Brick by Brick, the FontStruct Blog

The FontStruct Blog

Posts filed under “News”

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.

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

 

New Bricks: Half Arcs

Half Arc Bricks

Dear FontStructors,

By popular demand we’ve added four new bricks to the core brick pack today.

They are half-arc shapes in three thicknesses to match the existing arc or “macaroni” bricks, plus the so-called “pizza-slice” brick. Thanks to everyone who proposed and argued for these additions.

Unlike other bricks we decided to include only a single orientation, rather than the usual set of four rotated variants.

Happy FontStructing!

Acknowledgements:

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

Counter Competition Results

 

 

Dear FontStructors,

Another fun-packed competition is complete, leaving us to celebrate a wonderful assembly of diversely-inspired and inspiring entries.

As so often in previous competitions, there are simply too many high-quality entries to give each and every one the attention which they merit, so I’d like to congratulate all participants on their creativity and skill, and encourage everyone to have a long look at all the entries to discover those many gems which are not featured in this post.

Some Honorable Mentions:

▲ from top to bottom, nocturnal by time.peace, KD Spaceband by architaraz, and Connect 42 by jonrgrover.

 

– I don’t entirely see how nocturnal addresses the “counter” theme, but, nevertheless, it’s a beautiful, clean design from FontStruct’s master of filigree, Art Deco design: time.peace.

architaraz’s KD Spaceband meanwhile is perhaps the most original and usable entry of all, cleverly exploring and reinventing the spaces enclosed within its glyphs.

Connect 42 by jonrgrover represents all those competitors who chose to explore the gaming counter metaphor, and it’s a simple but playful entry.

 

 

– I profoundly love the tattered geometry of zcrapedium. So much so, that you’ll find it lurking in the background of every sample within this post. The variants in the upper case are a great idea, and I can think of plenty of real-world applications for this one.

Below it: the mysterious N8Lite – but who is nightpegasus, its designer? I have my suspicions. Whoever they are, they demonstrate a highly idiosyncratic and expectation-confounding style, of which N8Lite is a great example – rule-bound yes, but how strange and elusive are those rules!

Serifia la printe represents a larger group of excellent, more “classical”, filled-counter entries. “Serifia” contains many surprising, and indeed inconsistent, design choices, but therein lies the strength of its oddball character.

 

 

– All three of these entries would likely have fared very well in the Inline Competition.

fs psyline and KD Hachure are examples of sophisticated and mature FontStructing – ready to be moved on into the character-set expansion phase and suitable for all kinds of design applications.

Below them. the charming and ingeniously entitled Owl Circle by Waturu Aiso  has a more mannered, fantastical look.

 

 

Last, but not least, in this short and selective tour, we have a group of three diverse entries, beginning with NAL’s Zirconia – its glyphs like the aerial view of an extra-terrestrial base,  revealing its intricate, bevelled construction only at larger point sizes.

Geometrica B&L turns out to be barely legible, so it’s probably best suited to a logo or short headline, but the patterns of its semaphore-like, cuneiform patternings are wonderful nevertheless.

And finally, geneus1 offered us an array of exceptional contributions to this competition– all expertly-crafted, things of beauty. You really have to install G1 Recoil and start playing with it, in order to fully appreciate the richness of its ornate strudel. Definitely a recommended download.

The Winners:

breach” by four is a standout winner and the “FontStructor’s favourite” for the “Counter” competition. An ingenious warping and rupturing of the boundaries between interior and exterior space, it’s a thought-provoking work of art in itself, and invites extended contemplation.

UPDATE: Some twitter users have pointed out a similarity between “breach” and the very beautiful commercial release “Clip” from Setup (previously Urtd). Personally I suspect and see coincidental inspiration rather than imitation, but please visit the Setup site and make the comparison for yourself.

 

O yes! This was love at first sight. Starbird by V.Sarela (Yautja) is a perfect example of what one might call “groovy deco”, and I can easily imagine it gracing the worn cover of some favourite ’70s sci-fi paperback. The contrast of the fine circle with the smooth and heavy fill beneath it is quite sumptuous.

 

Elmoyenique’s zykowarfare reminds me of plastic letter stencils –  incorrectly yet playfully filled out perhaps, at the back of a classroom on a hot afternoon. There are scores of intriguing nuggety forms to discover in this one, hidden away amongst its self-interlocking glyphs .

 

Thanks!

That’s it! Congratulations to all our winners and everyone who took part!

Winners will be contacted regarding their prizes over the next few days. But right now, I have an inexplicable urge to go and remodel the kitchen …

Happy FontStructing!

 

 

Acknowledgements:

The rules at the head and foot of this post are built with “Counter Top” by geneus1.
The text in the samples is from “Figures in the Carpets” by David Schloss.

Many thanks, as always, to our current sponsors:  Google Fonts.

 

Competition: Counter

Dear FontStructors,

Who says referendums are a threat to true democracy? In the perfect world of FontStruct, they work beautifully. Before we’ve even started, we have a winner!

The results of our recent Twitter poll:

Counter it is …

Competition Brief

Counter Competition FontStruct

Our theme is Counter: “the area of a letter that is entirely or partially enclosed by a letter form or a symbol (the counter-space/the hole of)” as wikipedia describes it.

What goes on within those little pools of nothingness inside your letters? Are they empty, or filled? Does their surface swallow all light, or shimmer or glow?

