Save Fonts and Colour from the Real World with Spector

Does dragging colours and fonts from the environment around you to replicate a digital version sound like a futuristic concept to you? Well a new invention titled Spector may make it a reality thanks to the creative mind of a university graduate!

Fiona O’Leary, a university design graduate at the Royal College of Art, has created an innovative design tool that should excite many designers and typography enthusiasts. Her invention, Spector, is able to capture typefaces and colours that surround us in day to day life. These captures can then be replicated and imported into digital design work, rather than relying on a tiresome method of making comparisons using common sight.

How Specter’s Capture Works

The process of using the Spector design tool is a simple one. To capture any font or colour you may have come across, you would place the tool on top of any text or media. Once the area you want to capture has been covered, a quick button press then uses an interior camera on the tool to photograph the sample you’ve taken. A complex and comprehensive algorithm then extracts key information from the sample, including the shape, lettering style and CMYK/RGB values that it might have. This information is then transferred and matched up to a font/colour database which helps identify the sample used.

FMS Blog Spector Design Tool

Image Credit: Fiona O’Leary


To take the sample from physical to digital form, the Spector tool requires a computer plugin. This will send all the key attributes of the font or colour provided into the Adobe InDesign software suite. It’s worth noting that the key area that requires changing on the digital design you’re creating will need to be highlighted, as this then registers in the plugin and allows Spector to change anything on-screen. If you don’t require the import of a captured font or colour straight away, then the Spector tool does contain 20 storage blocks which you can transfer into Adobe InDesign at any point.


FMS Blog Spector Design Tool

Image Credit: Fiona O’Leary

Are There Plans For a Commercial Release of Spector?

As of this time, O’Leary intends to use the Spector design tool only for prototyping purposes. There are no current plans to release it as a commercially available product. But, with O’Leary’s permission, there could be an opportunity for this technology to be developed and enhanced, perhaps by a major manufacturer or brand in the print or design industry. This will certainly be one to watch!



Fiona O’Leary Spector

Sam Rose