a design using Illustrator paths and FontLab

How to create a zigzag font using Illustrator paths as well as fontlab tutorial

creating a zigzag font shape in Illustrator


The key thing is that you need a tool to create a font, without that you will not be able to go any further. If you have a font creation tool then the next step is the actual creation of the zigzag and I generally use tools such as Illustrator (or Affinity Designer or Inkscape).


Related sets

There are also sets you can lightning and zigzag fonts and vector eps designs as well as more examples to check out as well as Photoshop zigzag and lightning dynamic custom shapes for your projects


Create the zigzag vector path

In Illustrator


zigzag shape font design basic illustrator1) select the pen tool


2) click on artboard


3) and then move upwards at an angle to add the second point


4) click again


5) and then go downwards again in the same approximate angle past the original vertical line (of the first point) to the same distance as the second point


zigzag font path illustrator creation6) and then click artboard


7) and then go up approx at the same angle towards the same line of the second point and so on and


8) just repeat that back and forth.


One useful way to create an exact zigzag would be to use the shift key with the pen tool so the angles are exactly 45 degrees and also using view / smart guides ON.


Zigzag design

zigzag font shapes designsThere are millions of possible combinations in that you could have all the alternate points along the same vertical line or perhaps you could change the angle or make a more rapid angle change with each anchor point clicked.


Once you have finished and clicked your last anchor point for the zigzag, you may find that you have a fill (solid color) and no stroke, so select the path and set the fill to nill and set the stroke to black and now you can set the stroke width to perhaps 5 pt or 20pt etc and also set the width profile if you wish to have a more interesting zigzag


You can also manipulate the artwork using tools such as Vectorscribe (Astute Graphics) or tools such as the Andrew's Vector plugins for Illustrator including points plugins.


Alignment of points for the zigzag

I would also suggest turning the smart guides on if you wish to line up points or perhaps add other paths as guides.


Another option would be to use the direct selection tool and select all the points at the bottom of the path and use the vertical align center. Likewise, for the points at the top if you wish to align them as well. You can also use the distribute command to distribute them equally horizontally by using horizontal distribute center.


Expand zigzag

If you wish to leave it as a stroke that is fine but you want it as a zigzag character in a font then


1) Object menu


2) expand the artwork using the expand command


and now you can copy it to Fontlab or another tool to turn it into a TTF etc. Before you expand the set, you may wish to modify various stroke properties.


Font tools and in particular, FontLab

I use generally Fontlab (though many of my earlier sets were created using Macromedia fontographer though earlier AltSys) to create truetype TTF files.


Fontlab does require a little trial and error on copying the paths from Illustrator to Fontlab as the units are in reverse and I would suggest you check up on the web on the exact details how to copy any of the artworks from Illustrator to Fontlab but a bit of trial and error should enable you to copy them and move the artwork to the correct position in the glyph (select a letter such as 'A' and not a more obscure character)


zigzag fontlab glyph creation shape font1) select shape in Illustrator


2) copy


3) Go to fontlab


4) Double Click on a glyph such as A


5) Paste


6) Use the edit tool to position the zigzag as required (such as in a position above 0, 0 and to the right of that)


fontlab toolset such as scale for the zigzag shape7) Use the scale tool in the Fontlab toolbar to re-size as required to fit the current glyph (that depends on the various settings for the font but in the default, between the 0,0 and 800,800)


You can add all kinds of different zigzag variant to the other glyphs


font info for the fontlab zigzagYou will still have to set up the font information / properties such as give a name, give copyright information etc.


You can then export the TTF via the file menu and the generate font command


You can also export the EPS equivalents (as I do with my sets) via the export command found also in the file menu.


You can find some videos on the font creation on the graphicxtras channel.


Other tools

There are other tools that can be used to define a zigzag font such as CorelDRAW which has a truetype feature also there is Fontographer (from the same people who created FontLab) and also applications like the open source FontForge but there are a number of other tools such as FontCreator, Glyphr Studio, TypeTool etc generate font zigzag


TTF font file

Once you have the truetype file, you can then install it on the pc and mac


1) add to the control panel font section on the pc or use fontbook on the mac


2) right click the TTF and select the install option (if available). Access the artworks then via your keyboard by typing A or B etc depending on glyphs used.



font self zigzag shapes extensionA new font creation tool is now available and perhaps one that will make it even easier to create zigzag fonts or (of course, any font) in Illustrator and that is the FontSelf extension. I am surprised Illustrator has never added a font creation feature but I think I will be waiting forever for that.


Fontself is a wonderful tool for creating zigzag fonts as well as any other kind of font designs (though not in TTF but in OTF) and I have found it super easy to use and create font files without the need to copy and edit in another application.


zigzag font shapes type dropdown IllustratorIt is worth checking out a demo from the Fontself website. They have also released a similar extension for use in Photoshop and that can be used to create color emoji fonts.



You can find many tutorials on the site such as how to use the tilde keyboard character in Illustrator for path effects and transformations and rapid repeats of path as well as a tutorial on how to quickly create fonts using the fontself extension in Illustrator


More sets

You can find out more about the fonts via our products such as radial and circular node fonts and eps designs and ring and circular offset fonts and eps shapes and ribbon and thin banner eps shapes and truetype fonts