In

"Now the room was absolutely still. Dean Fogg sat as if he were frozen in place. All the hairs were standing up on Quentin’s arms, but he knew what he was doing. His fingers left almost imperceptible phosphorescent trails behind them in the air. He definitely felt high. He leaned forward and blew lightly on the card house, and it collapsed back down into a neatly stacked deck. He turned the deck over and fanned it out on the table like a blackjack dealer. Every card was a Queen—all the standard suits, plus other suits that didn’t exist, in different colors, green and yellow and blue. The Queen of Horns, the Queen of Clocks, the Queen of Bees, the Queen of Books."

Something about this passage struck me. I have a theory that these each correspond to particular women that Quentin meets through the book. "Some of them had Julia’s face. Some of them had the lovely paramedic’s." So Julia, Jane Chatwin, Alice and Janet, maybe, for the four suits that are named? Jane would be queen of clocks, there was a horn given by the river nymph, and bees for Brakebills, of course... I'm not sure if there is an exact match. But of course when I first read it, it seemed only evocative and mysterious.

There were a lot of magic things in the book I wished I could see in real life, but this one, at least, I could make a decent replica of.

I needed to start with a card template. I found several large images of cards in Google Images, but I wanted even higher resolution so I found this vector file:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/vector-cards/

I had previously experimented with automatically downloading images from Google Images using Matlab and a search term. It wasn't hard to get a few hundred photographs including the faces of women this way. Matlab isn't the best tool for a lot of things, but I find I can do most things I want in it and it's just so much easier to not worry about compiling and the user interface and the command line. I really like always being able to inspect what variables are in memory. It has the ability to save and load data structures whole, which I've never found in another language. And it's easy to do image processing there. So anyway, I used it for this project.

I had one face detection method already installed in Matlab: http://www.ics.uci.edu/~xzhu/face/

It was pretty slow-- about a minute per face-- but it worked really well at localizing the face. I cropped the face and resized it to fit onto the space on the card. You could probably make it faster if you played with the parameters a little.

I also had a few techniques available in Matlab for edge and contour detection in images. Since the faces on cards are line drawings, I would need to convert the photographs to line drawings. The results I liked best came from a technique I had come up with myself that involves subtracting a blurred version of the image from itself (to leave just the high-frequency information) and thresholding. If you've ever tried the old pencil-sketch action on Photoshop, it's a little like that.

To generate the symbols I thought of going to Google Images again and restricting it to black and white line art, but then I thought of a better idea: I would use Unicode symbols.

It turns out some of the best Unicode symbols require more than one byte to represent, which confuses Matlab, but one can work around it using the techniques described in the comments of this post: http://undocumentedmatlab.com/blog/couple-of-matlab-bugs-and-workarounds

I did need to go through and pick out areas of the Unicode space that had interesting images. As I was doing that I accidentally hacked into the Matrix:

*The Magicians*by Lev Grossman, Quentin discovers he has the ability to perform real magic:"Now the room was absolutely still. Dean Fogg sat as if he were frozen in place. All the hairs were standing up on Quentin’s arms, but he knew what he was doing. His fingers left almost imperceptible phosphorescent trails behind them in the air. He definitely felt high. He leaned forward and blew lightly on the card house, and it collapsed back down into a neatly stacked deck. He turned the deck over and fanned it out on the table like a blackjack dealer. Every card was a Queen—all the standard suits, plus other suits that didn’t exist, in different colors, green and yellow and blue. The Queen of Horns, the Queen of Clocks, the Queen of Bees, the Queen of Books."

Something about this passage struck me. I have a theory that these each correspond to particular women that Quentin meets through the book. "Some of them had Julia’s face. Some of them had the lovely paramedic’s." So Julia, Jane Chatwin, Alice and Janet, maybe, for the four suits that are named? Jane would be queen of clocks, there was a horn given by the river nymph, and bees for Brakebills, of course... I'm not sure if there is an exact match. But of course when I first read it, it seemed only evocative and mysterious.

There were a lot of magic things in the book I wished I could see in real life, but this one, at least, I could make a decent replica of.

I needed to start with a card template. I found several large images of cards in Google Images, but I wanted even higher resolution so I found this vector file:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/vector-cards/

I removed the parts of the image I wanted to replace.

I had previously experimented with automatically downloading images from Google Images using Matlab and a search term. It wasn't hard to get a few hundred photographs including the faces of women this way. Matlab isn't the best tool for a lot of things, but I find I can do most things I want in it and it's just so much easier to not worry about compiling and the user interface and the command line. I really like always being able to inspect what variables are in memory. It has the ability to save and load data structures whole, which I've never found in another language. And it's easy to do image processing there. So anyway, I used it for this project.

