String Art Font

by Erik Demaine, Martin Demaine, and Petros Vrellis, 2017


String art realizes geometric patterns by wrapping thread (here drawn in gray) around fixed pins. We offer two typefaces based on string art, where a single wrapped string realizes the geometric pattern of each letter or numeral. (The slider allows you to scale the size of the letters/numerals.)

The 1,500-string font was designed using Petros's algorithm for creating images as string art. He developed this algorithm for his series of artwork, “A new way to knit (2016)”, which transforms physical string into photorealistic portraits. See Petros's beautiful video and artworks on Saatchi Art. While the portraits involved wrapping a single string 3,000–4,000 times, we found that a font (here, an outlined Arial) could be represented nicely with exactly 1,500 wraps of a single string on 200 pins arranged in a circle. This font is animated over a few seconds given its high complexity, as well as to illustrate the string's long travel. (Press Redraw to watch the growth again.)

The 22-pin fonts are minimalist string-art fonts on 22 pins arranged in a rectangle. By default, they are not animated, but you can turn on Animate to watch the string grow dynamically (and Redraw to watch again). • The Eulerian font can trace each letter/numeral with a single strand without traversing any line more than once (an Eulerian path). Each character offers a puzzle: trace the letter without getting stuck. (This puzzle can be solved by an efficient algorithm.) • In the non-Eulerian font, each letter/numeral cannot be traced without traversing a line more than once. Each character offers a puzzle: which fewest lines should be doubled in order to enable an Eulerian path? (This puzzle can also be solved by an efficient algorithm. Reveal doubled segments to show one solution, where doubled segments are darker.) • The random font randomly switches between the Eulerian and non-Eulerian fonts. Each character offers a puzzle: can it be traced without traversing a line more than once? • At the bottom, we present another type of puzzle font, where each character is represented by a sequence of pins (labeled ‘a’ through ‘v’, clockwise from the top-left corner). Presented with a blank rectangle of pins and these sequences, you can decode the characters by wrapping a string on the pins.

The 22-pin fonts were designed using our custom String Art Designer webapp. Try making your own letters! You can play with our font designs here: • Eulerian font: • Non-Eulerian font:

Check out other mathematical and puzzle fonts. • Feedback or not working? Email Erik.