Brick by Brick, the FontStruct Blog

The FontStruct Blog

Posts from Rob Meek (meek)

Layers and Color

Dear FontStructors,

We are introducing three new features today.

For Everyone: OpenType/CFF Downloads

Strictly speaking this is not a new feature, but hitherto it was Patron-only. From today, all FontStructors will be able to download any appropriately-licensed FontStruction in the OpenType/CFF format. You can read more about the format and its qualities in this earlier blog post.

Layers (Patrons Only)

Layers were a part of the original FontStruct concept, and now, over 13 years later, we’re finally implementing them in the FontStructor.

To access the new Layers window, simply go into Expert Mode and then choose View->Layers from the Menu:

Layers Menu

Each FontStruction starts with one default layer, but you can add up to a total of eight.

Layers can be sorted using drag and drop, renamed, and, of course deleted if they are empty.

Layer visibility can also be toggled, and invisible layers will be excluded from the download. This opens up the possibility of creating guide layers which you keep visible while designing but hide for download.

I’m confident that the our wily Patrons will come up with many ingenious uses for layers, but perhaps the main reason for introducing them is to allow us to introduce something else, something entirely new to FontStruct …

Color Fonts (Patrons Only)

Layers and Colours

For good reasons, most real-world design employs only monochromatic glyphs. There is also plenty of scepticism in global design communities regarding the value of color fonts. Some see them as gimmicky, while others are frustrated that, up until now, for the most part, the colors are “baked-in”, and can’t be changed without editing the font itself.

But, polychromatic fonts do have clear uses: for icon sets for example, for emojis (yes, I know we don’t offer emojis as an option in the FontStructor yet) games and other custom projects.

Most importantly perhaps, color fonts are fun to create and use. I think they are a good match for FontStruct – already the birthplace of so many, wonderfully-extravagant display fonts.

So, with up to eight layers in the FontStructor, you can now work with up to eight separate colors. Simply assign a color to each layer using the color-picker.

Layer Color Picker

You can download your multicolored font from the FontStruction’s download page. The “Richard of York” image above was created using a color font built using FontStruct.

Note that only certain desktop software supports color fonts, and there are a number of competing formats.

The format we are offering initially is called “OpenType SVG”. This format is supported by Windows, OSX, by Sketch, the Affinity software, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, by Paint.NET and by some (but not all!) browsers. Note that OpenType SVG fonts also always contain a monochromatic fallback version of each glyph, and you will always be able to download traditional TrueType and OpenType versions from FontStruct.

This is only the first step in our exploration of color fonts. We hope to add support for other color font formats (such as COLR) in the future to offer wider browser support. We may also add a multi-font download option whereby each layer can be downloaded as a separate font.

Become an FS Patron

As these are “niche” features, it’s likely that we will keep layers and color fonts as patron-only in the medium-term and possibly even long-term. If you are desperate to try out color designs in the FontStructor, remember that you can sign up to be a patron at any time to not only enjoy access to this feature, but also to directly support the ongoing development of FontStruct as a whole.

Thanks

Thanks, as always, to our wonderful sponsors GlyphsApp, and to our treasured Patrons.

Happy FontStructing!

 

 

 

Twenties Competition Results

Dear FontStructors,

Wow! That was amazing. I didn’t think it possible, but you have surpassed yourselves once again.

I’m sorry that it took an extra week to complete this blog post. One major difficulty was simply that there were so many competition entries worthy of recognition. Indeed, many entries merit a blog post all to themselves. I would encourage anyone reading this to browse all the entries directly because they simply cannot all be represented here.

Let’s have a look at a selection of the entries. You’ll find the prizewinners at the very end of the post, but everyone who entered is a champion. Well done!

From top to bottom: Codarte by V. Sarela (Yautja), db Mangold by beate, twentysomething by four, KD Dekorat by architaraz.

– We start with four wonderful, intelligent designs, all of which were a delight to work with as installed fonts. I love the dot details in Codarte.

db Mangold leaves me speechless. I’m guessing the inspiration is Bernhard Antique but this seems to be a completely original and mature design that goes far beyond what I thought was possible with FontStruct. Amazing.

twentysomething is a lovely, light and playful thing which ended up being the FontStructor’s favourite this time around.

KD Dekorat with its maze-like panelling is a beautiful example of how diverse Deco typography can be.

Twenties Comp Samples 2From top to bottom: G1 Decoreus by geneus1, KD Jermaine by architaraz, db Ventica by beate, KD Xxies by architaraz

I’m not sure what G1 Decoreus was inspired by, I’d love to know, but it certainly feels true to the architectural and decorative spirit of the 1920s. Stout and elegant at the same time. I love it.

KD Jermaine is an intricate and pretty multilined deco typeface, but note also the clever XX pun running right through the alphabet.

db Ventica: Um. What? How? ?? Another virtuoso re-FontStruction of an original ’20s typeface, this time, I believe, Fanfare. Amazing!

KD Xxies is yet another fine Deco typeface from architaraz. Note that although I have only used the caps here, there is also a lower case.

