Friday, April 16, 2010

The Art of The Waffle

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in an Art Show that my Studio (FableVision) was hosting. Given the fact that most of the folks in the Studio are amazingly talented, I decided to stick with the medium that I know best -- food. After a little brainstorming, I decided to create art with waffles. The concept of my piece was:

To create software that when given a photo and number of servings would generate instructions for creating waffles with that approximate that image and serve that many people. (Play with it)

My first task was to generate an edible color palette that could be used to color the waffles. Initially, I was hoping to keep it to standard toppings like peanut butter, jams and Nutella, but I quickly learned that I would need additional colors. I then started recording colors for whipped cream mixed with different amounts of food coloring. With a little work, I was able to create a color palette of about 50 colors:

Once the palette was established, I got to work writing the software to generate the instructions. The basic concept was to break up the image into the appropriate number of waffle squares based on the number of servings the user entered in the software.

For each square, I then computed the average color and matched it to the closest color from the 50-color palette I had created. Below are two examples of the output of the software. Note that each square has a designated 'recipe' for creating the appropriate color (e.g. strawberry jam or Nutella).

In my experimentation, I realized that it required a lot of waffles to create a complex image. Therefore for the Art Show, my friend Ryan found a relatively simple picture of Mario from the Mario Brothers video games. It was made using approximately 25 waffles.

If you'd like to play with the software, click here. Click the Load button to create waffle art from a preselected set of images. Roll over each square of the waffle to see what it's made of. You can control the number of servings using the slider.

Special thanks to Gary Goldberger, Kate Cotter, Ryan McNulty, Sarah Reynolds, Tami Wicinas and Taryn Johnson for helping assemble the final piece. And thanks to Matt Bargar for some of the photos in this posting.