Font Factor: Types of Fonts

There's No Reason to Fear Fonts

Fonts. An important ingredient in developing your comic are the fonts you choose to work with. There are some that can literally influence the direction, look and feel of your comic. Not many people are intimidated with picking a font – but they should be. We’re going to present a series of articles that are geared towards helping you make an educated decision – without having to send you to typography school.

We’re going to start off with types of fonts and why choosing the right one can be as important as your art.

For clarity, fonts are also called type, typeface or typestyle (all stemming from literal typesetting letterpress days of yesteryear).

If we stop and consider that comics generally are the combination of images and words used to communicate a story or joke, then you can easily realize the importance of the written aspect. A font is the tool we use to visually display those written words. Vary the font a little bit by using bold, italic or size and we can simply evoke emotion or importance to what the characters are saying. Using a different font can imply action or situation.

When you’re developing your comic, you are faced with a ton of options that can help set your comic apart. Do you draw traditionally or digitally? Do you use pens or brushes? Photoshop, Illustrator or Manga Studio? Do you publish weekly, three times a week or daily? Are your comics in color or black and white?

You may have seen comics that look great and feature a great story, but there’s been something that’s just a little off. The problem may be that they fall a little short because they’re using a typestyle that isn’t suited for or doesn’t compliment the artwork.

You may have seen comics that look great and feature a great story, but there’s been something that’s just a little off. The problem may be that they fall a little short because they’re using a typestyle that isn’t suited for or doesn’t compliment the artwork.

That all being said – let’s get to work explaining the types of fonts and how you can choose what’s right for your comic.

There are generally four universally accepted font categories, but after that it’s open game as far as category naming convention goes. Most of these categories are not generally associated with the fonts heavily used in the comics themselves, but it’s important to understand them and what distinguishes them for use in print (books, signs or flyers) and on websites.

The common four are: Serifs, Sans-Serifs, Dingbats and Scripts. The difference between the first two are obviously noted in the names – serifs. Serifs are the tiny little ligatures (or flares in red circle in the illustration below) that distinguish the character of a letter. Therefore the lack of a serif makes a font sans-serif. Serifs (Times, Garamond or Georgia), are commonly used in print because they are easier to read. San-serifs (Arial, Helvetica or Verdana) offer a thicker, clearer display on your computer which is why many websites use sans-serifs. Dingbats (symbols)and Scripts are fairly descriptive, so I don’t think I need to explain those!

Four basic font categories

For an example of a dingbat - see the author of this article 🙂

There is a fifth category that is generally accepted (and worth mentioning) is ‘Monospaced’ fonts – otherwise known as non-proportional or varied font. The letters in these are all basically the same width. A common Monospaced font is Courier, but again – not really associated with comics.

Next Page > Determining What’s Right for You

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