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Serif Competition Results

Oh FontStructors,

Will you ever disappoint? This time you were faced with what seemed, at first glance, a relatively staid and technical theme: “serif”. Nevertheless you rose to the challenge, with your inimitable imagination and energy – endlessly riffing, playing and transmogrifying to produce a magnificently rich and diverse array of 58 entries – a record haul for a FontStruct competition. Many thanks and congratulations to everyone who entered.

Judging was more difficult than ever, but, thanks to the excellent input of our guest judge beate, we finally reached consensus.

First up, and in no particular order, the four winning entrants:

1. G1 Radia by geneus1 (in red)

G1 Radia was a unanimous choice of the judges. With it’s high-contrast strokes, ball-terminals and discreet little serifs this FontStruction genuinely radiates a curvesome beauty, although on closer inspection one also sees intriguing traces of its cruder, modular roots.

All four winners actually made multiple high-quality entries, some of which we couldn’t resist including in the samples, so below G1 Radia you can also marvel at the monumental G1 Valora – one of the serifiest serifs this side of the Pecos.

2. Hoek by four (shown in red)

Hoek was elected by the FontStruct community as the “people’s favorite” . It obviously stems from a clear and precise concept for a bevelled slab, thoughtfully executed in every perfect detail.
In fact, the judges were even more excited by the highly-inventive “elza” (the second design featured above) in which wiry strokes terminate in a questioning hook-shape rather than a traditional serif or terminal. Planetarium, also shown above, was another strong and popular slab entry.

3. Cembrel B by V. Sarela AKA yautja

The judges were enchanted by Cembrel B: a subtle, attractive, and eminently-usable, high-contrast serif, part of a developing new family. Nouveaumbre was another really excellent entry from yautja.

And last but not least …

4. AT Bals by architaraz

A classifier’s nightmare: a slab serif concealed inside a sans! – what an innovative interpretation of the theme. Beyond the high concept, architaraz also succeeds in delivering a coherent and attractive typeface. Beneath AT Bals you can see the elegant inline ”AT Migdalia” with it’s hairline serifs.

Many, many congratulations to our four prizewinners.

Some Honorable Mentions:

tm Almost by thalamic

– A classic serif with an unusual calligraphic twist, created on a pin-board matrix.

zlabby eYe/FS by elmoyenique

– A convivial, super-chunky slab-serif, given added character by the idiosyncratic snips in certain letter-tops.

atomic by time.peace

– Actually I’m not sure whether this is (at least in any sense known to me) a serif, but a strong, clear design nevertheless.

cyclops by funk_king

– One of three strong entries from the master of the dotted font. Some really charming glyphs in this one.

fs luxor by ETHproductions

– Ultra-high-contrast strokes and serifs in a stencil-flavoured entry.

tyvojtoAD2820 by jirinvk

– Calculated, cutout crudity. Shamelessly modular and yet also wonderfully imperfect.

Kuliboni Punk by Dmitriy Sychiov (Sychoff)

This brutal disfiguration of an existing design by Sychoff came very close to a prize. Although tagged as punk, there’s also something quite primitive and ancient going on here. I can see these glyphs scratched into the base of an amphora, or perhaps arranged in the border of a mosaic. Compare the Jekyll to this Hyde.

Congratulations again to all winners, who will be contacted about their prizes in the next few days; thanks to our judges; and, most of all, thanks to everyone who took part. I look forward to our next competition.

Happy FontStructing!



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


Gridfolk: Interview with Beate Limbach

Many years have passed since I felt remotely able to answer the question “How did they do that?” in regard to most of the finest and complex designs on FontStruct. Our community of ingenious designers, the “FontStructors”, have long been the true adepts, the rightful owners of the grid and the brick. But who are they?

In 2009 Yves Peters tried to answer this question in his excellent series of 7 interviews “Focus on FontStructors”.

