Photoshop: Improve font antialiasing

  • 24
  • Idea
  • Updated 3 years ago
  • Implemented
  • (Edited)
Please please please add sub pixel aliasing to fonts! When creating a mock UI I can never make it look great, especially when working with body text / smaller fonts.
Photo of Edward

Edward

  • 92 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes

Posted 5 years ago

  • 24
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
I truly hope that you mean antialiasing.

And by "subpixel" antialiasing - do you mean CoolType/ClearType color filter antialiasing that everyone is abandoning? It only works if you know the exact layout of the color components of the display being used (and never rotate the display), and doesn't apply across different displays. Newer displays will be making that style of antialiasing even more difficult to support -- so OS vendors are quickly moving away from it.
Photo of Marc Edwards

Marc Edwards

  • 129 Posts
  • 18 Reply Likes
Yeah, it definitely seems like subpixel anti-aliasing is on the way out in a lot of situations. It hasn't ever been in iOS—I assume that's mostly due to the flexibility of the screen orientation. Certainly seems less important with 250ppi+ displays (ie. the Retina display).

I'm all for nicer font anti-aliasing in Photoshop. Do I have anything good to offer in how that could be done? No. I'm really not sure what the solution is. I do like iOS and Mac OS X's font rendering though.

I'm sure Chris will know the technical reason for this, but I believe subpixel antialiasing is only possible when compositing on opaque backgrounds. That's certainly the only way it works when building Mac apps.
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
The color filter antialiasing is possible without opaque backgrounds, it is just expensive (more memory, more computation) and not easy (and why most apps only do it when they composite the entire image).
MacOS also turns off color filter antialiasing for all but built-in displays (as of 10.6).

Yeah, I've got several ideas on how to get better font rendering. And lots of experiments to do or get done to figure out more details.
But improving rendering is not the same as matching OS or browser rendering - and that's another set of experiments to get done.
Photo of Joergen Geerds

Joergen Geerds

  • 32 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
Chris: what happened to the old ATM font rendering engine under OS9? it's been an awful long time, but I think I remember the font rendering was quite nice (could be wishful thinking on my side also)... if it was nice indeed, shouldn't the code float around somewhere on the adobe servers, and shouldn't you (or somebody) be able to pull it out of storage again? just an idea...
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
We're already using a more recent version of that same type engine (and have been since Photoshop 4 or so).
Photo of Joergen Geerds

Joergen Geerds

  • 32 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
Chris: d'oh... I wish I had access to the length FR discussion from 2-3 years ago... you were a big contributor to the discussion, and many good points were raised... so forget about my ATM comments... still, some improvements would be nice to the (small) font rendering.
Photo of Edward

Edward

  • 92 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes
yes, antialiasing. I did mean the clear type but wasn't aware people were abandoning it. Forgetting the technical terminology, basically I want body text on photoshop to look as good as it does on Webkit. :-)
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
You do know that webkit gets a lot of type wrong, right? And certain OSes butcher asian typefaces?

It is kind of difficult to match browser and OS renderers bug for bug....
Photo of Edward

Edward

  • 92 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes
whether it does it wrong or not, or through clear type or not, it still does a better job antialiasing than PS does. Check this out: http://edw.me/14291Y3f0E2C1z0F0k3F
Photo of Joergen Geerds

Joergen Geerds

  • 32 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
I posted this request for previous PS releases, I think way back for the CS3 release, basically asking for a more OS-like or browser-like font rendering, especially for people who need to mock-up websites and other interfaces. I am glad that this request have come up again, and it would be great to see this in PS CS6, especially since I heard the same reasoning why it couldn't be done back then.
Photo of joshfx

joshfx

  • 12 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
Check out Flash's new TLF font rendering. It's subpixel and it's awesome. 9pt Arial looks sharp and legible. Adobe should just use the same font rendering engine for Photoshop.
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
We have been talking to the team that does the font rendering inside Adobe, including the engine in Flash. Unfortunately, "subpixel" aka color filter antialiasing is not portable -- it depends on the exact layout of colors on your display. This is why OS makers are abandoning color filter antialiasing - it doesn't work on devices that can rotate (tablets, phones, new LCDs), nor on devices with non-RGB pixels (4 and 6 color displays).
Photo of joshfx

joshfx

  • 12 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
What if you made it optional? The same way there's multiple rendering options such as sharp, crisp, strong, and smooth.

Or is there a way to at least fake it like there's a faux bold and faux italic?

