Beware of Imitations

Detail of the font Felt Tip Roman from a Harry Potter book

As noted on the sample page, Felt Tip Roman has been used in the U.S. editions of the Harry Potter books to represent the handwriting of the character Hagrid. I’ve always thought this was kind of cool, and it makes a nice example when trying to talk about type design with people who have never thought about where fonts come from.

Over the weekend, I was shocked to learn that there is a free font, distributed by many of the Harry Potter fan sites, purporting to be “Hagrid’s handwriting.” After checking it out, I was relieved to discover that it is not a pirated copy of my Felt Tip Roman, but a rather poor imitation.

Samples of the fonts Felt Tip Roman and Hagrid

As you can see, it looks more or less similar, but is clearly not Felt Tip Roman. Looking at it more closely, it appears that the person who did it must have copied the letters with a pen by eye (making up the ones she didn’t have samples of), scanned them in and had the computer autotrace them. (Felt Tip Roman was hand digitized, not autotraced.)

Detailed samples of the letter M from the fonts Felt Tip Roman and Hagrid

I guess I don’t mind fans using this imitation font. At least they are not passing around bootleg copies of the real thing. But if you do want the real thing, remember: It’s not a free font, and never has been.