Super pixel fonts

striker2's picture

fontsforflash.com and truthindesign.com are releasing something called "super pixel fonts".

Is this "revolutinary" stuff? How are they built?

hrant's picture

This is big...

But why would they not come out as nice in Photoshop, for example?

hhp

hrant's picture

Interesting... Thanks!

hhp

tidchris's picture

| It could have something to do with the way
| FFF expands the outlines slighty to prevent
| filled-in counters in Flash.

It is due to expanded outlines. Flash renders characters on the left glyph margin, but Photoshop will include glyph spillover, if any. Most FFF fonts include these optimizations for the Flash renderer. However, they are not part of the Super Pixel technique. The newest Super Pixel font 'Halogen' is trimmed to the margin instead and does not blur in Photoshop or Flash. (it does lighten a little in Dynamic vs. Static mode in Flash, see image below)

The second poster was right, the technique adds hand-antialiasing to pixel fonts without all that dangerous mucking about with hinting.
Business & Halogen in Flash & Photoshop

hrant's picture

What accounts for the differences in Halogen and Business?
Is one better than the other (I mean technologically)?

Halogen's Photoshop output is much better, but what's the reason for its variability in Flash (Static/Dynamic)?

hhp

emor's picture

The font would look fine in Photoshop if you set anti aliasing to "none" wouldn't it? Or did I miss something?

emor's picture

Nevermind. Obviously it needs to be anti-aliased.

Miguel Hernandez's picture

What is the formula to make them in fog or fontlab?

Bitfonter 2 have to come with this function?

What if i need to use this font in a color background?

can i use super pixel fonts at 200%?

tidchris's picture

Hrant, Garf,

Antialiasing must be turned on, unless you're in Flash with a dynamic text field. In that case, the operating system itself draws the text. So I get the following results. Notice that at low quality, Halogen and Business lose their grey pixels, but Halogen retains them in the dynamic text field. In every example, dynamic is lighter than static, because it's being rendered by Windows 2000 with basic font smoothing (circa 95 plus pack). The black block is a difference filter between Medium and Best quality - no difference.

Super Pixel Fonts in low quality, static and dynamic text

Business and Halogen were built differently - Walter Apai of FFF designed Business after seeing my prototype super pixel fonts. Walter improved the use of the technique visually, and I improved the technical side. About a month after Business came out, I released Halogen, using a further refined technical approach. FFF has access to the full "Super Pixel Fonts"

hrant's picture

Christopher, thanks for the elaboration.

> When our patent is complete

I'm no lawyer, but I think what's called "Prior Art" might prevent your patent from actually holding up in court.
In fact off-hand I can think of three cases of such "Prior Art" that might qualify, but I can't be sure.

hhp

hrant's picture

Question:
Is there a difference between Flash5 versus MX in using Business and/or Halogen?

hhp

tidchris's picture

Hi Hrant, I know you're interested in hand antialiasing. I hope you will consider releasing a Super Pixel font through FFF.

Prior art: that may be. I've found potential cases but none are in the Flash+TrueType+unhinted sandbox.

There should be no difference between Business and Halogen output in MX vs. Flash 5 or 4. Has anyone tried 3 or 2 format? These also have antialiased rendering for embedded glyphs.

-chris

hrant's picture

Yes, I've been working on an "immersive on-screen reading" font called Mana on and off since '98...
I've even managed to "deliver" it through some funky CGI scripting: make each letter a tiny GIF and convert ASCII text to an image stream... :-/ But the raw HTML code size was prohibitive for long texts.

Here's a snippet:
mana.gif

I actually contacted FFF, but they said the amount I expected for my design didn't make sense for their business.

What about through you guys?

I can always go solo, but having a high profile home would help Mana's sales a lot.

hhp

hrant's picture

BTW:
> These also have antialiased rendering for embedded glyphs.

I don't get this part.

hhp

tidchris's picture

> > These also have antialiased rendering for embedded glyphs.

