Brick by brick: News about FontStruct
Posts from Rob Meek (meek)
Brick in a square, brick in a square, brick in a square … Until today this was the FontStructors’ collective mantra.
Now, with the introduction of “nudging”, you can push any selected bricks off their home grid squares – up to half a square in any direction. For now, these nudges are in quarter square increments.
There are menu commands for this (Menu > Modify > Nudge) which will become active once you’ve made a selection, but most people will probably find the keyboard shortcuts easier (hold down shift and then use the arrow keys).
I think this will open up a whole new world of exciting possibilities for the endlessly inventive FontStruct community.
Solving the Macaroni Conundrum
Even before the launch of FontStruct I was aware of the limitations of shapes such as the “macaroni” bricks on the grid. When building with them, you are limited in the ways you can connect – you can only ever “turn” in one direction. Such bricks demand some freedom from the grid. Today, with the introduction of nudging, we liberate the macaroni.
I think nudging will legitimate the addition of more new bricks with similar properties in the future.
The feature is in “alpha” and is available in “Expert Mode” only.
Also, you cannot make composite bricks out of nudged components (or rather they won’t compose as you might hope).
Another fantastic competition is over, and the FontStructing community has once more surpassed itself in energy and invention.
Congratulations to everyone who took part. I hope it was as much fun to participate as it was to watch.
Judging was a pleasure, but also a painful process since we can only have three winners. Here they are.
1) fs lost by EthProductions
This was a clear winner for all judges, and also the “people’s favourite” as chosen by the community.
“[this was] my favorite … on all levels: creativity, execution, usability, and that x-factor: pure delight.” wrote Stephen Coles, while Paul Bokslag went into more detail:
There have been other maze-based fontstructions, such as zlabyrinths eYe/FS by elmoyenique and Mazey by lldaddy, but in fs lost ETHproductions has not only made a set of beautiful and interesting glyphs, reminiscent of seventies multiline fonts, he has also managed to create a very useable font for puzzle sections of magazines, newspapers and themed publications. Each glyph connects to the next, making it possible for editors to instantly generate unique customised mazes, every word being a new challenge.
2) Fraline by Upixel
Exquisite and coherent attention to detail attracted the judges to this gothic gem. Stephen Coles wrote:
I’ve seen a lot of Blackletter on FontStruct because the angled bricks are so well-suited for Fraktur construction, but Fraline is one of the few beauties that takes the suitability of the tool to another level.
3) NCD Deconium SC Black Serif Inlines by djnippa
djnippa strikes a perfect jazz-age chord in this glimpse of a larger family. Stephen Coles wrote:
This is an excellent example of a historical typographic style (the Art Deco shaded inline) that is ideal for the FontStruct environment. Nothing is too forced here, and I like that.
Congratulations to all three prizewinners! They will be contacted about their prizes shortly.
All the judges had very long shortlists and well over 20 other FontStructions were pushing hard for a place in the top 3. There will be many inline top picks in the coming weeks.
All the judges praised db TwoLines by beate. Paul Bokslag wrote:
The inline in this font is certainly not an afterthought that simply follows the shape of the glyph. Letterform and inline are two separate voices, each singing their own individual melody, but in perfect harmony with each other. This synthesis and the script-like character of the inline that connects certain glyphs, give this font a playful dynamic unlike any other and the samples illustrate that really well.
G1 Explo by geneus1, ztainless eye/FS by elmoyenique, RM Celtic Inline by p2pnut and AT Steglo by architaraz also all featured prominently in the judges’ feedback. Here is a collective showing of some of the judges’ favorites:
You can also download a printable version here.
Stephen Coles is an honorary FontStruct staff member, writer, typographer. Editor of Fonts In Use, Typographica, and The Mid-Century Modernist. He lives in Oakland & Berlin.
Paul Bokslag is a Dutch-born artist living and working in Ireland. He specializes in papercuts and you can learn more about his fascinating work, including his use of FontStructions, on his website: paulbokslag.com. Paul is also known as the fontstructor four.
Rob Meek designs, develops and runs FontStruct. He is also the lead developer for Fonts In Use.
I’m looking forward to the next competition already. As always, theme suggestions in the comments are welcome.
Time for our first competition of 2014, with the theme “inline”.
An inline font is one which is characterized by one or more white lines or spaces running inside its strokes. These white interior spaces provide decoration and depth, and they’re often associated with engraved or otherwise hand-tooled letters. Multilinear or polyline fonts can also be described as “inline”.
For this competition we’d like you to design an inline FontStruction.
