Graphic designers have to use a variable arsenal of skills every day. From kerning and letting, to matching colors and making vectors, designers have to be ready for anything. Keeping our skills sharp is key but sometimes it’s hard to take the time to practice. Luckily, the Internet is full of entertaining ways to hone your skills. We found five free-to-play online games to help designers practice and even learn something new.
Kern Type is a test in every typographer’s favorite thing, kerning. Creator Mark MacKay presents an easy-to-use game that still provides a challenge. Obsessively shift each letter back and forth until the space between them is perfect, and see if your solution is the best. After ten rounds, your score is totaled and you can find out if you’re a kerning master or if you, um, need to go back to design school.
A second game from Mark MacKay, Shape Type finetunes your pen tool skills. In this game, you manipulate Illustrator handlebars and anchor points to finish letterforms. Like Kern Type, how well you do is based on your ability to identify the tiniest details, and your score is totaled after ten rounds. Trying to match curves with the original form can be quite frustrating, but pays off in the long run—who knows, you could be the world’s next drop cap designer.
There’s a dating site for everything these days, including one for typefaces. Designer, Aura Seltzer;, created a game that let’s you play matchmaker for fonts. You start off by choosing a character and then a strategy to help select your match. Then the site presents you with "date" options to choose from. This game can really help you learn about how perfectly pair typefaces for your next design project.
Developers at 352 Inc. created a throwback to the classic game Space Invaders but with a colorful, spunky twist. Hark! Aliens are invading! You must protect the planet by matching the hex color code to the corresponding creature. Don’t be fooled by the beginning levels, this game can get tough. This is a must for any digital designer who needs a refresher in the complex and wonderful world of what exactly RBG is, and what the hex codes specifically mean (yes, there really is some logic to #57FE89 and #00FF00). Not only is it informative, it’s quite entertaining as well.
If you think Shape Type was a workout, try this third game by Mark MacKay (this guy clearly gets it when it comes to design education). It is a real pen tool challenge. You must follow the outline and complete the shapes. The pen tool is easily one of the most important resources a designer has, and knowing how to use it the right way will save you hours and hours of time. This game is great for students just starting out, or pros who need to work on their skills.