Sharptype, Sharp your type

evolrof's picture


Win: Microworld Releases Sharptype Photoshop Plugin

Posted on Wednesday, April 13

Microworld claims that its new plugin for the Windows version of Photoshop can create clearer type output at small point sizes.

There's no doubt that generating clear type output at small point sizes from any image editing application can be a challenge. Microworld has come up with a new approach in the form of a Photoshop plugin that it believes provides "ultra-clear" font output. It also adds a few extra touches, such as the ability to employ a user-defined font directory and provides a character map to ease font and symbol selection, with support for multiple languages.

Sharptype is available as shareware on the Microworld site, with registration costing $29.95. The unregistered version provides a limited range of font sizes.

evolrof's picture

Dose one of here like this software?

Miguel Hernandez's picture

I think is Crapware ; )

evolrof's picture

I don't think so. Well, seeing is believing, and screenshots show that Sharptype works well.

antiphrasis's picture


If you work for the company maybe you should indicate so in your posts where you plug the program.


Dav's picture

Patrick ( evolrof ), May I ask if you are somehow related to Microworld / Sharptype.?
( Because you posted several similar threads on Typophile, in which you 'mentioned' Sharptype.. )

( Edit.: Lauri, You seem to share my thought.. :)

antiphrasis's picture


Exactly what I was thinking/saying and at the same time too! :)

antiphrasis's picture


Great minds think alike... what more can I say? :)

P.S. Posting and previewing comments works really well... Smooth sailing!

Stephen Coles's picture

I dunno. All misleading posting behavior aside, I think the results are remarkable. Better than Truth-in-Design's Ultrafonts stuff. Even more remarkable is that the antialiasing is automatic, not manually created by a designer. I wish there was a Mac version to play with, but the developers say not yet.

Miguel Hernandez's picture

> Better than Truth-in-Design’s Ultrafonts stuff.

I think Handpainted Greyscale typography, ans even good old Macintosh Kare´s fonts are far better; Pixelfonts Type designers have a choise to add typographic desitions plus just simply put smooth greys in jaggy corners.

I have to stablish a "clear" ;^) difference on this point.

Typographic Solutions:
Spacing, kern, ascenders, leading, contrast, rithm, etc... right? plus the experience and style (sensibility¿?) from the typographic designer.

But there are always programs like this as a good cheap choice for small text render.

Some ultrafonts are far better clean, but others not as equal than other small custom fonts from other foundries . I am not agree to clasify all in the same level, below sharptype "smooth" ware.

Gustavo Ferreira's picture

stephen coles wrote:
Better than Truth-in-Design’s Ultrafonts stuff

i disagree.

i didn't find out how to post an image to the new forums, so i uploaded here a small comparison between the shartype [sic] sample posted by evolrof and one of my ultrafonts.

do you want to review your statement, stephen? :-)

Stephen Coles's picture

Ok, Gustavo. You got me there. Your forms are definitely clearer. (On a separate note, your spacing is a pixel too wide, adding a different element of difficulty to the reading.) I think we can both agree that not all the Ultrafonts are as well made as yours and Miguel's. And the advantage of Sharptype as a Photoshop plugin is that we can create graphics from any font. In that respect perhaps it's not really competition for Ultrafonts, but a different sort of tool for potentially different projects.

hankzane's picture

Gustavo, your type is clear but illegible.

evolrof's picture

You can try it first, so, you will see what different between Sharptype and Photoshop default type tools. I used it, by the way, I don't use the "USM" render method, and it could obtain clearer than upper.

evolrof's picture

Ultrafonts is only the outline mode, not the polyfill mothod. You do not get the large size with 2 pixel width. Sharptype can provide any sizes what you want with the installed system fonts.

tyleryoung's picture

i see this thread has dropped off in the last week. however, i just discovered it, and find it an interesting topic.

i build a lot of pixel fonts, so it can easily be said that my opinion in this matter is biased. however, i began building pixel fonts years ago due to my own design needs. this was back when atomic media was the only pixel font vendor, and style selection was thin. i had a need for stylistic type at small sizes for an online motorcycling magazine i was producing.

my point is, as a designer, i cannot think of one situation where i might use these fonts as rendered. they look like eyelashes covered with too much mascara.

sharptype is an impressive engineering feat. i can appreciate the direction the software is trying to take: clear screen display typography at small sizes.

but, as it stands, i'd never use these fonts in a design i was going to show to an audience. i might use them for comping purposes, but what's the point in doing that? spend $35 for subjectively superior type?

think about it. how can a program replace human judment on a grid so small and sparse, every pixel placement and shade of gray will either make or break the design?

it seems to me to be similar to software teams building a font blending program and proclaiming that designers only need two typefaces from now on: one sans, and one serif. just tell the program what blend balance you want between the two, and the font is generated on the fly!

their product might be an outstanding achievement from an engineering perspective, but they completely minimize the value of type design.

now, i'm not saying that all pixel font designs are created equal. nor, am i saying that i am an authority on pixel font design.

but really, what is to be gained by trying to minimize the importance of pixel font usage or design? why endorse an automated solution for the creation of design assets (rendering a traditional font is really the recreation of it) when DESIGN is the point of it all?

why would human designers value automation over human designs?

is it cost savings? buy one $35 program instead of the average $100 the typical designer might spend on an entire pixel font library?

is it for better font management due to fewer fonts to worry about?

think about the incredible attention to detail that goes into every single font this software can render. all that wonderful artistry is lost when it is translated into pixel building blocks, each quite literally taking up 1/4 of each glyph's height and doubling its stem widths.

pixel fonts exist in their own right because at certain sizes, hinting fails, traditional fonts lose their character, and even their readability.

in my opinion, it should be a welcome idea to designers that new rules are there to be explored for display typography, and as a result, new typographic styles to be established.

why try to render traditional typography on screen at the smallest of sizes, when that typography was never designed for screen use, let alone small sizes?

hrant's picture

Stephen, you've always been ambivalent about the Ultrafonts stuff - it's strange to see you jump up and say something is "better"... Not to mention that you were probably looking at that on a Mac, where the flatter gamma would hide the crapfuzziness. It's good to see a company like Sharptype trying to improve small font rendering*, and maybe it is indeed better than out-of-the-box Photoshop rendering (maybe) but it's not remotely as good as what the human eye/hand can do. Gustavo did a good job demonstrating that; Mana-9 will do an even better job. :->

* Especially in the light of so many designers who ignore the problem. The other day I was complaining about the small text on a website of a typography PhD, and the reply was: we see nothing wrong with it. Yeah, the fuzzy stems and horrid spacing is just dandy I guess...

The only thing that comes close to handmade grayscale fonts is the Longhorn Cleartype stuff; however, in Cleartype a character can have different renderings depending on where it falls on the subpixel grid - and this is because it maintains the classic unhealthy attachment to WYSIWYG.


Stephen Coles's picture

I retract all statements that Sharptype is better than all Ultrafonts, partly because the Ultrafonts vary widely in quality. And I do acknowledge that a good designer's handplaced pixels will always be better than a machine's.

My main excitement in Sharptype lies in its ability to render any font better, and I'd like to see more examples in action. Patrick?

hrant's picture

You really think it's better than 1-bit?
I love anti-aliasing, but to me the bad kind is worse than none at all.


hrant's picture

Feeling ungracious about posting directly to Sharptype's new thread in the Build section*, I would however like to offer this comparison based on a screenshot from that thread.



evolrof's picture

Yes, your type is clearer than sharptype provided. But, the important point of Sharptype is, can provide clearer type for ANY installed vector font files, do not need to design everything again.

Syndicate content Syndicate content