Thanks to Julio Marchi for this space in MSX All

MSX Font Editor

  MSX Font Editor manual
  The program was developed in Java and can be executed from many platforms using the same binary file. To start the program, open a command window on your operating system and type:

java -jar mfe.jar
  The main window when open, presents an empty font to the user to create a new MSX font.
  The font area, located on the left side of the form, shows all the 256 characters from a font. The area located at the right bottom having a 8x8 pixels grid is the character edition area, designed to create or modify the characters.

  To select a character, click on the respect character on the font area. The background color of the selected character is changed to blue and the "Selected character" changes to the corresponding ASCII code (see picture above). If you click on the same character, the selection is canceled and no one will be active.
  The user must select a character before moving it to/from the character edition area. To copy a character from the font to the charcter area, click on ">>" button. To update the character created or modifyed, click on "<<" button.
  To modify a character pixel on the character area, click on it. This operation always inverts the current pixel color.

  The character edition has the following tools:

  • Undo: undo the last operation.
  • Redo: redo the last operation.
  • Bold: change the character to bold.
  • Italic: change the character to italic.
  • Invert: invert all pixels.
  • Erase: erase all pixels.
  • Flip up/down: flips the character up/down.
  • Mirror: mirror the charcter horizontally.
  • Rotate: rotates the character 90 degrees clock-wise.
  If you want to apply any of these operations on all characters, let the "ALL" button pressed. This button changes the area operation target.

  For the empty font, just create each character and copy to the desired place on the font area.
  To open a single or multiple files, first place them on the same directory, click on "Open" and select the files you want to open.
  Use the browser area, located under the font area, to change the current font.
  The button "Save" saves the active font.

  Obs: the ".alf" file format is just a dump of MSX character table. On screen 0, we may get that table using the following Basic instruction:

  The table is the same for screens 0 and 1, but they differ on the VRAM location. On screen 1, the character table starts at the position 0.

  What's new from version 1.3

  Now it is possible to select multiple characters in sequence. There are two ways to get it:
  • Click on the first character and drag the mouse up to the last one.
  • Click on a character (former single selection) and click again holding SHIFT on the last character.


  Multiple selection allows that font modifications (ALL pressed) affects only the selection. If you want to modify all, clear the selection. Thus, copies are available from a font to another (or the same).

  For copy characters:
  • Select one or more characters.
  • Click on copy button.
  • If you wish, change the current font.
  • Select the destiny by selecting the first character or the same range as origin selection.
    • Leaving the current selection copies at the same place.
  • Click on paste button.
  Example on how to generate inverted colors for A-Z letters on the same font:

Select letters from A-Z Copy
Select initial char to destiny Paste
Select all chars to modify Press ALL
Click on invert char Finished

  At last, now the character edition area allows the mouse drag to fill/erase. For that:
  • Click - invert pixel.
  • Mouse drag with left button - fill.
  • Mouse drag with right button - erase.


  With mosaic tool it is possible to create pictures on screens 0 and 1 using 6x8 or 8x8 pixel blocks. This tool was already available on MSX graphic editor Graphos III, but only a few people knew about it.
  The picture size is limited, once there are up to 256 blocks available for drawing. This is the size of ASCII table.


  MSX Font Editor uses PC monochrome (black & white) images to create the mosaics. It cuts and assemble automatically the blocks on the current font edited. In addiction, it it possible to export two types of Basic files: the first one that loads the font file containing the mosaic and print the picture on the screen, and the second that incorporates the mosaic in the program.


  Options available:

  • Open - open a PC image to create the mosaic. It must be monochomatic, as seen on the pictures above.
  • Mosaic mode - mosaic for screen 0 (6x8 blocks) or screen 1 (8x8 blocks).
  • Start at - ASCII table starting position to export the mosaic.
  • Save - saves the program in Basic to read the mosaic from a font file or with the mosaic included.
  • Mosaic - Exports the mosaic to the current font on the "font editor", starting from the selected ASCII position.
  This program optionally saves a Basic file in order to automatically draw the mosaic on the MSX screen. Two file types are possible: the first one includes the image data in the program and the second not. In that case, it is necessary to export the data to a font, save it and then load that font from the Basic program.
  For the second option, it is necessary to edit the Basic file in order to change the generic font file name to the name you have chosen.

  It is possible to close the mosaic editor and then reopen it, without changing the current data. For example, you may close it to undo mosaic export and back again. Remember that to undo a font changing, click the "Undo" button with the option "ALL" pressed.

Marcelo Silveira
Systems and Computing Engineer
Expert in Image Processing and Artificial Intelligence
© MarMSX 1999-2022