Friday, 29 August 2014

The Perfect Hogwarts Acceptance Letter…

I’ve been on a bit of a Harry Potter bender of late, making everything from wands and snitches to chocolate frog boxes and even a Fawkes puppet. One of the first things I made was a Hogwarts Acceptance letter, a project which I recently decided to revisit for a blog entry. It only took a little research to realised how far short my first attempt had fallen, and how much work was still ahead of me…



Materials needed: 


Computer with a word processing/publishing package
Inkjet printer
2 sheets A4 inkjet friendly, parchment paper
Fimo
Glue gun
Cooking oil
A scrap of flat plastic, like you get in blister packs
Red paint
Paper glue

1. Using the typefaces


The first problem I encountered was that although there are some awesome typefaces out there, there were none that really matched the text on the Acceptance Letter. Being a bit of a stickler I have resolved this issue by creating some myself.

Glyphs in action
DearMrPotter
An image showing Glyphs in action again.
4PrivetDrive

>> DOWNLOAD 4PrivetDrive TYPEFACE <<

If you unpack these and drop them in your Fonts folder you should now have access to two beautiful new typefaces that closely mimic the look of the screen used props. Whilst creating these I also discovered a neat trick to do with “ligatures”, a feature that substitutes characters for glyphs when they are placed in a certain order. This feature is open to wonderful abuse, as you will discover if you type the word “mcgonagall” or “Minerva” using DearMrPotter ;)

The Signature of Professor McGonagall
Professor McGonagall's Signature, prepared for print just in case

I also used Lumos and Garamond (although any serifed font should work fine at a push)

2. Layout the letter


I laid out the text in InDesign although you could probably manage this in Word at a push. The page size needs to be A5, so if you wanted you could get two letters out of an A4 sheet.

At the top of the page we have the Hogwarts logo. You can either save this JPEG or download a clean TIF >> here <<:

The correct logo for the top of the movie prop letterhead
High resolution logo for print

Then the following text set in DearMrPotter:

To  Mr Harry Potter, 
The Cupboard under the Stairs. 
4 Privet Drive, 
Little Whinging.
Surrey.


Dear Mr. Potter, 

     We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 
Students shall be required to report to the Chamber of Reception
upon arrival, the dates for which shall be duly advised. 
Please ensure that the utmost attention be made to the list of 
requirements attached herewith. 
We very much look forward to receiving you as part of the new 
generation of Hogwarts’ heritage. 

This text beneath professor McGonagall’s name is set in Lumos:

Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus

And finally Dumbledore’s name and title at the bottom set in Garamond:

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore, D.Wiz, X.j.(sorc.), S,of Mag.Q.

Some people recommend coating white paper in various beverages and then baking it in the oven to achieve a parchment look but this can give you problems with the inkjet ink further down the line. I think it’s better to dodge the mess and just use a decent parchment paper. I found it best to set the text in a dark brown as black looked a little too strong but feel free to experiment.

Hobbycraft supplied parchment paper
The perfect Harry Potter paper, what a find!

Layoung out the Hogwarts Acceptance Letter in InDesign
The basic layout in InDesign


First draft of the letter on the paper
First print of the letter, I actually shifted the text further right in the next draft. 


3. Layout the envelope


This is set in 4PrivetDrive. If you look at the screenshots you will see I have placed the template at a 45 degree angle on an A4 page. This will give us an envelope that fits the A5 letter we have just created. You can download a clean template >> here <<.

Mr. H. Potter,
The Cupboard under the Stairs,
4. Privet Drive,
Little whinging,
SURREY

An image showing the layout for the Hogwarts envelope.
The template for the Hogwarts Envelope

Spent a lot of time squinting sideways at my monitor setting this. 


4. Cut out the envelope


The envelope template is a very pale grey that should just be visible on the print, but is hopefully light enough that it will be hidden by the creases. Carefully trim along the outside lines, using a penny as a template to neatly round off the corners.

An image showing the trimming process
The trimmed letter

Trimming round a penny
An awesome scalpel action shot

An image depicting the frailty of man in the face of an uncaring god
Trimmed and ready to be creased


5. Crease the envelope


I used a bone creaser to crease the envelope.



