Brick by Brick, the FontStruct Blog

Stretching the grid: FontStruct is Five

News | | April 1st, 2013

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.

Grid Scaling

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

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.

FontStruct is Five



  1. funk_king

    Happy Birthday, FontStruct! And many, many continued thanks to Mr. Meek and the folks at FontShop. After all these years, I still love coming to this place and just playing around with these confounding bricks. Thanks for all the joy you have provided to me and my fellow Fontstructers (or is it Fontstructors :) I hope we have many more years together.

    About the new feature – not sure, but it looks like the Filters option has been enhanced so that you can increase or reduce the grid scale. What this means is that if you want to work in high-resolution (large scale projects), you can reduce the scale to see more of the glyph as you work on it. Increasing the grid scale allows you to work in more detail with the bricks as well. This is a very sweet present to give on your birthday. Now I guess we have to show you what we can do with it :)

    funk_king — April 1, 2013 #

  2. Frodo7

    Many happy returns! Time flies quickly. It is a great tool to make fonts – thank you Rob, you’ve done a fantastic job. And it is a nice and friendly community with good people – thank you all, I very much enjoy your company.

    I couldn’t find the new feature, but I didn’t look very hard.

    Happy birthday Fontstruct!

    – Frodo7 — April 1, 2013 #

  3. winty5

    HAPPY B-DAY! YEAH! 5 years of fontstruct fun and friends and happy memories. :)

    winty5 — April 1, 2013 #

  4. Umbreon126

    Congratulations FontStruct :DNow to go mucking around in the features~

    Umbreon126 — April 1, 2013 #

  5. Umbreon126

    It looks like funk_king is right :)

    Umbreon126 — April 1, 2013 #

  6. winty5

    Cool, i’ve been thinking about something like that for FS. Thanks mr.meek, and happy b-day to FS once again!

    winty5 — April 1, 2013 #

  7. elmoyenique

    Happy birthday FS!

    elmoyenique — April 1, 2013 #

  8. four

    Happy Fifth Anniversary Fontstruct!

    four — April 2, 2013 #

  9. Abneurone

    @ Rob MEEK and all friendstructors : 5 Years ! and 3 years for me, it could not seem evident, due to my numerous complaints and crisis here, but i lived my most beautiful moments working with this EXTRAORDINARY software and then sharing with this community which for a large part is very kind to me. Even my detractors played their role in the constant refinement of my quest, pushing sometimes myself outside of my own boundaries to see how they needed to be reinforced or expanded.
    A large part of my Art would have simply never existed without the FONTSTRUCTOR (the typographic part represents more than 800 pages in TESTAMENT CONCENTRANT book now !), so dear ROB MEEK i will be grateful forever for this, my nevrotic obsession about Top Picks (personal nevrosis about Father’s recognition) is nothing compared to this. When i tried to work with Illustrator, i didn’t even could go to 10 minutes without understanding how i could use it! The FS bricks sytem is a pure genius idea, it reminds our childhood constructions and has also room for either a modular pre*thought-organized process or (as in my case) a more intuitive, progressive and lyrical approach which permits to work with accidents to open new inexpected ways which take hours and hours, sometimes months of development and refinement, but are worth the hard work when the “new esthetic” becomes effective and solid and “works” even if sometimes many do not think it because they’re not used to be confronted to something which tries to push the barriers of their standards.
    If i only had one wish for the future, maybe increase the resolution of the different FS previews to be more adapated to overdetailed works like mine ? I know you also have to make compromises with the global server and system capacity, but maybe there’s still some room left…


    – Abneurone — April 2, 2013 #

  10. cablecomputer

    There’s nothing I could say, except:
    Happy Birthday Fontstruct! Long live FS :)

    cablecomputer — April 2, 2013 #

  11. demonics

    Oh, what a wonderful celebration! I’m on holiday right now (with no computer, just iPhone) so I will have to try out the new feature when I get back. Thanks so much FS!!

    demonics — April 2, 2013 #

  12. FontBlast

    Happy Birthday FontStruct! I’ll try out the new feature with my next font, hopefully will have fun.

    FontBlast — April 2, 2013 #

  13. FontBlast

    Also, remember to check out FSCollab’s birthday shoutout, if not already. The password is letscollab, we really hope to see some wondergul enteries!