From top to bottom: bulbambulAF3630 by jirinvk, tm RenMac by minimum, Caligari by erictom333, Gilded Teatro and Gilded Teatro Double by Haley Wakamatsu (UkiyoMoji Fonts) (japanyoshi).

The inimitable jirinvk created an entire family of graphically strong bulbambuls for the competition, inspired by Gunta Stölzl (1897–1983), the Queen of Bauhaus. Note that the letters in the sample are rotated slightly from the original typeface.

TM RenMac, shown very much out of context here, cleverly takes the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Glaswegian Designer and Architect, and reinterprets it on the FontStruct grid. Thanks for this one miminum!

Caligari is a lovely, messy cutout design which inspired the sample as a whole, while Gilded Teatro forms another little family: A perfect articulation of deco style in two pixel fonts, both a pleasure to work with.

From top to bottom: Noar2 by Galo (galoreporter), G1 Broadwaif by geneus1, ztefan eYe/FS by elmoyenique, Shooting Star by Echo Heo (bluemon).

Deco all the way in the above image.

Noar2 is a classic, condensed, deco typeface with a small-caps lower case, full of subtle and characterful details.

G1 Broadwaif is simply beautiful. There are alternate caps in the lower case.

ztefan eYe/FS will appear again later in this post so I’ll skip that one for now.

Shooting Star is that FontStruction rarity: a legible typeface which can work for copy at medium and smallish sizes. Well done Echo Heo!

 

Twenties Comp Samples

From top: KEM-base by nightpegasus, STRUCTURES by Oli Town (not a competition entry), briste by four, Moderto by V. Sarela (Yautja)

KEM Base is inspired by the work of designer Kem Weber. I enjoy the quirky asymmetry. For me the design is suggestive of early 20th century primitivism.

The beautiful leaf-like “briste” also has an organic character, belying the grid beneath, while right at the bottom you see the ambicase Moderto – a perfectly executed and very legible design inspired by Futura Display.

From Top: OshanDeco by Wataru (Wataru Aiso), ginevra’s typewriter by swash.buckler, (the third typeface in this sample sadly seems to have been deleted from FontStruct since I downloaded it. I think it’s great), strawberry by time.peace.

– A second breakfast decofest in the form of four diverse and perfectly-executed deco designs.

Twenties Comp SamplesFrom Top: Baardusan by Echo Heo (bluemon)ztefan eYe/FS, zergei eYe/FS and zandrine eYe/FS by elmoyenique. Pattern element from Brick Basket Rev2 by zephram (not part of competition).

Some extravagant deco geometry in Baardusan, and then three FontStructions from elmoyenique. I really enjoyed the rich back story to his entries, connecting three art and design movements which marked the 1920s – Bauhaus, Deco and Contstructivism – with their three European capitals, and with three mysterious figures appearing in a series of period photos. When the novel comes out, I will read it. With Zandrine, as with beate’s entries we’re going back into typographic history, perhaps well beyond the 1920s in this case, to Rubens perhaps?

From top: tm The XX by minimum, Russian AG by Frodo7, Twenty-tmchty by m_cm, TwenTwenty by BWM, Frunze Stencil by Frodo7

tm The XX caught the eye of our guest judge, Nick Sherman:

“I love type that pushes the boundaries of how type should work or how it even can be rendered with current digital rendering technology. This typeface does both of those things. In many typical typographic contexts of size and resolution, all the little details of the design turn to mush (the fact that there are specific instructions on how to zoom to see it properly on the FontStruct site is just one such example). But if you have the bravery to set it at gigantic sizes, you can really see how wonderfully bonkers it is. Between the underlying patterns and the variants of each letter, there is also all kinds of potential for cool effects with color and overlaid glyphs.”

Russian AG is an impeccable Rodchenko-inspired slab-serif with cyrillic support.
Twenty-tmchty is a highly conceptual interpretation of the theme – a twenty-by-twenty grid and only twenty unique glyphs covering 66(?) different symbols. So for example, one glyph is used to represent l,u,v,L,U and V. Fascinating!

Twenties Comp Samples

From top: G1 2020 Vision by geneus1, db Questura by beate, NX Chaos by Nyxo8803

Nick was impressed by G1 2020 Vision:

“This typeface occupies a spot among other halftone typefaces like Calypso, Tonal, and especially Process. I’ve always had a fondness for type that plays with halftones, and the fact that this one recreates the effect so effectively within the limitations of FontStruct is admirable. The play on the concept of 20/20 vision by creating a blurred effect is also a nice visual tie-in to the ‘twenties’ theme.”

He liked the “Mexico Olympics vibe” of db Questura and appreciated the full character set, and he also saw something special in NX Chaos:

“At first I was on the fence about including this typeface among the highlights of the ‘twenties’ competition. There were other designs that were executed with more skill, had more complete character support, etc. But I kept coming back to this one because it’s a rare embodiment of pure nihilism in the form of a typeface. It follows a style of glitchy digital graphics right to the brink of complete illegibility, as if to say: ‘Go to hell. I don’t even care if you can read this’. It’s like a font from a cyberpunk nightmare, and sometimes that’s the kind of energy you need when designing in the 2020s.”