I had one face detection method already installed in Matlab: http://www.ics.uci.edu/~xzhu/face/

It was pretty slow-- about a minute per face-- but it worked really well at localizing the face. I cropped the face and resized it to fit onto the space on the card. You could probably make it faster if you played with the parameters a little.

I also had a few techniques available in Matlab for edge and contour detection in images. Since the faces on cards are line drawings, I would need to convert the photographs to line drawings. The results I liked best came from a technique I had come up with myself that involves subtracting a blurred version of the image from itself (to leave just the high-frequency information) and thresholding. If you've ever tried the old pencil-sketch action on Photoshop, it's a little like that.

To generate the symbols I thought of going to Google Images again and restricting it to black and white line art, but then I thought of a better idea: I would use Unicode symbols.

It turns out some of the best Unicode symbols require more than one byte to represent, which confuses Matlab, but one can work around it using the techniques described in the comments of this post: http://undocumentedmatlab.com/blog/couple-of-matlab-bugs-and-workarounds

I did need to go through and pick out areas of the Unicode space that had interesting images. As I was doing that I accidentally hacked into the Matrix:

After I had the Unicode characters and could render them in Matlab, I needed to place them in the right spots on the card. You may have never noticed, but the clothes on a face card contain decorative patterns based on the suit. So I decorated the clothes with tiny versions of the Unicode characters. The flower the queen is holding is also made up of these symbols, rotated.

Of course, I had to erase the original decorations on the clothing first. I also recolored the suit randomly for each image.

You might notice that the card is not exactly rotationally symmetric. That was originally a bug, but I kind of liked the effect so I left it in.

Here are some results. It can generate at least a few hundred cards before it runs out of Unicode pictures. Sometimes the face detection went wrong, so I just threw those cards away. There were more than 52 left over, anyway. This is just a few of them. You can click to see them larger.

I thought the project might be improved if one measured semantic similarity between the symbols and the faces and tried to match them up, but I didn't do that. It would also be nice to have different clothing styles, but it was too much work.

I printed them out and cut them out and gave them to Lev Grossman at a book signing in DC.

Here is the code to generate them, just so you can see what it looks like. I have terrible coding practices when I know I'm the only person who will ever look at it and I'm not going to reuse any of it. I even used a little high school trig when I put the symbols around the half-ring.

template=imread('queen.png');

chrs=[8225,9096,9650,9728:9742,9760:9775,9784:9839,9984,9985,9991:9994,9999,10010:10023,10025:10059,10164,10753,11035,11039,11043,11052,11622,43612,59092,59102,59111,59118,59119,59127,59132,61953,63024,63063,63744];

addpath('C:\matlab apps\edges (and piotr toolbox)');

addpath('C:\matlab apps\face-release1.0-basic');

addpath('C:\matlab apps');

imsdir='C:\Users\Doug\Downloads\pics\New folder\';

Aims = dir([imsdir '/*.jpg']);

for facecount=1:165

%these are interesting icons.

hold off;

cla;

%,61502,61513,61514,61516:61545,61547:61550,61557:61559,61562:61564,61593:61594,61604:61606,61609:61622];

ax = axes('XLim',[0 2.5],'YLim',[0 3.5]);

axis off;

set(gca,'xtick',[],'ytick',[]);

%mark out the borders of clothing

quadx = .4:.01:2.1;

quady=interp1([.24 .25 1 1.5 2.25 2.26],[0 1.75 2.5 2.5 1.75 0],quadx);

axis equal

%parts(61)=fillout([ .25 1 1.5 2.25 ],[1.75 2.5 2.5 1.75],[0 3 0 3],'w');

partcount=1;

%draw outline of card

parts(partcount)=rectangle('Position',[0,0,2.5,3.5],'Curvature',0.2,'LineWidth',2);

partcount=partcount+1;

hold on;

parts(partcount)=rectangle('Position',[0.3,0.3,1.9,2.9],'LineWidth',.5);

partcount=partcount+1;

%choose color

%draw symbols in corners of card and draw a Q in a random font

h = uicontrol('Style','text','String','My Font','FontName','MyFont');

list = listfonts(h);

parts(partcount)=text(0.15,3.1,'Q','fontname','Card Characters','fontsize',20,'fontUnits','normalized','HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

parts(partcount)=text(0.15,2.75, char(chrs(facecount)), 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',20,'fontUnits','normalized','HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

parts(partcount)=text(0.55,2.9, char(chrs(facecount)), 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',30,'fontUnits','normalized','HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

%use line detection and face detection to draw the face

I=imresize(imread([imsdir '/' Aims(facecount).name]),[600 NaN]);

load('C:\matlab apps\face-release1.0-basic\face-release1.0-basic\multipie_independent.mat');

model.thresh = min(-0.65, model.thresh);

