How I updated my handdrawn comic font

For some time, I’ve been considering updating the handdrawn font I use in my comics. It’s missing a few characters that would come handy when typing the speech and thoughts of characters, and the overall look of it could do some refining.

Since some people have been asking how I made my font and are considering creating their own, and since I now have this website and blog, I decided to write a post about the process of updating the font!

🎵 Do you wanna build a comic font 🎵

Before we begin, I’d like to point out that I’m not an expert in typography or comic lettering. Sure, I am a graphic designer and I am a comic artist, but that doesn’t make me an authority in this matter; these are simply my observations, and if you’re just learning about typography or lettering, you should get acquainted with other resources also. (For example this and this.)

1. For starters

I made my original font, which I named simply Sarjisfontti1 (‘Comicfont1’), on Calligraphr.com. Their process is very easy and you don’t need any particular skills in font design to create your own font, so I decided to use that for the updated version too.

In the images below, you can see what the original font looks like, both in English and Finnish. I make my comics both in Finnish and English, so the font has to work in both languages. On the right side in the images, the text has a slightly larger leading which I’ve used in the latest (at time of writing) chapter of my comic BSandL. That’s another issue I’ve noticed in the speech bubbles in my comics: the text is too crammed which decreases readability. Increasing the leading fixes that problem.

What the first version of my comic font looks like in English, with two different leadings.
What the first version of my comic font looks like in Finnish, with two different leadings.

If you don’t know how Calligraphr works, here’s a short primer. First, you create a template by adding glyphs (upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, etc.) from different language and character groups. Second, if you want to remove a glyphs, you can do so by clicking it in your list. Then you download the template and either draw the characters digitally or print it and fill the template with a pen(cil).

The free version allows you to use 75 glyphs in your template. For English, this is quite sufficient because you can add all basic upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and some special characters, but since I have to add six extra letters for Finnish (ä, Ä, ö, Ö, å, Å), I have to be selective and, sometimes, a ruthless executioner.

2. Draft 1

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had some problems with Version 1. Firstly, I’ve come to realize that having the comic-style serif “I” would vastly improve the legibility and readability of text. Secondly, the font is missing a few, ahem, crucial special characters, such as parentheses (), the slash /, and the at sign @. This is a problem because I am a modern person living in the digital era of anthropocene, and if I wanted to type a website or email address or social media handles, I’d have to draw the characters by hand, and this extra effort makes me quake.

This being the case, I decided to change the alphabet a little to make space for these characters. I removed some upper- and lowercase letters that I deemed non-essential and was quite sure would not be used often in my comics, if ever. Such as uppercase F and G. Who needs those. Reported and blocked. Also, all letters in my comic font are uppercase anyway, so if there’s a proper noun that begins with, say, a G, I can just replace it with the lowercase G. Genious!

In the image below, you can see the result. By the way, this is only the first draft, because later, I realised that this set just… it just doesn’t work.

A list of glyphs ! " & ' ( ) + , - . / 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E H I J K L M N O P R S U Y a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Ä Ö ä å ö
First draft the new comic font, the list of the glyphs.

Anyway, on I went, to download the templates and fill them out. I used Painttool SAI, if you’re curious. Not that it matters, the tools you use are all up to your personal preference.

A filled out template of draft 1.

As I was drawing the characters, I had time to think about what I was doing. Was excluding all those uppercase letters a good idea? Probably not; I realized that usually, I copy the dialogue onto my comic pages from a text file, and all the uppercase letters are included there, in the copied text. So, when I paste the text onto my comic image file, and if the comic font doesn’t have a certain uppercase letter, the letter will print as the software default font. Then I’d have to check the text and find the missing letters and change them into the comic font lowercase letters manually. That doesn’t sound like much trouble, but over the years, I’ve learned that small troubles add up to a massive waste of time and nerves.

Also, why would I create the lowercase å but not the uppercase Å? If anything, it should be the other way around because I don’t remember ever writing an å in a comic – I never write Swedish words in my comics, but there may come a time when I have to write a Swedish proper noun such as Åland or Åke. Hwever, in the end, I decided to leave out both å and Å. After all, I have never used Swedish words or names in my comics, and if I’ll ever create a character called Åke, I’ll figure out a way to deal with that. (FYI, the reason I’m concerned with the Swedish language and names is that Swedish is the second official language of Finland.)

