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Every new font is a new challenge, a new way to go off the rails. I love that blank first screen, as the bricks load for a new attempt. I always start out with high hopes, and then the inevitable compromises come. How I love Fontstruct. It's so damn hard.
This one is looking like one of your best, sir. And is that really an italic!? Bring on the full family!
Nah, it's a faux-italic, courtesy Photoshop.
I was in a bit of a funk over this one. Looking at it this morning it does look rather better than I thought it did. Press on with the dreaded caps.
Here's the brick (in four rotations) I most lust after. In this font it would get round having to decide upon a too-small but correctly-shaped cap or a better-proportioned height but ugly shoulders.
Drums fingers on desk...
Case in point: cap S: isn't it a shame to have to do horizontal rather than diagonal? If I had those bricks I could do it! Winge! Bleat! Double moan!
How long! How long o Lord!
How did you overlap two bricks into the same box?
Is there a whole new world I've not yet discovered?
Yes, brickstacking. It's a technique first discovered by Williaum, since departed our ranks. It exploits a Fontstruct saving glitch, and it's mindbogglingly useful for smoothing off harsh transitions.
Align two different bricks one directly above the other. Highlight both, and move them both up one brickspace. Deselect. Highlight the top brick, move it back down one place. It will obliterate the brick under it. Control-Z twice. If you've done it right, both bricks will magically reappear, occupying the same brickspace.
It can be done vertically or horizontally, and takes some trial and error to figure out what will and won't work. You can combine three (possibly more) bricks, but that's deep magic I won't go into here.
Only two drawbacks: how your browser is configured can affect whether you can do it or not. On my work computer, I can't copy stuff to the clipboard and paste back in; I suspect that's also why brickstacking won't work on the office machine. And probably a good thing too!
Second drawback: It's not possible to copy a brickstacked glyph and paste it back in again. The stacks go haywire. Which means every glyph that contains stacks (most of the glyphs in this font contain six, some more) must be laboriously reconstructed. Suits those of us who tend towards the obsessive/compulsive...
It's instructive to ponder why this design has given me grief. Of course there are unfortunate choices: I will insist on attempting things there just aren't the bricks to do! Hence the problems with cap J and Ww in both cases. X is always problematical if you're going to flirt with diagonality. (Is that a word? If it isn't it needs to be invented, so there.)
I'll be happy when there are enough (straight edge) bricks to cope with a design that's start point is in the brickspace or traverses it. Hmm. It's hard to express what I mean. These thick-thin designs cause problems where they traverse the grid. Perhaps that's the way to put it. It shows up in the glyphs I've mentioned. Nearly all the thick-thin fonts I've made have had to adapt to one brickless chasm or another. The brick set I'm proposing will go a long way towards filling the gaps.
Your style is just getting more and more refined. Love it.
I've asked Meek for the same small triangular corner bricks. I'm also waiting in anticipation. They would be useful in almost everything. The convex polygon can easily be created in 2x space by using brick overlapping.
"I will insist on attempting things there just aren't the bricks to do!" Me too. That's all just part of the fun!
Invaluable knowledge Intaglio. Much appreciated. Pandora has just had her box opened. Now all we need are the following Glyphs and we're into a new era, and everyones' happy.
Please feel FREE to add shapes. Then if we all put pressure on they may buckle! I'l be attaching the jpeg to every Font I design.
Stop me if you've heard this one before! :-)
@Djnippa: in FontStruct we already had some discussions about new bricks being implemented - you can find them here and here - as at the very beginning the brick set consisted only of 97 elements instead of the current 159. I think you may find those discussions interesting.
I've found myself in the need of some of the bricks you propose, especially those in rows 2 and 3, but I'm still against new additions.
Is there really a brick limitation considering beautiful and complex creations like Intaglio's?
P.S. Bricks in the last row are already available: now you know what I mean when I say that there too many bricks! :-)
I know I'm molesting a scab I've picked at before, but scabs just have to be picked, don't they.
Meek unleashed mayhem when he added the half-bricks. Speaking of Pandora, I wonder if he knew the grief he was bringing upon himself....
The immediate problem he has is how to add more bricks without the toolbox becoming unwieldy. The "my bricks" bit doesn't work because it doesn't increase in size as you add bricks. I use every brick under the sun (well, not quite) and the personalised brickbox quickly becomes useless. Besides which, the bricks appear in the toolbox in whichever order you lay them down. I rarely start two designs the same way, so they are always jumping around all over the place.
My vote is either to dump the personalised brickbox or make it expand dynamically as you add bricks. Which may require a tricky bit of a programming for an indifferent result.
Maybe the sub-menus off tools method used by Adobe in Phshop InD and Illustr could be the way to go, if the idea hasn't been copyrighted to death.
