What Are Color Fonts?

What Are Color Fonts?

SVG color fonts are poised to take over the graphic design world in 2020, but what exactly are they, and how can you use them?

Here we’ll sift through the tech jargon and get to the simple truth of color fonts. This unashamedly in-your-face trend promises to put the fun back into typography. A must-know for web and graphic designers alike, this nifty new technology will have a transformative effect on digital and print design for years to come. So don’t get left behind, and read on! 

Looking to learn how to make a color font? Check out our tutorial on How to Create a Color Font With Adobe Illustrator and Fontself. 

adobe color fonts
Image from color.typekit.com

What Exactly Are Color Fonts?

If you want to use highly detailed type on a design, you have to use a vector or raster image of a letter or group of letters. Whether created from scratch by typography artists or downloaded from a stock site, these images are time-consuming to make and don’t have the functionality or flexibility of a font file. 

At least that was the case until now. Color fonts, sometimes referred to as chromatic fonts, represent the next evolutionary step for typography, incorporating details like color, gradients, and textures into a font file, in either vector or bitmap format. Vector details look clear and sharp however large they are scaled, while bitmap color fonts can look pixelated or blurry when scaled to a size greater than their intended maximum size. 

Each color font is made up of a ‘fallback’ core, which is the standard OpenType vector font, plus additional data tagged on which is rendered in SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format. Amongst font developers, color fonts are referred to as OpenType-SVG fonts

trajan pro color font
This Adobe color font, Trajan Color Concept, combines the standard Trajan font with gradients, colors and shadowing for an ornate metallic effect.

If you’re looking at the font on a browser which supports color fonts, you’ll be able to see the colorful version. If not, you’ll see the fallback version. This is important to make a mental note of, before you dive into converting all the fonts on your website to color fonts. As color fonts are relatively new, most browser versions are currently unable to support the technology. Skip to ‘How Can I Use Them’, below, to find out more. 

Hmm, So Why Would I Want to Use Them?

Remember the thrill of using WordArt to embellish your PowerPoint presentations back at school? While your teacher may have been less thrilled, there’s just something downright fun about adding a maximalist flourish to text. Color fonts are basically like WordArt for the internet age, adding extra oomph to any design. 

This isn’t a trend that minimalist fans will wholeheartedly embrace, but it’s certainly refreshing after decades of clean, Swiss School-inspired design. Color fonts sit at the opposite end of the spectrum to Scandi cleanliness, instead taking their cues from emojis, retro type styles, and app design.

bungee color font
Bungee color font by David Jonathan Ross

Color fonts tread a shaky line between good and bad taste, but somehow they feel exactly spot on for right now. They’re making their appearance alongside a revival for all things retro in design, as well as a new maximalist mood across all design fields, from fashion to interiors. Color fonts don’t take themselves too seriously and are instantly engaging, and that’s what makes them particularly attractive to designers and marketers looking to entice the fickle, tech-obsessed millennial market.

Above all, color fonts are fun! While early color fonts have been designed with websites and apps primarily in mind, they also have the potential to offer something youthful and fresh to print design too. You can’t use a color font without cracking a smile, which is perhaps what designers and consumers are craving in these politically and socially uncertain times. 

OK, So Where Can I Use Them?

Because color fonts are such a new technology, many browsers, devices, and software programs are yet to catch up. You might not be able to view color fonts on some browsers—you’ll only be able to view the standard OpenType version instead.

bixa color
Image from Bixa Color

However, this is likely to change very soon. OpenType-SVG fonts have been declared an industry standard for color fonts, which means that browsers and software will probably update rapidly to facilitate them. You can currently view color fonts on more recent versions of Firefox (from version 26) and Microsoft Edge (from version 38 on Windows 10).

As for using color fonts on design software, Adobe is ahead of the curve, with designers able to view and apply color fonts using the newest incarnations of Illustrator (CC 2018), Photoshop (CC 2017), and InDesign (CC 2018).

