Justin Penner

36 days of fonts

I’m designing a font every day for 36 days.

Perhaps you’re familiar with 36 Days of Type, an popular project that guides thousands of designers around the world as they design one letter a day. This is not that.

Looking for the free downloads? Keep scrolling.

A whole font, every day?!

Since the timeline for designing a font is usually measured in months or years, I’m going to use a fairly relaxed definition of what a “font” is.

Every day, for 36 days, I’m going to design one working font. It needs to be potentially useful to someone, somewhere, so each font will be as follows:

  • Days 1–26: A 26-character font consisting of the Latin alphabet in uppercase or lowercase (A–Z or a–z).
  • Days 27–36: A 10-character font consisting of Arabic numerals (0–9)
  • Day 37: Didn’t I say 36 days? If you’re familiar with 36 Days of Type, you know what Day 37 is!

Technically speaking, I’ll also include a space character with the alphabet fonts, and probably a decimal with the numeral fonts.

Free downloads

Every day, I will be sharing images of my daily font on social media and here on this post.

The daily posts will be accompanied by a link for you to download a working, installable font file, completely free. I’ll be posting the fonts as pay-what-you-want products on Gumroad, so you’ll need to exchange your email address for the free download.

Day 1: Brudoni

Day 1: Brudoni

A modern high-contrast serif (a la Bodoni or Didot), but with a brutal, constructivist style.

Download Brudoni Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 2: Chonk

Day 2: Chonk

I designed an ultra-heavy weight for the first time recently, on another project. I wanted to remove some restrictions and push it even further, and this is the result (drawn from scratch, not modified from the other project I mentioned).

Download Chonk Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 3: Formation

Day 3: Formation

A hairline didone font with heavy, spade-like bracketed serifs.

Download Formation Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 4: Pulp Science

Day 4: Pulp Science

I was feeling inspired by vintage sci-fi paperbacks and movie posters, so this design is full of quirky geometry and fast curves!

Download Pulp Science Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 5: Voleur

Day 5: Voleur

I love typefaces with reversed contrast. The idea with this one was focused on creating a wide band that runs across the top and bottom of every letter.

Download Voleur Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 6: Marquee

Day 6: Marquee

Having worked at a sign company for a number of years, I’m quite familiar with the letters used on theatre marquee signs. They’re typically made from clear plastic, and they often have nubs on the bottom to reduce friction and help them slide along the tracks on the sign. The plastic panels come in a few set widths, so I did the same, setting up three panel widths. The two classic marquee lettering styles are a square industrial-looking sans-serif and a more curved humanist sans. I went with the latter, and only made small optical corrections, which brings out the signpainter style that marquee letters are known for.

Download Marquee Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 7: Nibbles

Day 7:

Inspired by Milton Glaser’s famous Baby Teeth typeface, with tiny bites taken out of each letter, making them just legible enough to work as a display font.

Download Nibbles Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 8: Mono

Day 8: Mono

I have never attempted a monospaced typeface, and I wanted to give it a try. This 36-day project is all about learning how to draw a variety of type styles, and what unique processes go into the designs of each. There are a lot of tricks to help balance the letter widths in a monospace font, the most obvious being the horizontal bars (or serifs) on the /i and /l. My design isn’t very refined yet, but I’m liking some of the personality.

Download Mono Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 9: Irish Geo

Day 9: Irish Geo

When I visited Ireland for the first time in January, I fell in love with the Irish lettering style, which appears not only on pubs and shops across the country, but in a strange hybrid sans-serif design on their highway signs! I was obsessed, and picked up a copy of Dermot McGuinne’s Irish Type Design from the National Print Museum in Dublin.

My goal with this design was to come up with a set of geometric capital letters that have a strong Irish-like appearance, taking inspiration from a wide variety of historic Irish typefaces. It wanted to be just on the line of being legible to modern readers, so I had to make some tough judgement calls.

