Subpixel rendering is a method used to increase the apparent resolution of LCD displays. Each pixel on an LCD screen is made up of individual red, green and blue subpixels. Subpixel rendering allows for improved character shapes and spacing and almost completely eliminates the “jaggies” seen in bitmapped images. Why do I mention this?
Well, over on Typophile, there’s an interesting blog post by Miha showcasing a new miniscule font he has created. It’s called The Bee’s Knees, has an x-height of 3 pixels and was designed with favicons in mind. Below you can see the font at actual size, it’s not scaled down.
If you look very closely at these tiny fonts you can see color variations. Below you can see the font enlarged by 1600% and can see the colours of each pixel.
The amazing thing about this font is that it is actually legible at 3 pixels high.
Another Tiny Font
In the midst of the discussion on the Typophile blog post (and there are some very long and convoluted discussions going on there), it emerged that there was another subpixel font already on the scene. It was designed by Ken Perlin and you can see it at actual size below. That’s the first five hundred words of the American Declaration of Independence in that little box.
Why did he make this font?
“My goal was to have something that is clearly readable, yet can fit an entire page of text onto a QVGA (320×240) screen (eg: an Apple IPod or T-Mobile SideKick). In contrast, I’ve noticed that Microsoft’s smallest screen fonts are unreadable, whereas their smallest readable screen fonts are way bigger than necessary. “
At the time of writing, neither font is available for download but I think they’re interesting to look at and I imagine that Miha will eventually make his tiny three pixel high font available when he’s finished experimenting.
What do you think of these fonts? When they become available for download should they come with a free pair of jam-jar glasses? Is there a serious application for these fonts or are they simply a curiosity?