That way you could have a main brick and then all its rotations would be available in a sub menu off it. Once they are used on the grid, perhaps these sub-menu bricks could appear in another palette (groan!) which would become a free-floating version of the current personal brickbox -- with the important proviso that you could hide/reveal it with a hotkey.
I can see why (to us impatient types) Mr Meek is dragging the chain. He doesn't want to gum up a sweetly running engine. Except that the engine is running on 96 gasoline and it should be running on ethanol.
@em42: I can understand your reluctance to fix an unbroken engine. But I'd be ecstatic if I could generate serifs and whatnot that consistently cross the borders without having to change shape.
There needs to be an FS forum where certain topics could be discussed, especially the recurring ones. More bricks, for instance.
I agree, inti. The used brick box is something I never use because of the order-of-use placement of the bricks in there. I make sure I use the full square as the first brick so that I can just push 1 to get back to it, but other than that, I always go to the full brick list for the rest of the bricks because I know how far down the list the brick I want is located. I have become so adept at creating the four brick stacks for internal rounder for the two shallow 30° bricks (NW, NE, SW, SE) that I can do all four in under 30 seconds.
Speaking of brick stack, it needs to become a feature. Alt+Click on a brick with another brick to generate an OR stack (the one we currently undo twice for), Ctrl+Click for a XOR stack (the difference of the two stacked bricks), Shift+Click (see below), leaving Alt+Ctrl+Click, Alt+Shift+Click, Ctrl+Shift+Click, and A+C+S+Click for future expansion.
Another feature: brick rotation (90° only). Why have four half-diagonals when one would do just fine, rotated four ways? Shift+Click on a brick to rotate it 90° clockwise (Shift+DoubleClick for 90° CCW rotation).
Another feature, of sorts, to add: Ctrl+Shift+Z for redo. Ctrl+Y is an uncomfortable key combination...at least for my fingers.
I once wrote a simple Windows flash card program to teach myself Japanese words. It read a list of inputs from a text file, each line containing a bunch of parameters for each word (type, difficulty, etc.) and displayed it on screen in a random order depending on the options selected by the user (i.e., me) with the words with higher and higher difficulty level appearing more and more frequently. This far the application was easy to program and it did what it was supposed to very well. After just a few days of use, I realized that I knew some words better than other and sought to reduce the difficulty level down, on the fly, of those known words (or promote up the ones I needed more repetition of). + or - on the number pad to get it done. That simple bit of addition made the program require a lot of long-forgotten mathematics to create the promotion/demotion algorithm, getting which to function properly made me forget a lot more words than the app. got me to memorize, proving counter-productive in the end. To this day I am not sure if I got the math right. Anyway, the point being, I realize that what appears as a simple addition to the program may be a difficult programming to pull off. I want more, of course, but I am also happy with as-is.
Thanks for listening.
I can see you think about this topic as much as I do, thal. Interface design is a very interesting area, isn't it.
I do a lot of things by hotkey in my work life, but it requires a fair level of geekrancy to learn them all. Some of my co-workers almost never use keys to access functions, and I don't know how they manage, but they do. (Slowly!)
For them the mouse-driven commands are their access into the programs.
In Fontstruct I've only bothered to learn a few of the hotkeys. The interface is so simple to use I haven't (yet) felt driven to nerd myself up. I'm sure it's that simplicity Mr Meek wants to retain. So that somebody entirely new to the site can quickly and easily figure out what to do.
It's a not-insignificant challenge: how to increase the features of Fontstruct without eating up the screen or making it hostile to newbs.
No wonder the upgrade is taking forever.
Happy new year everyone. I just wanted to say, I am reading this and thanks for all the ideas. The order of the bricks in MyBricks will be sortable at some point and the brick selection area will be redesigned. Sorry Em42, I really respect your position but there will be more bricks appearing at some point.
Regarding hotkeys. There's going to be an update on them soon. Basically we're going to drop the modifier keys (shift on the mac and control on the pc) so they work consistently across browsers. Don't worry if you're used to the modifier keys though, most shortcuts should continue work if you press them anyway. More on that soon.
Happy New Year, Rob (and everybody). Don't worry, if new bricks are added, I will take advantage of them for sure!
I got another suggestion, just to add more entropy to the discussion. :-)
OK, let's have more bricks, but then the main usability issue of having hundreds of bricks is retrieving them in the toolbox.
Maybe the toolbox could contain only the bricks defined by users in an editor that allows basic transformations (like rotation or flip) and boolean operations of basic shapes. This way each user could get only the bricks he needs in the brick toolbox, and the FontStruct interface would basically remain the same (apart from the brick editor that might pop up in a different window).
Well, anyway, I'm really curious about the new features that will be implemented.
Packed with dynamic tension, Uptake is an exciting and characterful but also eminently usable sans.
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