A resumption of his project, eight years on, is long overdue, and today we’re making a start by talking to one of FontStruct’s exceptional stars of recent years; record winner of no less than three FontStruct competitions, hoarder of staff picks, and designer of some of FontStruct’s most extraordinary fonts: Beate Limbach …

FS: Beate, please tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live and work? What kind of training do you have? What do you do in everyday life beyond FontStructing?

I was brought up in Giessen, Germany.

After graduating from secondary school, I studied art theory and Romance studies in Kassel, Paris and Mainz.

In 2006, I completed my degree in communications design at the University of Applied Science Mainz, studying under Professor Johannes Bergerhausen, and focusing on book design (typography) and photography.

For a little more than 10 years, I’ve been living and working as a freelance designer in Lausanne in Switzerland. Typography is a passion that has gripped me since my schooldays, and in recent years I’ve shifted my professional focus from print design to type design.

How did you become interested in type and typography? What was your first experience of font design?

– The victor’s booty from three FontStruct competitions.

My first contact with the world of type and calligraphy was at primary school where I encountered various different forms of standardised handwriting, and learnt about the transition from the old “Sütterlin” form of handwriting to the latin form in German schools. Later, I had the opportunity to take part in a calligraphic drawing course. The posters we made on this course were screen-printed and so I learned about an additional design medium which, in turn, fuelled my interest in graphic design more generally.

During my studies I had the opportunity to work on Johannes Berghausen’s “decodeunicode” project as it was still in its very early stages.  The project’s aim was the researching of all the characters and alphabets included within Unicode – their histories, significance and use. It’s since developed into a wonderful online platform for pure typographic research.

FS: How did you start out on FontStruct?

– db For You and db Largo in use

In 2008, while browsing for free fonts, I stumbled upon articles about FontStruct in Smashing Magazine and I Love Typography. I was excited by the idea of being able to design typefaces in a playful way and with a minimal toolset. I also liked the fact that one had control over how to license designs.

Before FontStruct I had experience with lettering and “analogue” type design, but I’d barely come into contact with digital, type-design software. FontStruct was a way-in for me to gradually start exploring this world.

I began to work with other type-design software, both in order to refine and extend my “FontStructions”, and to develop new fonts outside FontStruct. Several of my FontStruct fonts where published in the Typodariums between 2014 and 2016 and this led to interest and customers for fonts such as db Drops, db Soda, db Como Splitt and db Bargo.

FS: If you had to choose two (or three) of your own FontStructions as favourites, which would they be and why?

That’s not easy – there are so many more than just three! But I would choose db For You (script), db Largo (heavy serif) und db Bargo Condensed (light, handwritten sans).

I designed db For You for the FontStruct “Love Competition” in 2016. My first thought on the theme was that love letters are very personal and are usually handwritten, so I decided to make a script font. To avoid the letters appearing too smooth and cute, I added a rough, irregular contour. Through small variations in the stroke-width this special ductus developed which also resembled a handwritten flow. (I’d already tried out this technique in 2013 when designing db Bargo.) The overall result is a script font which is not just suitable for the screen. It’s important to me that my fonts are also applicable in print design.

db Largo was created at the same time as db For you in 2016. db Largo combines serifs and calligraphic elements. The font isn’t completely polished but it’s little imperfections lend it a relaxed, friendly appearance and dynamic. db Largo is eminently usable for short texts or headlines.

I built db Bargo in 2013. It’s based on a condensed grotesque, and combines geometry and optimised legibility with individual aspects of a handwritten sans. db Bargo is marked by it’s simple structure and low contrast. This font is also perfect suited to headlines, typographic posters, T-shirts and other print applications.

FS: What other work on FontStruct do you especially admire and why?

Spontaneously I think of Aphoria’s fonts. I really like the relaxed style of his ideas and designs on FontStruct. His work is marked by an incredibly assured, balanced and coherent formal language. I particularily like the San Serif fonts Uptake and Obleak, as well as the Blackletter Futility.