Winners

The winners are G1 2020 Vision by geneus1, db Questura by beate and tm The XX by minimum, and, as the FontStructor’s choice, twentysomething by four. Congratulations! You will be contacted in the next few days about your prizes.

Thanks again to everyone who took part.

Happy FontStructing!

Thank You!

To our guest judge for this competition: Nick Sherman. Nick runs HEX a typographic company that makes fonts and websites. He’s a founder and designer of v-fonts.com and Fonts In Use, and art director of the Typographics design festival. Nick is a graduate of the Type@Cooper Extended Program in typeface design and has served on the Type Directors Club board of directors, the Adobe Typography Customer Advisory Board, and the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum artistic board.

To our patrons – those FontStructors who support the ongoing development of the project and help make events like this competition possible.

To our generous sponsors Glyphs producers of the world’s leading desktop font editor for OSX.

Twenties Comp

Dear FontStructors,

Twenties Competition Deco

It’s been a while, too long, since we last raised the gates to unleash FontStructor versus FontStructor in mortal combat.

It’s also been a while since we had a competition, so

Let the bricks be levied!
Let the grid be burnished bright and the curtains drawn!

It’s time to compete.

Competition Brief

We would like you to build one or more FontStructions which are somehow connected to our competition theme.

The theme for this competition is “Twenties” (thank you beate!). We chose it from among many great suggestions, firstly because it’s suggestive of an exciting era in typography, but also because it can be interpreted in a much broader and abstract fashion.

So please interpret the theme as loosely as you wish – it’s there only to inspire, not to confine.

– You might well be inspired by the Art Deco and modernist typography of the 1920s, but you might also choose to work on a 20×20 grid, or you could look to any aspect of our own peculiar decade for inspiration. You could turn your thoughts to the 1820s, the 1720s, or even the first XXs CE.

So, the image at the top of this post is there only for decoration. It does not indicate any expectations or a given direction. You won’t be judged on how “twenties-ish ” your design is.

If you’re really struggling for ideas, you could explore some of our curated Sets, such as “Bauhaus Inspired”, or “Art Deco”.

Competition Time Period

Thursday, 25th March 2021 – Friday 9th April, 2021

Competition Rules

  1. You must be a registered FontStruct user.
  2. Your submission(s) must be posted and made “public” between 25th March 2021 and 9th April, 2021. 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 than 9th April, 2021 at 11pm PST. Additionally, your submission(s) must remain public at least until 17th April 2021 in order to give the judges enough time to review all qualifying entries.
  3. Your submission(s) must be tagged with a “TwentiesComp” tag. (For fairness, during the competition time period, no FontStruction with the “TwentiesComp” tag will be awarded a Top Pick.)
  4. Your submission(s) must be downloadable. If your FontStruction cannot be downloaded, the submission will not be including in the judging.
  5. Your submission must be a newly published FontStruction. Simply adding the “TwentiesComp” tag to an already published font is not allowed.
  6. For each submission, you must post at least one sample image in the comments of the FontStruction.
  7. No letters in each submission can be MORE THAN 48 grid squares high.
  8. FontStruct cloning is permitted but the judges will be looking for original work.
  9. You may enter up to three FontStructions to the competition.
  10. This is a friendly competition. Cheering, favoriting and fun banter is encouraged but cruel and uncivil behavior will not be tolerated.
  11. No rules regarding licensing. You may choose any license you like for your FontStruction. (but it needs to be downloadable!)

Judging and announcing the winners

All qualifying FontStructions will by judged by the FontStruct staff and a guest judge* between April 10th and April 17th. Three prizewinners will be chosen. One of these will be the FontStructors’ Favourite. Winners will be announced in a FontStruct Blog post on Monday April 19th 2021.

*UPDATE: We’re delighted to confirm Nick Sherman as our guest judge for this competition. Nick runs HEX a typographic company that makes fonts and websites. He’s a founder and designer of v-fonts.com and Fonts In Use, and art director of the Typographics design festival. Nick is a graduate of the Type@Cooper Extended Program in typeface design and has served on the Type Directors Club board of directors, the Adobe Typography Customer Advisory Board, and the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum artistic board.

Prizes

Each winner can choose a t-shirt printed with a FontStruction glyph of their choice.

FontStructors’ Favourite

The valid entry with the highest number of legitimate favourites (yes we check) at 11pm PST on 16th April 2021 will be one of the three prizewinners.

Questions?

If you have questions just add them as comments to this post.

May the best FontStruction win.


FontStructions in the image at the top, from innermost to outermost: Cabaret by blu., Half Deco by Wataru Aiso, fs When We Were Young by thalamic and Folletto AllaModa by blu.


FontStruct would like to heartily thank our principal sponsor: Glyphs and our many FS Patrons for supporting FontStruct.

