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textorize by Thomas Fuchs

textorize is a Ruby-based font rasterizer command line utility for Mac OS X. It generates PNG files from an input string and options, using Mac OS X's pristine typography facilities.

Subpixel antialising

The biggest advantage over other web font rendering techniques is full support of OS X's advanced subpixel antialiasing.

You can see this in action in the zoomed-in "textorize" headline at the top of this page. In essence, the apparent resolution of the screen is tripled (see the presentation below for more info).

View the presentation


Find out more at the textorize article at Thomas' blog.


You'll need to install Gemcutter first if you haven't yet, then it's as easy as:

$ gem install textorize
This will install the textorize Ruby Gem, and the textorize command line tool.

If you’re not using the default ruby environment on OS X, you’ll need to install RubyCocoa.

You can download this project in either zip or tar formats.

You can also clone the project with Git by running:

$ git clone git://

Stay informed

For the latest updates and neat tricks follow @textorize on Twitter.


textorize [options] string
  -f, --font=[FONT]                Font name
  -s, --size=[SIZE]                Font size in point
  -l, --lineheight=[HEIGHT]        Line height in point
  -t, --ligatures=[TYPE]           Ligatures usage: all, standard or off
      --list-fonts                 List available fonts
  -k, --kerning=[VALUE]            Kerning adjustment
  -p, --padding=[VALUE]            Padding in px
  -o, --output=[FILENAME]          Specify filename for saving
  -b, --obliqueness=[ANGLE]        Slant angle
  -c, --color=[COLOR]              Render text in specific color (CSS color value)
  -g, --background=[COLOR]         Render background in specific color (CSS color value)
  -a, --smoothing=[VALUE]          Font smoothing: 0=no subpixel AA, 1=light, 2=normal, 3=strong
  -h, --help                       Display this message and exit
The color parameters take any CSS color, in #abc, #aabbcc, rgb(1,2,3) or rgba(1,2,3,0.5) format.

For some fonts, you will need to specify a padding to avoid glyphs being cut-off.

Antialiasing options

These options are great for optimizing the appearance of light fonts at small fonts sizes. Here's an example comparing the rendering of Helvetica Neue Ulitralight at 12pt, with the various Photoshop and textorize smoothing options.

-a0 (or --smoothing=0) turns of subpixel antialiasing.

-a1 (or --smoothing=1) turns on light subpixel antialiasing. This mode makes glyphs rendered thinner, and is a bit more akin to Cleartype on Windows than the default OS X font rendering.

-a2 (or --smoothing=2) turns on medium/normal subpixel antialiasing. This is the default OS X font smoothing.

-a3 (or --smoothing=3) turns on strong subpixel antialiasing.


Generate a output.png file of the string "Hello" in black on white 200pt Gotham.

textorize -f"Gotham" -s200 Hello

Generate a foo.png file of the string "foo bar" in 19pt Lucida Grande, 75% opacity white on a dark green background, with additional spacing between glyphs:

textorize -fLucida\ Grande -s19 -k1.5 -ofoo.png --color=rgba\(255,255,255,0.75\)
  --background=#003800 foo\ bar

Generate a fancy.png file of the string "fancypants" in 60pt NeoRetro:

textorize -fNeoRetro -s60 -ofancy.png fancypants

Generate a transparent.png file of the string "transparent" in white on a transparent background in 50pt ProFont (note that the transparent background forces normal, non-subpixel antialiasing):

textorize -fProFont -cwhite -gtransparent -s50 -otransparent.png transparent

Above image is a 24 bit transparent PNG on a DIV with a background image.

I recommend using the smusher command line tool to losslessly shrink the resulting PNG images.