If you’ve seen any Batman movie—and I mean, any of them, including those awful George Clooney films—then you know that he has no real powers. Bruce Wayne’s only special assets are his knowledge, determination, and (most importantly) his utility belt.
He’d be nothing without his batarangs, kryptonite smoke bombs, regular smoke bombs, grappling hook, and so on. Honestly, he’d probably get 100% destroyed if he went into battle without all his tools.
Being a designer is no different. You might be brilliant; you might be the smartest designer in town. You might even be the hardest working designer in town. But if you have a lackluster utility belt, then you’re basically going in with one hand and one leg tied behind your back.
What are the tools that should be in your belt?
Pen and paper. (To jot down those genius ideas of yours)
Programs. (To take your ideas to completion, or at least mock them up.)
Graphics. (Otherwise you just have… not much.)
Fonts. (Well, if your design has words, then it needs type. And your type decisions affect the whole design.)
After going through that list, you might think “well, looks like my utility belt is full.” But what use is a smoke bomb if you don’t know how to use it?
Learning how to use your tools is more important than actually having them. While there are plenty of tutorials out there for Adobe Illustrator and InDesign (and there are even a number on typography generally) there are far fewer on fonts themselves.
Which should you use? Which are good? What makes them good?
These are tough questions that every designer needs to answer one way or another. The problem, though, is that you probably feel like you need a really fancy, “premium” font. If you want something good, you have to pay for it, right?
Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Are you ready?
Your computer comes with a few really good fonts.
Now, it doesn’t necessarily come with the right font for every job, but it certainly has a handful. So before you go out and spend $500 on fonts, get to know the ones you already have.
I’ve gotten very familiar with my system’s built-in fonts, and I thought I could put some of them down into a short download so you can familiarize yourself, too.
(If you’re thinking “I’m already a great designer, don’t try to tell me about fonts!” then it’s extra important that you read the ebook. Please give me feedback! I’d love to hear what you think and if I’ve missed anything.)
After exploring what makes a font a good font, we deep dive into 9 that you already have. I’ll tell you a bit about the type design, describe some of its anatomy, and suggest where you can use it.