My Blog: projects, sketches, works in progress, thoughts, and inspiration.

Tagged: generative

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Another little experiment with my particle system. Each particle is rendered very large with a slightly darker stroke than fill, and each frame is drawn over the previous one. This along with the color shifts creates some nice pseudo three dimensional effects. The effect is especially interesting when particles overlap as they move.

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processing cell cluster circle orange

I built this script which creates circles budding off of circles. What better to do with it than put it in a circle? I could give some lofty symbolism for circles, and some if it might even be half true, but to be frank I just like them. They look nice. Not to mention it’s much too late to be coding anyway (or blogging).

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Although I am happy with how my initial Ribbons script turned out it still wasn’t exactly what I was trying to create. After playing with Perlin Noise based forces in my straightforward particle system and creating outstanding fluid motion, I thought I might go back to the Ribbons and add a Flow Field to that as well. The result is much more dynamic than the original and quite graceful.

And a little technical stuff. The ribbon is just a strategically rendered particle system. I created a particle system class with particles and springs. As new particles are added (on mouse press) new springs are also created connecting each particle to the one before. Each particle repels all nearby particles and springs pull them together. The result is a string of connected particles which would, if the forces extended infinitely, eventually straighten itself out into a line. To render the structure all particles and springs are hidden and a curve is drawn by wrapping the rendering loop in beginShape(); and endShape(); with a curve vertex for each.

In the previous version the wobble was created by a slight random force applied to each point and a wind vector of the particle system. Because of the varied weights of the particles and spring lengths the wind wobbled the structure more convincingly. In this version the same Perlin Flow Field I’ve been using in many of my recent projects pushes the ribbon around much more dynamically. Different parts of the string are pulled in different directions making it writhe back and forth. The color is an attribute of the particle system and ‘randomly’ shifts over time.


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Adding lines connecting nearby points in a particle system creates an interesting effect, but it does get a little messy. I thought it would be interesting if the lines only connected the nearest particles to each, which would vary from point to point, and if the lines didn’t overlap or intersect. The result would be a nice mesh with varied density. Of course after putting the script together I turned it into a drawing machine. I’ll post more on exactly how this script works sometime soon.

In this Drawing Machine a series of particles spawned when the mouse is pressed move through a morphing Perlin noise flow field. They also slightly repel each other. The netting algorithm is applied to the particles to create the dark lines and their colors slowly shift. Many different factors effect the size and transparency of the points and lines in order to keep everything moving smoothly. Lines fade out as they get longer and fade out with the points they join.



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ink wash particle system

Although there are a couple particle system libraries available for Processing I thought I’d build my own anyway. For practice, a better understanding of what’s going on, and more control over the details. With a little help from Dan Shiffman I began working on one a little while ago but never quite finished it. Trying to extend my Wave script to flow fully in two dimensions, a particle system seemed like a good tool. All the particles repel each other and have realistic motion with force, acceleration, and velocity vectors. I also added a spring class and a few other little tools.

On the way I was distracted a few times and made a few other generative sketches. This one simply creates particles which slowly fade. A curve along all of the points with a very low opacity creates the brushy textures.

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Line Wave


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Concentric circles and lines always seem to catch my eye. They hold a lot of movement and tension and have an inexplicable beauty to me. This little morning project scripted in Processing draws a waving horizontal line. Each point on the line has a vertical speed and acceleration, and the line is recalculated fifty or so times.

To add a little more depth I put in a blur filter before each new line set, and an invert filter creates some nice complimentary colors.

line wave 3

line wave 5

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