If you’re unsure what an inline font is there’s a great page linking to categorized examples of inline fonts over at FontShop. And here are a few examples of existing inline FontStructions to help you get the idea:
Credits: From top, wavelength by four, blinker by four, Snowcat by four, “in the queue” (five years later I finally got the pun) by CommandZed , “Field Day” by four, signo by kix, AT Liniya by architaraz, “White Knight” by four, chozen by ishoppejon, Spacerock Biline by LexKominek and “Toothpaste OF” by funk_king)
Remember to tag your entry with “Inlinecomp” before the 7th of February and don’t forget to upload a sample image.
Please read the competition rules below carefully.
Competition Time Period
Tuesday, January 14th 2014 – February 7th, 2014
- You must be a registered FontStruct user.
- Your submission must be an “inline” FontStruction i.e. be characterized by one or more lines interior to the strokes of most of the letters.
- Your submission(s) must be posted and made “public” between January 14th – February 7th 2014. Although you are encouraged to share your submission(s) at any time between these dates, your FontStruction submission(s) must be public (marked “share with everyone”) no later then February 7th at 11pm PST. Additionally, your submission(s) must remain public until February 16th 2014 in order to give the judges enough time to review all qualifying entries.
- Your submission(s) must be tagged with a “Inlinecomp” tag. (For fairness, during the competition time period, no FontStruction with the “Inlinecomp” tag will be awarded a Top Pick or be available for a Featured FontStruction pick.)
- Your submission(s) must be downloadable. If your FontStruction cannot be downloaded, the submission will be disqualified.
- Your submission must be a newly published FontStruction. Simply adding the “Inlinecomp” tag to an already published font is not allowed.
- For each submission, you must post at least one sample image in the comments of the FontStruction.
- No letters in each submission can be MORE THAN 48 bricks high.
- FontStruct cloning is permitted but the judges will be looking for original work.
- You may enter up to three FontStructions to the competition.
- This is a friendly competition. Cheering, favoriting and fun banter is encouraged but cruel and uncivil behavior will not be tolerated.
- No rules regarding licensing. You may choose any license you like for your FontStruction.
Judging and announcing the winners
All qualifying FontStructions will by judged by the FontStruct staff and guest judges, February 8–16th. Three prizewinners will be chosen. One of these will be the FontStructors’ Favorite. Winners will be announced in a FontStruct Blog post on February 18th.
UPDATE 17.01.2014 The judging panel will be: Stephen Coles from Typographica, Fonts in Use and countless other exciting places; Papercut artist and inline Fontstructor extraordinary Paul Bokslag AKA “four”; and FontStruct creator Rob Meek.
Each winner will receive
In addition, all winners will have their winning FontStructions posted as Featured FontStructions for two weeks after the winners are announced.
The valid entry with the greatest number of legitimate favorites at 11pm PST on February 7th, 2014 will be one of the three prizewinners.
Spread the Word
Tell your friends. The button floating above every FontStruction is a really quick and easy way to point your friends and followers to your work. Maybe you can drum up some more s for your entry in that way, or entice some novice FontStructors into the game.
If you have questions just add them as comments to this post.
Let’s get FontStructing!
It’s been another wonderfully FontStructive year. FontStruct celebrated it’s fifth birthday and it’s one millionth registration! Over 750,000 FontStructions have now been created and over 30,000 shared in our gallery. Together we’re creating a unique library of geometric type, and I’m confident we’re far from finished yet.
In 2013 we added a number of new features – a scaleable grid, an export to Glyphs function, and some new licensing options – and we held another hugely-successful competition with “Connected Script”.
Thanks again FontShop!
I’m delighted to announce continuing support for FontStruct in 2014 from our principal and founding sponsor FontShop. Without discussing specifics I can assure you all that, thanks to FontShop, more new features, improvements and competitions are planned for the new year.
FontStructors, wherever you are, best wishes for the holiday season!
FontStruction image credits: “Lush Capitals” by “laynecom”, “C is for Cookie” by “four” and “HCSnow” by “macossin”.
FontStruct is a wonderful free tool for creating usable, modular typefaces. Sometimes however you may find yourself reaching its limits. If you want control over kerning, vertical metrics, OpenType features or cubic béziers you need to reach for an additional tool. Until now there was just one way to do this: You download your FontStruction as a TrueType font and then edit that font in the desktop font editor of your choice.
This week we’re introducing a great new option for Mac users in partnership with the guys from Glyphs.app.
With the new “Export to Glyphs” feature you can download or export your designs in the .glyphs format used by the Glyphs desktop font editor. One significant advantage over editing a TrueType is that the individual bricks are included in the file and can be edited with complete freedom. You also get cubic béziers (rounder circles!) and access to all the advanced editing features that Glyphs has to offer.
You can choose to download your font files as .glyphs files from the download page, or use the new Export -> “Glyphs” file option from the menu in the FontStructor.
If you’re a Mac user and would like to give Glyphs.app a try, you can download a free 30-day trial from glyphsapp.com. To get an idea on how to work with Glyphs, see their “Getting Started” page, and take a look at the short tutorial videos. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the “Glyphs forum”.
