Have you ever wished that there was a specific character in the Character Map that you could easily insert into your documents with a copy/paste? One that you can't find there now? Or maybe you wish that your company logo could be turned into a font character?
Yes, I know there are millions of web sites that offer all types of strange characters that you can use, but if you've ever wanted to create your own, you should know that there is an Editor in Windows that allows you to add characters to the CharMap.
However, you should also know that, in order to use it efficiently, you'll need to be a talented artist and also be able to draw on a grain of rice! Okay, maybe it's not as small as a grain of rice...but if you've never tried to draw an icon-sized image, you may be in for a rude awakening with your results.
I know I was!<g>
But for the fun of it and for your info, I'll share my pathetic attempts with you to show you this tool.
If you decide to use this editor, you can later create a shortcut to it. For now, hit Start > Run and enter eudcedit and hit the enter key. The Private Character Editor will open.
A Select Code dialog will open. Choose a blank location and click OK. This will open the drawing canvas.
Now although this may look like a lot of space, realize that the final results will become the size of a typed character. So like drawing an icon, it can be very tricky. Not to mention that you need to try to make things look rounded when dealing with pixels (squares).
However, they do give you some tools to make it a bit easier. Click View > Show Outline and your sketch will become outlined. This is helpful when trying to figure out where you need to add or remove color to get the results you want.
You'll be drawing by clicking in the squares with a left click to add color and can erase by right clicking on a square that already has color. You can also hold down the mouse and drag it along to draw color in that area.
For this article, I thought I'd try creating a MouseTrax logo character. But realize that I have no artistic abilities when it comes to drawing...so please hold the hysterical laughter and ridicule to a minimum!
To help me see what I'm trying to do, I open a logo and then click on my Taskbar, at the bottom of Windows, and choose Tile Vertically. This puts my open apps next to each other on the screen, as shown below.
Okay, this is a very sad looking creation. But to get through this article, I'll refrain from spending time trying to make it any better. Time that would surely be wasted anyway!
I click to save my character and it goes into the character position that I selected when I started the program.
Maybe you know of a specific symbol or character that you already have, which you'd like to modify. You can retrieve any character to use as a visual reference, by clicking Windows > Reference.
This will add the current character next to your drawing canvas as a reference.
However, even better, you can click Edit > Copy Character to get a copy of a character already created within the Character Map and use that right in your canvas to use as the base of your sketch.
You can also use the tools along the left to select an area to move it. And there are a handful of drawing tools to help you get started, such as squares and circles.
There's an Area Selection tool, too, that you can use to grab parts of your image if you need to move things around.
After you save your character, you will be able to find it in the Character Map (click Start > Run, type CHARMAP and hit enter) under All Fonts (Private Characters).
Note that I was unable to find my character within Word's Insert > Symbol dialog, and doubt you will be able to use it from there. But you can run the CharMap and copy it from there to insert into a Word doc.
From the CharMap, you can locate your character, copy it to the clipboard and paste it into your document. It will now work like other font characters. You can select it and make it larger.
And you can make it bold.
Or even italic. (Kinda looks like a few sad, downhill skiers, eh?<g>)
If you want to use this character from Word, you can select it and hit Alt + F3 to add it to your AutoText. Give it a name. Then when you type that name in the future, you can hit F3 after typing the name and your character will appear at the cursor location.
Now realize, I do not have the need to create a specific character. Okay, well if I had any talent, it would be cool to have my own little MouseTrax logo character, but as you've seen, I clearly have no drawing talent so I give up on that one!<g>
But I know there are some talented icon creators out there who may find this tool valuable. A lot cheaper than software to create your own font face! And many of you may have the need to add something such as a math character?
If you want to learn to use this tool better...don't ask me because this is all I know about it. But there's lots more information in the Editor help files that you can easily retrieve by hitting F1 when you're within the editor.
So read up and have fun creating your own font characters.