Cross-Stitch Viz Art

January 16, 2014

I was working on a scatter plot and trying to determine which shape made it easiest to read. I switched to little x’s and thought it was so cute. It looked just like cross-stitch! It made me think, it wouldn’t be that hard to replicate cross-stitch in Tableau, right?

You can do it, little guy!

So here it is:

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It was actually pretty easy to do. It only took me like 20 minutes or so, and most of that was just drawing it.

Step 1: Draw the picture.
I could never cross-stitch this cleanly in real life.

I set the width/height of the cells so that they were basically squares. Then, I started coloring in cells. Pretty self-explanatory.

Step 2: Make sure everything has a coordinate.
I numbered all the rows and columns so that there was basically a coordinate system for each cell.

Step 3: Replace cell colors with labels.
All the viz art possibilities!
Did you know you could do a find and replace based on formatting? It’s true! I searched for all the colors I used and replaced them with a code: blk, blu, or red.

Step 4: Reshape.
You NEED the reshaper tool. It changed my life!
The way the data is shaped right now couldn’t go directly into Tableau. I used the Tableau Reshaper tool to turn each colored cell into a color and a pair of coordinates.

Step 5: Bring it into Tableau
Although this is kinda cool, guys.
Put your x values on columns, y values on rows, color on color, and change the shape to x’s. BAM! You now have cross-stitch. Because of the way I numbered the y-values, it ended up being upside down at first. I reversed the y-axis and that was it! Done!

Would this ever be useful? Probably not really. I’ve read online that a lot of people design cross-stitch patterns in Excel, though, and this may be a good way to quickly change colors and decide on what you want the final product to look like. Mostly, it was just fun for me because I generally think of myself as a crafty person but I’m terrible at doing cross-stitch in real life.

Yeah, I that's the face I make when I actually cross-stitch, too.

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