WRITINGS

I've gotten many requests to explain the technique behind my "watercolor" generative works. My approach is similar to some of the techniques I described in my post on Generating Soft Textures, so read that first if you haven't already. The algorithm is not particularly exotic. Instead, it's conceptually simple, but fine tuned. Continue reading...

Most generative artwork heavily utilizes randomness, making the output of each run unique. That's usually a good thing, but sometimes it's useful to be able to regenerate exactly the same image. For example, while developing a piece of generative artwork, you may want to work with small images to make the generation process faster. However, once the program is complete, you'll need to generate a much larger image if you want to be able to print it at a reasonable size. Sometimes you'll want this larger image to be exactly the same as a smaller version that you like. That's where seeds come in handy. Continue reading...

Color is something that many generative artists struggle with. It can be frustratingly difficult to get right, and there are no simple rules that work 100% of the time. I highly recommend that you study the color work of traditional artists as well as read about color theory. The more tools you have in your bag, the better. Today I'll be describing some of the common techniques and patterns that I use when working with colors in generative artwork. Continue reading...

This is a breakdown of Isohedral V, one of my recent works. The Isohedral series is inspired by the set of isohedral tilings. In short, these are tiling patterns that only use a single shape to form a pattern. Something about these tiling patterns provides a nice, regular structure for me to build my artwork on. Continue reading...

A few months ago, I got really into circle packing. The goal of circle packing is basically to cram a bunch of circles into a space as tightly as possible. This is actually a well-explored area of mathematics (just check out the Wikipedia article), but I wanted something simple that's easy to implement and has a nice aesthetic effect. I opted for a brute-force approach that tries to place a circle in thousands of random locations until a fit is found. I'll describe the details of that and some of the artwork that I've created with this approach. Continue reading...

I am becoming increasingly interested in combining hand-drawn artwork with generative art techniques. There are many ways to do this, but I want to focus on a simple one today: masking. The basic process is to create hand-drawn masks that control how much of a generative layer shows through. As an example, I will explain how I created my first work with this technique. Continue reading...

Most of the generative artwork I see exclusively uses hard, sharp transitions. Some pieces use smooth gradients or basic transparency to create transitions. Very few pieces go beyond that. In my own work, my preference is to create some soft areas with few or no distinct edges. This happens naturally when working with analog media like paints, pastels, or pencils, but in programmatic artwork, you usually have to work for it. Continue reading...

Quil is a thin Clojure wrapper over the Processing framework. I love using Clojure for my artwork, because Lisps give you the power to do some pretty wild stuff. It's also much less tedious to write than Java.

Setting up your environment for working with Quil can be a little tricky. Over the past few months, I've slowly built my preferred environment and workflow. If you're looking to get started with Quil, this should help you out. Continue reading...

When I saw John's artwork, I decided to try my hand at interviewing. Despite being fairly abstract, his work has a unique, surrealist feal. The complexity of his images bears the tell-tale sign of algorithmic artwork. And he makes a lot of it, too, which means it's getting really good really quickly. Continue reading...

Texture is a blast to play with. The more that I work with texture, the more I believe that algorithmic artwork is specially equipped for it. Textures that would be extremely tedious to create by hand can be whipped out in several hours by code. When you're done, you're free to reuse the work in a new piece for little additional cost.

In this post, I will explain a recent texture study that I completed. It's currently December, so most of the grass here in Austin is dormant.

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I want to explain how I create my artwork. Algorithmic artwork can be so different from painting that most people have no idea how my works come together, but they're curious. I hope this may be helpful for others looking to get started in programmatic artwork. It's hard to come by any info on the subject, which is a shame.

I'll be walking you through my latest series: Haecceity. Like most of my work, this was created using Processing. I spent about twenty to thirty hours on this, from start to finish.

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I had the pleasure of attending a & session with Casey Reas, an algorithmic artist and the creator of Processing. When the moderator, Christiane Paul, asked Reas to describe what programming brings to artwork, he answered with one feature: scale.

I was surprised that he left his answer at that. Software changes everything it touches, often in fundamental ways, and artwork is no exception. Scale is merely one high-level outcome of algorithmic art. There are deeper changes that programming brings to art: precision, randomness, mutability, and reuse. Continue reading...

For those who aren't familiar with probability, a probability distribution is a way of describing the odds that a given number will be chosen at random. As described in my post on randomness in the composition of artwork, randomness and control over it can be very important for algorithmic artwork. I spend a considerable portion of my time fine-tuning probability distributions to achieve the desired aesthetic effects. This post describes some of the common distributions that are useful for artwork. Continue reading...

Great artwork requires great attention by the artist. Even so, many artists acknowledge that randomness and spontaneity also play a role in great works. I believe it is useful for artists to study, experiment with, and control randomness for artistic purposes. I will attempt to explain my thoughts on one aspect of randomness here. Continue reading...