How to create TrueType from an image

making-truetype-fonts-from-images

[Viacheslav] wanted his virtual terminal to have the look of a DEC VT220. He was unable to find a font set that looked just right so he set out to make his own TrueType font. He managed to find a sample image of the glyphs that the VT220 used as fonts. Using a collection of free software he sliced the image into 256 different parts, resized and converted to one-bit index images, and converted these to vector graphics. This was accomplished with a bit of python, an image tracing program, and font editor called FontForge.

Take some time to dabble with these font tools. With an adequate sample you should be able to reproduce any font set. We won’t achieve anything as sophisticated as the font printed with bacteria, but this will be a start in the right direction.

Comments

  1. PunMaster says:

    Your “VT220″ link just goes to the Wikipedia main page… :(

  2. Andrew Yeomans says:

    Brings back memories! The neat thing about real VT200s is that they had a programmable font set. So naturally I created an upside-down version. Good for a laugh on April Fool’s day, just had to transmit the upside-down font to the VT220.

  3. Mike Szczys says:

    @PunMaster: Thanks, fixed.

  4. zokier says:

    seems kinda silly to vectorize and and make truetype font, which then works only in one size. wouldn’t a bitmap font or something work better?

  5. Alpha says:

    This is cool!
    It also reminds me.. I made an online ANSI char viewer thing for viewing text reminiscent of the old BBS days.

    http://www.bigmech.com/misc/ansi/

  6. alex says:

    hahaha oh wow. that looks awesome. good job man!

    i just changed my terminal font to this and traveled through time to about 20 years ago

  7. justin says:

    It’s nice and retro, but I prefer bitmapped fonts.

    I use “LucidaTypewriter sans” at 9pt (no bold allowed), which makes the text in gnome-terminal look exactly like the old Solaris OpenWindows ‘cmdtool’.

  8. shadow says:

    Holy shit, an actual hack on hack-a-day, surely there must be be an arduino hidden somewhere

  9. tnt23 says:

    I wonder how Viacheslav managed to not use Arduino!

  10. Joe Knight says:

    If only it could be used on a standard size such as 14 or 16…

  11. svofski says:

    It should be used at sizes that result in pixel heights that are multiples of 20. Otherwise, interlaced lines just don’t work right, I probably can’t help it. I don’t know many terminal programs that don’t allow setting custom size (like 15): if the size is not in the list, usually you can enter it manually. Some font scalers are better than others, too.

    @tnt23: arduino debugging must be much easier with this font in the serial terminal ;)

  12. Paul Potter says:

    Fantastic work. I’ve been after a VT font for ages. I’m now using it in PuTTY. If anybody wants to know the correct setting to get all the line drawing characters etc, feel free to email me via the link on my site.

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