Elspeth Grey

by Frodo7
Cloned from Elspeth  by Frodo7.

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This is a derivative work of Elspeth LC. Filter: both horizontal and vertical brick size are set to 0.5. Recommended font sizes: 24, 48, 72, 96, 144, 192, 240. Other sizes result in different moiré patterns as the bricks partially overlap the screen pixels. Kerning is not perfect, some minor ovelapping may occur.
Info: Created on 2nd July 2009 . Last edited on 2nd July 2009.
License Creative Commons
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The following screenshots were taken from a MS Word document at 100%. Setting the font size to 48 results in solid grey color (hence the second name). At sizes 24, 96, 144, however, a special effect appears: some letters are rendered in horizontal stripes, others in a checkered pattern. It is important to
note that any particular letter shows always the same pattern: striped or checkered. In other words, the pattern is letter specific. Furthermore, the two patterns are displayed in two significantly different shades of grey, yet the text color was the same: black.
Comment by Frodo7 3rd July 2009
The effect is even more striking when the text is selected in MS Word: a color inversion. Striped letters look a bit dimmed, checkered letters stand out. If we change the text color to blue (any other color would do), the two different patterns appear in different hues: letters made of stripes are ligh blue, whereas checkered letters are purple - a clear color shift. This phenomenon is known from biology and organic chemistry as metachromasia.
Any explanation?
Comment by Frodo7 3rd July 2009
It's a corker.
Comment by djnippa 3rd July 2009
Those samples look really, really cool, Frodo!
Comment by SquarePeg 3rd July 2009
What's probably happening is a phenomenon called moire. Artifacts are created when two grids are laid on top of each other. In this case one of the grids is in your font; the other one is the grid MSWord uses to generate colours.

Scanner operators get the same phenomenon when they have to re-scan material from magazines. The screen lines from the printed material interact with the scan grid to create "measles". Process printing minimises it by making sure each of the screens for cyan, magenta, yellow and black in a four-colour image are laid at specific angles to create a rosette pattern that the eye doesn't detect. Get a loupe and look at some four colour images in a magazine.

There's a process called stochastic printing that gets round the problem altogether by using screens that appear to have no pattern. Stochastic images, when properly printed, look absolutely wonderful.
Comment by intaglio 4th July 2009
Cool font and samples.

@intaglio Thanks for all that info. Interesting!
Comment by aphoria 4th July 2009
@frodo7: feel free to hide this comment if you don't want some old fart banging on about ancient technology in your yard:

Nostalgia corner:
Back in prehistoric times before digital I used a process camera to create bromide screen or line shots for use in magazines. It was a gigantic machine with huge klieg lights either side of an artboard where you put your photo or art. Above this was a lens which focused onto a glass above. You could see an image reflected onto this glass. You wound handles (!) up and down for your magnification or reduction. This raised or lowered the art. There were also aperture and focus controls, just like an s.l.r. camera but bigger.

The bigger the enlargement, the longer the exposure. Line art was fairly easy to do, involving just focus and magnification, but screen shots were also aperture sensitive. And you had to hold your tongue a certain way.

You used a special piece of easily damaged film called a screen (!) which was engraved in such a way as to pass the light through a grid and turn the grey values into dots of various intensities. This was captured onto the paper film which was behind the screen.

A screen shot required quite a bit of suction to sandwich the screen and paper film to the glass with no air pockets. The whole thing was like a giant vacuum cleaner.

If you had exposed the image for the right length of time at the right focus and aperture you were rewarded with a nice crisp image with all the grey values converted to dots. But you also had to do a "bounce" and "flash", which involved removing the screen without disturbing the paper film and exposing again. Bounce pulled dot out of the white areas; flash (putting a piece of white paper over the artwork and exposing for a third time) put pindots into the black areas.

Through trial and error I got quite good at it. It was an entirely mechanical process, and part of me hankers for those days. But only part of me. Photoshop wasn't even thought of yet because Apple hadn't been born.

God I'm old.
Comment by intaglio 5th July 2009
@intaglio: Thank you very much for your elaborate explanation. Your shared knowledge is highly appreciated here, and added much value to this thread.
I was aware of the moire phenomenon, but didn't know much about it. I am always happy to learn new things.

Meanwhile, I did my own research, and some tinker with the font. I suspected the difference of the two patterns (striped and checkered) and the the color shift is caused by the way those letters overlap the LCD subpixels. Remember, the letters of this font are composed of small black squares - triangles and trapezoids at the edges - embedded in a white square mesh. At smaller font sizes (and in this respect even 48 and 96 are small, because FS generated this font with a very large size) the subpixel font rendering helps to approximate the value of each pixels using not just different shades of grey, but colors. It gives a much improved perception of detail.

Now why on middle-earth show some letter this and other letters that pattern/color? Well, taking a closer look at the original Elspeth LC design reveals that some letters start with just a half brick. Thus, the whole letter is shifted right from the vertical registration line by a half brick.

It is an artefact caused by the very technique we use, but nothing prevents me to take an advantage of it. It is possible to construct a font having the very same glyphs in upper case as in lower case, but shifted by half a brick to right. Then we get every letter in two different patterns/colors, and we can mix them at will. One can use the dimmed version for basic text, and the other to highlight some parts.

In fact I just did that. With a little help of a font editor I copied and shifted the glyphs accordingly. The result is shown on the screenshot. Some minor issues still linger, artefacts in the artefact, but I will iron them out. And next time I promise to build a font from the ground up in Fontstruct to harness the power of moire.

This effect works on any standard LCD screens. It works with word processors, font viewers, probably with browsers, and most importantly with Flash. In Flash the text should be positioned over whole pixels, and moved by whole pixels when animated, not fractions.
Comment by Frodo7 5th July 2009

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