For many years now, I’ve been labeling the various maps of my campaign world with a specialized style of handwriting I call “Shaky Hand.” It is a purely creative adornment, but one which makes my maps easily identifiable as my own fantastical creations. In addition to Shaky Hand, I’ve created a customized alphabet or three to use in ciphers, lost languages, and other alphabetical conundrums. Like Shaky Hand, these alphabets reside in my commonplace books when not needed, requiring me to reproduce them by hand each time I need to create the various player handout or other props that I sometimes use.
Over the break, I discovered fontcapture.com, which converts handwriting into True Type fonts. The service is free and requires only that the creator have access to a PDF reader application and a scanner. With these, he can upload a sample of his own handwriting that is then quickly turned into a True Type version. Although intended for signatures and other personalized forms of correspondence, if you’re like me, you quickly see the role-playing applications this service provides.
Intrigued by the possibilities, I took fontcapture.com out for a trial run. The process from start to finish only took about five minutes, and I now have two versions of my custom alphabets available for use in Word and Photoshop, which is pretty much all I foresee myself ever needing it for. The more perfectionist-types might find the process takes a little longer as they fiddle with their handwritten font sheets to produce the cleanest and most uniform version of their handwriting, but even ten or fifteen minutes of fine tuning will leave you with a completely unique font for use with your own role-playing game creations for years to come. If you enjoy making maps and other player handouts, and want a little spice to flavor them with, you must give fontcapture.com a try.