Making CAD output personal

SketchUp Style
SketchUp hand-drawn style with personal font

So you have finished the CAD model of your latest project and now is presentation time. Depending on your CAD software, you may have some options. For example, if you used SketchUp, then you can easily apply a style to make things look sketchy. Or make the output look like it was drawn on heavy paper. Easy! If you need more styles than came with SketchUp, then you can even make your own (with the Style Builder application that comes with SketchUp Pro) or you can download some great pre-made styles here or here.

This works to some degree with other software, too, of course. Even AutoCAD has a sketchy-edge command. Another option is to add a watercolor-effect in Photoshop:

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Watercolor style

However, when it comes to choosing a font, you may be tempted to just use an operating-system supplied font. Maybe “City Blueprint” because it looks almost handwritten. How about using your real handwriting here? That’s much more personal and will make your output look very nice – as long as your handwriting is clean (which mine admittedly isn’t).

So how can you get your handwriting into the computer? Two options:

  • If you own a Tablet PC, go over to the Microsoft site and download the My Font PowerToy. You can then simply write a few letters on your screen and turn everything into a True-Type (TTF) font. This may also work if you have a Wacom tablet – give it a try.
  • If you don’t have one, go to Yourfonts.com and do this online. On their site, you can download a letter template on which you write the alphabet and then upload it to get your very own (and free) TTF font. Other sites that offer this (but that charge for the service) are: Fontifier and My First Font.

Once you get your font file (with a TTF extension), on a Windows machine go to Start > Control Panel > Fonts and just drop the file into the folder. It is now installed and available in every application that uses fonts (Word etc.). To use it in SketchUp, just go to Window > Model Info and set the dimension and text font to your new font (see image below).

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Setting a font in SketchUp

Of course you don’t have to stop here. If you want to give your computer that “personal touch”, right-click on your desktop and go to the advanced appearance settings to set your font as a window title font, too:

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Applying the font in Windows

Finally, if you just want to use someone else’s handwritten font (as I’ve done here), go to DaFont.com and get one there. Since I am only working with Windows, I can’t give any instructions on how to install a font on a Mac. Please add a comment if you successfully got this to work on a Mac, too.