Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Create pictures on Microsoft Excel from bitmap images

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Blogger Jalaj has produced a wonderful kind of art. He has written a program in Visual Basic that takes a BMP image and recreates the picture in a spreadsheet by filling every square cell with color. Excel Art can only create this from BMP images, as Jalaj explains:


Since GIF and JPG have complex file formats due to the Compression algorithms used, I though an Uncompressed 24 Bit BMP file would be the best choice.

This idea of using Microsoft Excel to create pictures isn't new. Similar attempts were made by others who did this by painstakingly changing the cell background colors of each cell. But this program is the first one that automates the process and produces better and realistic results.

Excel Art is available as a Windows executable file. He also includes the source code of the program and his blog has an explanation of it. Those who want to just see the results, here it is.

catherine_original_resized

excel_art2

Excel_art_closeup


The program maps each pixel of the image to an excel cell. The process is time consuming even for a computer. So don't take a large image. Begin with a small one, say 150 x 150 pixels or 200 x 200 pixels. I tried with a 400+ pixel width image and after a long time it generated a run time error. This happened twice both with large images, so it might or might not work with large images. Try it out, but make sure you have enough time in hand.

Download Excel Art.zip (78 KB)

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