I’m also impressed by the fonts of Frodo7, thalamic/minimum and four. I find Frodos 3D series Rohan and the slab serif Esgaroth genuinely expressive and extremely well thought-through, as are the heavy sans fs Bored and tm Blooper from thalamic. I’m fascinated by four’s outline fonts which seem unsurpassable in the richness of their variation and subtle refinement; they demonstrate how little complexity one needs in order to give a font a unique character. 

FS: What are the aspects of FontStruct that make it appealing to you?

I think FontStruct is a unique web-platform for free and creative font design. I never cease to be excited by the formal richness of some FontStructions – despite the fact that, at the end of the day, they’re all just combinations and arrangements of geometrical “bricks”. And then there are the additional tools and functionality in “expert mode” which have been added over the years and which have enhanced the creative possibilities.

Using FontStruct just never gets boring. From the very beginning, my curiosity has been piqued and my ambition stoked by the challenge of exploring new approaches and formal languages in FontStruct. What continues to stimulate me is the desire to look more closely and to pay more attention to those little, inconspicuous details which give a typeface its overall character, its “polish”.

FS: If you could add or improve one thing on FontStruct, what would it be?

db Bargo Illu

I think the creation of some kind of FontStruct foundry would be interesting – a forum where the best Fontstructions could be promoted or even sold. From my own experience, I think the potential and demand are there. Perhaps it would be a new incentive for everyone working creatively and constructively on FontStruct, to allow them to market their designs on the same platform on which they were created.

Thanks beate! Please explore more of beate’s work on FontStruct or visit her design studio website.

All images copyright Beate Limbach.
Interview translated from German by Rob Meek.

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






Introducing Sets

Dear FontStructors,
How’s your typographic mood?
Looking to head West perhaps? Keen to explore the 1920s, the 1990s or the dark ages? Feeling dotty or groovy or dark? We have something for every temper and whim …

Today we’re launching a new kind of gallery feature called FontStruct Sets.

The first sets to be released include: “Wild West”, “3D”, “Art Deco”, “Dotted”, “Dot Matrix”, “Groovy”, “Grunge”, “Heavy”, “Lineal” and “Handwritten

As our unique archive of modular creativity grows, we need to find new ways to curate it, so that we, and visitors to our site, can find the kind of fonts we’re looking for more easily.

Our broad categories (sans, serif etc) are a useful filter, as are the community-created tags, and of course the recently revamped search box; but as time has gone on we’ve noticed clear sets of related FontStructions emerging in the gallery which, until now, haven’t been adequately organised.

Sets are more specific than categories, and, because they’re manually curated by FontStruct staff, they’re more consistent than tags and search results. Until now we’ve prepared about 80 sets, and we’ll be gradually extending and releasing them over the next few months.

Sets are accessible via the little turquoise tags which appear next to the relevant FontStruction in the gallery.

Happy Exploration and FontStructing!

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





Reverse Competition Results

What a wonderful competition.

Yet again the FontStruct community has demonstrated its unbounded creativity in interpreting a difficult theme in diverse and original ways. I would encourage everyone to have a close look at each of the entries, many of which really only reveal their conceptual secrets and precious details upon closer examination.

While the winners are doubtlessly worthy ones, there could easily have been many, many more, so don’t be too downhearted if you didn’t win, and please pity the judges their impossible task.

Before we announce the winners,

Some Honorable Mentions:

A number of designers decided to explore reversal in the sense of symmetry. ben17’s reflection for example (above), which despite the high concept manages to be legible and strikingly attractive, or architaraz’s similarly practical and well-formed AT Imago Reversed which is also an ingenious mirroring stencil:

Also playing with symmetry and continuing a distinctive FontStruct tradition of esoteric, decorative glyph sets is “Charm Spells” by Aeolien: Every glyph a mystery, like ancient lines scratched in the desert:

tm up dn” by thalamic is an ingenious attempt to build a usable letter set by rotating or flipping other glyphs – both a crazy catalogue of intentional mistakes, and a clever way to explore new forms:

geneus1 gave us, as so often before, several strong and original entries, including the intricately woven G1 Trushae. Chainmail? alien circuitry? noodles? I’m not sure which it reminds me of more, but everyone is invited to lose themselves in the artistry:

