How can we read faces when everyone’s wearing a mask

Interactive viz

Q is for Questions

Inspiration for this viz came during the ‘searching for an idea stage’ in my 2020 #Ironviz feeder entry.

Unfortunately I just didn’t have time to work up the idea of visualising emotions to get an entry in for the health and wellness topic.

So for this weeks theme I thought I would implement a (very paired down) component of the viz I had envisioned.


Reading nonverbal cues has become more important than ever given everyone is wearing a mask to protect themselves and each other through COVID-19.

I have used the information published on the Scienceofpeople.comhow to read facial micro expressions as the basis of the content for my Q is for Questions themed viz.

Key Techniques for this viz

  • For the lego styled plots I have used George Gorczynski’s Pointillism in Tableau technique, which uses processing to extract the X Y coordinates from .png files. George’s blog post is here – Photo Art in TableQuick note – make sure you resize your image files down to c50 pixels width in a tool like before loading into the ‘processing’ tool to extract the X Y and colour coordinates otherwise the pointillism effect is lost!
  • The lego effect takes advantage of Ken Flerlage’s Lego button image. Kindly provided for use in his blog – Lego art in Tableau – to achieve the colour and lego button effect this uses a dual axis – one to plot the square and the other to plot the shape – remember to remove colour off the shape so it shows through correctly.
  • Automatic deselect marks in Tableau – by Luke Stanke – I used this because I didn’t wish for the the face to grey out when you clicked on the individual lego tiles.

Thanks for reading, any questions or feedback most welcome, please get in touch.

Stay tuned for Laura’s take on ‘Q is for Questions’ next week on her blog