 

Supporting FontStruct: Introducing FS Patrons

Dear FontStructors,

FontStruct – our website, our modular font editor – has always been free to use, and FontStruct will remain free to use for everyone.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, past and present (thank you Glyphs App!), and to our advertisers, we have secure funding to keep the bricks flowing through 2021 and beyond.

But, as this blog post hopes to explain, we have reached a point where we need to look at how the project supports itself financially, in order to keep moving forward.

Today, to try and address our funding challenge, we’re introducing a new micro-sponsorship scheme called “FS Patrons”.

By contributing a small sum (5€ / month, or 55€ annually) you can become what we’re calling an “FS Patron”.

Sold already?! You can subscribe here. Unsure? Read on …

The benefits of being an FS Patron

As an FS Patron, aside from revelling in the happy knowledge that you are directly supporting the FontStruct, you will receive a few tangible and guaranteed benefits:

  • No adverts
  • No nag-screens (We are introducing these for certain FontStruct pages. They will remind you about FS Patrons. You will notice them soon).
  • Optionally, an initimable badge of honour for your avatar.

We also plan to reserve some new features exclusively for Patrons.

For example, from today, we will be offering new download settings, including the option of OpenType CFF downloads, for Patrons only (you can read more about this exciting development in a separate blog post).

As time goes on, and as additional new features are added, we hope that exclusive features will be opened up to the rest of the community. In this way, “FS Patrons” is intended to function as a kind of early-access/preview programme. You may be familiar with this kind of model if you use “Patreon” – where creators release material exclusively and early to their patrons, before a subsequent public release.

Why does FontStruct need FS Patrons?

Staff Pick Starfish

Asterias Fontstructi commonly known as “Staff pick stars”, pictured in their natural environment. Considered a delicacy by FontStructors, they are in fact a common species. While easy to find, they can prove perilous for staff to gather. Their brittle, razor-sharp points, and their preference for the slipperiest of rock pools necessitates the wearing of thick gloves and expensive footwear. Best harvested shortly after high-tide. Photo by Brian Yurasits

FontStruct is busy all year-round, 24/7, with FontStructors from all around the globe: from school and college students to budding amateur typographers and established designers.

Browsing through the amazing archive of modular typography that’s accumulated in the gallery is a daily joy. We are boundlessly proud of everything that the FontStruct community has achieved over the last 12+ years.

We have welcomed over 1.5 million registered users to the site, and there are over 1.8 million FontStructions great and small adorning the database. That’s a total of almost 50 million glyphs!

– These are some quite big numbers – A great crowd of people, and a great heap of data to administer and care for.

For the FontStruct staff there are always support mails waiting for an answer, servers to maintain and content to moderate. We have hosting and CDN bills to pay. We have bugs to fix.

In an ideal world, we would not only busy ourselves with maintenance and support. We would also spend time designing, developing and delivering new features, improving our users’ experience, writing new blog posts, updating our documentation, running competitions and investing time in moderating site content. We are doing all these things – but, because of our very limited resources, we can only do so slowly and patchily.

Pixel bricks are not a natural product. Mixed according to a secret recipe and baked each night in industrial trays, they need to cool to room temperature before being fed into through the precision cutting machines. Photo by Andrew Moca

The truth is that the “FontStruct Staff” does not really exist. While FontStruct has many kind friends who continue to help and support us in one way or another, and of course there is the wonderful “we” of the FontStructor community, there is no real “we” here at FontStruct towers. Since 2010, I (Rob Meek) have run FontStruct as a personal project from wherever I am, usually from a room in my flat. I’m sitting there now on a late Sunday afternoon, writing this blog post, having spent most of the day so far making some very silly pictures of imaginary brick harvests.

But FontStruct is not a one-person show. It’s less than that. Because FontStruct brings in no significant revenue, and in order to actually pay the bills, I need to spend the majority of my time doing work that has nothing directly to do with FontStruct. For example, working as the lead developer for the wonderful Fonts In Use, as well as for the excellent new type foundry Fontwerk. I also regularily work freelance for the design agency CDLX. – These are all great jobs which I enjoy but I have other clients as well and I could happily drop some of them. – So, in reality, the human resources available to this project are very thin indeed.

I’d like to work more for FontStruct, more frequently and I’d like to be paid for some of it. That’s why I’m launching “FS Patrons”.

Harvesting Circle Bricks

– Circle bricks are actually a perfectly spherical fruit, best harvested in the early morning. Only the ripest, roundest examples are good enough for the FontStructor. Photo by Bambi Corro

But don’t worry!

All things considered, with or without “FS Patrons”, our project remains healthy. Technically we are in a reasonable place, and we will continue to manage well with the limited funding we currently enjoy. Personally I continue to love most of the work I am able to do on the project, so I’m not going to walk away …

… but, given more funding, I would be able to dedicate some more time to FontStruct, and work on more new features, such as, for example:

  • improving the way we present character sets
  • extending unicode support
  • adding layers
  • supporting colour fonts
  • supporting custom bricks
  • supporting some OpenType features
  • adding real support for non-latin scripts
  • sorting out the abysmal gallery search
  • updating the site design

– All these things will take a long time to implement, with or without additional funding, but your support can help to accelerate the process.