Not sure if any of these options goes against what you just said.
Photo of Edward

Edward

  • 92 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes
There's a way to fake it with this script here: http://www.tutorial9.net/tutorials/ph... but honestly, I don't see enough of a difference.
Photo of Noel Carboni

Noel Carboni

  • 117 Posts
  • 11 Reply Likes
I support the idea of adding features that make it possible to render text as per ClearType.

Comments that "it's becoming obsolete" seem short-sighted.

There are specific uses for this today, regardless of whether it generates text that might look wrong on some monitors.

I've even gone so far as to render type in WordPad then screen grab it on the occasions where I've needed a rasterized version that looks proper on LCD monitors with RGB orientation.

Before you start questioning why, don't forget that there can be times when things already captured need to be matched!

-Noel
Photo of Dmitry Uvarov

Dmitry Uvarov

  • 2 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes


Custom settings for for text render:

< Soft Light — Smooth — Hard Pixel >

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Subpixel text render.
Photo of Timur Junussov

Timur Junussov

  • 6 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes
Today, i was starting to design webpage in CS5
and saw horrible issue! This feature must have in CS6
Smth like additional option "subpixel-sharp" in Antialias drop menu near Sharp Crisp etc
See pic below
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
Something is off with your example -- Photoshop's type rendering isn't that far off. That sort of difference can't be accounted for with antialiasing.

That looks like you had a different weight of the typeface selected in Photoshop than what was used in the browser.
Photo of Noel Carboni

Noel Carboni

  • 117 Posts
  • 11 Reply Likes
A question also worth asking: Do you see the same disparity with IE or Firefox?

-Noel
Photo of Timur Junussov

Timur Junussov

  • 6 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes
Second try! I made another test, it looks like font Arial in Cyrilic not properly aligned
By reading other forums ( http://graphicdesign.stackexchange.co... )
It is due ClearType antialiasing, and due some patent issues. Are there any other workarounds ? Seems like Adobe Flash guys with TLF Text antialiasing solved that problem

Here is test 2

Photo of Kai Sellgren

Kai Sellgren

  • 3 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
It looks like Adobe PS team just does not want to ever implement this wonderful subpixel rendering technology. I bet it's too much of work for the little benefit or something.

Either way, I hope high resolution displays start arrive fast because there is no need for *any sort of anti-aliasing* in those displays. :)
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
Or we have investigated it and figured out why it doesn't work in an image editor, and talked to the OS vendors about why they are abandoning the concept. Yes, it would be a lot of work, for no or negative benefit.
Photo of joshfx

joshfx

  • 12 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
Chris, I think it's clear that there is public demand for subpixel rendering of smaller text (9px-13px).

Everyone who creates mockups for the web (72 dpi) needs this and the demand is not going to go away.

Regardless of the reasons why it can't be done we insist you find a way. We don't care if you need to create a new file format or image mode. We don't care if it will only be compatible with certain monitors or operating systems. Web designers are chomping at the bit for this feature more than anything else in CS6.
Photo of Mark Lee

Mark Lee

  • 80 Posts
  • 2 Reply Likes
Need this badly.
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
Has anyone looked at Photoshop CS6 type antialiasing?
Photo of Kai Sellgren

Kai Sellgren

  • 3 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Does it differ from CS5? It looks OK, but Crisp just isn't crisp in my opinion.
Photo of Noel Carboni

Noel Carboni

  • 117 Posts
  • 11 Reply Likes
This visual comparison might interest you.



To me Win 7 IE9's subpixel rendering with color-assist is the clear winner. We have already seen the best we will ever see of today's technology.

-Noel
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
And yet on my monitor it looks horrid (misplaced edges, strong color fringes) - because I probably have a different color filter order on my display. That's one of the reasons why color filter antialiasing is non-portable, and doesn't work well in an image editor.
Photo of Noel Carboni

Noel Carboni

  • 117 Posts
  • 11 Reply Likes
Understood.

But the Win 8 IE10 output without color-assist looks okay, right? That resembles the PS CS6 "Smooth" setting to me.

-Noel
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
Yep,and it does look a lot like the smooth option.
Photo of Noel Carboni

Noel Carboni

  • 117 Posts
  • 11 Reply Likes
I have. They're all good, and I'm not sure which I like best.

While you don't have options for ClearType-style color-assisted font smoothing, the smoothing you have implemented looks very nice.

How have you changed it between Ps CS5 and CS6?



-Noel
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
We found a couple of bugs in the antialiasing, and added one control (sorta hidden since it shouldn't be changed by most users) for the antialiasing of text.

We still can't use color filter antialiasing (for many reasons), and the OS vendors are still moving away from it anyway.

