The MakeSpriteFont tool can process any TrueType font that is installed on your system (using GDI+ to rasterize them into a bitmap) or it can import character glyphs from a specially formatted bitmap file. This latter option allows you to create multicolored fonts, drawing special effects such as gradients or drop shadows directly into your glyph textures.

See SpriteFont

Note: The command-line tools in the DirectXTK package are only built by the DirectXTK_Desktop_201x solutions since they are Win32 desktop applications. You can also obtain them as a pre-built binary from the download page as Other available downloads.


Open a Command Prompt, and change to the directory containing MakeSpriteFont.exe (i.e. ...\DirectXTK\MakeSpriteFont\bin\Release)

Enter the following command-line after changing to the appropriate directory:
MakeSpriteFont "Comic Sans" myfile.spritefont /FontSize:16

The file myfile.spritefont is generated from the installed TrueType font.

Bitmap Import

For importing the font from a bitmap file, characters should be arranged in a grid ordered from top left to bottom right. Monochrome fonts should use white for solid areas and black for transparent areas. To include multicolored characters, add an alpha channel to the bitmap and use that to control which parts of each character are solid. The spaces between characters and around the edges of the grid should be filled with bright pink (red=255, green=0, blue=255). It doesn't matter if your grid includes lots of wasted space, because the converter will rearrange characters, packing everything as tightly as possible.

For example, this is the sprite font for the Xbox 360 Common Controller buttons.


Open a Command Prompt, and change to the directory containing MakeSpriteFont.exe (i.e. ...\DirectXTK\MakeSpriteFont\bin\Release)

Enter the following command-line after changing to the appropriate directory
MakeSpriteFont xboxControllerSpriteFont.png xboxController.spritefont

The file xboxController.spritefont is generated from the xboxControllerSpriteFont.png image.

Note: The MakeSpriteFont tool only supports importing from .bmp, .png, or .gif images. If you are using a .tga source file, then you use should DirectXTex's texconv utility to convert it:
texconv -ft PNG originalSpriteFont.tga 

Commandline options

Specifies which Unicode codepoints to include in the font. Can be repeated to include more than one region. If not specified, the default ASCII range (32-126) is used. Examples:
Fallback character substituted in place of codepoints that are not included in the font. If zero, missing characters throw exceptions.
Size and style (bold or italic) for TrueType fonts. Ignored when converting a bitmap font.
Spacing overrides. Zero is default spacing, negative closer together, positive further apart.
Selects sharp antialiasing mode for TrueType rasterization. Otherwise a smoother looking (but more blurry) antialiasing mode is used.
What format should the output texture be? Options:
Auto - The default. Chooses between CompressedMono and Rgba32 depending on whether the font data is monochromatic or multicolored.
Rgba32 - High quality and supports multicolored fonts, but wastes space.
Bgra4444 - Good choice for color fonts on Windows Store apps and Windows Phone platforms, as this format requires the DirectX 11.1 Runtime and a WDDM 1.2 driver.
CompressedMono - The smallest format, and works on all D3D platforms, but it only supports monochromatic font data. This uses a special BC2 encoder: see comments in SpriteFontWriter.cs for details.
By default, font textures use premultiplied alpha format. Pass this flag if you want interpolative/straight alpha instead.
Dumps the generated texture to a bitmap file (useful when debugging the MakeSpriteFont tool, not so much if you are just trying to use it).


Since all glyphs specified are captured into a texture, the SpriteFont solution is very effective for smaller character sets. For large character sets such as Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, capturing every possible glyph is extremely slow, and the resulting image is extremely large. For these large character sets, using DirectWrite to render glyphs on-the-fly is a better solution.

For cases where DirectWrite is not supported (such as Windows phone 8) and/or when rendering a set of static localized text, another solution is to scan all your translated text and capture only those character regions actually used by your application's specific display strings.

Feature Levels

The MakeSpriteFont tool will generate warnings if the resulting sprite sheet texture is too large for the texture sizes mandated for a known Direct3D feature level (i.e., 2048 x 2048 for 9.1 and 9.2; 4096 x 4096 for 9.3; 8192 x 8192 for 10.x; and 16384 x 16384 for 11.x).

Further reading

Last edited Aug 22 at 9:35 PM by walbourn, version 30