    FontBlast — April 2, 2013 #

  14. architaraz

    Happy Birthday Fontstruct & Congratulations to all Fontstructors!

    architaraz — April 2, 2013 #

  15. winty5

    As always, i’m like AFT. Most of my 20,000 or so downloads on dafont would not have been possible without FS. I have never ceased to have been amazed by the wonderful possibilities the Fontstructor contains. I really have no business here as my fonts are nothing compared to thalamic’s or beate’s or architarz’s or demonics’s or AFT’s, i’m just a bored 10 year old who makes junky pixel fonts.

    winty5 — April 2, 2013 #

  16. Abneurone Fluid Types

    @Winty: when i was ten, i was just jumping everywhere pretending i was Spiderman or the 6 billions dollars man! and i was the first in class! For me the “real” thing began only around 13-14 years, and i think it was early, but nothing compared to you. Don’t forget you are playing a major role here now, you made your special place, and despite your age you’re much more mature than most, just continue to be as you are and progress like you are, you’re just doing well.

    Abneurone Fluid Types — April 2, 2013 #

  17. ETHproductions

    Happy birthday FS!

    This new grid setting is very useful in a lot of ways. I’ve been thinking something like this would be a great addition to fs.

    I created a font using the grid settings, and they don’t hold outside the fontstructor, even when downloaded. So, even if someone uses the settings to create a font, it seems they won’t appear on the font itself. Is there a way to fix this, or am I missing something?

    ETHproductions — April 2, 2013 #

  18. Rob Meek (meek)

    @Eth. It’s a new feature, so there may be some glitches but the grid settings should be consistent across FontStructor, elsewhere on and for downloads. It could be a caching issue.

    Rob Meek (meek) — April 2, 2013 #

  19. Abneurone Fluid Types

    This new grid settings feature could be very useful to enlarge overdetailed fonts like mine “initially” and have them with less bad resolution on preview and download. But the spacing seems to become a bit erratic in the private experiment i made.

    Abneurone Fluid Types — April 2, 2013 #

  20. opipik

    I also created font using this and it not displayed.

    opipik — April 2, 2013 #

  21. Rob Meek (meek)

    @opipik. Try clearing your browser cache. That might help. Also try making a small change to your font and save it again.

    Rob Meek (meek) — April 2, 2013 #

  22. funk_king

    regarding the new feature/functionality: i’m not certain it was the intention that reducing or enlarging the grid would physically change the font characterisitics. i think it is mainly to get more of the glyph to appear on your screen if it is high-resolution or to work in greater detail by increasing the size of the grid. although you can change the grid settings to distort your font, it only changes the appearance on screen while in the fontstructor and not after it is saved and closed; your grid setting are saved, but that’s it. so i think this is mainly a visual tool that does not impact the physical characteristics of the font. changing the brick size settings on the filter dialog will change the bricks’ physical appearance. i think :)

    funk_king — April 2, 2013 #

  23. Umbreon126

    Well it’s a filter, and the filters that were already implemented did change the way the font appeared, so maybe it’s technical difficulties.

    Also, the grid stretching to something like 1 x 0.5 or similar would produce square shapes in halved rectangle units but even more angles to make possible in FontStructing, or am I thinking about this wrong? (For example, a 45 degree angle would get compressed horizontally or vertically and produce a new angle, the degree measure of which I have no clue, but already has had it’s own brick sets and can already be made through composites… would this also doing something to composite possibilities, visually?)

    Umbreon126 — April 2, 2013 #

  24. demonics

    funk_king — While it’s true that if you proprtionally scale the grid down so it is still equivalent to 1:1 (e.g. 0.75:0.75) it will appear the same, when the grid is scaled to a non-square proportion (e.g. 0.75:1.25), it should alter the font’s appearance: am I wrong?

    demonics — April 3, 2013 #

  25. Rob Meek (meek)

    @funk_king The new feature allows you to change the proportions of the bricks so you can do things that were not possible before. It was not intended as a kind of extra zoom (we could just have extended the zoom limits), although you can use it for that purpose.

    Rob Meek (meek) — April 3, 2013 #

  26. p2pnut

    Happy Birthday FontStruct

    Thank you for the four happy years I have spent enjoying the greatest program ever – and the community that makes it even greater.

    Cheers Robb – Here’s to the next five years.

    p2pnut — April 3, 2013 #

  27. funk_king

    thanks for the clarification. makes sense and makes the feature really awesome.

    funk_king — April 3, 2013 #

  28. opipik

    @meek: I’m using laptop.

    opipik — April 4, 2013 #

  29. Abneurone Fluid Types

    Hi, at my office we are on Firefox and not Google Chrome as at my Home. It seems that the new feature (grid filter) is not recognized and not included when opening Fontstructor on Firefox

    Abneurone Fluid Types — April 5, 2013 #

  30. ETHproductions

    The grid stretching is working much better now. Thanks, meek!

    @AFT: I’m on Firefox, and the grid filter works for me.