With “SbB Codebreaker”, Sketchbook B demonstrates that it’s possible to execute an original concept using only the simplest of materials – the pixel brick. It’s a strange and very technical FontStruction but as the designer himself notes, it has a pleasing and distinctive texture:

There were so many other great entries, equally deserving of mention, but at some point we must move on to …

The Winners

The FontStructor’s Favourite was AT Esrever by architaraz. A clear and clever concept, perfectly executed and the favourite of our community:

A favourite of both judges was the cleverly named counter culture by four which opens an intriguing orthographic window on negative space. The dot-screen shading is a lovely detail.

zelbod eYe/FS by elmoyenique is a good example of a FontStruction which doesn’t reveal its full quality at the standard sizes used to display it in the Gallery and elsewhere on FontStruct.
zelbod has to be seen at a large point size in order for the unique folding concept and fine shading pattern to reveal their beauty:

Finally, I forgot, again, to invite beate to join the judging panel for this competition, and so, with three more spectacular entries, a prize is once more heading in her direction. We chose the elegantly carved db Jojo as our favourite:

Congratulations to each of the prizewinners; you will be contacted regarding your prizes shortly.

Congratulations also to EVERYONE who participated. It’s truly a great pleasure to see all your work appearing and growing on the site.

Special Thanks

To our guest judge, Stephen Coles of LetterForm Archive, Fonts In Use, Typographica, and on fortunate occasions such as this, FontStruct.

Now it’s time to wipe off our trowels and return to our hods. There are bricks to be laid.

Happy FontStructing!




Connecting Bricks

Dear FontStructors,

Today we’re introducing a couple of enhancements to the FontStructor editor.

New “Connecting” Brick Pack


Firstly, we’re adding 58 new bricks to FontStruct.

As the number of available bricks has increased over the years, and with the addition of these new bricks, we’ve decided to break up the “All Bricks” palette into multiple pages or “packs”.

“All Bricks” is now named simply “Bricks” and the currently selected pack is shown in the palette title. Just click on the down arrow to switch packs.


The classic, core bricks will be remain in the default “Core” pack, but now you also have access to the new “Connecting” pack.

The connecting pack includes monoline, biline and triline shapes, curves, lengths, terminals and miscellaneous connectors, which join perfectly and easily with one another. It’s a fun and novel FontStructing experience.

Note that in order for the junctions between these new bricks to match, the connecting points need to be centred within each grid square, so a small gap always remains, to the left and below your designs.


To compensate for this you can use the nudge tool (expert mode) to nudge your glyphs, so that they line up with the origin.

I look forward to seeing what our community can create with these new raw materials. We may add a few more bricks to the connecting pack in the coming weeks.

No more default “Cycle” pen

This has been a very long time coming I know. Now, finally, the standard “simple” pen is the default pen type in the FontStructor, and the cycle pen is an option.

Happy FontStructing!







Introducing the FontStruct Maker


Dear FontStructors,

A font design only begins to reveal its true character and potential when it’s put to use; when you start to design with it; and especially when you take it off the screen and print with it.

A new tool from FontStruct, the “FontStruct Maker”, is designed to offer a quick and simple way to transfer a FontStruction onto a real world thing – specifically clothing and accessories; for example T-Shirts, mugs, bags or device covers. There’s no need to install a font, or any design software. You don’t even need to sign in to FontStruct to use it!

Learn more in the video (best in full screen, and you’ll need the audio turned up):

With the Maker you can take any FontStruction (license permitting), create your own design with it, and then immediately upload that design to the Spreadshirt printing platform where it can be printed onto any one from scores of products.

We think this is the world’s speediest type-to-tee design system. Click on any of the T-Shirt icons on the gallery pages, or the “Make” buttons on any FontStruction homepage to try it out. There’s also a dedicated help page available.