Some type designers are also experimenting with animated versions of color fonts. Gilbert, a rainbow color font created by Fontself, is usable in Adobe After Effects.

gilbert rainbow color font
Gilbert, a rainbow color font available in static and animated versions

These animated styles represent an exciting new development for more accessible animation—expect to see them everywhere across social media, GIFs and videos very soon.

Where Can I Find Color Fonts?

Color fonts are few and far between at the moment, but more are being released all the time as the trend gains traction. Adobe has a dedicated color font Typekit, where it details the newest color fonts available for download for web and print. One of its most notable launches is the color font version of Emoji One, which makes integrating colorful emoji graphics into your designs super easy with the Glyphs panel to hand. 

emoji one color font
Glyphs from the Emoji One Color font

Some font designers use a dedicated platform to launch their color font creations. Bixa Color is a retro-inspired collaborative effort by NovoTypo and Roel Nieskens. 

bixa color font
Bixa Color font by NovoType and Roel Nieskens

Bungee, designed by David Jonathan Ross, is available in a staggering range of colors and styles, as well as horizontal and vertical versions.

bungee font
Bungee color font by David Jonathan Ross

Want to have a go at creating your own color font? Fontself is the color font designer’s go-to tool. Take a look at the dedicated page for Gilbert, which was created using Fontself, to source some inspiration on the possibilities. 

gilbert rainbow color font
Gilbert color font, created using Fontself

You can also find premium color fonts on Envato Elements, our subscription-based digital asset library. Unlike free color fonts you can find online, our fonts always offer a high level of quality.

I’m a Color Font Convert! But How Should I Use Them?

If you’ve been bitten by the color font bug, it can be tempting to throw out all your old fonts and go a bit crazy. Before you create designs which resemble a bad acid trip, take into consideration these tips and pointers for making the most of this new typography trend. 

As with standard fonts, some are notably better than others. Just because you can use a color font doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Be mindful of the limitations of color fonts. If you have your heart set on a bitmap font, it’s advisable not to use this at a larger scale than was intended by the font designer. So, for example, a bitmap color font might look great on a printed flyer set to the right size, but it might look much less polished on a responsive web design that involves scaling content to a large size on desktops. 

It’s also worth keeping in mind that color fonts are heavier than their OpenType relatives, due to the extra amount of data they carry. They aren’t always huge (for example, the Bixa Color font carries an extra 30kB on top of the regular font file size), but it can affect the loading time of websites and apps. By all means use your color fonts with abandon, but don’t allow liberal use to affect the user’s experience of your design. 

If you want to use color fonts for web design, you should also take into account the possibility that it may be a long time before most visitors will be able to view the fonts as you intended. It may be many months or years before individuals choose to update or switch browsers, and most will not be aware of the pressing need to do this in relation to color font viewing. With this in mind, you need to make sure that your font looks as good in its ‘fallback’ format as it does in color. 

Because color fonts are overtly loud and garish, they can push a design into distasteful territory. For some designs, particularly apps aimed at a younger market, this can be a bonus! Adobe’s color font Typekit page instantly provokes that love-it-or-hate-it reaction to excessive web design. Other designers might prefer to balance a color font with more pared-back type or black-and-white images on the rest of the layout, or use a color font as the sole focus of an otherwise clean and simple design. 

popsky font
Pairing color fonts with cleaner elements on your designs will help layouts feel more balanced, as demonstrated in this example using the Popsky color font, designed by Igor Petrovic.

If you’re still unsure about how to use color fonts in your designs, it’s a good tip to remind yourself of the purpose of your design. Are you looking to target a market which is hyper trend-aware, like tech-savvy millennials? Then using color fonts freely will result in an engaging and youthful design. Do you simply want to use color fonts to add a point of difference to your design? Using them sparingly will give you a more professional and polished result. 

Download Unlimited Opentype SVG Color Fonts on Envato Elements

If you’re interested in downloading premium color fonts for your projects, head over to Envato Elements. Envato Elements is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for creatives. For the cost of a monthly subscription, you’ll have unlimited access to thousands of SVG color fonts, sound effects, graphic templates, stock photos, and more.

Envato Elements Design Without Limits
Your Envato Elements subscription is an all-access pass to assets that fulfill your creative needs.

