Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

Animal Crossing x University Collections

Three paintings hung on wall (bird, flower, butterfly) and easel on floor (owl).

Fancy curating your own University of Edinburgh (UoE) virtual exhibition in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing game? Good news, Getty have kindly shared an art generator tool that integrates with over 40,000 images published by the University’s Centre for Research Collections (CRC) under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY).

What is Animal Crossing?

In case you’re not familiar with this title, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a very cute life simulation game. Daily activities include catching fish, crafting furniture and chatting with your anthropomorphic animal neighbours.

It was released the first week of lockdown and has quickly become a very popular means of escaping our ever-shrinking homes.

Why people play a game about ‘meaningless tasks’ (BBC Newsbeat article)

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the escape we all need right now (Guardian Games review)

Getty art generator tool

With Getty’s free tool you can decorate your deserted island with art and transform your home into a world-class art gallery. In a few short steps you can easily create your own custom patterns featuring artwork from famous art collections around the world.

Patterns can be used in Animal Crossing to make shirts, cover walls and floors, make paintings for an easel or canvas, and for display on mannequins.

Animal Crossing art generator

Video demonstration

International Image Interoperability Framework 

I have used several different  APIs when working on web development projects as part of my job, but was unaware of the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF).

If institutions holding artworks, books, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, scrolls, single sheet collections, and archival materials provide IIIF endpoints for their content, any IIIF-compliant viewer or application can consume and display both the images and their structural and presentation metadata.


By default the Getty tool allows you to generate Animal Crossing patterns from any image in the Getty Museum’s open-access collection (currently over 70,000 results).

Getty’s decision to also include an IIIF import option is a fantastic one. It allows Animal Cross players the opportunity to explore and engage with vast collections from institutions across the world. It was a lovely surprise to see the University of Edinburgh listed as one of the participating institutions.

Import using IIIF

Full list of participating institutions

Engage with Edinburgh’s collections

The University of Edinburgh (UoE) has over 40,000 images published by the Centre for Research Collections (CRC) under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY). Thankfully it’s really easy to browse the entire collection and import any image you want into Animal Crossing.

Step one – explore the collections

Step two – select your image

The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. Pt. 3: Birds, pl.4

Step three – import your image

  • Visit Getty’s Animal Crossing art generator tool:
  • Scroll down to “Use the art generator with other open-access IIIF images
  • Paste in the URL you copied from the previous step
  • Tap “Submit”

Step four – crop your image and generate a QR code

  • Scroll back up to “Select the crop for your artwork”
  • Decide how you want to crop this image for a square format
    • Resize the crop by dragging any of the 9 white squares
    • Reposition the crop by dragging within the square
    • Use the thumbnail preview to see how the final image will be rendered within Animal Crossing
  • Follow the instructions listed at “Import your artwork into Animal Crossing”
  • Alternatively, read their more detailed step-by-step instructions:

Curate your own UoE exhibition

This fun tool creates an amazing opportunity to curate your very own UoE exhibition and invite friends over to enjoy it. In addition to hanging art on your walls and free-standing easels you can even put it on t-shirts for visitors to pick up in the local shop!

I decided to dedicate one of the smaller rooms in my house to a new gallery. One-half of the this space was for natural world images I’d already selected for use in our recent UoE colouring books project, these include illustrations of birds, butterflies and magnolia blossom.

‘We have great stuff’ colouring books

The other half was allocated to self-portraits by predominantly female artists I was previously unfamiliar with: Elizabeth A. Adamson, Vivien Alexander and Barbara C. Balmer.

It was great fun exploring the University collections to see what images would make successful image reductions for the video game. You’re limited to a canvas of only 32×32 pixels and 15 colours (plus a transparency), but this restriction can make for some interesting and surprising results (my favourite QR codes are listed at the end).

Creative expression

Animal Crossing has been an integral part of my daily regime since lockdown, the gentle pacing and non-competitive nature helps calm me. This recent discovery of importing open-licenced artworks into the game only adds another layer of creative expression to an already magical game.

Thanks to my pals (Animal Crossing and IRL) Peter Douglas for originally sharing the Getty tool with me and Callum Clayton for being my first gallery visitor.

Share your own UoE designs

Share your own University of Edinburgh inspired QR codes and in-game screenshots on social media by using the #WeHaveGreatStuff and  #ACArtGenerator hashtags.

Top Tweets using #WeHaveGreatStuff hashtag
Top Tweets using #ACArtGenerator hashtag

UoE image references

Copyright and licence

Copyright © The University of Edinburgh 2020 CC BY

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Further exploration

The Getty Animal Crossing art generator tool is based on the open source Animal Crossing Pattern Tool. This amazing project is compatible with three different games from the franchise and was first launched in 2013.

Animal Crossing Pattern Tool


This blog post is not affiliated in any way with or endorsed by Nintendo Co., Ltd.  Animal Crossing™ and Nintendo Switch™ are trademarks of Nintendo.


2 replies to “Animal Crossing x University Collections”

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.