Of course you can choose any other sense of “Counter“ (arithmetical, political, military etc) if you wish. – You don’t have to pursue the typographic angle.

Potential sources of inspiration could be our sets: “Filled Counter”, or “Pattern Fill”.

Competition Time Period

Wednesday, 8th May 2018 – Saturday 1st June, 2018

Competition Rules

  1. You must be a registered FontStruct user.
  2. Your submission(s) must be posted and made “public” between 8th May 2018 and 1st June, 2018. 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 June, 2018 at 11pm PST. Additionally, your submission(s) must remain public at least until 10th June 2018 in order to give the judges enough time to review all qualifying entries.
  3. Your submission(s) must be tagged with a “CounterComp” tag. (For fairness, during the competition time period, no FontStruction with the “CounterComp” 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 “CounterComp” 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 June 2nd and June 9th. Three prizewinners will be chosen. One of these will be the FontStructors’ Favourite. Winners will be announced in a FontStruct Blog post on Monday June 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 8th June 2018 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 left to right: zyrup eYe/FS by elmoyeniquethe pattern exchange by fourMasthead Black by oliviajohnsontm Bulba by thalamicDizz by geneus1Sleepless by four, and soundwave by escaphandro.


FontStruct would like to thank our current principal sponsor: Google Fonts

 

 

Our Palace – 10 FontStructive Years

FontStruct at 10

tm Fest-iv by thalamic. published today, on our 10th anniversary.

Dear FontStructors,

FontStruct is currently on tour in Granada, Spain. On a cool but bright spring morning, I’m sitting in a roof garden in the old Arab quarter, the Albayzín, staring at the magnificent medieval, hill-top palace of the Nasrid dynasty: the Alhambra.

About 700 years ago, the finest arab mathematicians and local craftspeople joined forces here and colluded to create the complex, honeycomb ceilings for the sultan’s private chambers. Selecting and arranging from a limited array of simple, geometric building-blocks the architects created a dizzying, recursive edifice, like a vast, heavenly city suspended over the visitor’s heads.

Alhambra Ceiling - Muqarnas

▲ Ceiling in the Palace of the Lions (the Alhambra)

Were these designers, perhaps, the first FontStructors? Did they love and curse their little prismatic “Muqurnas” shapes and their limitations just as we love and curse our bricks? Did they leap up and scream with joy when they discovered a hitherto unthought-of combination of forms? If you are a FontStructor who has visited the Alhambra yourself you may well feel empathy with its architects’ profound passion for geometry; their predilection for modular building techniques and their love of decorative scripts.

Continue reading…

Google Fonts sponsors FontStruct in 2018

Dear FontStructors,

Today, with FontStruct’s tenth anniversary imminent, we’re delighted to announce that Google Fonts will be our principal sponsor in 2018.

Introducing the SIL Open Font License

As part of their sponsorship, Google Fonts are helping us to implement a new open-source licensing option on FontStruct – The SIL Open Font License (OFL) – which we’re adding to FontStruct today:

Choose OFL

The OFL is an open-source license, designed specifically for open-source fonts, and is suitable for designers who would like to make their work freely available with zero restrictions on use, modification or distribution.

Contribute to Google Fonts

But this is more than just another option in the licensing menu.

The OFL is the preferred license for contributions to Google Fonts’ renowned and robust directory of open-source, designer, web fonts; so it’s just become much, much easier to contribute your designs directly from FontStruct to Google Fonts. 

Contribute to Google Fonts

At time of writing, there are few (if any?) modular, grid-based fonts on Google Fonts. We’re eager to see the first FontStructions appearing on fonts.google.com in 2018, and we hope that some of you will soon be enjoying the massive, global exposure and the state-of-the-art, zero-cost, webfont-delivery service that Google Fonts provides.

How can I contribute my FontStruction to Google Fonts?

To get started, your FontStruction needs to fulfil a few basic criteria, including:

  • It must be an original design, and of good quality (the ultimate judges of this are the Google Fonts team).
  • It must be licensed under the OFL.
  • It must contain, as a minimum, the 215 glyphs listed by Google. (with the exception of the last 3). You’ll notice these glyphs are now listed as a special character set in the FontStructor.
  • It must have a simple and unique name, with no copyright or trademark infringements, no initials and no abbreviations.

Once everything is ready, you can use the new “Contribute to Google Fonts” button on your FontStruction homepage to start the contribution process.

Helpful Resources

You will find a new section in our FAQ with a detailed, step-by-step guide to help you get started with contributing your FontStruction to Google fonts. Please read this guide thoroughly before proceeding. There’s also a dedicated contact channel for any further questions on this topic.

We’re looking forward to a very exciting year.

Happy FontStructing!

 


FontStruct would like to thank our sponsors: Google Fonts – Making the web more beautiful, fast, and open through great typography, and Creative Fabrica – your number #1 source for premium design elements.

Happy Holidays 2017

Thanks to everyone for another fantastic year of FontStructing.

Special thanks to the FontStructors featured in our holiday sample above:
To funk_king for Ornaments  – a wonderful collection of festive baubles.
To sorbilicious for “an old story by sorbilicious” – a magical blackletter
and to jirinvk for jaubolAC24 for an idiosyncratic A that’s also both a christmas tree and a wrapped present.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

 


FontStruct would like to thank our sponsor: Creative Fabrica – your number #1 source for premium design elements.