%bs = detect(I, model, model.thresh);

%if size(bs,2)==0

% continue;

%end

%bs = clipboxes(I, bs);

%bs = nms_face(bs,0.3);

%posemap = [90:-15:15 0 0 0 0 0 0 -15:-15:-90];

%mina=min(bs(1).xy(:,1));minb=min(bs(1).xy(:,2));maxa=max(bs(1).xy(:,3));maxb=max(bs(1).xy(:,4));

%part=imcrop(I,[mina minb maxa-mina maxb-minb]);

%

% if size(part,3)==3

% grayI=medfilt2(rgb2gray(part),[3 3]);

% else grayI=medfilt2(part,[3 3]);

% end

% H = fspecial('gaussian', 40, 25);

% blurred=imfilter(grayI,H,'replicate');

% pencilsketch = min((double(grayI))-double(blurred)+255,255);

% rescaled=1-max(min((pencilsketch-200)*5,255),1)/255;

%bwface{facecount}=rescaled<.2;

hold on

parts(partcount)=image([1.1 1.8], [3.2 2.5],bwface{facecount}*255,'AlphaData',bwface{facecount}<1);

partcount=partcount+1;

colormap gray

%random arcs of symbol across clothing

hold on

image([2.2 .3], [.3 3.2],template,'AlphaData',rgb2gray(template)<255);

parts(partcount)=text(1.12, 2.25, char(chrs(facecount)), 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',7,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[.85 .82 .06],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

parts(partcount)=text(1.11, 2.10, char(chrs(facecount)), 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',6,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[.85 .82 .06],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

parts(partcount)=text(1.11, 1.97, char(chrs(facecount)), 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',5,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[.85 .82 .06],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

parts(partcount)=text(1.71, 2.25, char(chrs(facecount)), 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',9,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[.85 .82 .06],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

parts(partcount)=text(1.51, 2.10, char(chrs(facecount)), 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',8,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[.85 .82 .06],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

parts(partcount)=text(1.42, 1.97, char(chrs(facecount)), 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',7,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[.85 .82 .06],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

parts(partcount)=text(1.90, 3.08, char(chrs(facecount)), 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',9,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[0 0 0],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

parts(partcount)=text(2.0, 2.92, char(chrs(facecount)), 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',7,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[0 0 0],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

parts(partcount)=text(2.11, 2.75, char(chrs(facecount)), 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',6,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[0 0 0],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

set(parts(partcount-2:partcount), 'rotation', -60);

partcount=partcount+1;

%draw collar

collarchar=char(chrs(randi(size(chrs,2))));

for collarx=1.03:.08:1.8;

parts(partcount)=text(collarx, 2.429, collarchar, 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',9,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[.95 .95 .95],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

end

% draw sleeve

sleevechar=char(chrs(randi(size(chrs,2))));

sleevex=.3200:.05:.8197;

sleevey=interp1([.3200 .8197],[1.64 2.045],sleevex);

for sleeveindex=1:size(sleevex,2)

parts(partcount)=text(sleevex(sleeveindex), sleevey(sleeveindex), sleevechar, 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',9,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[.95 .95 .95],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

end

%draw ring

ringchar=char(chrs(randi(size(chrs,2))));

for ringtheta=-pi/4+.08:.2:3*pi/4+.08

parts(partcount)=text(.66+.31*cos(ringtheta),1.75-.31*sin(ringtheta), ringchar, 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',9,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[.95 .95 .95],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

partcount=partcount+1;

end

for petal=1:6

parts(partcount)=text(.60+.1*cos(petal*2*pi/6), 2.44+.1*sin(petal*2*pi/6), char(chrs(facecount)), 'fontname', 'code2000', 'fontsize',9,'fontUnits','normalized','Color',[0 0 0],'HorizontalAlignment','center','VerticalAlignment','middle');

set(parts(partcount), 'rotation', petal*60+90);

partcount=partcount+1;

end

%paste in hand and flower stem

%hand=imread('hand.png');

%parts(68)=image([.5 .875], [2.5 2.125],hand,'AlphaData',255-hand(:,:,1));

%place symbols around flower

set(findobj(gcf, 'type','axes'), 'Visible','off')

t1 = hgtransform('Parent',ax);

t2 = hgtransform('Parent',ax);

set(parts,'Parent',t1);

parts2=copyobj(parts,t2);

Txy = makehgtform('zrotate',pi,'translate',[-2.5 -3.5 0]);

set(t2,'Matrix',Txy);

set(parts2(3:5), 'rotation', 180);

axis off;

saveas(h,['queen' num2str(facecount) '.png']);

end