Cutting out snails made easy (part 2)

Jens Dobberthin

By Jens Dobberthin
16.05.2019 | 20 minutes reading time

At Coding da Vinci OST , the SnailSnap -Team won the Best Design Award. Now everyone can turn themselves into snails on the MS Wissenschaft . In the second part we show you how to cut out the snails more easily.

The MS Wissenschaft is an exhibition ship with this year’s exhibits on the subject of artificial intelligence (AI). One of the exhibits is the SnailSnap photo box with which you can take funny selfies. Nothing special, you think? But it is, because the selfies are made up of a mosaic of countless small snails.

But first of all, thanks again to the SnailSnap -team for this ingenious application:

Putting my hands up for the SnailSnap-team | photo: Museum für Naturkunde
Putting my hands up for the SnailSnap-team | photo: Museum für Naturkunde

In the last blog post I already showed you how to cut out the snails. But that was very complicated. So this time I would like to show you how to do it more easily.

In order for you to be able to follow the instructions, you need some Linux knowledge. If you get stuck at some point, ask someone who can help you.

You can find the source code for the snail cutting tool on GitHub . For this blog, we’re using a customized version to make things a little easier. Open a terminal and enter the following:

$ git clone
$ cd mollex
$ meson --prefix=$HOME --buildtype=debug build
$ cd build
$ ninja

Now you should find the program mollex in the directory build. With ninja install you can install the program with the possibility of not entering the full path again, when you’re using it next time.

Try this in a new terminal. After entering mollex you should see something like this:

Usage: mollex [options] source destination
Extract snails from images.

  -h, --help     Displays this help.
  -v, --version  Displays version information.
  --verbose      Show debug information.
  --json         Write metadata as JSON to stdout.

  source         Source image to process.
  destination    Destination directory.

Now we create two directories where we store our pictures and our cut out snails:

$ mkdir bilder bilder/schnecken
$ cd bilder

In the gallery , you will find many pictures with snails. Browse a little! If you like one of them, click on the picture to have a closer look at it. Then right-click and choose the option ‘Copy graphic address/Grafikadresse kopieren’.

Now we download the picture ( I chose this one ) and enter wget in the terminal. Afterwards you paste the address you copied above. Here it looks like this:


Now we can start cutting out. For this we open the mollex app:

mollex ZMB_Mol_100095_1.jpg schnecken

It takes a moment. If everything went well, the cut out snails are in the directory schnecken (snails). Here it looks like this:

he cut out snails | picture: Museum für Naturkunde
he cut out snails | picture: Museum für Naturkunde

Have fun with it! Try to take another picture. In the next blog posts we will show you how to use the snails in your own creative projects.