Running my bone creaser down a steel rule
If you don't have a bone creaser, the blunt edge of a butter knife will do. 

6. Make the stamp


Many people making recreations these days opt for the posh new Hogwarts seal sold by Warner Bros., however this was not the seal used in the movie. A simple letter ‘H’ in a shield outline is all that’s required.

Reference of the seal from the movie prop

I attempted a few different materials for making the seal, but eventually settled on Fimo. It’s non absorbent, holds detail well and most importantly, it’s quick! I took a two pence piece as the base and stuck a flat layer of Fimo on top, trimming it to the coin below to make a perfect circle.

A scalpel, some fimo and a tupenny bit
Blue Peter shot where we gather the materials...

The coin acquires a liberal coating of fimo
Removing excess fimo with a knife

I found a bottle cap to make the circular border on the seal, pushed it into the Fimo and gently removed it.




I then cut a small template for the Hogwarts shield and traced around it using a pen before carving the design into the Fimo with a scalpel.

Basic Hogwarts seal
The finished Seal

To make a clean impression you need to use a really sharp blade and carve and remove material using small V shaped cuts. You need a steady hand and a delicate touch.

When complete this needs to be baked in the oven as per the Fimo instructions, then removed (being super careful not to touch the blisteringly hot coin).

7. Make the impression


You could use real wax for this but it’s not very durable, instead I used hot glue.

Take a flat piece of plastic, like you get in a blister pack, and pool some hot glue in the centre. Take the stamp and coat it in a little cooking oil before pushing it into the hot glue. Leave it to cool slightly before lifting the Fimo out. The oil helps stop the glue from sticking too firmly to the Fimo and eases the release. Without oil my first Fimo stamp only managed two impressions before splitting.

Hot glue setting on a plastic sheet.
Don't worry, there is a plastic sheet between the hot glue and my beautiful desk. 

Insert penguin joke here
The glue becomes more opaque as it cools


8. Paint the impression


A quick lick of red paint finishes the seals and makes for quite a convincing wax effect.

Seals painted red
The slight translucency of the glue and paint adds to the waxy look

9. Assembly 


Now we have to bring all of the elements together: The envelope needs the side flaps to be glued to the bottom centre flap and once dry, the letter needs to be folded in half and placed within. The final step is to attach the seal. With some careful gluing this can be done so the seal overlaps the flap, holding the envelope closed but not requiring removal to open.

Bit of glue to attach the dried glue to the glued envelope
Sealing the deal



Hogwarts acceptance letter
And we're about done!


10. Finishing


I also printed a second page listing the items new students must bring to school. This page is signed by Lucinda Thomsonicle Pocus, and I expect if you were to type "lucinda" using the DearMrPotter font you might be delightfully rewarded with the signature of yet another Hogwarts Professor ;)

Since we've created this with type rather than templates the acceptance letters are open to all kinds of customisation. You can change the recipient, the address on the front, list of items required… the only limit is your imagination :)


An image showing the completed project.
The completed Hogwarts acceptance letter

106 comments:

  1. Just wanted to say thanks for the fonts and all the detailed instructions!! :)

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  2. can you post the InDesign template you used for the envelope?

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    1. I'm afraid I don't have these files immediately to hand but you shouldn't really need them. Just drop the JPEG envelope template into your InDesign document, then place a text box rotated to 45 degrees over the top. Hope your letter making goes well :)

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  3. We didn't go full out, but this totally helped us get invitations out for our Halloween party. Thank you!!!!!

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    1. You're most welcome. Hope the party goes well :)

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  4. Hey, thanks for the instructions. It all looks very authentic. I'm putting a little care package together for a friend and will be using the envelope design for both the acceptance letter and ministry of magic auror office letter. One question though, did you have any trouble fitting the letter into the envelope? The letter I printed out is trimmed from all four sides to be smaller, but my concern is with the template you provided. It almost looks square. Will the printed out envelope have to be trimmed as well on a standard piece of paper? Or if I copy an image of the template and stretch the image to fit the whole document on Word, would that work? Your recommendation?