    ETHproductions — April 5, 2013 #

  31. elmoyenique

    I’m with AFT: the grid stretching don’t appears running Firefox 20.0 with Mac OS X 10.6.8. In Opera, Safari and Chrome all the new features are OK.

    elmoyenique — April 5, 2013 #

  32. Wolf Lambert

    Well, I like FontStruct wasn’t an April Fools joke :D
    This feature’s really cool! Very handy, I’m sure I’m gonna use it.

    Wolf Lambert — April 6, 2013 #

  33. Rob Meek (meek)

    @elmo, @AFT Firefox works for me. Clearing your browser cache might help.

    Rob Meek (meek) — April 8, 2013 #

  34. Abneurone Fluid Types

    @meek : Thanks, maybe it might, even if i think i ‘ve already done this without success (i’m not at my office right now), yes, but i think i’ll wait now untill you find a way to make that what we really do in fontstructor while scaling (including spacing) is preserved after download. For now it does not work. It would be such a marvellous creative tool if it could.

    Abneurone Fluid Types — April 8, 2013 #

  35. thalamic

    @winty: Don’t be discouraged or disheartened. Everyone starts somewhere. For a ten-year old, you are doing great². Keep doing whatever it is you enjoy. Soon there will come a time when you will be giving this exact same advice to some other ten-year old because they look up to you for a good reason. You are awesome. Don’t let anyone else tell you different, not even yourself.

    thalamic — April 8, 2013 #

  36. winty5

    @thalamic: Awww, thanks! :)

    winty5 — April 8, 2013 #

  37. demonics

    winty5 – 20,000 or so?!?!

    demonics — April 9, 2013 #

  38. winty5

    @demonics: 20,000? I don’t get what you mean.

    winty5 — April 9, 2013 #

  39. winty5

    Ohhh now I get it. sorry for my stupidity.

    Yes, 23,065 as of today, plus 323 downloads on FS. Really, that is nothing compared to what you or aphoria or thalamic or AFT or someone would get if they posted on dafont.

    winty5 — April 9, 2013 #

  40. demonics

    maybe I’ll give it a try!

    demonics — April 9, 2013 #

  41. Abneurone Fluid Types

    @Meek : I made some new tests : it seems that horizontal and linespacing become perturbated as soon as you overcome 1×1 ratio (under things remain normal). The perturbation could be described like this : as if increasing the size of the grid ( and therefore magnifying the glyphs) was “reducing” the linespacing proportionally at the same time and expanding horizontal spacing. For a good result, the horizontal space should be constant and the linesapacing should be INCREASING proportionally instead of reducing.
    I think this feature expresses creatively its best potential in ratios “beyond” 1×1 so i hope this can be fixed one day.

    Abneurone Fluid Types — April 10, 2013 #

  42. Abneurone Fluid Types

    Or, actually i think the linespacing remains the same and it’s the magnification of the grid which makes it not enough. Maybe the coding of horinzontal spacing (which should not expand) and linespacing (which SHOULD expand) has been switched somehow in the feature. I’m not an expert, it’s just an intuition.

    Abneurone Fluid Types — April 10, 2013 #

  43. Abneurone Fluid Types

    Hi, i experimented a lot with the new feature to try and get some control on the “real” download result regarding spacing.
    Actually, you must observe 4 parameters: filters, grid filters, spacing and word spacing, and find the maximum limit beyond which the horizontal and linespacing are no more acceptable, when mixing and adjusting all the 4. But as the fontstructor and FSpreview are lying on the “real” spacing when you begin to stretch the grid, you must make many download tryouts and adjust. THe previews can be indicators though, if you KNOW how they strangely sytematicly “decrease” the horizontal spacing and “increase” the linespacing compared to the “real” effect after download. Since you can manage all this, even if it adds limits to the feature (Goodbye my dreams of high resolution usable fonts), you can still make beautiful things.
    Since my begining here filters have always been one of my most favourite creative tool, i really wanted to profit of this new evolution despite the limitations. I worked on a bunch of fonts remixes of my own fonts in such a strong and unique way they can be worth added to the TESTAMENT series. It’s not only a condensing or expanding story, many glyphs have been redesigned and sometimes filters have also been creatively distorted. I’ll publish them soon. I of course developped them for the result “after” download and i’ll add a little sample to show how the real spacing of the font is, sometimes very different from the FS preview, which i anyway managed to be useful to see well every individual glyph. Sometimes the spacing is looking cool on the preview, but it’s not reality. Hence the samples.

    Abneurone Fluid Types — April 16, 2013 #

  44. SquarePeg

    Five years already!? Wow… Happy birthday, FontStruct! Thanks as always, Messers. Meek and FontShop! :-)

    SquarePeg — April 17, 2013 #

  45. opipik

    It works!

    – opipik — May 4, 2013 #