Android App Review: InstaFontMaker

20 Jan 14

InstaFontMaker is a typeface design app available in free and premium versions. It is about as good as you could expect a type design app for your phone to be, which is not necessarily the insult it sounds like.

InstaFontMaker works like most other font making software in that you create an image for each letter of the alphabet, and the program assembles them into a font for you. Unlike most other font makers that I’ve used, however, you make these images with your finger.

At least that’s what I had to do on my phone. This really is an app best suited to a tablet and stylus, and while writing with your finger can be fun, the results will inevitably look like they were drawnn in paint by a small child. As with so many other design or illustration apps I’ve tried, the usefulness is directly proportional to the size of your screen.

But let’s say you like the fingerpaint look, and wish you could type with it, so you make your font. Including both cases and punctuation it comes to a total of 83 glyphs using the free app, which is more than you get with plenty of free fonts on the internet. You can add more glyphs to this if you pay for the pro version, which is only $3.79. You’d pay a lot more than that for a full glyph set on or a similar website, but then those fonts are made by an actual designer using proper software, rather than just dragging their finger around on their phone screen.

The free version didn’t give an option for heavier or italic versions that I could find, but you could probably get around this by making multiple fonts. It also doesn’t have an option for alternate versions of characters (which are crucial if you’re really trying to get a convincing hand-written feel to your text) but again, there would be ways to fake this with a bit of tweaking.

Once you’ve made your font the app lets you email it as a .ttf file, which means you can actually use it on your computer. This stops the app from being just a novelty distraction and actually makes it into a useful, albeit flawed, piece of software.

A proper font design programme could cost you several hundred dollars, but the difference between one of them and this app is like the difference between the full Adobe suite and a box of crayons. The box of crayons is cheaper, and can be fun, and could even have its uses in the occasional design project. But you’re never going to confuse it for actual professional software.

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