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    1. The template, when printed edge to edge on an A4 page, makes an envelope that fits an A5 letter. The files I have provided are the exact same ones I used in the example, so I know they work. If you're worried I'd suggest making up a scrap one, just to test the fit. I wouldn't recommend stretching the template however as it's on a diagonal. The only way to make a bigger envelope is to print on a sheet of paper larger than A4.

      Hope that helps clarify things and that thecare package works out.

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  5. Turns out my printer is out of ink so it won't print those light grey lines. As soon as the ink comes in I'll give it a shot. Thanks for the quick response! Do you have a detailed and itemized list list like this for crafting golden snitches as well? I'm kind of on a bender myself and I prefer crafting things rather than just buying them outright. It just has more of a genuine feel to it. Thanks in advance for any additional assistance!

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    1. Hi Hubert,

      I think there are other people out there who've done a better job than me when it comes to snitches. Mine looked good but weren't a huge success.

      My first mistake was making them out of pingpong balls... which it turns out are really unfriendly to glue and paint. What I should have done is seal the surface before I applied glue, then seal the whole thing again before I spray painted it... or even better, not use a pingpong ball :P. As it is, the gold paint never dried.

      For the detail I sliced some thin plastic tube in half lengthways and used it to form the ridges on the surface. It looks a lot neater than trying to make the pattern out of hot glue, and if you get something wrong it's easy to put right.

      I never completed the wings. Spent hours carefully trimming them out of plasticard but hadn't planned ahead and couldn't find a neat way of attaching them to the snitch.

      I ended up with an attractive display, but not enough of a success for me to think it was worth writing instructions.

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  6. Thank you so much ..It helped me to do me so much

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  7. Thank you so much ..It helped me to do me so much

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  8. OMG you are the absolute best! Thank you so much, this helped a ton!

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  9. Just... thanks! Great resources.

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  10. Hi This looks great! I'm actually using this format to ask my girlfriend to her prom! The letter looks amazing but I don't understand where you got the template for the envelope from. Is that something that you did in your document, or did you paste that in or something.

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    1. Is the template somewhere on this page to download?:P I'm probably just being a massive durp and missing it.....

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    2. Hi Logan, the template for the envelope is available to download on this page. It's the first image under stage 3. Good luck with the prom.

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    3. Just save the image? Ok so I was being a total dumbass, I was looking for a hyperlink or something like the fonts. Thanks so much.

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  11. Hi! The fonts are great! but i was just curious because when I type in minerva and mcgonagall they don't change font. Just curious if anyone knows why or how to fix this:)

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    1. Hi Emma :)
      What software are you using? The typeface relies on a feature called 'ligatures' being enabled to display the signatures. I'd have to check whether your software supports this or has an option to turn it on

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    2. i'm using Microsoft word on a MacBook Pro

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    3. I'm sorry, I think I put your reply in the wrong place. In short: try right clicking on your text, select the "advanced" tab and tinker with the ligatures options. Hope that helps.

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  12. OK, Word has supported ligatures since the 2010 version. The Microsoft website says:

    "To enable OpenType ligatures, right-click on some text, select Font, select the Advanced tab, and select Standard Only from the Ligatures combo box. This enables the standard ligatures, like fi and ffi."

    Any help?

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  13. Thank you very much! One of my best friends is going to England for half a year and, just like all of my friends and me, she's a HP fanatic. I do have one question though... I have done my research, yet I couldn't find a store selling parchment paper:( Could you tell me where you got yours? Perhaps they ship to Austria...

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    1. Hi Aline. I bought the paper from a craft store in the UK called Hobbycraft but I have no idea if they ship internationally. You could always take a look on Amazon, there are quite a few options on there. Just make sure it is Inkjet compatible. Hope your friend enjoys her time in the UK.

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  14. Hi, I'm having trouble with the layout of the envelope. I have InDesign (but am largely unfamiliar with it) - if I drag and drop the image from your site, I get only the link; if I place it, it's enormous. I tried scaling it to what you have shown but your ruler appears to be different than mine. I did read through the comments (this one, "The template, when printed edge to edge on an A4 page, makes an envelope that fits an A5 letter" seemed most helpful) but in your provided screenshot it doesn't appear to take up the entire page so I'm just at a loss of how exactly to scale it. If you have any tips, that would be awesome.

