The 4-1-1 on Dingbats

As many of us artists already know, fonts are NOT just about letters. There are several fonts (some which even come installed with your computer) that are not letters at all. Instead, each letter key represents a different picture, symbol, or shape (similar to brushes used in editing software). These types of fonts are usually referred to as Dingbats.

Some dingbats are freeware or shareware (meaning you have to give credit, usually a link, where credit is due and or pay a small fee if using them for commercial use). Other dingbats are specifically created for personal use only and require commercial users to either gain permission (ahead of time) from the font creator and/or split royalties from products utilizing their dingbats.

So, before you, the artist, uses a dingbat in your work, be sure to know what type of usage is permitted with the dingbats you are using. I have used some dingbats in my work, but only those that are deemed as complete freeware or shareware AND I always supply credit where credit is due. If you want to be sure what the status of the dingbat you are using is, be sure to read through the .txt “read me” files that are included in the font’s zip folder BEFORE you download them to your computer. I always read through every single file to educate myself on how I can use the dingbat. Also, save the original zip folders with the “read me” files in them somewhere on your computer in the event that the dingbat’s user status changes – this way you have proof that they were available for use at the time of your art’s creation.

Installing dingbats is easy. Once unzipped, copy and paste the dingbat’s .TTF file (aka “TrueType Font” file) directly into the FONT folder in your computer’s Control Panel. After that, reboot your computer and you are good to go!!!! Like I said in the above paragraph, I save the original zip files on CD or in my external hard drive for backup purposes. Trust me, if you have to re-install your computer, you will be glad that you have these there and do not have to find them all over again and re-download them. HINT: I do this with brushes, plug-ins, and other ad-ins as well because I have had a computer crash once before and it was NOT pretty.

After you have these little pieces of coolness installed in your computer, you can go to it and start seeing what you can do with them using whatever editing software you may have. (They work with Photoshop, Illustrator, Gimp, PowerPoint, Word, and so many other Editing, Graphic, and Desktop Publishing programs that you may already have installed on your computer.) Try adding color, combining them, or even using them in collage work! The possibilities are endless! Just always makes sure (I cannot stress this enough) that you are using them according to the usage permitted upon download. If all else fails, contact the original font creator to get more information!

Here are some examples of what you can do with dingbats:

So, where can you get some awesome dingbats? Get Yo’ Self Some Dingbats!!!

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