So, if you’d like and if you can (I know times are tough for many!), please consider becoming an FS Patron.

Thank you!

Rob Meek

Founder and Lead Developer of FontStruct.

One Last Thing

If you haven’t done so yet, please read about our new OpenType download feature, exclusive to FS Patrons.

 

 

OpenType Downloads (with CFF outlines)

Note: This blog post is about a FontStruct feature which is currently exclusive to FS Patrons.

CFF vs TrueType contours

Today we’re excited to introduce a new kind of download for our Patron FontStructors: OpenType font files using CFF outlines with the .otf filename suffix.

All FontStruct downloads have been OpenType font files for quite a while now, but OpenType fonts can contain different kinds of “outline” (in FontStruct, the outlines are the actual brick shapes).

Hitherto, we have only offered downloads with TrueType outlines. From today, we’re also offering CFF outlines.

CFF outlines differ from TrueType in several ways, including:

  1. (mostly) Smaller file sizes.
  2. (often) More accurate and economical description of curves. For example, rounder circles.
  3. (optionally and experimentally) “fixed point” coordinates, which may facilitate more accuracy of detail for certain downloads.

Smaller File Sizes

The new CFF downloads will often be smaller than their TrueType counterparts. For example, the illustration shown below uses the font “zporty eYe/FS” by elmoyenique. This has a font file size of 444K for the TrueType download, and only 162K for the CFF – that’s much less than half the size. File size is important, as fonts take up memory and large fonts can crash software. Some downloaded FontStructions are very large!

More Accurate and Economical Curves

In a CFF file, curves are represented using two control points (these curves are called “cubic béziers”), as opposed to the TrueType outline format which represents curves using single control points (“quadratic béziers”). For many FontStructions this difference may not be noticeable, but in some cases you will find that CFF outlines are more accurate. For example, you can see the distinction clearly in the case of circular bricks, especially when you use a great number of small circles in your design:

CFF vs TTF

Some of you may have noticed the dough-like melting which afflicts FontStruct’s circle bricks in TrueType downloads. Many years ago, Luc Devroye shamed FontStruct on this point, and quite right too! Things have improved in the intervening time, but CFF outlines now give us our best, and most reliable circles ever!

Fixed Point Coordinates

We’ve also added an option to create CFF outlines with “fixed point” coordinates. I’d like to stress that this is quite an unusual format variant. As far I as I know, it’s seldom employed in professional type production.

In a standard OpenType font, all the contour points are placed on a grid of possible positions, the resolution of which is called the “em square”. Roughly speaking, if you have an em square of 1000, then all your contour points must sit on a 1000 x 1000 unit grid. “Design with Fontforge” has a good page explaining the em square format.

OpenType fonts with TrueType outlines traditionally use an em square of 2048 or 1024 (the former is the default for FontStruct) while OpenType with CFF outlines generally have an em square of 1000 (Although it can be more. We’re trying 2000 as FontStruct’s default for CFF.)

Crucially, all the points in your designs have to sit exactly on the intersections of this notional grid. So, in a standard OpenType font, despite it being an infinitely-scalable vector format, there are very clear and finite limits as to where your points can sit. You can position a point at exactly a grid coordinate of (100,100), but not at (100.5, 100.5). i.e. You can only have integer (whole number) coordinates.

From today, FontStruct also gives you access to an option, allowed by CFF, which overcomes this limitation. You can choose to define your coordinates as “fixed point” numbers. This will not affect your design work the FontStructor, but it will affect accuracy when it comes to converting your design to a font file. Using fixed point numbers, the font generator can position points more “freely”, at 100.5, 100.5 or even 100.3333, 100.3333 etc. if it needs to.

To be honest, I’m not sure how useful this fixed-point coordinate option will prove to be, but considering how complex and detailed some FontStructions are, it may help in exceptional cases. We will see!

It’s important to note, that if you do opt for fixed-point coordinates, this will make your download sizes significantly larger.

For background on this topic, I recommend the seminal article by Read Roberts at Typekit.

Download Configuration

To support our new download format, we’ve added some additional download configuration options to the FontStruction pages, and also one important option on your personal settings page.

On your personal settings page, you can opt to allow any of your shared designs to be downloaded by others as OpenType fonts. You can also override this setting on a FontStruction-by-FontStruction basis.

On the FontStruction page, you can access the new options by clicking on “Advanced Settings…”

New Download Settings

– Here you will find a couple of familiar options along with some new ones.

You can now choose to:

  • Share alternate formats (i.e. OpenType CFF) with other users (only if you are sharing the FontStruction for download of course). This setting overrides the global setting from your personal settings page.
  • Choose an em Square for TrueType and CFF downloads from a list of sensible options.
  • Use fixed point coordinates. (experimental)

Interested in using CFF downloads today? Not a patron yet? Learn more …

Happy FontStructing!