Level Rebel on a Tee

Image shows Level Rebel by four printed on a T-Shirt using an image generated in the FontStruct Maker.


Happy FontStructing!


UPDATES to the video:

Please note that a few small things have changed since we made the video. For example, you can now adjust the horizontal as well as the vertical position of the attribution line. We’ve also doubled the point size of the attribution line to improve legibility.

Note also that printing on dark fabric or other materials is more challenging than printing onto pale and white things. Spreadshirt did an excellent job of printing onto the black T-Shirt pictured above, but generally a paler ground will produce more consistent and predictable results.


There is a season – kern, kern, kern

Dear FontStructors,

Many thanks to everyone for all your wonderful designs and contributions to FontStruct in 2016.

A gift from FontShop

With our 1.3+ million registered users, 1.3+ million font designs and 34+ million glyphs, FontStruct takes a lot of looking after. There are servers to pay and care for, development to be done, emails to be answered, bricks to be dusted and stacked.

Despite this, FontStruct remains a completely free service, and this is all due to the generosity of FontShop, our founding sponsor. We’re thrilled to announce that FontShop, our founding sponsor, has confirmed their continuing support for the project through 2017.

Thank you FontShop!

A New Feature: Kerning

We’re also delighted to launch a brand new, expert feature to the FontStructor with the introduction of kerning support.


(Image shows zynesthesia by elmoyenique)

I would like to stress that many FontStructions really do not need to be kerned, and that everyone should continue to use the other spacing controls as far as possible to achieve the letter spacing they’re aiming for. Nevertheless, kerning can solve some of those frustrating spacing problems with particular letter combinations, and help make your designs more attractive and usable.

Read more about the new feature in the help.

And Finally


Wherever and however you celebrate it, I wish everyone a happy holiday season . I’m greatly looking forward to more FontStructing adventures in 2017.

Let’s FontStruct!



FontStruct goes HTML5


Dear FontStructors,

Today we’re very happy to announce the launch of a new, HTML5 version of our font editor, the FontStructor.

Superficially it’s very similar to the old one and we’ve retained all the simplicity and ease of use which are the hallmarks of FontStruct; but under the hood the new FontStructor uses standard HTML5 technology for the first time, and no longer relies on the Flash plugin.

This change will help us to continue to improve the editor and add new features in the future. It will also allow users to edit FontStructions on tablets, or even – for those of you with sharp eyes and very slender fingers – on smart phones, for the first time. Note that support for mobile devices is quite basic so far, but we hope to improve that in the coming months.

In this first release of the new FontStructor we’ve added a few small, but significant features.

More complex composites

In “Expert Mode” you can now make composites bricks from selections of up to 16 contiguous grid squares. This should allow designers to create more complex custom bricks.

Finer control over nudging and letter width

The nudging feature, also available in Expert Mode, now allows you to nudge bricks off the grid in ⅛ grid square increments. (Previously it was ¼ grid square increments).

The letter-width control has also been greatly refined. Instead of full grid square steps, you can now set the letter width in ⅛ grid square increments.


New Bricks

Finally we’ve added three new sets of bricks. There are 2 thinner versions of the quarter rings, AKA the macaroni bricks. The new sets have line widths of ⅛ and ⅟₁₆ grid squares. There’s also a new version of the ring shapes. The size of the holes inside the rings match the subdivisions of the grid.



Many thanks to those who’ve helped to thoroughly test the new FontStructor, finding bugs and suggesting changes.

Other Changes

We’ve also taken the opportunity to overhaul some other parts of Again, most of these changes are technical and shouldn’t greatly effect how works or looks but if you do come across any problems, please let us know.

Happy FontStructing!



Love Competition Results


This was a really challenging competition thematically, but the FontStruct community once again proved their inventiveness, humour and skill in producing over 40 diverse FontStructions somehow related to the idea of “Love”. Yes, there were a lot of heart shapes, but they were almost always used in an original way or as part of a more complex idea. Congratulations to everyone who took part. You’re all winners!