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    1. Hi Shanna,

      In InDesign, set up a document to A4 in size. Portrait/ landscape, doesn’t matter.

      You can’t (or perhaps shouldn’t) drag an image straight from a browser into InDesign so save the template somewhere you can find it, then drag the image into your active document.

      You will need to scale the template image so it fits with the edges of the template sitting right on the edges of the page (use the black arrow to drag a corner of the box whilst holding down CTRL + SHIFT on PC, or CMD+SHIFT on mac). The template is square, an A4 sheet is not so there will be an area of the sheet that is not used.

      IMPORTANT: do not delete or move the template image from where you saved it on your computer until you have completed the print. Images are linked, not stored in the document.

      After that you’ll need to set up a text box over the top of the template and rotate it to 45 degrees.

      Good luck.

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    2. My main problem I guess is I can't tell how wide it should be? I have it set up in landscape mode, image is scaled so it hits the top and bottom of the template, but not sure exactly how to scale it width-wise. Does it matter as long as it's square?

      This is what I have right now: http://postimg.org/image/gpyf004vl/

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    3. Yep, that's it. Holding the shift key as you scale it should ensure it remains correct. Just needs to be square.

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    4. Awesome, thank you so much, both for the template and the assistance :D

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  15. Hi Robin! This is the best tutorial that I have found so far and the most authentic! Thanks for your amazing fonts. I'm wondering what the font is though for the word "under" on the envelope? It doesn't appear to be 4PrivetDrive. Also, did you vary the font size on the envelope? It looks like it to me, but that may also be just all caps and lowercase. If you did vary the font sizes, do you mind recalling what those were? Thanks so much.

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    1. Thanks Andrea, glad you like the tutorial :)

      The word 'under' is set in 4PrivetDrive and should appear in the correct style through the magic of ligatures. Most software supports this option, although you may have to Google how to enable it.

      I honestly can't remember if I varied the type size, looking at the envelope I don't think I did, but have a tinker and see what you think looks best.

      Hope your letter making goes well! :)

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  18. please can you make me the envelope one? I really don't know how u make it and I don't even know what did u use for that.. please... I really need it. can u?

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  20. Hi there! I'm having trouble downloading the fonts. I click your link above and it shows a sort of directory but never actually downloads anything. I right click the zip to save as but it just saves the whole webpage as html. Can you help? - Melissa

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    1. Hi Melissa. The links point to files on my google drive. To download them:
      1) Click on the link
      2) Click on the download button in the top centre of the screen.
      Hope that helps.

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    2. Thank you! Your work is fantastic!

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  21. This is so awesome, thank you so much!

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  23. Hi! Thanks for this awesome tutorial. I have some trouble with the font DearMrPotter: using Word 2010, regardless of the line spacing letter like the capital M are cut below. Thank you and sorry for my awful english

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    1. Hi Barubo, looks like this may be a problem with my amateur font design skills. Have you tried running a quick print to see if it's just a display problem?

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    2. Yes, I have. Unfortunately the letter is cut also in the print. Also I've noticed that other letters, such as f and g, are cut below unless I use way too much line spacing... Thank you

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    3. OK, it appears this is a problem with typefaces that are slightly incorrectly configured, Microsoft Word and Mac/PC compatibility.

      Does setting the line spacing to “single” help?

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    4. Unfortunately no. I've already tried every possible line spacing configuration but nothing helps... do you think using a different software would solve the problem?

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    5. Yes, I believe other software will help. I can't fix the typeface as the software I used was a trial version that has long since expired.

      I know InDesign does not suffer from this problem and I've read that PowerPoint doesn't either. I’m afraid I'm really not a Microsoft expert.

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    6. Ok, I'm going to try one of those. Thank you very much

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  24. OMG I saw your post! it was awesome! It is the information that i wanted.
    Sorry for my poor English. I'am Korean :D
    this July 17th The party of Harry Potter will be held.
    I want to make your acceptance letter and I want to give them.
    It you don't mind May i use your template?
    I hope not to spoil your mood, If i was ill mannered sorry for it

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    1. No problem, the resources are here for you to use. Have fun at the party :)

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  25. Hi, Thanks for this incredible tutorial! The kids in my class are going to love their acceptance letters! Do you have an example of what is included in the list of items needed (the second page included with the letter)? Thanks again!

