This guy upscaled over 1600 emojis and the results are really cool

Originally published at: This guy upscaled over 1600 emojis and the results are really cool | Boing Boing


From when various european influences (maybe Prester John, Marco Polo, and Jesuits oh my) were pressing trade and contact with China there were haphazard attempts to alphabet-ify Chinese, and icon-ify western languages (leading to pinyin and other dubious systems). Anytime one sees “person in suit levitating:business_suit_levitating:and-the-like emojis one might wonder if the iconification of western languages was ever abandoned. And/or with 1600 emojis one could likely already do a word to icon mapping. (“Wait… if the poop emoji :poop: follows after the sauopod emoji :sauropod: does that mean it’s the indirect object and takes the emoji dative case?”)


Well, he upscaled a set of emoji glyphs of a certain emoji font from a specific vendor. The true essence of an emoji would be the unicode, right? technically there are infinite representations of each, of which this is now a new set.

Also, I got a “Thank you” from a birthday message I sent, and my car reads out text messages, including emojis, and it read out “Yay! Thank you H_______ smiley-face, heart, folded hands medium dark skin tone.” Gave me a chuckle to hear it all read out.


That’s hilarious. I used to work for the studio that drew all of Apple’s emoji. I wasn’t on that job (thank the gods), but we made all the original assets at something close to that resolution. 2048x2048 I think.

Fun fact - from there it wasn’t just a matter of scaling them down. Each emoji had to be redrawn at each of five or six different resolutions, because line weights are super important.

We had to write our own software just to keep track of all the assets through the hundreds of rounds of review.

And yes, Apple is quite aware of what the eggplant and peach mean.


I didn’t know I needed this, until I needed this.


Grapes! :man_facepalming: Dang! I knew we’d forgotten something when shopping last night.


:eye: :lips: :eye:


I decline to say.


I’m suprised that emojis don’t have a vector definition like true truetype fonts.


Sweet! I’ve been on the hunt for a larger version of the :yo-yo: emoji. This is a cool project.


Vectors are nice, but you do get all sorts of line weight issues. Plus details that should “go away” at smaller sizes end up being sub pixel speckles that just add color tints, but nothing useful.

To do it well enough you would want vectors with hints, for example “stop rendering below size X”. However figuring out what X is would be a manual process. So the easiest way to do something like that is likely use a vector drawing program, use layers for things, and manually test at various sizes. When you find a layer is adding distracting non-detail as opposed to useful detail you disable it.

You could either take notes and then use come up with a custom “emoji hinting format” for the vectors…or you could just render at each step. Or I guess a middle ground would be to output a different set of vectors, one per size range. The easiest would be just to render at each step.

It might also be the smallest (vector descriptions are only really smaller if each vector covers a lot of pixels), and it may or may not be the fastest (a “small” bitmap copy is very fast).

(I personally like vectors, and would hope that the best way is vectors plus hints of some sort)


Truetype has a hinting mechnism, but colors may not be in the spec. The design of some of thee emoji sets suggests vector art, but at some point, they were rasterized. The use of an AI to recover a sense of the original strikes me as wasteful. (If only the originals hadn’t been trashed, we wouldn’t need to do this)

Perhaps the AI could be trained to figure out where the bezier control points should be placed.


Applying Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator to a rasterized upscaled image often has unexpected results that were not in the original. For example, Image Trace was able to properly reconstruct most of this microphone, but it failed in parts of the metallic mesh.


There may have been versions of the spec after I last red it, but for sure when I read it there were no colors in fonts. Adding color would be non-trivial, but not in the dramatic sense of non-trivial, but in the more literal sense. Not super hard, but for sure not super easy.

I expect the originals were to trashed, but exist in some design consultants “work product, not surrendered” folder for the job to save time if they are hired to do another spin of the same sort of thing. Or in an employee’s home directory (I recall seeing someone here saying they worked for a consulting company that did emojis…but I also remember someone saying they did about 40% of the emoji’s as an Apple intern and their boss did the rest…no reason both stories can’t be true though, likely about different generations of the emoji “font”). Even if that employee is gone I believe Apple keeps backups for a very long time. Well, if that machine/directory was backed at all (IS&T at Apple has some weird behaviors, as might be expected of a company where many people run unfinished new versions of an OS basically “at or near head” on a daily basis)



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Now we’re talkin.’ Old school, yo.

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