(This is translated from GlyphWiki:グリフのデザイン方法@24, which was current as of 23 February 2009)
Open a suitable character (say, u6c38), and click the “edit this page” tab. It’s probably best that you refer to a character you know.
Once you click on the tab, the glyph data will be displayed. Editing those data themselves is a difficult task for beginners, so you’ll probably prefer to click the “Edit in glyph editor” button instead. The view will change, displaying the editor (you’ll need to have the Adobe Flash Player browser plugin installed).
Displayed at the upper left will be the glyph object that you are editing. There are two possible cases: the first is that the glyph is composed of each brush stroke; the second, that it is a group composed of collected parts.
Try it out by clicking on a brush stroke. It will turn red, indicating that you have selected it. If you click some portion besides that brush stroke, you will deselect it. To select multiple brush strokes, click each one while holding down the Ctrl key (or the Shift key), or drag a rectangle surrounding those brush strokes. During selection, you can continue to select additional brush strokes as long as you keep the Ctrl (or Shift) key held. For assembled groups, selecting a single stroke of that group will cause all of its members to become selected as a whole.
When you select one brush stroke, two to four orange squares appear. These indicate the coordinates that form its structure (its central line, to be specific). In the case of a straight line, these will be the start and end points; in the case of curves, there are extra control point coordinates indicated (the vertical sweep is a straight line combined with a curve, so there are four coordinates for it: the straight portion’s start point, its end point [which is the curved portion’s start point], the curved portion’s control point, and its end point).
If you drag the orange squares around with the mouse, causing them to move, the brush strokes will change correspondingly as well. With these operations, you are designing the brush strokes. To move the brush strokes themselves, drag the selected strokes with the mouse.
When you select multiple brush strokes or otherwise select a group, the whole of them will be surrounded by a single rectangle with a thin border. On the lower-right corner of it is a square that you can drag; by doing this, you can stretch or shrink the whole selection. To move the whole selection, drag any of the brush stroke portions and move the mouse to where you would like it to be.
Please design glyphs so that they fit in the interior grey box on the left-hand side (the reference frame). But when starting, is not that important to be very particular about the size. For a sense of a glyph’s general balance, please refer to the thumbnail display.
When you click the “編集終了” [“editing finished”] button, the data are sent to GlyphWiki, and the new glyph will be in a preview mode (i.e., it has not yet been registered). The wiki will never be updated with the data edited on the editor’s screen, as long as you do not press the “編集終了” button, so feel free to get acquainted with the editor by messing around with it.
If you have made a mistake, you can go back to a prior state by pressing the “元に戻す” [“Undo”] button, which will send you back a single state. If you press the “やり直し” [“Redo”] button, you can restore the state that was just undone.
Moving on, when designing certain target characters, you should try to decompose that character into parts and assemble it using its parts. For example, u20bb7 can be made by putting together u571f and u53e3. In these cases, we use the part-adding functionality. In the reference column on the right, select a kanji or input a glyph name and click the “検索” [“Reference”] button. The corresponding character/glyph or otherwise-usable part for building characters will be displayed. When you click this prospective part, it will be added onto the canvas.
When arranging parts as you design, there are times where you cannot easily design with them as subtly as you’d like. In those cases, you can select the part and click the “部品を分解” [“Ungroup”] button, whereupon the group that had formed the part will be decomposed into its individual brush strokes, so that you may adjust each one as you like. The decomposed group cannot be restored (but of course, you may use the “undo” function to undo any changes), so you will have to register the end result as being made of those brush strokes. To delete unnecessary brush strokes, select the ones you wish to delete and click “削除” [“Delete”].
The appearances of certain parts should change when they occupy the hen (left side) or kanmuri (top) positions. These parts, too, have been prepared. Look for the root part in a few kanji you know. If you do not find it, it is necessary for you to make it yourself.
When a selected brush stroke is connected to another, the coordinate points displayed as orange squares in the editor turn green and/or blue. Green indicates that the X- or Y-axis value is tied to another brush stroke, and blue indicates that the point is completely tied to another brush stroke’s coordinates, so please use them as design references. With some kinds of brush strokes, when they are tied to the start or end points of other brush strokes, if the coordinate of one is moved, then the coordinate of the other moves in tandem with it.
To add strokes via handwriting, click “手書き開始” [“Begin Handwriting”] and write on the canvas with the mouse. When you are finished writing for the moment, click “手書き終了” [“Finish Handwriting”]. Whatever you have written in this fashion will then automatically be converted to something resembling its proper Mincho representation (hopefully). This automatic identification process attempts to determine which lines are supposed to be straight, and puts your writing into terms of straight and curved lines; it also attempts to identify whether the curves are supposed to be concave or convex. So, please write carefully when using this feature. The direction of brush strokes are also important. If you make a slip of the pen, you can click “Undo” and erase the most recent set of handwritten strokes.
At present, this only supports straight lines and curves, so corners and vertical sweeps will initially be drawn as curves; for these, you must choose the proper type from the lists displayed in the center. Also, please don’t forget to choose the “頭形状” [“Head shape”] and “尾形状” [“Tail shape”] for hane (the ticks at the end of certain strokes) and connections to other brush strokes and so forth.
With certain brush strokes composed of straight lines, such as the second stroke in “口”, please decompose these strokes when you write them (at the tip of each straight line, let go of the mouse button and click there again). In this manner, “口” has to be written with four strokes instead of the three you would use in practice.
For characters like “口”, “凸”, and “丁”, where certain brush strokes are connected with others, they will be connected automatically. If this does not do the job well, readjust the strokes by hand.
For hane, write the main body of the stroke (and let go of the mouse button at the end), then write a little extra line for the hane. It should register as one stroke, but you technically make two lines.
If this produces shapes other than what you intend, you have to either delete and re-write them, or adjust it by hand and choose the correct properties from the lists.
You can use this handwriting function to write the whole kanji’s shape at once, or just add one (or a few) strokes at a time.
If you design a character to fill the whole canvas, it will be too big, so please refer to other glyphs. Please follow the guidelines below according to the kind of glyph it is.
(In the past, we recommended designing certain appropriate glyphs to fill the 200 × 200 canvas but this is no longer the case)
GlyphWiki makes it simple to design kanji glyphs compared to designing a normal TrueType-format font, but even so, it might take a considerable bit of time to design a good-looking glyph. Indeed, it is a bit of an art, so you may wish to get advice (look at User:kzhr’s page for some). At some point in the future, as soon as information is collected to some extent, there may be a dedicated page concerning the skill of designing them.
On the right third of the glyph editor is the part reference column. When you input the relevant glyph you would like to use as a part (or a part of) in the “部品検索” [“Part reference”] text box and click “検索” [“Reference”], the related characters and derived parts will be searched out and put into the column. Also, you can enter the names of group pages and user pages (there is no need to input “Group:” or “User:”). There are four “リスト” [“List”] buttons lined up under this, in which you can find quite a few commonly-used parts.