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    1. Hi, the full contents of the letter can be found in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, or by visiting the Harry Potter Wiki here: http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Hogwarts_acceptance_letter

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  26. Hi there, I am so excited to use the DearMrPotter font for my daughter's bithday party invitations. I am having a problem the big swoops under some of the letters are interuppted. Almost like they don't fit. Do you know how to fix this?

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    1. Hi Sherri, this was my first attempt at setting up a typeface from scratch and as a result it has some technical issues. I set my letters in InDesign where everything worked fine, however some people using Microsoft Word have reported the same problem you are talking about.

      I use design software for a living but I have little experience of Microsoft products and have been unable to find a solution to this other than edit the typeface… which is a problem as I used a free trial of the software which has long since expired. I’m told Powerpoint doesn’t suffer from this issue so that’s something you could perhaps try?

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  27. Your wording is different from what I've found. Where did you find the wording? I want to get it exact, but I don't have access to the book right now.

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    1. Hi Lindsay, I believe this is accurate to the movie version of letter. The book version is different, as is the version seen in the computer games.

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  29. Hi Robin!
    Do you also have a picture of the second page? :) I want to know wich fonts for wich sentences I need to use!
    Thank you so much for your tutorial!!

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    1. Hi Sabien,
      As the second page never featured in the movie you are free to set this however you think best. I just made it up :)

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  30. And um, can you maybe also tell us the font sizes? :)

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  31. Awesome effort! With your talent I'm surprised you only have 6 followers, including myself. I look forward to seeing your future creations. BTW, in your notes about the McGonagall signature, your reference Lumos and Garamond fonts. May I ask where you incorporate them?

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    1. Hi Lisa, Lumos is used just beneath McGonagall's signature, Garamond (or some other serifed typeface) is used to set the text at the foot of the page. Hope that helps.

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  32. Yes, thank you. One last thing. How do I access the P for Potter, C for Cupboard and "under" fonts. They do not appear in the character map.

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    1. Hi Lisa, if you have your ligature options enabled they should appear automatically.

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  33. Hello,

    I just wanted to send my heartfelt thanks and apreciation for this post.

    I'm making some custom Hogwarts themed gifts for my Daughter and Nieces this Xmas, and being able to write a letter from Prof. McGonagall is the icing on the cake.

    Thank you for taking the time to write up your methodology in construction and composition, as well as making the handwriting font available for others to use!

    Kind regards, Tony

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    1. Hi Tony, very glad I was able to help. Hope you all have a wonderful Xmas :)

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  34. Hi, I am making hogwarts acceptance letters and care packages for my little sisters for christmas this year and was really excited to find your page, but when I click on the links to download either of the type faces the wheel in the display tab turns as if the page is loading but the page itself remains blank and white. Just hoping for any help solving this problem

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    1. (I am using a google chrome browser of that makes any difference)

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    2. Hi Caroline, have you tried right clicking on the link and "save as"? The fonts are in zip files.

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  35. Hey! First of all: Great instruction, great fonts and great templates.
    I do have one question though: Your Hogwarts logo and the template have a greyish background. When I print everything on my rather beige parchment-like paper, will the background be printed or does my printer/computer somehow ignore the greyish color?
    Regards, Nathalie

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    1. Wow, um, that's embarrassing. I output clean JPEGs from Photoshop, I have no idea how that's happened! I'll fix them in the morning.

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    2. OK, I checked the files and uploaded them again... only to discover that once they're integrated into the blog layout they had regained that slight grey shift. I've included links to download clean files in the body text but looks like I can't get images into Blogger without them being adjusted. Oh well. Hope the clean files work for you.

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    3. Wow! Thank you very much for your efforts!

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  36. AMAZING! I've been looking for these fonts for hours and none of them match! I considered making my own, seriously, but I wouldn't have had time for that... An enormous THANK YOU!!!!

