Working in a branding agency we often hear the same story: a client in a meeting says they want a new website. Great! But here comes the tricky part: they hand over some old brochures or product sheets with a lot of different fonts and tell you to use them for their digital presence.
Over the years we have, like most graphic designers, developed some good font recognizing skills. But sometimes it happens that we bump into a typeface there is no way for us to identify.
There are many fonts in print media that are not even used online, so it gets even trickier. Fortunately, some years ago we came across these fantastic tools we’d like to tell you about today.
Font detection tools
They are called font recognition tools because they are able to identify a font from any screenshot, photo, or even from a scanned pdf file. I guess the first of its kind was “WhatTheFont!” which we’ve been using for years, but now there are more tools available online!
You might have already used them, but today we’d like to make a short comparison and go a little bit deeper into understanding how they work and can be used to help you out with your project.
1. Low resolution font detection
We tested a low-resolution image of a black text on white background. All tools but WhatFontis detected it, maybe WhatFontis didn’t have that font in its database.
2. Low contrast font detection
This time we used a high-resolution image of a black text on a colored background. The image had a pretty low contrast. Again WhatTheFont! detected the font, WhatFontis didn’t. Matcherator found a very similar font to the original one, even if it was not exactly the same.
3. Rare font detection
We found a rare font from an old brochure and we put our three tools to test it. Surprisingly, this time, WhatFontis was able to identify the font.
Font tools test conclusion
There is a clear winner of our analysis! WhatTheFont! is simpler, more reliable, easy to use and ad-free.
The tool seems to be more precise in the font recognition process thanks to its manual helper. When the tool has some issues identifying a letter, it will isolate the character from the image and ask for your help. This is a very powerful way to improve the process and find all the fonts you’ll need!
Generally speaking, when using these tools, the better the resolution of the image, the easier it is for the tools to recognize a font.
WhatTheFont! didn’t seem to have any problem even with pretty low-resolution and seems to have a big number of fonts in its database. We feel confident recommending it as our test winner 😉