Atomic Dustbin font urban grungy handmade brush typeface

The Atomic Dustbin font was handmade with a watercolour brush, black ink, and paper. I was trying to get that dry brushmark, with all the lovely detail that can produce.

It's like Déjà vu

Creating a dry brush font is something of a recurring subject for me. I've never quite got the result I was after. I can picture the font in my head but getting it down on paper is another thing.

Constraints can be good

I might try and do it left-handed next time or time limiting myself. Having a constraint can lead to unexpected results that I like. It can concentrate your energy in a different way.

Like chasing a rainbow

So here it is Atomic Dustbin, not totally the look I was after. I wanted more explosive brushmarks. I find it really difficult to get that spontaneous effect while painting on a sheet of A4 paper. It might be impossible to get the result I want, but I'll keep trying.

How I created Atomic Dustbin

I painted about 3 or 4 letters per A4 sheet. I needed it big, so it kept the detail when scanned in. My brush was medium-sized; I kept pushing it into the paper to get fatter brush strokes. Every surface in my flat was taken over by drying paper. All of those paintings were scanned in at 800 dpi. That took me about 3 hrs; it's not a job I enjoy.

A better way

Normally I create the letters on paper, scan them in, trace them in illustrator and laboriously copy and paste them to glyphs app. When you have over 200 glyphs this is a real ball ache. This time, I've found a better way. A quicker way with a new illustrator plugin called fontself maker. It's a real lifesaver for me as it takes all the glyphs directly in illustrator and converts it to a font. I then open the font in glyphs app to set up the kerning, alternative characters, and all the other tweaks I normally do. Awesome.

A quick history lesson

I named the font after the 90's indie band Neds Atomic Dustbin. Who got the name from an episode of the goon show. What is the Good show I hear you ask? The Goon Show was a BBC radio comedy program that ran in the 1950's. It featured Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, and Peter Sellers, and it was a massive hit back in the day. I was never really a fan of Neds Atomic Dustbin, but I do remember they had a very strong fan base when I was at art college. All the cool skateboard kids were wearing the t-shirts.

Detail is good

Atomic Dustbin has lots of detail because it was hand-painted on real paper. Quickly painted and faithfully interpreted into a font. It has a lot of brushstroke detail so will look great at large sizes. It has no lowercase glyphs so it's ideal for headlines. Big and bold shouty headlines. It's dirty and grungy giving it an urban street style. If this font were a celebrity it would be more Kurt Cobain than Justin Timberlake.

Variety is the spice of life

Atomic Dustbin has three glyphs for each letter and two for each number, plus I've thrown in a few variations for selected punctuation marks. Combine those alternative glyphs with OpenType contextual alternatives that cycle through the glyphs and you've got a more authentic random look. You will need to enable the contextual alternates in your design application. If you want to, you can still select them manually as stylistic alternatives. Atomic Dustbin has two styles, regular and oblique and it includes;

  • Two weights: regular and oblique
  • Uppercase glyphs only
  • Numbers
  • Punctuation & Symbols
  • 3 alternatives for letters
  • 2 alternatives for numbers
  • Western European characters
  • Central European characters
  • South Eastern European characters
  • OTF

Buy Atomic Dustbin Font

Full commercial license including uppercase, lowercase, numbers, punctuation, and symbols. With support for Western, Central, and South-Eastern European glyphs. Includes contextual alternatives.