Vertical Metrics, Improved Touch Support and More

As promised, today we’re introducing a series of new features, enhancements and bug fixes to FontStruct.

Line Height Control (Vertical Metrics)

Until now, FontStruct has automatically calculated the overall line-height and line-spacing for each downloaded font. This is usually fine, but every now and again people request manual control over these values.

Today we’re giving FontStructors this option. To use it, first select “View” and then “Line Height” from the menu (You need to be in Expert Mode):

Select Line Height in FontStructor
– Select Line Height from the Menu in Expert Mode

Two new lines labelled “top” and “bottom” appear on the canvas. You can simply drag these lines to specify a height for the font. The lines snap to 1/8 of a grid square when dragged and dropped and you can click on the little reset button to go back to the default, automatic calculation.

Adjust and Reset the Line Height Guidelines
– Adjust and Reset the Line Height lines.

The values which you specify like this will be stored in your downloaded font file. In accordance with the first law of FontStruct – thou shalt not make things unnecessarily complicated – that’s all there is to it!

Please note that a lot of desktop software will still ignore or mangle whatever vertical metrics values are stored in a font file. So you may not always achieve the precise desired effect. For anyone interested, some souls braver than I have researched and documented the history of this mess elsewhere.

Anyway, I think FontStruct’s new feature will suffice to solve many line height problems, and you will find that some desktop software (Glyphs for example) will indeed respect your placement of the new lines.

Improved PhoneStructor (Touch Support in the Editor)

The FontStructor editor and the FontStruct website have been kind of usable on phones and tablets for quite a while now, but in reality, FontStructing on a touch devices has hitherto been cumbersome and impracticable.

With today’s update, we’re adding a series of interface optimisations to significantly improve FontStructing for users of touch devices and small displays, including …

1. Finally, a tap-friendly Menu!

The dropdown menu, which simply didn’t work on touch devices, now does. Note that the “Expert Mode” toggle now appears as part of this menu on small displays.

2. The Toolbar is docked and augmented

To keep it out of the way whilst drawing, the toolbar is now automatically docked to the top of the screen. Some commonly used actions (undo, redo and fullscreen) have also been added for ease of access. Note that the docked toolbar only appears on very small screens (phones in portrait mode), tablets are unaffected.

3. Improved Zoom

Pinch-to-zoom is now possible, making the zoom palette superfluous and so freeing up valuable screen space for drawing.

4. Brick Palette Toggle

The brick palette (My Bricks and All Bricks) can now be toggled with a single tap. This gives you swift access to your bricks while also freeing up more screen space for drawing.

5. Character Selector also works!

Something else which didn’t work properly on touch devices until now was the scroll functionality on the character selector. It does now. We’ve made the arrow buttons and the letter selectors themselves a bit bigger to suit your fingertips, and you can even swipe along the list of characters to scroll through them.

Miscellaneous Fixes and Improvements

In addition to Vertical Metrics controls and improved touch support we’ve also made a number of diverse tweaks to the site and the editor.

1. Spontaneous Brick Swap Fix

This will be familiar to some of you as the worst bug in FontStruct: You save your work, then after reloading it the following day, you find that “gremlins” have swapped out some of your bricks overnight and your design is corrupted.

– This has proved a very difficult bug to reproduce and fix, but we are introducing a change today which hopefully will improve matters. Fingers crossed!

If anyone does experience this problem again in the future, please let us know, especially if you can provide us with detailed steps to reproduce the problem.

2. Cyrillic in the Widget

FontStruct Cyrillic Preview in Widget

Recently, more FontStructors have been adding Cyrillic letters to their fonts or making purely Cyrillic designs. We’ve added a Cyrillic preview option to the widget to support this trend. Suggestions for a better Cyrillic sample text are welcome.

3. Links in descriptions

The editor for writing FontStruction descriptions was broken, making it impossible to add proper links in descriptions. That should be fixed now.

4. Comment Removal

You can now remove your own comments for up to one hour after you have made them.

5. Improvements to Glyphs Export

We’ve made a few improvements to the Glyphs Export functionality.

Firstly, we updated the export to work with the latest version of Glyphs.

Secondly we added the FontStruct grid in every export, so you can now continue to reference the same grid in Glyphs.

Thirdly we have made the export behave differently when you are exporting a “pure” pixel font (i.e. one consisting only of pixel bricks and without any filters). When you export a pixel font like this, the exported file will be compatible with the official Glyphs Pixel font plugin, which is actually pretty cool. Now you can move seamlessly from working in FontStruct to working in Glyphs. Thanks to @gingerbreadman and @glyphsapp for encouraging and helping us get this one done.

6. Removal of the “Contribute to Google Fonts” Button.

We love Google Fonts and have benefited greatly from their support in recent years, but we’ve decided to remove this button from the site.

Unfortunately there were technical issues with keeping the functionality working consistently at our end, and overall it did not seem that this form of submission was working very well.

We continue to encourage designers whose work fulfils the Google Font criteria to submit their work for consideration to them, and we will keep the OFL license option (this is the principal requisite license for Google Fonts) as a permanent part of FontStruct.

