Disodium no. 2

disodium's picture

disodium 02

This font is almost finished. I am working on bold versions too.

However, I can only save my bitmap fonts as .fon, and that format doesn

hrant's picture

I think the top character set is very classy - something difficult to do in bitmap. BTW, the conventional placement for the old-style numeral 4 is lower.

Delivering bitmap fonts:
PostScript: On the Mac, just use an old-fashioned suitcase. On Windows, you can't.
TT: On the Mac I think you have to use a utility from Apple*. On Windows you have to use SBIT.

* http://fonts.apple.com/Tools/index.html

BTW, if you can afford it, Pyrus's new BitFonter software is worth every penny: it really opens up a whole new world for bitmapfonting.



Stephen Coles's picture


Forget conventions, the 4 is great where it is.

Like Hrant, I love the wide set. I think it's marketable.
The condensed font is really tough to read unless
the user doubled the size.

I like the small caps. I am a sucker for small caps.


disodium's picture

Thank you very much for your critique, Hrant and Stephen, and the info on delivering. I should have told you that I use Windows, sorry. I

hrant's picture

Anders, your thoughts on old-style numerals are exactly the type of thing many more designers should be going through. Instead, most people are too afraid/lazy/dumb to challenge convention, and we're stuck with the non-sensical stuff we keep seeing.

One could argue that keeping the old convention in numeral design is important because readers are already used to it. But really, do we expect readers to notice and even react adversely to something as subtle as making the "2" ascending, for example? On the contrary, I think the functional and aesthetic advantages of improved design could play positive roles in the reader's subconscious.

Part of the problem is if/when you try to license your work to a font house, they enforce their own beliefs/needs on the design. This is understandable, and much can be learned from the experience of font houses, but to me it's one more reason to go completely independent.

Conventional numerals suffer from two main things:

1. The distribution of contrast (stroke thickness) is erratic and inconsistent. Gill tried to address this, but I for one don't like the results. In November I will post my own efforts to this list, and see what you guys think.

2. The "extenderness" of some numerals does not seem to be based on solid reasoning, at least not solid in this day and age. As you allude to, the numerals are too descending overall.

In the case of #1, I think more people should be trying to either: make the emphasis of *all* the numerals horizontal; or (preferably) align the emphasis of all the numerals to the vertical of the alphabetic glyphs.

In the case of #2, I personally think the "3" and "5" work much better when sitting on the baseline*, and the "2" should ascend as well. As for the zero, I'm undecided. :-/

* Note that some old French foundries used to so this.

Also, the conventional numeral "4" is a disaster.

BTW, concerning your statement that "this is not a completely new invention": Maybe your efforts are not an "invention" (very very few things really are), but the mental path you're taking is significant because it's both important and disregarded.


flingford's picture

Nice, Anders. I do think it would help to increase
the spacing in the condensed version to 2px.


disodium's picture

Hrant, I think you nail the problems with old style figures very well and I look forward to see your achievements on November 1st. But I like the descending

hrant's picture

I think your new "5" is more elegant, but might now be too close to an "s" (although context would clear it up 95% of the time). I would make it ascending. :-)

I also think your top text sample is truly nice.

BDF: If you can get your hands on a Unix system, there's a free utility by Mark Leisher (called XBDF? Check the OpenType discussion list archives) that lets you design bitmaps and output BDFs. I think even in grayscale. And as a last resort, you can always write out a BDF by hand, since it's human-readable, sort of...

BTW, more like Nov 30th. :-)


disodium's picture

Thanks, David. The condensed middle-size 7 is just a mistake. I notice now some other flaws. I guess I didn

codeman38's picture

FWIW, though it takes some repetitive button-pushing, I've managed to use the shareware Softy font editor to convert bitmap fonts to TrueType. You can get it here: http://users.iclway.co.uk/l.emmett/

To summarize:

  • Open up the bitmap font in Softy and use the Edit->Scale command to resize the font to somewhere around 100px wide (with the appropriate ratio for height, of course).
  • Then, in Softy's main window, select Use Bitmap Char from the Template menu.
  • Open up Softy's TrueType editor and use the Glyph->Outline Template command for each character to create a bare-bones TrueType font.
  • Then, once *that's* done, fiddle with the character mappings, either in Softy or in a program (such as High-Logic's Font Creator Program) that's better equipped with regards to character maps.
Just a suggestion; there are no doubt more elegant ways of doing this, but I've created TrueType versions of several bitmap fonts from video games and computer programs using this method...

-- codeman38

hrant's picture

OK, in case anybody's interested, I posted some
"NEWmerals" in a thread under Critique/Numerals.


Miguel Hernandez's picture


i hope this will be a misunderstood cause the font "Slightest" was modify and put in this Disodium . please see the compare and take your own conclusions.
First of all i need to know the truth...



bardram's picture

Hummmm...Miguel, I'm not so sure about that...of course many bitmap fonts look similar to others...for instance your font Detroit 45 looks very similar to the font that http://www.pixelhaus.com

my picture

uses, and I know that that font has been around for many many years. I can't recall off the top of my head what the name of it is though. Just be careful before alluding to other copying your work...:)

hrant's picture

Miguel, at the resolution you guys work at, *coincidence* becomes a very probable explanation.


foss's picture

the last 3 lines of the disodium sample are identical to the last 3 lines of the slightest sample. i can see how 2 people could make the same bitmap font, but its weird how the way these 2 samples are displayed are the exact same. if you layer one over the other, you'll see.

bardram's picture

Phil, I think Miguel *purposely* designed the image of his to correspond to the font image that is here, to show the similarities. That image isn't in the discussion about Miguels' font I could be wrong

foss's picture

ok nevermind my earlier post, i misunderstood Miguel's posting. but i would agree with the others- theres probably a hundred bitmap fonts with as many similarities as the two you're comparing.

Miguel Hernandez's picture


I hope you anderstand the pasion of who talks without think too much,(...) cause this is a coincidence, and thank you guys, but the matter of this is, the number of pixel combinations to make a screen font is limitated, and this limitation is because this kind of designs can be similar...

Sorry, i´m not a bad guy. (;Ç


disodium's picture


no harm done. I don

anonymous's picture

Lovely font -- especially in the text samples. The increased letterspacing is a major improvement.

I especially like the numerals, and I personally don't see any problems with the "5" reading as "s"; it's main stem is bold enough, I think, to prevent much confusion, especially in context.

However, is the condensed middle-size "7" supposed to be ascending, and if so, is it a bit too tall? In any case, I think I prefer it descending.

I also like your treatment of the tails on the bold versions of uc "K" and "R", as well as the form of the uc "Y" and the descending tails of uc "J" and "Q".

And those lc "r"s are really attractive! Nice work.

David Thometz

anonymous's picture

wow -- this would be absolutely fantastic in an xterm.

anonymous's picture

I'd LOVE to know when this font will be available!

anonymous's picture

CorelDRAW! allows you to create Truetype fonts... I've created a couple bitmap fonts using that.

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