Interactive Canvas – Bring It To Life




Project Overview


Today there is so much competition, and advertisers are continuously looking to find new interactive and ambient mediums for advertising . This project explores a more traditional and yet interactive approach by using an ordinary canvas to bring three abstract icons to life upon touch with the idea of how a healing hand could protect wild life such as a butterfly and a tree. The use of touch isn’t limited to flat, shiny and expensive digital screens, but it could be brought to any tactile surface like in this project. The use of conductive ink and animations allows visitors to experience and feel the dotted paper anywhere and watch as flat objects change into animation. Moreover, such an advertising medium is economical to use and could be placed in any vicinity.

The aim of this object is part of my discovery into conductive materials and how it could be adapted to advertising mediums telling interactive stories.





My idea behind this project was exploring ways to being art pieces to life in an interactive and experiential ways. Although, there are many ways to do this today such as VR and AR but I was keen to discover something more traditional and familiar. Thus, for this project, I was keen to explore conductive ink and how capacitive sensors could allow a tactile surface to be interactive.

As a result, I came across variety of work within this field. This included the work from London’s Retail Design Expo1which used conductive ink to draw flat icons for storytelling. Another interesting concept about interactive wallpaper was introduced by High-Low Tech4. Here they added light and communication within the canvas. Similarly, another interesting work was the Dublin Interactive Wall2which explored conductive ink with advanced animation. In addition to this, conductive ink has also been used in combination with hologram and AR such as the from Ransquare3, an agency in Seoul.


Design Concept

To bring most commonly known symbols and icons to life, I chose a symbol of a hand, a butterfly and a tree. The story is about how energy from a hand can trigger life into the butterfly and tree. This is inspired from the documentary series of BBC Earth where intervention of humans is impacting wild life.






To trigger an animation for each of the three objects, I made a straight path animation using three colors for each animation.

capture3 capture4 capture-2


Conductive Ink

I used a 12 ml conductive ink pot to trace my sketch on to the canvas and let it dry for an hour as it’s a better conductor when fully dry.







I downloaded the capacitive sensor library for Arduino to begin testing the code. I initially started with putting some conductive ink on a sample paper to check the values on console and gauge what values are triggered upon touch.

I used 3 1M OHM Resistors and placed it between the received and send pin which was Pin 4. This allowed the capactive sensing to work. I learned that when conductive ink was in contact values jumped above 1000.




Using serial monitor data from Arduino, I then wrote ‘and’,‘if’ and ‘else’ statement to run a movie for each sensor when its values are above 1000. For this process, a visitor presses and releases any area to play the animation.



Production and Bringing Everything Together

On the flip side of the canvas, I attached all the wires which made electronics visible.








The USB extender supported the idea to hide any wires. However, it could further help if I had used an HDMI extender and overhead projector to hide the projector and move laptop into a different room.



The canvas received appreciation as art is usually not to be touched but the interactivity and accessing art through a direct tap on the canvas brought new ideas to life. Few artist who interacted with canvas seemed delightful about using conductive ink on their own canvas.

Moreover, during critique various thinking points were suggested which helped the make project more canvas. These included making the narrative stronger, putting the canvas on a greater height, hiding most wires, discovering rear projection.


  1. 18”x24” Canvas
  2. Conductive Ink
  3. Arduino Micro
  4. Pico Projector
  5. Jumper Wires
  6. 3x Resistor 1.0M Ohm


Large Scale Adaption.

This technique could be used in conferences as a backdrop to engage visitors about telling stories of products, interactive exhibitions and many others.




  1. Ayres, C.  (2015). How Dalziel and Pow Realized This Awesome Interactive Touch Wall. Retrieved from URL;

  1. Studio,L. (March,2019). Dublin Interactive Mural. Retrieved from URL:


  1. (January, 2019). 365 Safe Town (Korea Youth Safety Experience Center). Retrieved from URL:


  1. High-Low Tech Group. Living Wall. Retrieved from URL:





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