> I don't get this part.
> hhp

I meant to say, each version of Flash down to the original FutureSplash uses antialiasing. When a font is decomposed into geometry for display as static text, it will be antialiased. So, it's likely that very old versions of Flash will support Super Pixel Fonts.

BTW, I like Mana. TiD's not yet set up to sell fonts though. Mana's grey fringing is far more refined than typical ClearType output. I would further lighten pointed forms like the crux of the y.

p.s. what is a 'juvenile' or 'kiddie' letter y?

-chris

hrant's picture

> what is a 'juvenile' or 'kiddie' letter y?

Basically where the body is a "u", not a "v".
Or like a "u"+"j" ligature without the dot. :-)

hhp

Miguel Hernandez's picture

I dont want to be rude but..if anyone can build an alternative method to make grey dots on vectors on a font, why buy a patent to Truth? A friend tell me an alternative method so i am making pixel fonts with greys too.

M.

hrant's picture

Well, I don't think it's rude. But I don't get what you mean by "buy a patent to Truth". Do you mean: Why would somebody pay a licensing fee to Truth for the "technology"? Who knows. Maybe to avoid a lawsuit (even if it wouldn't hold up in court), or maybe to avoid the trouble of figuring it out? Remember what Christopher said about the process being technically pretty tricky - and I believe him.

> i am making pixel fonts with greys too.

Oh yeah?!... Hey, me too! :-) What PPEM size is yours?

hhp

Miguel Hernandez's picture

I mean that, thank you Hrant.I am beginning to experiment with the method, is pretty tricky i know. But i hope that is not the same of Truth, but i works! i hope that others can do the same now to make this technology free for all. If anyone knows an alternative method, please post your comments here, Thanks.

M.

tidchris's picture

Hi Miguel, Hrant,

This is not a rude question and it comes up a lot. The generic name for greyscale pixel font methods is "sub-pixel fonts".

"Super Pixel fonts" describes a patent pending technique which provides reliable rendering on all TrueType environments. Your grey dot fonts will probably be great (disclaimer, I love your fonts) but they won't be "Super Pixel fonts" unless you license with us and build them like we do. Hrant is right, it takes more than sub-pixels.

In many countries, It is still legal to protect a method even if you are not a rich corporation. A patent holder is not obligated to extort and coerce, only to assert ownership. We hope to do this right.

-chris

tidchris's picture

btw Miguel, how do you get Circa to show up with white and black components here: http://www.atomicmedia.net/font.php?font_name=Circa

is there a 'fills' as well as a 'forms' variant?

-c

Miguel Hernandez's picture

It is not necesary if you know how to use the path tools on illustrator or freehand, then just paint. Make a variant version of CIRCA for this is unnecesary.

M.

Miguel Hernandez's picture

Hand Antialiasing Explanation,

http://www.airwindows.com/inventions/HAFonts.html


Post your comments,

mh.

tidchris's picture

I like it.

There were not a lot of 48 point bitmap fonts available for MacPaint so I made a few by doubling a 24 point font and smoothing it out in ResEdit in much the same way.

A similar method was actually applied by the Apple LaserWriter when printing 72 dpi images (from MacPaint) - a mechanical, but competent, interpolation up to 300 dpi. I think some paint software was capable of the trick as well.

I do not agree that his scheme's "errors and inaccuracies would likely be insignificant". No scheme is the equal of the eye, reader or typographer. But it's a big step up from nothing. the author of SmoothType should try it out as a rendering option. This would help old designs keep up with antialiased outline fonts.

-chris

hrant's picture

Miguel, I remember seeing that page a while back. But Christopher is right: there's no way a mechanical method can match hand crafting, especially in delicate glyphs such as a humanist binocular lc "g" at 10 pixels high.

hhp

Miguel Hernandez's picture

yes we use fontographer, why?

tidchris's picture

I have used Fontographer a lot since the old days of outline Mac fonts. It's great, but FontLab is better. Pixel fonts can be really tweaky to make (cutting counterforms, pixel snap, etc) and FontLab does a lot of it for you. I haven't tried the Mac version, apparently it's better.

darryl's picture

So fontlab is better than Fontographer when creating pixel fonts?
Do people create the fonts in PS and then import in Fontographer?

hrant's picture

> So fontlab is better than Fontographer when creating pixel fonts?

