Font & Figure Creator!

Those of you who own, or are building, an Oscilloclock may have realized how tedious it is to create a new character or drawing. My little Casper (October, Seasonal Treats post) required a grueling 5 hours to get him looking good!

Casper - as drawn by my son (L) and then the Oscilloclock (R)

Casper – as drawn by my son (L) and then the Oscilloclock (R)

The current method – Painful

I have another blog post series in progress describing the theory behind Circle Graphics figure display, so I won’t elaborate on details, but the current process of getting a figure from paper to screen is very much manual:

  1. Roughly sketch out your figure on graph paper.
  2. Split out your lines and curves into blanked circle and line segments.
  3. For each segment, roughly ascertain the circle’s radius (width and height) and centre coordinates.
  4. Type the numbers into the code file, in PIC assembly language syntax.
  5. Build the code and Program the PIC.

NO.The figure looks NOTHING like you expect. The size is wrong. The edges don’t meet up. The curvature is out. The thing is upside down. All of the above!

  • Repeat steps 3, 4, 5 for several hours. Drink coffee. Redraw and repeat for yet another few hours.

  • Finally – Celebrate the birth of a new figure!

The Easier Way

The new Oscilloclock Figure Creator utility allows you to easily create and modify font characters, graphic images, and sprites – interactively.

This masterpiece took just 5 minutes using Figure Creator

This masterpiece took just 5 minutes using Figure Creator

Basic operation is straightforward: Add segments. Move them with the left mouse button. Size them with the right mouse button. Uncheck the boxes to blank parts of the segment. Multi-select with the Shift or Control keys. Clone and remove segments (or groups of segments) at will.

To fine-tune a segment without fiddling with the mouse, just type attribute values directly into the text boxes.

Once you have your figure looking good, copy and paste from the code box into your font/sprite/drawlist file, build and program, and you should have exactly the same figure on your Oscilloclock.

Copy, paste, build - voila!

Copy, paste, build – voila!

The tool not only lets you create figures from scratch, but you can also import and modify any existing figures! Simply copy and paste entire blocks of code into the code box.

And the best part of all? The tool supports the Sgitheach SCII data format, allowing us to easily convert fonts and shapes back and forth. Come to papa, Elvish and Klingon fonts!

Technical Details

The Figure Creator is written in C# and uses the .NET 4.0 WPF framework. The application and all source code is freely available from the Downloads page, published under the GNU license.

Yes, I too am awfully disappointed that I couldn’t do an iPhone/iPad or Android version, but I had no time to figure (!) out a new platform. If Windows phones take off one day, then I can easily add Touch features.

This post is dedicated to my father, a source of tremendous inspiration and encouragement, who passed away this month. He is deeply missed.

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