Axis breaks, graphical ellipses

March 31, 2010

I recently needed to post a very tall web page screenshot in limited vertical space. I wanted to preserve context by including the page header, but the focal point was far down the page.  I started with this image (border added):

This seemed like a great place to use something like an axis break.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tool like that that you could apply to an arbitrary image?  It would put a customizable “tear” in the image, allowing you to relay only the important information in a compact form.  I think a good name for this would be “image ellipsis” or “graphical ellipsis”.  I had the urge to start a Wikipedia stub on it, and I would have if it weren’t for the original research policy.  In fact, I couldn’t think of a good forum for this insight (in hindsight, maybe, which is why I finally got around to starting a blog for myself.  Anyway, first I did it crappily by hand:

I didn’t like that, so I wrote a tool for it:

The script uses the Python Imaging Library (PIL). You’ll need to download this file and this file.