Now that FlashFonter (Pixelator? :-) is coming up, definitely.

> Do people create the fonts in PS and then import in Fontographer?

Actually, as a rule people who use both Fog and FontLab go the other way (and only because they've become comfortable with the former's interface, especially when it comes to drawing).

hhp

tidchris's picture

Hey Darryl

BitFonter is built for the job. PixFont also makes pixel fonts. It's touchy, incomplete, and inexpensive. (Neither can create sub-pixel fonts)

You may be able to cut and paste from Photoshop into Fontographer, but I couldn't. I switch between PS and FL and copy by eye.

tidchris's picture

HHP: you mean people who are comfortable in Fontographer draw there first, then test in Photoshop?

I'm lost in indefinite articles

hrant's picture

No, they create in Fontographer, then move to FontLab to polish and export.

hhp

Miguel Hernandez's picture

Fog lets you create Outline and Bitmaps on 50% less price than Fontlab or Bitfonter.

In my opinon,Flashfonter is NOT an application like Fontastic or Fog. Is a small app who lets you open fonts from your system and export a .VFB file on a pixel grid vector, thats it. The other is a pluging for fonlab, to draw those pixels as vector.

I believe that pixelfonts deserve a $99 app like Typetool, no way to pay $500 to buy bitfonter or fontlab if you can do the same ob fog, you guys from Fontlab are on the time to build something like this. A Pixeltool 1.0 for $99 makes a sound for all who build pixelfonts.

mh.

Mark Simonson's picture

Hrant, I think by "PS" Darryl means Photoshop, not Postscript. (Darryl, most people on Typophile probably think "Postscript" when they see "PS.")

Some people do the design work in Photoshop, then produce the font in FOG or FL. I've never used this method, so I don't know what's involved. I use BitFonter for the design stage and then import the resulting bitmap font into FOG where it can be traced.

unlinear's picture

Just curious...

Fontsforflash is not exactly 'innovating' here -- just marketing. adding smaller pixels to a bitmap to control smoothing isn't a new thing, though I'd have a hard time coming up with good examples of 'prior art'. What does this mean for the supposed 'patent'?

I'm a major patent opponent in the tech field. If you look at what tech patents have done to stagnate progress... meh. ick.

hrant's picture

> adding smaller pixels to a bitmap to control smoothing isn't a new thing

Who did it before? No name, no game.

hhp

tidchris's picture

AFAIK, nobody did. The idea of using an outline font to produce one font size is asinine. If not for pixel fonts, I would have been stringing together grayscale bitmaps like Hrant did with Mana.

But they were there and I figured you could 'fraktur' them to get gray. Did I mention the level of gray is different in every rasterizer? And every user asks me if they can use it at 12 point as well as 8? Sorry, no - It's a hack!

It's not a software patent. There's no software, just technique. (as we all know at this point)

tidchris's picture

Apologies to Rob who said "tech" not "software". Considering I said "technique", his last point stands pretty strong.

But I disagree that it's not innovation. Six months ago you couldn't get sharp antialiased text in Flash, now you can, provided you can find the point size you want.

I'm sure Macromedia will innovate me right out of the market by next year. Look for it!

darryl's picture

Chris take a look here http://www.pixietype.com/news.html
This pretty much looks like super pixel fonts.

darryl's picture

Chris ive been to many blogs/forums. I've always noticed people saying that FFF introduces Super Pixel Fonts. But never Truth In Design. Why?

Also one more Question..

are these super pixel fonts made in Fontlab or Fontographer?

tidchris's picture

Joseph is correct. We chose a partner with big marketing and credibility in pixel fonts. Flash designers feared grey smudging, so only FFF could offer something with grey pixels that could be trusted. TiD is known only in the Pocket PC and Flash arenas, so we are more or less invisible.

