The most important takeaways if you're on Linux:
1. Make sure you have autohint=false (except for individually chosen fonts that might need it). You don't want the renderer ignoring the individual font's hinting information and trying to do it itself: results are usually quite bad.
2. Make sure you have the correct subpixel rendering for your screen (usually rgb) and enable the lcdfilter. I prefer "lcdlight". Comparison of different lcdfilter settings here: http://www.spasche.net/files/lcdfiltering/
3. Consider disabling hinting entirely. I hate it. On a high DPI screen, you don't need hinting at all, because the edges of a glyph will already align very closely with the pixels. On a low DPI screen, especially as you get down closer to 96 dpi, the amount of distortion needed to align the font with the grid completely mangles it. You might think there's a sweet spot where hinting makes sense, but I've never seen one.
The article actually has a picture illustrating this beautifully: look how much better the unhinted rendering is than the hinted one! https://venam.nixers.net/blog/assets/fun_with_fonts/ftdiff_v...
If you do disable hinting, you should also change your desktop environment's default fonts to a family that has very good unhinted pixel alignment even at small sizes. I use Adobe's "Source" family, and it looks fantastic, even at my desktop's 10pt default size.
No, poor antialiasing makes the glyph look bolder. Specifically, drawing the antialiased text without taking into account screen gamma causes that.
edit Noticed this also:
> lcddefault is color-balanced and normalized
You’d expect it to be, but not everywhere. The filter sum is ~1.4 or so with many libraries. This is to offset the gamma problem I mentioned above. I think skia’s renderer now actually does have sub-pixel gamma correction, and is properly normalized.
Of course this is probably a product of nostalgia and familiarity as much as it is actual general readability.
After using bitmap fonts for a while I can't help but notice how imperfect antialiasing, and other ways of smoothing fonts are.
To the point where it distracts me. For example, when using Windows Terminal; "Huh? Is that font meant to look like that? Better check all my windows font settings and use that pointless wizard for the 5th time".
I cannot use a terminal font on *nix that isn't a bitmap font. I hate anything else.
That being said I haven't tried any of the tricks in the article, maybe those will sort out my problems with my non-bitmap font rendering.