The above image shows a clone of “zapphire eYe/FS” by “elmoyenique” being edited in Glyphs.
Below you can see the individual bricks waiting, all ready to be tweaked, swapped out and generally transmogrified.
FontStruct continues to be used to introduce students to the process of typographic creation in schools, colleges and universities all over the world.
This summer, the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin is hosting the exhibition ‘ON-TYPE: Texts on Typography’. For the supporting programme, Bernard Stein and Florian Hardwig organized a special event about teaching type design. They invited three type designers to present their respective approach to teaching. On July 24th, Martina Flor, Martin Wenzel and Dan Reynolds talked about their preferred methods and tools.
As an interlude, Florian Hardwig showed student work created at HBK Braunschweig. Florian has been offering FontStruct workshops for several years now, as part of his introductory typography course. “What I like most about FontStruct is that beginners can quickly go through all relevant steps of font creation, without getting lost in details. On one hand, trying their own hands at it teaches the students more respect for typefaces and their designers. On the other, it lowers the barriers to entry into type design, when they realize that it’s not some magic, and that they can make their own font within hours.”
Jakob Grommas designed a large-sized poster, showcasing selected FontStructions from the Braunschweig workshops.
Thanks to Florian and his students for sharing their work with us.
P.S.: ON–TYPE is on display until August 11th. If you happen to be in Berlin, grab your last chance to see it this weekend!
We added three new licensing options to FontStruct today:
- The FontStruct License
- The FontStruct Non-Commercial License
- An All Rights Reserved “No Download” Option
The FontStruct Licenses: Control over distribution
We’re introducing two brand new licenses produced especially for FontStruct. Like the existing Creative Commons licenses these allow FontStructors to share their fonts as free downloads. Downloaders are free to use these fonts either commercially or non-commercially depending on which of the two is used. What’s new and different is that both FontStruct licenses prohibit redistribution of the downloads by anyone apart from the designing FontStructor. If you share your work using these licenses, people may not, for example, put your FontStruction on a CD of free fonts without your permission, or offer your FontStruction for download from their website without your permission.
Over the past five years, countless FontStructions have spread virally, appearing as downloads all over the web, especially as part of large font repositories such as dafont.com or fonts101.com. I know some users enjoy this viral spread and if you do, you should continue to use the appropriate Creative Commons licenses.
If however you want to exercise some control over how your designs are distributed, and if you want to ensure that people always come to your FontStruction page at FontStruct.com to get the latest version of your design, then you should try the new FontStruct licenses. There are at least three strong arguments for asking people to come to the original source here at FontStruct.com to download your designs:
- At FontStruct, they will always get the latest version rather than something outdated that somebody down- and uploaded 3 years ago.
- At FontStruct, they will have the opportunity to enter into dialog with you, the designer. They might tell you what they are using your font for, they might request some customization, or maybe just give you some feedback.
- It is always good for the FontStruct project to have more visitors coming to our site.
Note that the new FontStruct licenses do not prohibit other websites from offering FontStructions as downloads by linking back to the relevant FontStruct download page.
The new FontStruct licenses have been reviewed by a legal professional.
Have a look at examples of the non-commercial and the standard versions.
The All Rights Reserved “No Download” option
We know for some of you the two new FontStruct licenses don’t go far enough. You may enjoy showing your work and sharing it with the FontStruct community but you may not wish to share your FontStruction as a download. Maybe you sell a version of your work elsewhere, or plan to do so in the future, or perhaps you have made a FontStruction for a client who does not wish it to be shared as a download.
For this reason, we are also introducing a new “All Rights Reserved” licensing option which basically means others can look but can’t download.
I hope the majority of FontStructors will continue to share their work as downloads using the other licenses, but I also hope this new option will encourage some FontStructors to reveal some of their precious, hidden masterpieces by sharing them on the site. With almost 700,000 FontStructions in our database, only about 27,000 are shared. We’d like to see more of the iceberg.
I just want my font to be free for others to use
If you want to open-source your design, and make it free for all kinds of uses, you should choose one of the existing Creative Commons (CC) license options.
Choose one of the non-commercial licenses if you don’t want people using your designs for money-making projects without your permission. Choose one of the no-derivatives licenses to prevent other designers from cloning your work. Cloning is a wonderful way to share, teach and develop collaborative font designs, but occasionally people publish unaltered or minimally tweaked clones under new names. It’s difficult to stop this unethical practice, so think carefully before choosing a license which allows cloning.
Most FontStructors come here to have fun and create and share their designs, not to plough through pages of legalese. But when you reach a point where you see your designs maturing, your character sets growing, and you find your FontStructions being used in earnest by others, you may want to spend some time thinking about your choice of license.