PixieType's PixelFX appeared a month after Super Pixel Fonts. It looks like they're using our method. I can't speak to PixelFX' compatibility, different subpixel styles yield different results.

We use a lot of tools, including some in-house tricks. FOG is great, FontLab's better at the moment.

Miguel Hernandez's picture

>only FFF could offer something with grey pixels that could be trusted..

sorry but flash mx 2004 dont have the filled bug, so anyone can buid trusted pixel fonts that works...

About the misterious wathever name of greys.., they can EASYLY make on the old good fog, of course is abouth math, and 25% - like mini magic pixel on every grey angle

I thinks there is no exclusive licence technique when every one can buy fog or fontlab and making such effects. In two months all the pixel font designers will be using it.

Now, back to the essential think..
Quality and talent on type design, that could be trusted, thats credibility, and a niche on the market.

Keep on the good work pixel pals,

mh.

tidchris's picture

mh said:
> flash mx 2004 dont have the filled bug,
> so anyone can buid trusted pixel fonts that works...

good to know. I meant to say, people come to FFF for clean, non-smudging fonts. And now, apparently, for Flash 4/5/6 compatibility.

> I thinks there is no exclusive licence
> technique when every one can buy fog or
> fontlab and making such effects.

Everyone can buy MSVC and write their own GFX apps too, but if they put tabbed palettes in the UI, Adobe can sue them. Look Miguel, we are not going to stop microfoundries from making "super subpixel misterious FX wahtever name of MX greys font fonts". But if you start selling a lot of them, dont be surprised if at some point we ask you for 5% of the price. Unless you were doing it a year ago and got it notarized. But you weren't, you did it cause I did it. Get a time machine. I've got one, how do you think I invent these things.

> In two months all the pixel font designers
> will be using it.

I know. I am really, really happy about this. I knew you all would make brillant work with it. Hitting you up for a piece of the action is the hard part. It could have been HP, Apple, or some godawful "patent holding company" controlling this thing. It's just me and my little company Miguel, and we freaking love you. Be glad.

> Keep on the good work pixel pals,
> mh.

You too. See if you can beat me to the next idea, I got 2 more.
-c

Miguel Hernandez's picture

> See if you can beat me to the next idea, I got 2 more.

Thats not the idea. You guys are the first in the market doing that vector greys, you are.

But legally, this point of get a patent of a trick, i really dont know if it could be compared with other stuff, you got Coca cola first, pixietype do pepsi maybe? i really dont know.

I dont know if pixietype or others or myself, have to pay a 5 %. I think that whe are talking about 50% at less, i dont know if Truth or FFF can hit pixietype for 5%.

mh.

darryl's picture

So is atomic media comming up wih something?

darryl's picture

Miguel could you tell me how you do sub pixel rendering in FoG?

I got some wiked fonts here which hunger for it :-)

Miguel Hernandez's picture

hunger for Pepsi or Coke?

Still testing, but you have to do a math opetation, control the blur that images produce on a vector is not to hard to understand on numbers. You have to try on your fab font edit app.

I am shure that you could do your own stuff too there in India...


mh.

tidchris's picture

I used to like Pepsi better, it does not have a sticky aftertaste. Now I drink imitation Coke. maybe there is a conflict? dang it Miguel I'm staritng to mimic you .

> I dont know if pixietype or others or myself,
> have to pay a 5 %. I think that whe are
> talking about 50% at less, i dont know if Truth
> or FFF can hit pixietype for 5%.

I surrender no rights. ;)

Darryl - if you don't know how to do it at this point - you did not read this page. Lazy man! Read it again!

Go ahead and tell him the Pepsi way. I've been thinking about this for 6 months now, Pepsi has to catch up.

You people, I swear.
xoxo, -c

darryl's picture

Are you sure about the No Rights Part?


Atomic media has a lot of potential to become bigger than FFF.

darryl's picture

>I am shure that you could do your own stuff too there in India...

Sure its a free country.

darryl's picture

Ohhhh and Chris I do know how the method works but it just doesnt seem to be working yet. You could be bit more nicer when you speak to me.

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