But the Sharp antialiasing should be much, much closer to OS and browser rendering. (ignoring the bugs and variations in each OS and browser version)
Photo of Kai Sellgren

Kai Sellgren

  • 3 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Something I don't understand is "OS vendors are moving away". Windows still uses it and has used it for ages. When we start to have high resolution monitors the demand for any sort of anti-aliasing will be gone, but there will always be a place for ClearType on Windows for non-high resolution displays.
Photo of Noel Carboni

Noel Carboni

  • 117 Posts
  • 11 Reply Likes
Windows 8's Internet Explorer 10 does not use color-precompensated subpixel antialiasing. See the post immediately below for screenshots clearly showing this.

I queried Microsoft specifically on this and they responded that it's being done on purpose, but would not say why. I am only left to assume that it's being done to more easily facilitate rotation on a tablet display. It does degrade the user experience for folks with mere 100 ppi desktop monitors.

Note that as higher resolution displays (think "Retina display") become ubiquitous, tricks like the color-precompensation to allow the font to light up just 1 or 2 of the 3 LCD color bars won't be needed. There will simply be enough resolution that either the grayscale smoothing or even no smoothing at all will be required as it will be done optically.

-Noel
Photo of Noel Carboni

Noel Carboni

  • 117 Posts
  • 11 Reply Likes
I understand completely about the color filter antialiasing. I note that IE10 doesn't do it at all, though the rest of Windows 8 still does. Frankly I think it seems a bit silly that the OS makers are driving away from this - it's a little too soon. I don't blame you for not implementing it for image prep though - one simply can't know what the target monitor is like.

If only the hardware makers would provide us with 200+ ppi display options on real monitors, because the color filter antialiasing really DOES work when there's insufficient resolution... Right now we just don't have an alternative.

Consider the following blow-ups and actual macro photos of same as displayed at original size on my monitor:





If that doesn't make it obvious (to the OS makers) why color filter antialiasing is still needed on today's monitors, I don't know what would. Maybe they figure a demand for better monitors will emerge if they stop compensating.

-Noel
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
Possibly they know what sorts of monitors are coming in the next few years?

And possibly they've already been dealing with bugs due to rotatable displays, or displays that mis-report their color order?

And they know that color filter antialiasing doesn't work on tablets, phones and other portable devices (because orientation can change too often, and many have odd color layouts).
Photo of Noel Carboni

Noel Carboni

  • 117 Posts
  • 11 Reply Likes
All good points, but...

It's better to eliminate the complexity rather than just make the tech work right? Is this the theme of the new millenium? "It's too difficult, just forget it." Sad if true.

Who's to say it wouldn't make a high resolution display look even better? When did "what's not obvious won't hurt you" become the proper philosophy?

Here's hoping the next few years really do bring 200+ ppi displays.

You realize you really are going to have to fix the Photoshop menus to be resizeable, don't you? :)

-Noel
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
The complexity can get too large to manage, and the tech can't always work well (like in image editors that don't know the final layout).
Photo of Michiel de Boer

Michiel de Boer

  • 4 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
I was hoping for better anti alias options in CS6. The problem isn't really sub-pixel sampling at all. It's more the blurriness of the fonts. Windows cleartype shows the fonts pixel-perfect, not blurred.

See the attached image. First is Photoshop crisp (or sharp I forgot). Second is roughly retouched by me to make the font more pixel-perfect (but far from perfect ;-).
Photo of Chris Cox

Chris Cox

  • 20280 Posts
  • 685 Reply Likes
And Photoshop CS6 does have better font antialiasing.

But Windows snaps the font stems to pixel boundaries, resulting in distorted but sharper type in some cases. (and they get dinged all the time for the bad composition and spacing)

Photoshop's font engine does a little bit of that, but errs on the side of overall composition and appearance rather than making each letter sharp.
Photo of Michiel de Boer

Michiel de Boer

  • 4 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
I understad, but for web-previews this still would be very useful :-)
It will likely take 5 years or more before 'retina' displays become common.
Photo of Phil M

Phil M

  • 1 Post
  • 0 Reply Likes
When I use the type tool on Photoshop CS6 for Mac OS X, I can never get the text's anti-aliasing to look exactly like the system's (some of the options look similar, but ultimately doesn't 'feel' the same as that on OS X). Below is a comparison:


Is it possible an additional smoothing option labelled perhaps "System" could be added?

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Photoshop on OS X: Add a new "System" font-smoothing option?.
Photo of PECourtejoie

PECourtejoie, Champion

  • 706 Posts
  • 261 Reply Likes
The system anti-aliasing for type has been enhanced in Photoshop CC: http://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/usin... anti-aliasing option for type