Unlimited means unlimited. There are no caps or limits. Browse, download, and experiment to your heart’s content with an ever-growing library of digital assets that you can choose from.

While free color fonts are tempting, they’re no match for a premium font. The fonts and other assets found on Envato Elements are professionally designed. Unlike websites that offer free color fonts, you’ll never have to worry about quality with Envato Elements.

Premium Color Fonts on Envato Elements

Color fonts on Envato Elements are fun, creative, and leave a great impression. Let’s dive into 20 of my favorite SVG color fonts found on Envato Elements:

1. MonoPixel Awesome (SVG)

Mono Pixel Awesome Color Font

We start off our list of OpenType SVG color fonts with this delightful mono pixel design. Awesome is just one of the many words you can use to describe this font. MonoPixel takes pixel art to a new, vibrant level.

Mono Pixel Color Characters

Each character features multiple colors, but it remains easy to read on different backgrounds. This SVG font is perfect for displays, and you can also use it for headlines and smaller subheadings.

2. Candy Color Font (SVG, OTF, TTF, PSD, AI, PNG)

Candy SVG Color Font

Are you looking for color fonts that look like handwriting? The Candy Color SVG font delivers. Each character looks like a brushstroke with a healthy splash of color. This pack includes multiple fonts, brushes, and alternates, so you can get as creative as you’d like for your project.

3. Color Paper Color Fonts (SVG)

SVG Color Paper Font

Color Paper is a highly creative option in your hunt for OpenType SVG color fonts. There is a surprising amount of depth and detail in each character thanks to its layered design. Just open the file in Adobe Illustrator CC 2018 or Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 and later, and get started. Choose this font for a poster, header, or display.  

4. Bouquet Flower & Watercolor (SVG, OTF, PSD)

Bouquet Color Font

Share flowers with your audience at any time of the year with Bouquet Flower & Watercolor. The included characters each have a rich world of color living within them, thanks to the realistic flower-like art. Download this color font if you’re making wedding invitations or are promoting an event.

5. Aqua Color Font (SVG)

Aqua SVG Color Font

The Aqua Color Font brings the water to you with this unique entry on our list. It’s a fun and playful SVG font for fans of the sea, oceans, and lakes. This water-style font includes a fish and fish-less version. Work with the SVG font file in Illustrator CC 2018 and Photoshop CC 2017 and later.

6. Futuristico Color Font (SVG)

Futuristico SVG Color Font

Go bold with Futuristico. This color font blends a geometric design style with lots of vibrant colors. The result? A visually interesting color bitmap font that is still easy to read. Make your creative project pop in your audience’s eyes with this choice.

7. Bluesky SVG Font (SVG)

Bluesky SVG Color Font

Bluesky has both a classic vibe and a modern look. This font features hand-lettering in a 3D form. The blue color can be changed, meaning you can get the look and feel you want from Bluesky. It’s made even easier with its character set that includes letters, numbers, multilingual characters, and more.

8. Newport Tracks – Colour Font (SVG, OTF, EPS, AI)

Newport Tracks Color Font

Whatever look you’re going for with your creative project, you need to download the best color font that can achieve that. Newport Tracks is a color font that understands that and gives you options. Choose from the three color sets as you’re working to top your project off with the right touch.

9. Locus Sans (SVG)

Locus Sans Two Color Font

If you’ve been looking for color fonts that give you the freedom of multiple options, then you’ve been looking for Locus Sans. Not only is this a color bitmap font that looks great, but it allows you to play with how it’s presented. Combine and layer the six included weights to make this font personalized.

10. Flow SVG CC2017 & old Versio (SVG, OTF, PSD)

Oil Paint Flow Color Bitmap Font

There are many appealing OpenType SVG color fonts, and Flow is no exception. This color font makes your type look like lettering that’s hand-drawn with oil paint. The textures and brush details look very realistic, and this typeface is compatible with multiple languages. It’s a fun font that is legible on multiple different color backgrounds. 

