“It’s a first”: this Dinamo tool lets designers and novices customise, rename and download its fonts for free
Using a tool resembling “an early 2000s Nokia mobile phone”, it is now easy for non-designers to punch in preferences and download their own personalised Dinamo font.
- Liz Gorny
- 28 June 2022
When a type foundry, specifically Swiss foundry Dinamo, releases a font, what audiences don’t see is all the slight variations on the letterforms that were discarded to create the final iteration. That is, until now. Dinamo has just launched a tool that not only lets users see these variations, but play with them to create a customised font in real time and download it at no extra cost. While for designers of course, this presents exciting opportunities – it means you no longer have to take time to contact a foundry, organise a customisation and front the bill – it also opens the doors for creativity a little wider for non-designers. Even someone with no design background can now in theory create their very own personalised font, rename it, and use it for their project, brand or site.
So what does the tool offer and why is it unique? “No other type foundry offers this service, both in terms of customising the font as you head to the checkout, or renaming it,” Dinamo’s Madeleine Morley explains to us. The Font Customizer is embedded into the Dinamo site. So once users have picked out a font, they can change the flavour and mood of the typeface, rename it with the naming tool and receive an instantly generated font. They can also log back in later to re-customise; for hardcore fans of the foundry, the tool even works for fonts bought years ago.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the release is how it signals a change in the way we look at font creation. As Dinamo co-founder Johannes Breyer puts it: “We’re no longer casting typefaces into hot metal — we can be way more expansive. At Dinamo, we have lots of people involved in designing a single typeface, which means we tend to have many differing ideas for differing characters in the room. In the past, most of these ideas got killed, and we’d publish only a small selection. The Dinamo Font Customizer gives us a great excuse to leave all alternate darlings inside a font so that our customers have more to choose from. For us, having this flexibility in mind feels like a modern way of working.”
While this premise of opening up the font creation process is exciting – as is the concept of offering custom typefaces to designers who can’t afford one – you might be wondering what level of customisation is possible. One thing to point out is that 80 per cent of Dinamo typefaces have alternate characters, a number the foundry states will grow with the invention of this tool. Co-founder Fabian Harb explains: “Many of our typefaces have different options for ampersands and numbers as well as school book sets. Often, there will be a closed looped ‘g’ or an open-loop ‘g,’ a single story ‘a’ or a double-story ‘a,’ maybe an ‘I’ and ‘J’ with or without serifs [..] sometimes we’ll have certain characters that are cut in a sharper way. It totally depends on the typeface [...] but ultimately it’s very interesting to see how much you can change the flavour of a typeface by swapping a selection of key characters.”
In the same way, renaming fonts may sound like a surface-level addition, but actually shakes up a large part of the designing process. “Instead of ABC Diatype (our name),” says Johannes, “they could call their typeface ‘PizzaSlize Diatype’. This makes it dead simple for clients to then distribute their custom font internally and make sure everybody in their company is using the right typeface. We call it the Yassification of font file management.” Curious readers can read more about the customiser tool, and try it for themselves, here.
GalleryDinamo: Dinamo Font Customizer (Copyright © Dinamo, 2022)
Dinamo: Dinamo Font Customizer (Copyright © Dinamo, 2022)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.