Recently I’ve put two text-rendering related repositories online. My TrueType parser which you can use to get meta data from any .ttf font. And a multi-spectrum signed distance field font sample for MonoGame.

Especially the later is interesting if you would like to render text in your games!


A signed distance field font sample for monogame. Available at GitHub. As usual the code is available under the MIT license.


The content pipeline project

The sample includes a content pipeline project compatible with Monogame 3.0+. The content processor requires you set the path to the msdfgen binary. I recommend you generate it from this fork as it fixes many issues with complicated fonts.

The game project

The game project contains a simple utility class and shader to draw 3D moving text.

Why (multi-channel) signed distance fields?

Signed distance fields are a technique first described by Valve in this paper. In short a signed distance field is a sort-of height map. Where sea-level are the actually boundaries of the glyph. Everything above sea level is outside the glyph, and everything below sea level is inside the glyph. When a height map is upscaled the GPU fills in the gaps using linear interpolation. The linear interpolation of the height map introduces less noise/faults than interpolating a sharp boundary would do, but we still get the same information.

Traditional signed distance fields only use one channel, but they sometimes have trouble representing sharp corners. Multi-channel signed distance fields solve this problem by using three color channels to store slope information.


  • High quality text rendering
  • Low memory usage
  • Fast rendering (the shader is very simple)


  • No automatic mechanism to determine the right signed distance field size to capture all details
  • No multi-color glyphs (like emoji)
  • Straight lines might look slightly wavery sometimes


  • SpriteFonts, the standard in XNA and MonoGame, look good when rendered at the same size as the sprites were saved, but upscaling and downscaling quickly leads to a serious degradation in quality.
  • A library like slug which renders text directly from the outline data in the font. So no details are missed and no manual configuration is required.