What are color fonts?

Standard vector font
OpenType-SVG vector font
Color vector font
OpenType-SVG bitmap font
Color bitmap font
Color fonts represent a key evolution in digital typography, introducing rich graphic features into font files. Thanks to new font formats, color fonts are finally becoming a reality for millions of creatives.

Color fonts can impact any type of text, since they may contain any type of characters, including emojis and icons.

Note that colors fonts are sometimes referred as chromatic fonts, which is actually a bit more accurate since they may include multicolored, grayed or even single-tone characters.
OpenType-SVG color fonts

What's inside color fonts?

A color font file is actually just a regular font file that embeds additional data to display more graphic properties than the contour shapes of a character.

Color fonts are now generally stored as SVG data inside OpenType font files. This SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format can hold vector shapes with color or gradients, and may also include bitmap images - thus leading to bitmap fonts.
So color fonts are now officially referred as OpenType-SVG fonts.

Simple. Right?
OpenType-SVG logo
Ok, the reality is a bit more complex...
#TimeForSomeHistory ;)

The OpenType-SVG font format was initially designed by Mozilla & Adobe and became an industry standard in early 2016, when other big players including Microsoft & Google agreed on a single format to support color fonts. 

All of them (including Apple) have previously developed and implemented their own proprietary color formats to display emojis on their operating systems, while many other companies built other custom color font technologies for the gaming, video or print industries.

There are now four major color font formats that fit into regular font files: SBIX, COLR, CBDT and SVG, each having it own specificities. Read the full story here or check this simplified recap:
Vector Bitmap Native support
W3C SVG macOS 10.14+, iOS 12+, Windows 10+
Apple SBIX macOS and iOS
Google CBDT Android
Microsoft COLR Windows 8.1+
Due to the differences and incompatibilities of these formats, the design industry is going through a transition period during which several color font formats may be needed to ensure cross-platform compatibility across several operating systems, browsers and apps.

But OpenType-SVG seems in great position to become a golden standard now that three operating systems support OpenType-SVG fonts: Windows 10, macOS Mojave, and iOS 12.

A solution to mitigate this issue on legacy software? Color fonts can also include some alternate vector shape data as a fallback solution for software that do not (yet) support any of the embedded color formats.

Where's the catch?

What about file size?
A color font file is generally larger than a regular font file, and a lot more when the font embeds high-resolution bitmap characters.

Whereas fonts usually weigh tens to a few hundred kilobytes, color vector fonts can reach hundreds of kilobytes to a couple megabytes depending on their visual complexity.

Color bitmap fonts may range from a few megabytes to tens of megabytes, and sizes increase when multiple color font formats are embedded in a single file.

What about text scalability?
Good question! Color fonts based on vector glyphs can be resized without any loss, just like any regular font.
Scaled color vector font
Scaled color vector font
Scaled color bitmap font
Scaled color bitmap font
Color bitmap fonts, like any other photo or pixel-based image, will scale properly up to a certain size, depending on their original resolution. Beyond that resolution, the lettering will look pixelated.

So whether you print a text with a color bitmap font or display it on high resolution screens, you will have to check up to which size it could properly scale.

As color bitmap fonts will be used in such different contexts like web or print, designers will need several versions of the bitmap font files, with full-size images for desktop editing and downscaled versions for the web.

Where can I use color fonts?

Now that OpenType-SVG has been adopted as the industry standard, there is good chance that you can start using color fonts across your favorite software and hardware.

We keep updating a list of apps and browsers that support color fonts. Here we go:

Color fonts Supported formats Comments
Photoshop 😀 SVG SBIX Since PS CC 2017
Illustrator 😀 SVG SBIX Since AI CC 2018
InDesign 😀 SVG SBIX Since ID CC 2019
QuarkXPress 😀 SVG SBIX COLR Since QuarkXPress 2018
Pixelmator 😀 SVG SBIX Since macOS 10.14 Mojave
Sketch 😀 SVG SBIX Since macOS 10.14 Mojave
Affinity Designer 😀 SVG Since macOS 10.14 Mojave
Paint.NET 😀 SVG Windows only
Adobe XD 😢 Vote here and here
Premiere Pro 😢 Vote here
After Effects 😢 Vote here and here

Web browsers
Color fonts Supported formats Comments
Microsoft Edge 😀 SVG SBIX COLR CBDT Since version 38 on Windows 10
Safari 😀 SVG SBIX COLR Since version 12, macOS 10.14 & iOS 12
Firefox 😀 SVG COLR Since version 26
Chrome 😢 COLR CBDT
Internet Explorer 😐 COLR Only on Windows 8.1
Opera 😐 COLR Only on Windows

Where can I get color fonts?

Color fonts are still pretty rare to find these days due to their novelty. But you're lucky as we started collecting awesome color fonts:
Gilbert Color (OpenType-SVG font)
Gilbert by Type With Pride
Pospky (OpenType-SVG font)
Popsky by Igor Petrovic
MEGAZERO (OpenType-SVG font)
MEGAZERO by Alex Trochut
AIres (OpenType-SVG font)
Aires by Yai Salinas
Abelone (OpenType-SVG font)
Abelone by Maria Grølund
Playbox (OpenType-SVG font)
Playbox by Matt Lyon
Bixa Color (OpenType-SVG font)
Bixa Color by NovoTypo & Roel Nieskens
Bungee Color (OpenType-SVG font)
Bungee color by David Jonathan Ross
OneLine Bold  (OpenType-SVG font)
OneLine Bold by Roman Kaer
And also visit the world's first color fonts collection on Creative Market.
Color fonts collection
Want more? We will post beautiful cherry-picked color fonts made by super talented designers (including some freebies).

Subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when they are released.
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How can I create color fonts?

Are you inspired to turn your beautiful lettering into an actual font? Good news! There is a really cool tool for that:
Fontself Maker
An add-on to create fonts in Illustrator or Photoshop (Mac & PC)
$49 (One-time purchase with free updates)
Disclaimer: We're part of Fontself ;)
Follow us on Twitter @colorfontswtf - we'll be back with more news on color fonts. See you soon 👋 and don't forget to register to our newsletter.