Normally collages are pretty image-heavy, and don’t have a whole heap of text. But if you’ve started making digital art journal pages (like me), then you’re suddenly including a lot of text in your collages! And obviously you need to use a font that goes well with the rest of your collage.
No way do you want to use standard font choices– Times New Roman in a vintage-inspired mixed-media style collage? That would be hideous. You definitely need to consider how the font you choose works with the whole of the piece, which means having a lot of different choices so you can find the best match.
Usually, that means using a handwritten, cursive, or otherwise decorative font. But where do people get those fonts? Canva, my favorite graphic editing website, has some good ones available, but the REALLY fancy ones seem to be missing from their collection. So where should you get those oh-so-fancy fonts to use in your digital collage?
From a free-to-use font website, of course! It’s as easy as that.
Here’s the four main sites that I use to find the right kind of font for my digital art:
Where to download free fonts
The best website(s)
Creative Market‘s free goods section which is updated weekly. This is my favorite way to get fonts– I like the random selection. Usually there’s at least one free font a week (this week there’s two!), so if you keep checking back you’ll eventually build up a huge collection. You do need to have an account to download the fonts, but it’s free to sign up and well worth the effort. Most fonts are free for personal use, but be sure to check the individual creator’s font listing, because sometimes you can use it for commercial purposes.
Creative Fabrica‘s free fonts page has a selection of “free for commercial use” fonts that rotate through regularly. You do need an account to download them. I don’t use this one as often because I’ve found most of those fonts already exist in my premium Canva account, but it’s a good option for creators who don’t use Canva or prefer to have an offline collection of fonts.
Also good websites
DaFont.com aka the biggest and most well-known font site. Super easy to navigate and use. You can filter by font type, style, theme, holiday, etc. and see a preview of the font before downloading it. Every font is free for personal use and most have an option for purchasing a commercial license from the creator.
1001Fonts.com, which is very similar to DaFont. However, it has a slightly more updated-looking interface and some different filters which make it a good place to check.
You can search by font type, theme, style, and SIZE, which is very handy if you’re looking for a font that looks good as a really tiny line of text. Some other search filters I like: decade (good for matching a font to a vintage image), mood, weight, and “foreign imitation” e.g. fonts that look vaguely non-English. Most fonts are free for personal use, but there’s also a special free for commercial use tag that you can peruse.
Sidenote: Personal use vs. commercial use
Very quickly: it’s super important to understand the difference between personal use and commercial use. Free graphics, fonts, and images usually have license agreements attached to them. The fonts on this list are mostly free for personal use i.e. you will never sell the image you’ve created, or make and sell an item using that image. The creator of those fonts/images/graphics have ONLY made them free under the condition that nobody make money off them.
Free for commercial use, on the other hand, means that you CAN use those fonts for images or designs that you plan on selling for profit. Depending on what you’re creating, you’ll need to make sure that you have the right usage license for it.
Sometimes you can buy a commercial usage license for a “personal use” font, and if you really need to sell something using that specific font– go for it. Otherwise, be sure to keep track of which font has what license, or make sure to only use text on things that you aren’t selling.
How to upload your fonts to Canva
Once you have your free fonts, you might want to upload them into your Canva account. Luckily, uploading fonts to Canva is super easy, though you DO need to have a Canva Pro account to use the Brand Kit feature. (Brand Kits are aimed more at business users, but I use mine to keep track of my favorite fonts, colors, etc. I’ll do a post about the benefits of the Brand Kit for artists later!)
First, unzip the font you’ve downloaded. Canva accepts all major font file types, such as .otf and .ttf.
Second, navigate to Canva’s main page. Click the tab on the left navigation menu that says “Brand kit.” On the Brand Kit page, scroll down to the “Uploaded Fonts” section, then click “upload a font.” Select your font file and click upload!
Be sure to also upload the italics and/or bold versions of your font, if they’re available. Usually they’re a separate file from the main font, and once uploaded they’ll be displayed separately in Canva’s font menu.
And that’s it! Super easy. I upload all my downloaded fonts to Canva so I have them ready to go for my digital collages; if you make a regular habit of it, it shouldn’t take too much time to organize your digital collage elements.
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