I strongly encourage everyone to read the updated FAQ article on licensing.
Edit August 5th 2013: We’ve also since added support for the CC0 Public Domain Dedication “No Rights Reserved”.
Five years ago on April 1st, 2008 FontShop launched FontStruct.
Since then we’ve had almost 800,000 confirmed registrations and more then 650,000 FontStructions have been created.
Every day, designers use FontStruct to create new work, or as a resource for finding grid-based, modular fonts. FontStructions are in widespread use in projects all over the world. We’re also especially happy to have seen FontStruct emerge as a widely-used tool in typographic education.
Over the past five years, cautiously but steadily, new features have been added to FontStruct and we intend to continue with this development in the five years to come. To celebrate our birthday looking forward, we wanted to launch a new feature today.
For the first time you can now adjust the proportions of the FontStruct grid itself by scaling it horizontally and/or vertically. Make sure you are in “Expert Mode” then you will see the new controls in the “Filters” palette (Menu > View > Filters).
Grid scaling allows you to define your own brick proportions, opening up a myriad of new creative possibilities. The most obvious use for the feature would be as an aid in creating extended and condensed fonts, but I have no doubt the proven genius of the FontStruct hive-mind will come up with some wonderful and unforeseen applications.
Grid scaling is a feature which was discussed and planned before the initial FontStruct release but just never made it until today. I’m excited to see what FontStructors can do with it.
NOTE: Some people have already noted that the new feature also allows you to effectively increase the zoom level by a factor of 2. I hope that is useful to people with small and low-resolution screens, BUT the zoom was limited for a reason, so be careful with the scale of FontStructions. Working at high-resolution can get slow and frustrating, you are more likely to have technical problems – with saving for example – and you are likely to lose detail in your downloaded fonts.
Thanks to all FontStructors past and present for filling the grid with your modular wonders over the last five years, and a special thanks as always to our generous sponsors FontShop.
Good night and happy FontStructing.
Happy new year everyone! Some great news to begin the new year is confirmation of the continuing sponsorshop of FontStruct by FontShop, the original independent font retailer. This means that server costs, and the ongoing support and development of new features on FontStruct are already guaranteed right through 2013.
FontShop launched FontStruct in 2008 and their generous funding of this free design service demonstrates their special relationship with the global community of designers and typographers. With over 600.000 genuine registrations and a similar number of FontStructions in the database (about 23.000 are publicly shared) FontStruct has established itself as a unique resource for modular, grid-based type. We’re particularly pleased to see it being used in schools, universities and art colleges around the world as an introductory teaching tool. FontStructions are also in common use in all kinds of design projects around the world.
Thanks to all FontStructors for sharing your creative energy, and helping to build the incredible typographic assemblage we see growing each day in our gallery. And thanks to FontShop, we can look forward to more wondrous creations in 2013.
Web Font bug fixed
Many FontStruct users have expressed a wish to try and use FontStructions as “web fonts” (typefaces used to display part of a specific website). The most convenient way to do this for FontStructions is to use a free online tool such as Font Squirrel to prepare the fonts in the appropriate formats. Unfortunately, until recently, this conversion process was not working.
Now, thanks to repeated prodding by FontStruct users and the kind help of the guys at Font Squirrel, we have identified and fixed a significant bug in the FontStruct font generator the “Font Mortar”. FontStructions should now work with the free-to-use “@font-face generator” from Font Squirrel to produce working web fonts. Their generator is an extremely well thought-out and useful tool which I would highly recommend.
Ideas for the next Competition?
The last competition was so incredible, I’d like to launch the next one soon. If you’d like to suggest a concept or theme for a FontStruct competition please let us know in the comments to this post.
Thanks and Happy FontStructing!
We activated 40 new bricks today. First up are eight gorgeous and gothic “Fin” bricks (above) as suggested by truth14ful. truth14ful also requested the four new “Kite” bricks …
… the 8 new “Shard” bricks …
… and 4 “Propeller” bricks.
Thanks for such a wonderful group of suggestions truth14ful! These are all simple and beautiful geometric shapes which logically complement the existing brick set. I don’t think any of them could be created with the current compositing or stacking options.
The so-called “house” bricks could be made as composite bricks, but it’s convenient not to have to do that. djnippa and others have been clamouring for house-shaped bricks for ages. Sorry its taken so long!
Finally will.i.ૐ suggested these small corner bricks, and logic demands them!
All of the new bricks shown here were requested in the suggestions thread on the unofficial user forums. Thanks again to demonics for taking the initiative there.
Changing the brick palette (All Bricks and My Bricks)
Despite the growing number of bricks, we decided to keep the brick palette more or less as it is for now. It’s simple and does the job. But we have added a new option to resize the palette horizontally. This may help users who have a very large number of bricks in the ”My Bricks” window to get an overview.