I never received a formal type design education, so much of what I learned I had to figure out for myself. Unfortunately, this is painfully obvious in some of my early work. Nevertheless, I have designed a number of typefaces for House Industries (primarily display fonts) and a few for myself. In fact, a couple of my personal projects, like Blaktur and Studio Lettering, have become retail releases.
My typeface designs begin in much the same way as my lettering projects do: with a purpose — even if that purpose is ultimately to attract consumer attention to a message or product. Of course, each purpose will define the style and scope of a project: text or display; one font or many; and so on.
I feel most comfortable sketching out initial forms with pencil on graph paper. After digitizing a few test characters, I determine whether changes need to made before continuing. When enough glyphs have been drawn, proofs are made to assess the progress. After major issues such as color and spacing are worked out, and the entire character set is finished, it’s time for the tedious task of kerning individual letter pairs. Yea! Finally, the font file is produced and mastered.
That’s my type design process in a nutshell. Though, it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. I failed to mention that it can take months, or years, to complete a typeface (when you work as slowly as I do, anyway). Maybe that explains why there are relatively few professional type designers.