How to dictate in your own handwriting
Is your handwriting lost forever if you start using dictation? Would it be possible to dictate in your own handwriting?
Well yes, just have a look at the video at the bottom of this page.
Handwritten text is more personal
Before I had my problems with repetitive strain injury, I used to be an avid writer. More specifically, I was a letter writer. In longhand.
As soon as I learned the English language (I am from the Netherlands) I signed up for a service called International Pen Friends and found myself a penpal in Hong Kong. We exchanged letters until we both went to University and our ways parted. Later I had other pen friends and long after printers and even emails had become mainstream, I preferred to write my letters by hand.
Losing my handwriting was a sad experience
When my RSI became bad, I could no longer write my letters. For the past 25 years it has been hard for me to write any significant length of text by hand.
And no matter how grateful I am for the existence of speech recognition software, I am still sad about no longer writing my letters by hand. (Errr…?? Dear Apple voice control, thank you for typing out my dictation, but I do not normally write any *lettuce* by hand, only *letters*!)
Anyway… Not being able to hand write any significant amount of text may not have been as sad of an experience as having to change carreers and no longer being able to play a musical instrument, but still. I regretted having to send my pen friends impersonal looking printed letters.
Introducing the font "Janneke.ttf"
About 15 years ago or so, I purchased a software program that allowed me to create a computer font out of my own hand writing. The software collected dust for a while, but eventually I got around to using it and creating my own handwriting-font.
Very cool and I used it for my personal letters until I got a new computer and I unfortunately forgot to make a backup of it.
Today is National Handwriting Day in the USA and I was reminded of how personal and important it can feel to be able to write a message in your own handwriting. So I thought 'fontly' of my own font adventure and googled on ‘convert your handwriting into a font’. This was what I found: calligraphr.com. And I decided to give them a try.
How to make a font of YOUR handwriting
Calligraphr uses the same principle as the software I used way back when: you write all letters of the alphabet in lowercase and uppercase on a sample sheet and scan it (or take a pic with your phone) so that you can upload it to the Calligraphr website. They’ll then do their magic and add your scan to the font.
Don't expect things to be perfect immediately... you'll need to make some adjustments to some of your letters to make them work out well in the font. But you can tweak things and then build the font again.
A bit of sample text in your font will show you immediately what letters look weird. Their online software tool allows you to adjust these individual letters. It's really quite good.
As my handwriting is slanted and I didn't pay enough attention to the angle of the letters when I was filling out the sample letter sheets, I will probably start over again. Still, you can watch the results of about 2 hours in total of work on the font in the video below. I think it is quite cool
What if you can't write at all anymore?
If you used to be able to write, but can no longer do so, the tool isn't ideal.
It doesn’t really offer the opportunity to transform previously written documents into a font, but rather requires you to write all letters and numbers etc on a special sheet. That means that for those of us who can no longer write at all, it doesn’t offer a solution.
Unless you find a way to copy letters from existing handwriting over to the sample sheets. As long as you can still write, however, it is a fun project to make your own handwriting into a font.
After all, it isn’t necessary to fill out the sample letters in one marathon session if that hurts your arms. You can do a couple of letters at a time until the character set is complete and then you can upload it and work on the font at your own speed. That's what I did.
What about you?
Let me know in the comments if you also feel sad about not using your handwriting so often anymore. And I'd be curous to know if you would like to create your own font as well!