All About Bricks
First things first. We’ve added four new bricks. With the new possibilities offered by FontStruct 2.0, some quarter ring shapes (the so-called “macaroni” bricks) make sense and have been requested by several users in contact mails and comment threads like this one, so here they are. Enjoy!
You can see that the B in the image above is a bit mannered. Users have suggested using “2 x 2″ filter settings to connect the macaroni bricks in different ways and avoid such eccentricities. I don’t have much experience with working with 2 x 2 filters myself – it’s a technique that’s been developed and perfected completely by FontStruct community members – but here’s a quick and simple example of how you could use them to join and overlap the macaroni shapes. First a finished letter with the filters set to 2 x 2 and two lengths of macaroni overlapping nicely …
… and then with the filters set to the standard setting of 1 x 1 to demonstrate how the letter is constructed:
Any volunteers willing to write a full tutorial on 2 x 2 filter techniques?
We’ve also done some work to improve the quality of the existing bricks. Some users had observed that certain bricks did not join well in the downloaded fonts. These shapes have been redrawn and should produce better results now. Please let us know about any more poor joins.
We’ve also refurbished the existing ring and punch-cut square shapes to make the circles, if not perfect, at least not quite so dreadful. The main impetus for this was stumbling upon “Oh, it’s not a circle” by Luc Devroye which highlights the “wilted disaster” of the original FontStruct ring shapes. Thanks Luc!
The Order of Things
Finally a short note about the ordering of the bricks in the “All Bricks” palette.
Initially, the ordering was purely intuitive. Shapes were added, in logical groups, simply as they occurred to me with a bit of shuffling based on vague assumptions such as “not many people are really going to want to build fonts with star shapes”. This process continued as FontStruct developed, and as community members asked for new bricks they were appended to the bottom of the palette.
Recently I took a look at what shapes people actually liked to use. See the images below or the detailed breakdown here. The one on the left shows the existing order. The one on the right shows the brick palette sorted according to brick popularity. The pixel (square) is king of course, followed by the quarter circles and the big triangles, then the large circle. The least popular brick of all is the pentagon. If you can bring yourself to wrap your arms around those awkward corners, hug a pentagon today.
Although we won’t completely reorder the brick palette on the basis of these statistics, some reorganisation will take place at some point and I think these stats may help with that. At least they’ve reminded me how important order can be when presenting options in an interface.