When I first learned to make fonts, I settled on a modular system of vector shapes in Illustrator. Need a curve? Create a curve and save it, because chances are that curve will be needed again. Need a bowl or stem? Do the same thing. Professional font creators pooh poohed this system, although a lot of them used it themselves. Faces produced tended toward woodenness and uniformity, with a blocky style reminiscent of the misty heyday of digital typography, the ’90s.
But they were free.
Quality fonts have never been cheap, and for those of limited means, the choices are either piracy or DIY; I chose the latter. Make the pieces in Illustrator, import to Fontographer, export as TrueType. Needless to say, the fonts I created were earnestly amateurish. Even I don’t use them anymore.
But guess what? DIY typography has gone mainstream. FontStruct, a free service by typeface seller FontShop, allows you to piece together your vision of typographical goodness without the need for expensive software. Pull all the pieces you need from a gallery of shapes and curves, assemble your alphabet, then export the .TTFs straight from your browser window. The interface is absurdly simple and intuitive.
Note that any fonts created are the property of their creators and/or may be distributed via Creative Commons.