  • First, the Irish script does not contain j, k, q, v, w, x, y, and z. But, due to loanwords and mixing of Irish and English, history shows many examples of Irish typefaces that include different interpretations of some of these letters.
  • The /V has a curved bottom, while the /U is the same but with a stem, so readers will need context of the surrounding letters to recognise a /V.
  • The /G is, to me, the quintessential Irish letterform. It’s so unusual, but readers unfamiliar with it can almost always read it, in my experience. It bears some resemblance to a double-storey /g, but with the upper storey flattened into a horizontal line; then the whole glyph is stretched from the cap line down to the baseline, or in many cases the descender line.
  • The /S was a formidable problem to solve. The historic Irish /S is the only design that is completely unrecogniseable to most readers today. It resembles a long s (ſ), which is an archaic form of the the Latin lowercase /s, but in Irish it was stretched into a capital letter, with a split stem at the top. After many attempts, I designed a completely new form that is recogniseably modern, but retains one clear reference to the historic Irish form.

Download Irish Geo Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 10: Player 9

Day 10: Player 9

Pixel fonts are incredibly fun to make, because it’s such a rigid restriction to design on a coarse grid, and you can draw a (boring) alphabet quite quickly. This design takes fantasy/fairytale/Art Nouveau lettering styles, with their swashy curves and unbalanced proportions, and puts them onto a blocky pixel grid. Every pixel counts, and there’s no room for error. I’d love to add a lowercase and see this used in a low-res fantasy game.

Download Player 9 Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 11: Warp Speed

Day 11: WarpSpeed

Fast curves and an extreme slant give this design a vintage science fiction vibe.

Download Warp Speed Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 12: Geloma

Day 12: Geloma

Long, thin letters that look almost like threads on a loom when set together.

Download Geloma Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 13: Electroplate

Day 13: Electroplate

I was thinking about how I’d love to see Copperplate Gothic make a comeback as a genre, and all the new interpretations and spinoffs it could generate. So, this is my first attempt at a Copperplate Gothic spinoff, blended with a bit of sci-fi and industrial style. This design came together so smoothly that I decided to take the challenge of designing a font in a day to a whole new level, designing not one, but six weights, interpolated from two masters!

Download Electroplate Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 14: Space Highway

Day 14: Space Highway

I can’t get off the sci-fi train – I just love the lettering styles from old science fiction book covers and movie posters. This one has no specific reference material, as I was just sketching and thinking about how to make the strokes and curves of a letter look really fast.

Download Space Highway Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 15: Spur

Day 15: Spur

Spur is a prickly typeface with dagger-like serifs. Look but don’t touch!

Download Spur Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 16: Grammastile

Day 16: Grammastile

In keeping with my science fiction type obsession, I wanted to do a take on the biggest star in sci-fi typography, Eurostile. Without looking at the original for reference, this is how I imagined it, with a bit of my own personality added.

Download Grammastile Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 17: Star Inversion

Day 17: Star Inversion

This one is loosely inspired by a specific lettering style I hadn’t seen before, found on another sci-fi book cover. Sci-fi and reverse contrast are a weird mix for sure, but the sample on the book cover had some interesting solutions that I adapted to my design.

Download Star Inversion Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 18: Vibrissa

Day 18: Vibrissa

If you’re a type nerd, you might recognise this style. I used no references for this, but I was thinking about some really wild lettering styles like Ogg by Sharp Type, and some others I can’t recall the names of right now. I really like how it turned out, and it was fun exploring some new calligraphy-based techniques with this design.

Download Vibrissa Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 19: Baseline

Day 19: Baseline

Recently I stumbled upon an interesting problem of designing a typeface for laser-cut words. The letters needed to be connected so that the final product was a single piece, and it had to have a flat bottom so it could stand upright without tilting or tipping over. This isn’t the most elegant solution, but it’s a fun one!

Download Baseline Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 20: Plaisir

Day 20: Plaisir

Today I was looking some beautiful art deco lettering, on a piece of ephemera from the 1937 World Expo in Paris. I started this typeface by drawing a few similar letters, but made some changes and took it in another direction as I didn’t want to do a direct revival, and I only had a few letters to look at anyway.

