NanoFont, a 3x4 pixel font with "legible" 2x2 lowercase glyphs

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Enter Michael “Code Poet” Pohoreski’s nanofont, a 3×4 font with both upper and lower cases, consistent heights and all ASCII symbols!

A link to a github page does not really allow for anyone to see what this looks like, even with the examples. I guess it’s a bit of a meta thing - the examples need enlarging to see how they work, which is kind of (not) the point, I suppose.

So I resorted to the best combination of digital and analogue technology - a magnifying glass between me and my screen. The upper case version was quite readable, in the main. The lower case version looked like alien symbols from a sci-fi film’s design dept.


Context is key. I could decipher enough of the example to tell it’s the Declaration of Independence but I doubt I could read something I’ve never seen before.

Fun fact: a 3x4 pixel uses 12 bits of data per character, only slightly more than plain ASCII text (8 bits) and less than Unicode (normally 16 bits).


You are conflating the number of bits required to recall the character on a lookup table (ASCII, Unicode, etc) and the number of bits required to store a raster version of the typeface in a character rom, which is system-dependent and increases with resolution.


I see a grey rectangle that has two clearly defined and two fuzzy edges.


like graph paper, 12 bits is what you need to store the graphics for these characters; it’s 1 for a white pixel and 0 for a black pixel to be clear. that’s why it’s called 3x4. what you need to render these characters in something like a word document is not the point.

and, the relation between the minimum data needed for drawing this font, and ascii is - to my mind - a clever observation by the poster.

( other interesting comparisons would be to count the characters in the font to find the minimum bits for encoding the letters; or to estimate the bits for compressing the text block vs the rastered image of the text )

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Now do one for retina displays which are the norm today.

I learned a lot about the ability of the brain to create details from minimal visual data when I built SatanVision, a low resolution red LED television. It has 128x96 pixels of red dots.
When I watched a 1940s black and white VHS movie I found that I could see the sheen on the satin coat of a fellow. The coat was only a few pixels wide on the screen.


comparing != conflating

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Yeah, try switching your phone on.

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I can make out roughly half of the words. Does that count as legible? I do like the idea of using this rather than blurry scrawls for game textures and such, that seems like a definite improvement, but I’d have a hard time reading a book written in it, and it’s not an issue a magnifying glass would fix.

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F.A.D.G.I. one star BS

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”


Super Troopers Reaction GIF by Searchlight Pictures


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