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

Above, a very basic zigzag shape for use in a font set (created 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 zigzag fonts as well as more examples to check out as well as custom shapes for PS etc


Create the vector path

In Illustrator, select the pen tool, click and then move upwards at an angle to add the second point and then click again 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 and then click and then go up approx at the same angle towards the same line of the second point and so on and just repeat that back and forth. There 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 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 points plugins volume 19 from graphicxtras I would 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 say you want it as a zigzag character in a font then 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

I use generally fontlab (though many of my earlier sets were created using Macromedia fontographer though earlier AltSys) to create truetype TTF files. It 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 FL 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). You can all kinds of different artwork to the other glyphs in any newly created font. You 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 as well as export the EPS equivalents (as I do with my sets). You can find some videos on the font creation on the graphicxtras channel. 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



Once you have the truetype file then you can then install it on the pc and mac, add to the control panel font section on the pc or use fontbook on the mac or 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.



There has recently been released a new extension for Illustrator, Fontself. 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). Worth checking out 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 out more about the fonts via our products such as radial fonts and ring fonts and ribbon fonts