Future submissions of FontStructions to Google Fonts will have to be made manually and independently of FontStruct.

7. Grid-coordinate Display

This is an experimental one. If you are in “Expert Mode” you will now see the current grid coordinates in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

8. “Desert rescue” feature

Every now and again someone gets in touch having somehow panned off into the unmapped farther reaches of the grid. They’ve lost all orientation and have no idea where the baseline or origin is.

Clearing the browser cache was the old advice here, but now much more conveniently, you can simply double click or double tap on the “hand” panning tool to return the grid to its default position and find your way home.

That’s It!

Happy FontStructing!

Future Competition Results

Many thanks to all participants for another tremendous Structathon.

I hope everyone had as much enjoyment building their FontStructions as I did in seeing all your diverse and wonderful ideas land in the Gallery over the past few weeks.

There’s one thing I haven’t enjoyed so much: The judging. To those of you whose work is not mentioned in this post: I’m genuinely sorry! The selection included below is just a subjective sampling.

There were many, many other entries which could easily have won had the wind at FontStruct Towers swirled in a different direction on the day.

Anyway, let’s start with a review of some of the standout entries.

Alien Folk

Future Competition Entries Oddballs Alien Folk

I love the psychedelic, folk-horror connotations of “The Eyes Have It” from jonrgrover. When I retire to roam the hollow ways in my spooky carnival wagon, I’ll be daubing these glyphs on the side.

KD erutuF from architaraz also teasingly marries the primitive and the futuristic. If that black obelisk from “2001: A Space Odyssey” had some runes carved into its base, I believe they would look exactly like this. 

zmokephantom eYe/FS from elmoyenique is an oddball amongst oddballs, a bizarre rippling italic, perhaps the first FontStruction to actually melt the bricks, while Galactic Gothic from bluemon is an ingenious attempt to hack blackletter and technoid features into a single font. 

Techno Stencil

Future competition: Technoid entries

Quite a number of entries explored a classically technoid, futuristic trope with heavy, slabby designs – fonts all ready to be stencilled on the hull of a rusting, refurbished star-cruiser. Cyberbug from elzero, Broad Band Ultrawide from japanyoshi, Future Proof from four, Stardrifter, also from elzero and Rollerball_1 from JingYo are all examples for this genre and demonstrate the excitingly diverse possibilities within it.

Future Restraint

Future Competition: Clean Entries

Some visions of the future were cleaner and more restrained.

Zoltank is a constructivist-flavoured, geometric display face from FontStruct’s long-time master of retro-futuristic typography, our very own Stanisław Lem, V.Sarela (I hope that’s a compliment. It’s intended as one).

Designed for “the future of Telerobotic medicine.” I recommend reading geneus1’s full explanation for the cool and elegant G1 Prone.

Like Zoltank, Cosmoknot by time.peace is expertly FontStructed and subtly complex. I believe it to be the only outline font among the entries. It’s full of fun glyph shapes, and makes a neat, oblique reference to the NASA worm.

I also really enjoyed Neo-Tokyo from Frodo7. Hints of flicking brushwork bring life to the otherwise technoid forms.

Catch and Patch

Future Competition Catch and Patch

– Two leet entries from FontStructing legends. db Catch by beate has no obvious futuristic reference or connotation that I can see but it’s a fascinating and highly original entry. I love the internal dots on the i and j, and the umläute. Are they the “catch”?

And then we come to the mysterious, the ominous FS Patchman.

From William Leverette, the designer who discovered and shared the original brick stack hack, we have the promise of a new technique called “brick patching”. This may not be the FontStruction of the future, but could it be the future of FontStructing? I’m mesmerised by the x-rayed ‘S’ in William’s sample:

Sample for FS Patchman

The Prizewinners

– In no particular order, as chosen by you and by our guest judge Ivo Gabrowitsch. There are actually four rather than three prizewinners since I asked Ivo for one winner too many.

FontStruct Competition Winning Entries

First up, “G1 Nanocore” by geneus1. Apparently inspired by certain whacky contemporary ideas, this is a really fun font and sensitive microscopes may reveal it to be in your bloodstream already. I recommend reading geneus1’s own description of his design.

Next, Padomela LDR from Neoqueto. This was actually Ivo’s number one choice – “the closest to my projection of the future.”

Thalamic wins twice over (only one prize though sorry!). Ivo chose tm Forward as a favourite (“I like the more organic projection of the future”) while the “people’s favourite” was the ingenious font-within-a-font “tm two in one”.

As with beate’s other entry, the relationship to the future is unclear, but Ivo could not resist the impressive qualities of db tempo.

Finally (number two on Ivo’s list) I’m really delighted that someone new has made it onto the podium for this competition. Congratulations to japanyoshi for kognigear – a simple but usable design, clearly addressing the theme with a well developed character set.

Prizewinners will be contacted by email over the next few days.

Watch this space!