Lorra Lorra Dates! (shown above), one of two strong entries by NAL, was one of the most conceptually surprising submissions and certainly put a smile on my face. Other conceptually clever entries were fs pixel heart by opipikheartbeat by ben17, and Lovers morse code by wicci. – Each either barely legible or downright cryptic, they would all lend themselves to secretive exchanges of billets-doux.

The Prizewinners

Given the high quality and diversity of the entries for this competition, there are four prizewinners. So, in no particular order, here they are:

1. floriitutaAD28 by jirinvk


jirinvk has been creating idiosyncratic, minimalistic FontStructions and using them in their design work for many years. Their three complementary entries are vaguely floral assemblages of amoeba-like modules. Superficially simple and restrained, The floriituta series is a great reminder of how it’s still possible to create original and attractive designs on a small grid.

2. db For You by beate


Note to self: Remember to invite beate to be on the judging panel for the next competition so others have a chance of a prize.
“db for you” is yet another display of spectacular technical skill and design sensitivity from one of our leading FontStructors. A clear, expressive script, perfect for everyone’s annual declarations of affection.

3.G1 Lovelines by geneus1


geneus1 has been spectacularly generous on FontStruct of late: sharing gems from his secret back catalogue on an almost daily basis. He made three strong entries to this competition, any of which could have won, but this one was the people’s favorite, with the most Favorites at the deadline. G1 Lovelines is a sumptuous piece of gothic hyperbole. The carefree, heady excesses of love are well represented here.

4. ztrangelovedoc eYe/FS by elmoyenique


A number of FontStructors looked to the decades of love-ins and the “summer of love” for inspiration – love peace happiness by four and G1 paloma by geneus1 for example. You could argue about the legibility of this entry from elmoyenique, but the extravagant psychadelic curls make each glyph a wonderful trip in itself.

Prizewinners will be contacted soon about their prizes.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who took part, and Happy FontStructing,


Competition: Love


FontStructions featured in image: Floral Plethora by laynecomMelitta by beateheart by LingoLinda and Fs Flower Shop by Umbreon126

Happy new year FontStructors!

As promised in our last post, we’re starting the new year with a new competition, this time with an amorous theme in time for Valentine’s day.

For the new FontStruct competition we’d like you to design a FontStruction on the theme of “Love”. You can interpret the theme as broadly as you’d like, as long as you can somehow relate it to the word “Love”. You could explore the iconography of love, design the perfect modular font for a Valentine’s card, or explore an associated abstraction (peace, friendship, animosity …). You can be literal, but don’t need to be. Keep it decent though please!

Remember to tag your entry with “Lovecomp” before the 6th of February and don’t forget to upload a sample image.

Before starting, please read the rules below carefully, even if you are a frequent FontStructor.

Competition Time Period

Wednesday, Thursday 7th 2016 – February 6th, 2016

Competition Rules

  1. You must be a registered FontStruct user.
  2. Your submission(s) must be posted and made “public” between 7th January and 6th February 2016. 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 February 6th at 11pm PST. Additionally, your submission(s) must remain public until February 14th 2016 in order to give the judges enough time to review all qualifying entries.
  3. Your submission(s) must be tagged with a “Lovecomp” tag. (For fairness, during the competition time period, no FontStruction with the “Lovecomp” tag will be awarded a Top Pick.)
  4. Your submission(s) must be downloadable. If your FontStruction cannot be downloaded, the submission will be disqualified.
  5. Your submission must be a newly published FontStruction. Simply adding the “Lovecomp” 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 bricks 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, February 6th–11th. Three prizewinners will be chosen. One of these will be the FontStructors’ Favorite. Winners will be announced in a FontStruct Blog post on February 12th.


Each winner can choose either a) a t-shirt printed with a FontStruction glyph of their choice OR b) a signed and numbered copy of the FontStruct poster

FontStructors’ Favorite

The valid entry with the greatest number of legitimate favorites at 11pm PST on February 11th, 2016 will be one of the three prizewinners.


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

May the best FontStruction win.