Emojify

Mona Lisa smiley-face? You probably wouldn't put fine art and emoji together, but that's the premise of this new app.

Emojify

Emojify turns your iPhone photos into poster-size art--depending on your definition of the term and your own pretensions, or lack of.

Emojify

Developed by Singapore-based app makers VoidWorks, Emojify functions like a photo filter, a kind of animated Instagram.

Emojify

But instead of laying on a thick layer of mood onto photos, the app scrambles the images up into streams of emoji.

Emojify

The process behind Emojify is similar to that for generating ASCII art. And you can zoom in on any segment to find surprises, like what lies beneath an unsmiling Einstein.

Emojify

The app breaks down photos into pixels and then arranges them by color and brightness.

Emojify

Emoji icons are then filtered in the same way. The final step is to swap the pixels out for their corresponding emoji.

Emojify

Once your image is uploaded, you can further edit it on-screen.

Emojify

Zoom in to see all of the thousands of Emoji characters that make it up. Have fun finding hidden meaning in what they're trying to tell you.

Emojify

You can even export your emoji creation from the small screen and print it out into a full-size poster.

Co.Design

Emojify Converts Your Photos Into Smileys, Ghosts, And Poo

Will emoji be the next great artistic medium? Emojify elevates the little people (and ghosts and grapes and...).

It's getting harder and harder to typecast emoji characters. Are they the Esperanto of the digital age, an international language that brings people together one delectable piece of cake and laughing ghost at a time? Are they the basis of long-form storytelling or a music video or a feature film--or are they tolerable only at the length of a text to a friend?

In any of these free-range emoji scenarios, the fun of the medium is in the interpretation. Each user is apt to communicate even a similar thought to someone else's with a uniquely selected string of characters. There’s a level of creativity on the part of both sender and recipient in the direction and decoding.

And that's where art enters the pictures, says Kwok Pan, founder of Singapore-based VoidWorks, whose new app Emojify turns your smartphone photos into a wild collage of emoji.

Emojify, Pan tells Co.Design, “creates a piece of artwork in emoji style.” The company launched a series of pop art pieces that demonstrate the effect--essentially doing to Marilyn Monroe what Andy did long ago. The app translates her canned grin into a dada field of emoji, including a couple of elephants, purple grapes, teardrops, and a whole lot more. Che’s revolutionary gaze becomes clusters of colorful non sequiturs. Einstein’s meek visage is done a cheerful service, drawn with a wide array of smileys.

Pan considers Emojify an alternative to Instagram filters, a less mood-layering way to customize photos that's also a “cheeky and self-referential way to reflect upon our use of technology and media.”

It does this in much the same way that ASCII art generated shapes using just lines of text. VoidWorks developed an algorithm that gauges the color and brightness, or “luminosity,” of each emoji character and then sequences them in ascending order. Upload your photo, and Emojify will break it down into a grid of pixels. The app then determines the average brightness levels of the units and puts them into a hierarchy. The final step involves swapping out the pixels for emoji.

The meaning or individual personalities of the emoji, then, don’t figure into the process--though you can zoom in on any part and have a lot of fun picking through the thousands of characters now in your images, trying to discern hidden meaning. Pan also hopes the frames for Emojify art are bigger than a smartphone screen. That’s only half of the experience, he says, encouraging users to print out their creations and display them. Who knows, maybe one day you'll see an emojiful Steven Colbert in the National Portrait Gallery?

You can try your hand at Emojify here. The app is available for download from iTunes for $1.99.

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