Letters within a text can be displayed in a variety of shapes. The shape of a letter forms is the most important part of a font. In computer fonts, two representations (storage mechanisms) of fonts are possible.
The two kinds of fonts seen on a computer are:
• Raster Fonts which are also known as Bitmap Fonts and
• Vector Fonts.
In this section we’ll look at Raster fonts. In a raster font, the shape of a character is stored in a two-dimensional array of cells. Each cell in this array is called a pixel or picture element. The shape of the letter is displayed on the screen by turning the pixels within this array on and off, or by filling them with various colour shades. The number of pixels used to define the shape of the letter or image is called the resolution of the image. The earliest computer systems used raster fonts for the display of information.
Raster fonts are extremely fast and simple to render since they require very little resources to store and render. The load on the computer is considerably lower than while rendering vector fonts. Raster fonts if they are not processed will always give the same output, so a high level of consistency is achieved in the display of information. In comparison with vector fonts, some type designers have argued that it is easier to create raster fonts than other kinds due to their relative simplicity.
Raster fonts usually have a poor visual quality when compared with vector fonts. This visual quality can become worse when they are scaled (size is changed) or transformed. These fonts are usually designed for a particular size. Scaling and transformation procedures (algorithms) can get very complex for the computer.
Raster fonts are probably not used as much as vector fonts when it comes to commercial designs. But there are several instances where widespread usage of raster fonts is seen. On some computers, all textual interfaces: command prompts, BIOS setups, and boot configuration information is displayed in raster fonts. Besides this in Windows and Linux machines, the error and recovery console displays use Raster fonts. Low-end mobile phones (and the now obsolete pagers) also use raster fonts for their entire interface. Due to their small size, raster fonts were often stored and used in dot matrix printers.
• In the given assignment, please try and answer the following questions.
• Use the available books in your library, online sources or talk to experienced graphic/ type designers.
• After noting down the answers, please discuss your answers with your colleagues and faculty members.
There is a possibility that you might not reach a single unambiguous answer. The goal of the assignment is to stimulate a discussion rather than to come up with a definite answer. Some of the questions are purposefully challenging, complex and ambiguous in nature; they are meant for the more experienced students and faculty, but undergraduates should nonetheless attempt to answer them.
Q13. Which file formats are used to store raster fonts?
Find out which operating systems and DTP publication software allowed the use of raster fonts?
Q14. List and discuss ten popular Raster fonts? Elaborate on their settings and context of use. Are there any existing fonts which were originally created as raster fonts but have now been made into vectors?
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