Engines of Creation: Localizing an Astronomy Infographic into French

Written by: Sarah Tesfasion

I had the opportunity to exercise my desktop publishing skills by localizing an astronomy infographic about how massive stars produce elements. I chose to localize this infographic because it comes from the website for the James Webb Space Telescope. The telescope represents an important scientific advancement achieved through the collaboration of NASA and the ESA, so I thought this infographic should exist in multiple languages. I also felt that it might present some interesting flat-image localization challenges, particularly in recreating the text treatment of the title, replacing the text while preserving the background, and managing text expansion from English to French.

Massive Stars: Engines of Creation Infographic was produced by NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

Creating Editable Text Layers

Since the source image is a .png file, the first step of the localization process was to create editable text layers in Adobe Photoshop. I used Adobe Fonts to find the correct font, Futura PT, and recreated all of the text which appears in the graphic. Luckily, the chemical element symbols are universal and did not need to be localized.

I spent a great deal of time trying to recreate the text treatment for “Massive Stars:” and “Multi-Shell Core” before learning that Photoshop does not support sharp corners on the stroke of a text layer. I needed to convert this text to a shape and then add the stroke, so I left this to be completed after the text was translated.

The text at the bottom is from the original image, and the text at the top is my initial attempt to recreate it. Photoshop does not allow you to change the rounded corners on text stroke.

I also needed to create an overlay which hides the text from the original infographic. The background image looked complex in some areas, such as on the supernova, so I thought this might prove challenging. However, I was able to use the Magic Wand tool to select all of the text that will be replaced, and the Content-Aware Fill feature to cover it up.


Once the graphic had editable text layers, it was ready to be translated. I used a script from blogger Bramus Van Damme to export all of the text strings from the Photoshop file into a text file. This useful tool saved me from having to copy and paste each text layer into a text document for translation. I used Phrase TMS to create a project and translate the text. Then I used another script from Bramus to import the text back into the Photoshop file.

Phrase’s online CAT tool, which I used to translate the strings from the infographic.


The Bramus import script took care of replacing the text in the Photoshop file with their translations, so all that was left to do was to clean up the infographic. Some text boxes needed to be adjusted to accommodate English-to-French text expansion, and I needed to recreate the gradient stroke on “Étoiles massives :” and “Noyau multi sphérique.” The result was a fully localized infographic, shown below.

To achieve the desired stroke, I converted the text layer to a shape. The text was no longer editable, but it had sharp corners.
The final product of the localization process: the infographic in French.

Final Thoughts

Having completed projects similar to this one in the past allowed me to accurately envision the steps necessary to localize this infographic. Therefore the general steps in my process closely resemble the workflow I put forth in my proposal. I still had the opportunity to experiment with the methods I used to actually complete these steps, particularly when it came to the visual elements of the project. It took considerable effort to figure out how to recreate the gradient stroke on two of the titles. Due to a limitation of Photoshop, I had to undo this effort and repeat it again later in the workflow. Having to complete this text treatment after translation would be time-consuming for multiple languages, so I’d be curious to know if there is an easier way. Overall, this project was an exciting opportunity to apply my Photoshop skills and to witness potential challenges in flat-image localization. The infographic below summarizes the steps I took during the localization process.

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