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    1. My pleasure, hope they work well for you :)

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  37. Wooaahh! What an amazing job! Congrats Robin and thank you very much for letting other fans have fun with it!
    I've just have a question, maybe you can help me :D... I've downloaded the fonts and the envelope template, but after looking and looking I'had no idea how to get the layout letter template! Maybe the link is there.. but I don't know.

    Theks!

    L.

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    1. Hi Botón, I didn't put together a template for the letter however you should be able to find everything you require to make your own here on this page :)

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  38. Hi,
    I'm still having trouble getting 'P' right using ligature. I've turned the ligature on but no luck. Any ideas?

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  39. Thank you very much for this tutorial, it's fantastic! I'm a bit of a stickler like you and I noticed a little error. It's not "Draco Dormiens Nunquam TiTTilandus" but it's "Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus" (I sound like Hermione ahah) .
    Ps: Sorry for my english, I'm italian :)

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  40. I am unable to get the ligatures to work. Am i right that you just have to type the name in and it turns into the signature? If not, please give me some tips:)

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    1. You have to ensure that ligatures are enabled and then type the name. You can copy and paste my text if you want to ensure spelling and capitalisation are correct. If this fails to work then I suggest grabbing the image of the signature I included in the article and dropping that into the document. Does that help at all?

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    2. It helps a lot, thanks! Just one question, how to I enable the ligatures?

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    3. That depends on the software you are using. In Word for instance: To enable OpenType ligatures, right-click on some text, select Font, select the Advanced tab, and select Standard Only from the Ligatures combo box.

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    4. Thank you very much for your help! I figured it out now;)

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  41. I am having trouble using the Lumos font. I downloaded it, and it shows up in word as "New" in the correct font, but when i click on it, it says "The font 'Lumos Caps' is not available on your system. Do you want to use it anyway?" If I click yes it writes in a different font that is DEFINENTLY not LUmos. Any ideas?

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  42. Thank you so much for this tutorial and especially the fonts. Saved my from having to reinvent the wheel! Cheers!

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  43. Hi! Your tutorial is fantastic but I cant write "under" like you Can you tell how can do it? Thanks!!

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  45. This was great thanks for the detailed explanation, although I didn't make the stamp, the letter and envelope look great! So thanks for your assistance :)

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    1. You are most welcome Lucy, glad the instructions have been of use :)

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  46. I kinda love that you were picky enough to make your own fonts. They're super cool and my letter is going to look phenomenal.

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  47. Ive been trying to make the envelope because i folded my a4 letter into 4 and it still didnt fit? is there anyway i could make it a tad bit bigger ??

    -lindsay

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    1. Hi Lindsay, If you've folded an A4 sheet (210 x 297mm) exactly into quarters it should definitely fit the envelope. The envelope pocket measures 157 x 113mm whilst a quarter sheet A4 is 148.5 x 105mm. Are you certain the envelope template is printed at 100%?

      If you're still having problems the only way to make things bigger would be to print the envelope on a larger sheet of paper / construct the envelope from multiple pieces. The relationship between the size of the pocket and the the flaps means there's no room to make the pocket bigger using an A4 sheet.

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    2. I just came across your tutorial and LOVE IT! My daughter is having a Harry Potter theme birthday party next month and this tutorial has helped greatly with creating the invitations. Being able to download the letter and envelop fonts was a bonus! I, too, am having trouble with the bottom of some letters missing, but I'm not too concerned with it. Thank you very much for putting the time in for us to enjoy. Melissa

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  48. First THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUVE DONE INCREDIBLE! CAN YOU PLEASE HELP ME. Im trying to create this fast to mail to family for upcoming trip to HP orlando, I have a 3 yr nephew with Leukemia coming and wanted to have this special for him. I can't seem to figure out how you do the P swayed to look more like the orginal..Ive downloaded fonts and played with them but UNABLE to recreate. Can you please email me..steveandtabitha@yahoo.com THANKS SO MUCH

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    1. Hi, you need to enable the ligatures option. If you let me know what software you are using and what platform you are on (mac or PC) I can try to look into a possible solution.

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