Sub-Pixel Message Generator

Here’s something crazy and pointless: did you know that LCD monitors draw single pixels by mixing three individual red, green and blue subpixels? It’s true! In fact, some devices (like mobile phones and handheld gaming devices) actually use this to anti-alias text and make borders more distinct. Microsoft even use it on laptops running windows with a technique called Cleartype.

I’ve made a little program that uses this technique to create a ridiculously small font, only visible on LCD monitors running at their highest resolution. Each letter is only 1 pixel wide and 5 pixels high, but should be legible nonetheless if you look really closely. Behold!

If you can read that, then feel free to check out the little program I wrote to generate it: my Sub-Pixel Message Generator. You can read more about it in these two TIGSource threads (1 and 2).

[Edit 24th Nov 2010]: Hi, ycombinator! If you’re having trouble reading this, a guy called alanfalcon on your comment thread took a photo of it so you can see what’s happening: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dafalcon/5204413187/in/photostream/

* 27 Comments

27 Comments so far

  1. Scrim on April 19th, 2008

    You jerk, you’ve just Rickrolled me again!

  2. Terry on April 19th, 2008

    :D

  3. stephen on April 19th, 2008

    ouch. cool, but: ouch.

  4. おもしろ ゲーム on April 21st, 2008

    I am Japanese.
    I am interested in your article and enjoyed your blog!
    Please keep it for us.
    Thank you

  5. Joonas on November 16th, 2010

    This technique could be useful in situations where your customer want something to be moved half a pixel to some direction.

  6. Merijn on November 24th, 2010

    A quick FYI, this relies on the RGB ordering of pixels which are not the same for all screens. For example, your picture is a completely illegible mess of colors on my MacBook because the RGB ordering is different from the screen this image was created on.

  7. Jooonas on November 24th, 2010

    I turned my screens 90deg and of course it doesn’t work. But the idea is very cool. If you could create an alternative font that works for 90deg rotated screens, it could be used on tablets and phones and the like.

  8. [...] fonts have claimed to be the smallest legible font, but I have to say that this 5×1 pixel font is the undisputed king. It cleverly uses the way that LCD displays display pixel color with three [...]

  9. Jaime on November 24th, 2010

    @Merijn Funny because I just tried in a mackbook and could read it. Actually… I even had a harder time reading it in a Windows machine with an LG monitor.

  10. Skippy Lovejoy on November 24th, 2010

    Brilliant.

  11. h0h0 on November 24th, 2010

    merijn: “A quick FYI, this relies on the RGB ordering of pixels which are not the same for all screens. For example, your picture is a completely illegible mess of colors on my MacBook because the RGB ordering is different from the screen this image was created on.”

    excellent, a whole new font for real people to communicate in and call mac users a bunch of faggots

  12. fornve on November 24th, 2010

    Great stuff! I think you could find it usefull, possibly :)

  13. chris on November 24th, 2010

    You’re a god. A vengeful one, however. My eyes – it hurts! The goggles, they do nothing!

  14. [...] Galdino Esse cara simplesmente desenhou a menor fonte do mundo. Ela tem um pixel, eu disso UM PIXEL de largura e usa [...]

  15. Ry on November 25th, 2010

    “excellent, a whole new font for real people to communicate in and call mac users a bunch of faggots”

    wow, you’re an asshole! mum forgot to pack your lunch today huh?

  16. ry on November 25th, 2010

    “excellent, a whole new font for real people to communicate in and call mac users a bunch of faggots”

    wow, you’re an asshole, did your mom forget to pack your lunch?

  17. Marcelo Calcaterra on November 25th, 2010

    juajua
    exelente!!!

  18. John on November 25th, 2010

    It didn’t work for me. I finally remembered that my monitor is turned 90 degrees to portrait mode (more code at a time!), so the pixels aren’t in the right order for me.

    An interesting exercise though :)

  19. Dan on November 25th, 2010

    Barely legible, with a magnifying glass. Could you make a 2 pixel wide font? That would be awesome.

  20. h0h0 on November 26th, 2010

    “wow, you’re an asshole! mum forgot to pack your lunch today huh?”

    If she had I’d just take yours

  21. [...] distractionware » Sub-Pixel Message Generator (tags: typography design fonts graphics inspiration) [...]

  22. vector on December 1st, 2010

    so crazy! :-)

  23. [...] Sub-Pixel Message Generator – Using sub-pixel rendering to create a ridiculously small font (1 pixel wide and 5 pixels high), only visible on LCD monitors running at their highest resolution [...]

  24. Adi on January 17th, 2011

    Perfectly readable on the iPad. Fabulous!

  25. [...] d0kofflineMembro Sub-Pixel Message Generator con la tecnica del subpixel su cui che avete già scritto, sto tizio ha fatto un software che scrive font 1x5px http://distractionware.com/blog/?p=193 [...]

  26. alanfalcon on April 26th, 2011

    I wonder if you couldn’t extend this further with some kind of clever anti-aliasing by varying the brightness of each sub pixel?

  27. increpare on March 31st, 2014

    haha, just got someone with this :)

Leave a reply

The sausage champs webring!
previous site | random site | next site