Download Plaisir Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 21: Karbon

Day 21: Karbon

I have a strong appreciation for blackletter, but learning to draw a style of type takes appreciation to a much deeper level. I devised a very modular system for this design, which I was worried would make it look too rigid, but in fact it really helps with the rhythm of the letters.

Download Karbon Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 22: Newvo

Day 22: Newvo

A simple sans-serif design with the bendy, off-kilter shapes commonly found in Art Nouveau lettering.

Download Newvo Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 23: Luna

Day 23: Luna

Often one letter is all you need to inspire a typeface. I began with a half-moon “o” and then stretched the theme into an alphabet.

Download Luna Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 24: Pen License

Day 24: Pen License

I’ve had an unopened calligraphy set in my cupboard for some years now. It’s a skill that would benefit any type designer, but I don’t believe it’s a requirement by any means. One day I hope to get my “pen license”, but in the meantime, here’s my first-ever attempt at a traditional italic alphabet.

Download Pen License Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 25: Floomper

Day 25: Floomper

Even while Cooper Black is at peak popularity, Cooper Light remains underrated, in my opinion. Here’s a spin-off that trades most of the retro weirdness for a more friendly modern style.

Download Floomper Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 26: Hilt

Day 26: Hilt

Many experienced type designers will “dull” the pointy bits in their letters, a technique carried over from the era of metal type. Now, in a digital world, we can draw needle-like points, infinitely sharp.

Download Hilt Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 27: Address

Day 27: Address

Alright, I’ve done 26 days of alphabets – let’s move on to numbers now. Here’s my take on the art deco-style building numbers that have become quite ubiquitous in many cities.

Download Address Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 28: Control

Day 28: Control

Still not ready to kick the sci-fi, so here’s a font I’d use if I had the job of designing the interface for a spacecraft.

Download Control Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 29: Pinch

Day 29: Pinch

This is pretty similar to what you’d call reverse contrast, but the heavy strokes are predominantly at the vertical extremes, and the thin strokes are “pinched” in the middle.

Download Pinch Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 30: Ripple

Day 30: Ripple

I’m feeling a bit dizzy after this one.

Download Ripple Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 31: Arcadian

Day 31: Arcadian

Looking forward to the future…

Download Arcadian Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 32: Metal Face

Day 32: Metal Face

Damn, 2020 ended with a kick to the gut. This is the result of listening to the masked villain all day while drawing type.

DOOM FOREVER. Rest in peace.

Download Metal Face Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 33: Imperial

Day 33: Imperial

Just a wide monoline sans-serif.

Download Imperial Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 34: Perdu

Day 34: Perdu

This one was a monumental challenge, in spite of the “shortcuts” I took on the 7 and the 9.

Download Perdu Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 35: Ooey

Day 35: Ooey

Contains varying amounts of ooeyness.

Download Ooey Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 36: Snap

Day 36: Snap

I was thinking about how to do reverse contrast in a pixel font, and it ended up turning into somewhat of a pixel reinterpretation of Pinch from day 29.

Wow! It’s hard to believe I’ve really made it through 36 days of designing entire fonts. Now what should I do with all these fonts? And what about day 37? This isn’t the end, so stay tuned!

Download Snap Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

Day 37: Amp

Day 37: Amp

As everyone who’s participated in 36 Days of Type knows, there’s a bonus day 37, dedicated to a distinguished character that often makes an appearance together with the Latin alphabet: the not-so-humble ampersand.

Today’s font is a variable font containing 7 unique ampersands that morph and transform themselves across a single axis. Enjoy!

Download Amp Free for personal and commercial use

Read the Free Font License Agreement for full details.

See you tomorrow!

Bookmark this page and check back every day for a new font, or follow my Instagram feed @_justinpenner.

Post your feedback on Instagram or send me an email justin@justinpenner.ca. If you use any of these fonts, I’d love to see your work, or you can tag it #36fontsinuse. If you want to see a font expanded to a full character set, let me know!