We’ll be adding a few new features to FontStruct over the next couple of weeks, so please stay tuned for an announcement on that – or follow FontStruct on Twitter if that’s your kind of thing.

Thanks!

To Ivo Gabrowitsch for helping us out again with judging. Having worked for brands like FontShop, FontFont, MyFonts, Linotype, and Monotype, Ivo understands the type business like no other. His company Fontwerk is dedicated to help type designers and foundries making a living with their passion.

And, as always, thanks to our principal sponsor Glyphs.

Please remember that you can get 10% off the Glyphs desktop font editing software (OSX only) if you buy it from the FontStruct website. This is an exclusive offer and by taking it up, you will also help support the free FontStruct service.

Competition: Future

Dear FontStructors,

Are you tired of looking to the past for inspiration? Feeling jaded by the present state of the world?

Perhaps it is time for something different; time to slip over into that unexplored and limitless country which borders happily on all of our heres and nows: The Future!

Let the bricks be levied …
Let the grid be burnished bright and the curtains drawn …

It is time for a new FontStruct competition.

Competition Brief

Future Fontstructions

The theme of our competition is “Future”.

As always, feel free to interpret the term in any way you choose – literally, metaphorically, as tenuously as you dare … You could go sci-fi, sci-fact, techno, steam-punk, apocalyptic, retro-futuristic or utopian. Who knows what the future will bring?

If you’re struggling for ideas, you could try a FontStruct search, explore the Futuristic or Future Tags, or perhaps look at some of the curated Sets, such as “Techno”, or “Retro Computer”.

Competition Time Period

Friday, 10th April 2020 – Friday 1st May, 2020

Competition Rules

  1. You must be a registered FontStruct user.
  2. Your submission(s) must be posted and made “public” between 10th April 2020 and 1st May, 2020. 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 than 1st May, 2020 at 11pm PST. Additionally, your submission(s) must remain public at least until 8th May 2020 in order to give the judges enough time to review all qualifying entries.
  3. Your submission(s) must be tagged with a “FutureComp” tag. (For fairness, during the competition time period, no FontStruction with the “FutureComp” tag will be awarded a Top Pick.)
  4. Your submission(s) must be downloadable. If your FontStruction cannot be downloaded, the submission will not be including in the judging.
  5. Your submission must be a newly published FontStruction. Simply adding the “FutureComp” tag to an already published font is not allowed.
  6. For each submission, you must post at least one sample image in the comments of the FontStruction.
  7. No letters in each submission can be MORE THAN 48 grid squares high.
  8. FontStruct cloning is permitted but the judges will be looking for original work.
  9. You may enter up to three FontStructions to the competition.
  10. This is a friendly competition. Cheering, favoriting and fun banter is encouraged but cruel and uncivil behavior will not be tolerated.
  11. 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 between May 2nd and May 8th. Three prizewinners will be chosen. One of these will be the FontStructors’ Favourite. Winners will be announced in a FontStruct Blog post on Monday May 11th.

Prizes

Each winner can choose a t-shirt printed with a FontStruction glyph of their choice.

FontStructors’ Favourite

The valid entry with the greatest number of legitimate favourites at 11pm PST on 1st May 201820 will be one of the three prizewinners.

Questions?

If you have questions just add them as comments to this post.

May the best FontStruction win.


Fontstructions used in the image above, from top to bottom: Cosmotron by V.Sarela, STF_NEW_ENDEAVOUR by Sed4tives, Comfutur by V.Sarela and Madrona by Zephram.

Background image by Sergei Tokmakov from Pixabay.

Text from what some have called the first science-fiction novel – Lucian’s “True History


FontStruct would like to heartily thank our principal sponsor: Glyphs .

Please remember that you can get 10% off the Glyphs desktop font editing software (OSX only) if you buy it from the FontStruct website. This is an exclusive offer and by taking it up, you will also help support the free FontStruct service.

New Bricks: Square Connectors

Square Connectors

By popular demand, we’ve added squared corners and terminals to the “Connect” brick pack, a total of 27 new bricks.

Happy FontStructing!

Acknowledgements:

Many thanks, as always, to our current sponsors:  Google Fonts and Glyphs App

 

 

FontStruct goes open source!

Haxe Shariken

Dear FontStructors,

From the very beginning, FontStruct has tried to be easy-to-use and avowedly non-technical for its font-designing users, but of course there is a great deal of technology behind our platform, and today we’re open-sourcing a small, but important part of it: the core of our font generation module.

There are several reasons for open-sourcing this code. It offers other developers an opportunity to contribute to the font-generation side of FontStruct. It also offers others a new tool to assist them in building their own font-generation tools.

But the main motivation for sharing the code is the desire to give something back – in the form of publicity and a software library – to an open-source project (Haxe) which has been extremely helpful to us in recent years.

If you are interested in software development and FontStruct, please read more about our new open-source library and the some of the history of FontStruct’s development on Medium.

Happy FontStructing!

– your FontStruct team

Acknowledgements:

Many thanks, as always, to our current sponsors:  Google Fonts and Glyphs App