Alex Wolfe | Project 3 | Generative

by a.wolfe @ 8:26 am 28 February 2012

[vimeo width=”600″]

So, full disclosure, I love particle systems. I think it’s one of the best/easiest ways to get generative organic flowy motion when coding. When I’m making art by hand, that’s generally my aesthetic, and I usually want it to carry over into my computational art as well. Of course with this sentiment also comes a total abuse of perlin noise, which accomplishes much of the same feeling with significantly less math/hard work. So for this project I wanted to code up a real physics system that wasn’t just based off of perlin noise/ flocking rules and hopefully get some different behaviors/motions. I decided to focus on magnetism, since magnetic particle paths also have a very curvy graceful motion.

So my initial sketch had user placed gravity wells, which are those really cute brightly colored drops. The user can click to place them, drag them around, and then right click to be rid of them. Unlike boids in the flocking algorithm, these particles have no behavior of their own, but are entirely controlled by these external forces. Unfortunately, the final result didn’t look that different from any other swarming/ perlin noise flock despite following  a completely different rules. However I did have this pretty powerful/adaptable system so I started exploring other ways I could create something useing the underlying interaction to power it.

My first instinct was just to create a delaunay triangulation and mesh it. However this was still kind of eeeeeh, though I did have fun working with the Toxiclibs color library to get a really nice palate. I’ve been in an illustration/comicy sort of kick lately. In my hand drawn work, I tends to cling to super ornamental patterns and really bright colors.

And as much as I love their effect, I hate drawing them! They are tedius and take a  ridiculously long time for an effect that is purely decorative. I’d love to have a tool where I could just get fast combinations of them in different arrangements on the fly that I could use for background effects, whether just for gutters or fillers on dresses and cloth, similar to this sketch here.

So I added repeller gravity wells where you could just drop in, for example, a comic panel or some other element that they system would then do its best to avoid.

And I started playing around with different texturing systems. I came across this idea rather late in the design process so I didn’t have time to hand watercolor the large swatches of pattern I would need to execute my above pattern, so I experimented just using various texture files from my graveyard folder for such things on my drive.


1 Comment

  1. ————————–

    nice drawings–do you do illustration work?

    i like how the concept evolved, maybe if you just don’t think about it for a few days you’ll have a breakthrough of how it could all work together, it feels a bit forced right now

    The particles are fun to watch. I like the addition of textures to spice it up visually. I wonder if you could use this mechanism to create creatures of some kind.

    Looks like it belongs underwater, kind of reminds me fish scales.


    Think about printing these out as fabric for clothes (add it to your capstone project!)? Could be pretty sweeet. As golan lightly put it, “GET IT OFF THE SCREEN”
    ^^or papercraft

    first following blocks reminds me of making patterns from iron filings and magnets a la

    Try coloring with 4color theorem with each color as a texture from an image. if you were looking at coloring the triangles differently from one another

    I pick my nose alot, too. BIOMIMICRY: This is an interesting way to think about the color changing ability of some sea creatures including squid, they have an uncanny way of changing
    their skin patterns. You just made me wonder if the information that travels across their skin is like a package that travels over a network, so to speak. watch the last 10 seconds.

    Love the rambling I-was-up-all-night narrative. The visual results are, simply, quite lovely.
    Got one word for ya: SPOONFLOWER.COM. They’ll print it on fabric.

    I really like the final image in your presntation, could easily be a chillwave indie LP cover. I think the stills are more interesting than the animated representations right now, maybe a series of prints is the way to go right now?

    ToxicLibs seems to be owning the generative project


    Beautiful meshes – it seems like you took a few concepts and carefully combined them to make something far more interesting than the individual components.

    beautiful patterns. The movement is really cool too! I feel like these need to be made into a physical objec of some sort.

    I love the colors and patterns you have. I think it would look really elegant if the background color was one of the colors from the pattern.

    Patterns generated by meshing particles! Great idea!

    Very beautiful. Both the motion and the patterns.

    Make a cloth with this sort of pattern..


    Comment by dan — 28 February 2012 @ 8:09 pm

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