11. GEOMETRICITY (SVG, OTF, TTF, EOT, WOFF)

Geometricity Color Font

Geometric color fonts have a certain flair, as you can see with Geometricity. Its use of different shapes and light colors is very well done. The characters are fun and strike an easy-going tone for the audience. Use this color bitmap font for store posters, banners, invitations, and more. 

12. Morriles – SVG Font (SVG, OTF, TTF)

Morriles SVG Font

Morriles is another of the many hand-drawn color fonts found on Envato Elements. It instantly stands out from the crowd with its handwritten lines. Change the color to suit your needs. This font pack also includes OTF and TTF files.

13. Sparose SVG Font (SVG, OTF, TTF, PSD)

Sparose SVG Font

If you like the handwritten style in your SVG color fonts, try Sparose. This typeface features soft, transparent, and textured lines. When you download this color font, you’ll get the textured SVG and brush font styles. It’s a good color font to choose if you’re making invitations, flyers, or running promotions.

14. 10 Color SVG Fonts 1 (SVG)

10 Opentype SVG Color Fonts

Do you need options when you’re designing? How about ten of them? That’s what you’ll get with this color font pack. Ranging from the beach to bitcoin, this pack has it all. Tweak the colors and experiment with the different fonts to finish your creative project in style.

15. Jungle Bird (SVG, OTF, AI, PNG)

Jungle Bird Two Color Font

The jungle comes to life with this fun color bitmap font. The colorful block characters give off strong summer vibes, which are perfect for promoting summer sales on your online shop or other events during the dog days. To complete the image, this font pack also includes 18 tropical leaf vectors.

16. RibOne font (SVG, EPS, EOT, OTF, OTT, WOFF, WOFF2)

RibOne Two Color Font

Creativity takes center stage with RibOne. The characters in this two-color font have an interesting folding effect that is very unique. Use the default colors or customize them and have a rainbow in each letter. The possibilities and combinations are endless.

17. Chocolate Cake Color Font (SVG)

Chocolate Cake Color Font

Chocolatiers and chocolate lovers, rejoice! This creative two-color font turns each character into its own chocolate cake topped with icing. The 3D effect completes the realistic look. It’s an ideal font if you’re hosting a bake sale or are promoting your baked goods.

18. Ice Age Color Fonts (SVG)

Ice Age Opentype SVG Color Fonts

When it’s time to cool down, nothing is better than the Ice Age Color Fonts. This pack includes two color fonts to choose from, and both have a 3D ice effect. You can recreate the realistic feel of Ice Age on light and dark backgrounds easily within Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. 

19. Corn Fruit Loops Color Fonts (SVG)

Fruit Loops Opentype SVG Color Fonts

The creator of this color font gets bonus points for turning cereal into a fun font. Fruit Loops can make an appearance in your projects in a realistic way. Your invitation or flyer will definitely draw a double take from your audience with this font applied to a headline.

20. Querins SVG Brush Font (SVG, OTF, TTF)

Querins SVG Brush Color Font

Rounding out our list is the Querins SVG Brush Font. This typeface lets you take neat brushstrokes to your crowd in style. Work in Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 and newer to bring this SVG font to life. It’s perfect for flyers, magazines, clothing, and more.

Conclusion

Color fonts may be the latest ‘it’ trend in graphic design, but it looks as if they’re here to stay, for the foreseeable future at least. They represent a break with conventional font technology, making more detailed type, and even animated text, much more accessible for designers and non-designers alike.

With color fonts still in their infancy, there is a limited range of fonts available for download, which makes their current use for designers a little limited. However, this is an exciting time for budding font designers. If you’re looking for a new type challenge, creating your own color font from scratch could be both creatively and financially rewarding. 

Want to dip a toe into type design? These tutorials will guide you through the basics of creating your own fonts from scratch:

  • How to Create Your Own Font

    Fonts
  • How to Create a Font in Adobe Illustrator

    Font Design
  • How to Create a Font Using Fontself and FontForge

    FontForge
  • The Basics of Drawing Type & Creating Your Own Handwritten Font

    Font Design
  • How to Create a Color Font With Adobe Illustrator and Fontself Maker

    Adobe Illustrator

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Author: Grace Fussell

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