Literacy Supports – Harold and the Purple Crayon

As I’ve been exploring the existing literature regarding using 3D printing to support literacy, I came across STL files for a few books that had been created by Tactile Picture Books Project.  They’ve made files for Harold and the Purple CrayonGoodnight Moon, and a few others.  I decided to try printing Harold to see how it would come together as a book.  Through this process, I noticed a number of things.

  1. The files were created to be raised shapes that faithfully represented a raised version of the 2D line drawings in the book.
  2. The resulting prints were individual pieces that would need to be glued onto a background of some sort.  For example, in the drawing where Harold is on a sailboat, the boat with Harold printed as a separate piece from the moon above. 
  3. The files for the book were all created in different sizes.  In order for the pieces to be roughly the same size, I needed to adjust the size of the print.
  4. Harold himself was mostly unrecognizable, especially tactually.
  5. Not every image in the book was represented in a 3D print.  This meant that even if I were to print all of the files, it would not make a complete book.  It seemed that the designers had only made files for the drawings that Harold had finished making.  If the message of the book is about creativity and the process and freedom of drawing, then printing the book without including these “in-progress” drawings would be leaving out an important piece.
  6. Because the prints were essentially the same as line drawings, the edges of the prints tended to lift up and misprint easily.

These thoughts sparked a lot of conversation between Flo and myself.  Because the designs were so similar to the line drawings in the book, they could easily be rendered as raised line graphics.  These would convey the idea of the act of drawing a picture to students with visual impairments who were familiar with drawing.  We realized that we would likely not choose to 3D print a version of Harold and the Purple Crayon.


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