3. Draft 2

A list of letters ! " + , - . 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 : = ? A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Ä Ö ä ö
Second draft the new comic font, the list of the glyphs.

Back to Calligraphr! I created a new template, and the list of glyphs of version 2 of Version 2 is in the image above. To make space for all letters, I removed some special characters, such as the parentheses and @. Goodbye, @, maybe one day we’ll get each other… Well, to be honest, I don’t need you and the others that much. Nowadays, I use other fonts to write all other materials and keep the comics font to comics alone. However, you should notice that I also removed, very intentionally, the apostrophe ‘, and that’s going to bite me in the butt later on.

The first sheet of the final set of characters.

In addition to changing the template, I tweaked the characters a little.

(By the way! When I was checking what apostrophe is in English, I found this Wikipedia page where you can read how quotation marks are used in each language! I love it!)

Adjusting baseline and size

This time, I actually made it to the font edit phase. This is a boring, tedious and repetitive phase which I thoroughly enjoy because I love nitpicking.

Font preview.

In Calligraphr, it is possible to enable randomization of your font. That is, you can draw and add alternative characters so that when there’re two same characters in a word next to each other, for example the t’s in lottery, the t’s will look different from one another. This makes the text look more natural and less monotonous and robotic. Unfortunately, the alternative characters should apparently be included in the 75 glyphs available in the free version, so I was not able to use that feature.

After adjusting everything, I downloaded the font, opened Photoshop and started to write a comparison paragraph. The first sentence was “So, what’s going to happen now?” And in the second sentence… yes, there’s an apostrophe! I do indeed need the hecking apostrophe!

Apparently apostrophes are very useful.

*sigh* Back to the drawing board.

Fortunately, because the first template already had a slot for the apostrophe, I didn’t have to create a third template but was able to upload just that one character to Calligraphr.

4. Finished

Next: a comparison of the original and new font!

Comparison of the original and new font.

Thus, Sarjisfontti2 was born! Getting used to the new font will take some time, but I believe that Sarjisfontti2 will greatly improve my comics.


Eelis Nilukka is a comic artist from Finland. His most well-known works are webcomics BSandL and Summertime and a short story Boys Can Wear Make-Up Too.

Typography Overview: BSandL Fluff Zine

Since I love typography and lettering, and for some people, reading my reasoning behind my typographic choices may be interesting, I decided to make a post about it. If you’d like, I can write about typography whenever I create something new!

This time, we’ll look at the typography in the BSandL Fluff Zine (available on gumroad.com/nilukka).

(If you want to learn the basics of typography, this’s a great page: https://material.io/design/typography/understanding-typography.html#) (Suomeksi esim. https://mycourses.aalto.fi/pluginfile.php/614938/mod_resource/content/1/Typo%20III_4_Sana_low.pdf)

Cover / kansi BSandL Fluff Zine
  • Front cover title (BSandL, Zine): DM Serif Display Regular, 60 pt.
  • Front cover title (Fluff):  Cookie Regular, 190 pt.
  • Front cover (By Nilukka):  Adobe Ming Std L, 24 pt.

For the title, I wanted something… soft. Something that flows effortlessly like a light fabric or a dancer’s arms and hands. A calligraphic font. For a while, I even considered drawing the title myself, but it would’ve become too laborious. So, the search for the perfect font began! It took quite a while because most fonts I tried were too much this or too much that, but eventually, I settled on Cookie. Cookie is bold and soft but it also has a lot of variation in line thickness; I think it looks just beautiful. And look at the ligature ff! ❤️

At first, I was going to type the whole title with the same font, but after experimenting a little, I noticed that it eats away the soft effect; the title became too monotonous and hard to read. So, in the end, I decided to keep only the text “Fluff” in the calligraphic font and chose another font for “BSandL” and “Zine”. From the beginning, I knew it’s probably going to be a serif font because it adds to the elegant, flowy feel. The look could be described as feminine: you know how the logos of women’s magazines often have a serif font that has very strong variation in line-weight? Like Elle or Vogue. And Cookie is very curvy which is also associated with femininity. To accompany Cookie, I found DM Serif Display, an example of a neoclassical typeface. It’s soft but also classy and dramatic. Just look at the ball stroke in it’s “a”!

  • In-cover paragraphs: Adobe Ming Std L, 14 pt. Leading 16,8 pt.

