oughtful

poems, photographs, prose
by matthew

october 17, 2006 · tags: art

paint by number

Another attempt to 'translate' digital photographic data into other systems, this time into a kind of paint-by-number. Each colour in the image is assigned a number, and a border is drawn around each area of colour. Since digital photos are made of small square pixels, this more or less creates a grid. The bigger boxes are where two or more adjacent pixels are the same colour (notice the patch of black in the lower-right corner). A key of colours and corresponding numbers is also generated. The example above has been resampled to fit on this website; the generated file is big enough to be printed out and hand-painted. I like that this demonstrates how a digital image is made up, in a kind of tongue-in-cheek way. If you had a big enough palette (this image uses 1171 different colours) and enough time, it could work perfectly as a paint-by-number. Again, this was generated using PHP scripting. I'm working with small images for now, as anything much bigger than this causes the script to time out.

The photo was taken in Dublin, and is one of the images included in index of first lines.

Added October 22, 2006: Jeremiah McNichols has written an interesting analysis of my paint by number and index of first lines projects on his excellent blog, Think In Pictures. They were also briefly mentioned on Information Aesthetics and Digital Aesthetics.

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