jake kara, software engineer ‣ BlakeTint ░


BlakeTint is a Yale Digital Humanities Lab project supporting analysis of William Blake’s use of color across multiple editions of his illuminated manuscripts.

This project had two phases, and I served as the primary developer on each.

In the first phase, I wrote a data processing pipeline to quantize images — to “delete” background pixels and generate 20-color summary palettes. This pipeline is available as a suite of modular Jupyter notebooks (enabled by my modular notebook software, Margo), which may be be run online without installation.

The second phase of this project was building a React-based web application with the following views: an index page that renders the entire collection of (4,000+) palettes; and a print viewer page that compares different editions of the same print.

Index view

View of the BlakeTint index view

In this view, the objective was to be able to observe macro-level trends in color uses, such as similarities within an edition of a book, or changes over time. Each palette represents a single print. This both compresses the work of Blake visually into a “scannable” and abstracts it, creating a high-level view of the artist and poet’s use of color.

Detail view, comparison slider mode

View of the BlakeTint comparison view

In this mode, a user can compare different editions of prints to observe minute differences in color use. Blake didn’t just mass produce prints; he augmented them with hand coloration that makes each edition quite unique.

Detail view, quantization mode

View of the BlakeTint detail view

In this mode, a user can view an image as the computer “sees” it. The image is recreated using only the 20-color palette, and is shown with the background pixels “deleted.”