Since I’m already using a serif font in the title, I wanted to use a sans-serif or slab-serif in the actual paragraphs. A natural addition to the elegance of Cookie and DM Serif Display was a thin or light-weight variation. Hence, Adobe Ming Std.

Also, it seems like I typoed my Patreon address. It reads “nilukks”. Oops.

  • Heading: Cookie Regular, 56 pt. Leading 48 pt.
  • Paragraph: Adobe Ming Std L, 12 pt. Leading 14,4 pt.

Adobe Ming Std is not perfect, for example it leaves that weird gap between the single-quote and “s”. But in general, it looks nice with the Cookie-headings. I decided to use Cookie in the headings too because the headings had to look soft and fluffy also. That’s the point of this zine, after all!

In my opinion, Cookie looks the best in very short titles, 1-2 words. But it’s alright in longer titles also, as in the above examples. Or maybe it’s the environment I’ve put it in that makes it not work…

Obviously, Cookie is not intended for all-caps text, but I like how weird it looks here. It’s the contrast: a sophisticated and soft font used to indicate loudness and passion.

This post was originally posted on my Patreon.


Eelis Nilukka is a comic artist from Finland. His most well-known works are webcomics BSandL and Summertime and a short story Boys Can Wear Make-Up Too.

Get to know me

Welcome, how are you? I’m Eelis Nilukka, and this is my new website!

In this post, I’ll introduce myself, and tell you what I do and why I created this website.

Going to Brussels and Fête de la BD. Photo: H-P Lehkonen. / Brysseliin menossa.

I’m a comics creator from Finland. I’m originally from Northern Finland, but currently I live in the southern part of the country, in the Helsinki Region. I don’t make a living making comics, but maybe some day I will. That is actually the reason I made this website: a professional, even a semi-professional, comics creator should have a website. It just makes things easier when you have a hub where people can find your contact information and a directory of all your comics.

In most of my projects, I’m a one-man show. It feels natural for me: I enjoy working by myself and the themes in my comics rise from my own personal experiences. Besides, I can handle all the phases of creating a comic from start to finish – writing, storyboarding, sketching, inking, lettering, and I’m even slowly learning how to colour – so why not! However, one of these days, I’d love to collaborate on a comic with an artist, or draw a comic written by someone else.

A photo of my desk.
My workstation. / Mun työpiste.

How did my journey in comics begin, you might ask. Well, most of these artist origin stories are the same, so I won’t go very much into detail about what I was into as a child or how I learned to draw etc. I doubt that my childhood was that formative, although Moomin, Disney and the classics of Franco-Belgian comics were present. My consumption of comics was very superficial and occasional before I found manga in the form of Ranma 1/2 at the age of 13/14. From that, I continued to Inuyasha, Fullmetal Alchemist, Naruto, Fushigi Yuugi, Neon Genesis Evangelion… At that time, I also created my first DeviantArt account and found webcomics. However, I was still a bookworm first and foremost, and even though I made a good attempt at publishing some of my early comics online, I didn’t consider it anything else than a hobby. Even when I started studying graphic design, I never networked with other comics creators because I thought that making comics is very nerdy and not cool at all, and I desperately wanted to be cool, which, sweetiepie, that’s very adorable, but you’ve been a nerd all your life, learn to embrace it. And in time I did; but it took years, and I had to go through some pretty intense anxiety and confusion and artblocks before I emerged on the other side as a nerd who accepts his weirdness. Over time, I’ve also found comics that inspire me artistically and other nerds with similar interests.

To wrap this up, here’s some basic info about me, stuff I’d write in a book of friends:

  • School: university degrees in graphic design and English philology
  • Hobbies: reading (my favourites are Robin Hobb, Johanna Sinisalo, Ursula K. LeGuin and Margaret Atwood), watching YouTube (I’m not listing my favourites because half of them are cancelled on Twitter and I don’t want the mob to attack me), taking and editing photos
  • Pronouns: he/him
  • Favourite music: bands like Enter Shikari, Pvris, BMTH, MCR, Linkin Park, The 1975
  • Favourite food: pizza with pineapple
  • Favourite drink: ice latte with oat milk and caramel syrup
  • Favourite quote: “Like life is short but also like terribly and insufferably long at the same time.” — Jenna Marbles
Eelis Nilukka, cat-approved comics only! / Kissojen hyväksymää sarjakuvaa!