It started with cake

Once, in the before-times, I walked into our office kitchen and saw a mostly-devoured sheet-cake. I snapped a photo.

Did you get some cake?

It’s not a good photo. I like the big expanse of table in front of the cake. It’s a good place to put something. Like maybe another picture…

This got me started on a habit of taking photos of textures around town and my neighborhood. Since we’ve been sheltered-in-place for months, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to find interesting textures.

For my job I was helping to solve a sort of technical design problem. One of our clients has a shiny new brand-book complete with about 30 named and officially approved colors for use in their communications.

All of these options meant an absurd number of combinations. Some of those combinations would definitely fail. For example, a combo of yellow text on a pink background looked great and suited the brand - but it’s low contrast - and it becomes an unreadable mush if viewed by a person with color blindness.

I wrote a small program to iterate over the list of all the colors and create data file with all possible combinations. Then I took advantage of some automation features in Sketch to display all of those color combinations together with shapes and text. From there it’s easy to export all the color combos as one big poster image, and run it through a color-blindness or contrast filter and quickly spot the problem areas.

Automation gets me excited. I had 30 things, now I have 870 things. What if I did the same thing with my lousy cake photo?

Screen capture of Sketch with generated images

My program pairs each image with every other image. In Sketch I layer one image on top of another. The top one is masked with some simple geometric shapes. Above I use concentric circles to make a target-like shape. The shape mask “cuts out” the image so that the image below shows through. Now I get these weird combos of flowers and pavement or windows. Some images don’t work. The two layers clash or are just visually confusing. Some work really well.

Poppies in grassCake and pavementDandelions and sidewalkCherry blossoms

I’ve been creating these in the right size and shape of an Instagram “Story”. I’m hoping I can write a little program to automatically post these to Instagram. I have about 200 images. I could post one-per-minute for over 3 hours.

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