Generative Art Links

Some links to Generative Art, Math & Fractals, and other creative ways of creating computional imagery. The list is not meant to be exhaustive: rather, it is a list of my favorite links.

Generative Art Software

General-Purpose Software

General Purpose Software

Watz (created in Processing) Nodebox Eno Henze (Created in vvvv) Created in vvvv

Processing is probably the most used platform for Generative Art. It is an “open source programming language and integrated development environment (IDE) built for the electronic arts and visual design communities”. Java-based. There is also a JavaScript port, Processing.js (with a nice example here: Algorithm Ink).

Nodebox – A Python based alternative to Processing. “NodeBox does less, prettier, in Python. Processing does more, uglier, in Java“. The new version 2.0 is finally available on Windows.

vvvv is “a toolkit for real time video synthesis”. Not only video – vvvv also handles audio and static images quite well (see Eno Henze: Reality Foam. for a beautiful example).

PureData a “real-time graphical dataflow programming environment for audio, video, and graphical processing.”

Specific Systems

Domain-Specific Software

Context Free Art Structure Synth TopMod 3D GroBoto

Context Free Art – uses Context Free Design Grammars to generate 2D images. It is very polished and easy to get started with. Context Free Art was my own first encounter with Generative Art, and I still think is a wonderful little app.

Structure Synth – my own attempt to extend Context Free Art into three dimensions.

TopMod3D – “is a free, open source, portable, platform independent topological mesh modeling system that allows users to create high genus 2-manifold meshes”.

Ready. Simulates all kinds of reaction-diffusion studies – both discrete and continious (OpenCL).

K3DSurf – 3D surface generator (for a nice example check out this one by Schmiegl).

GroBoto is a commercial IDE for creating structures based on a number of templates. There is a vast number of possible customizations, and the UI is beautiful, with a very fast built-in raytracer.

Arbaro and ngPlant are apps for generating 3D models of trees and flowers. Some nice examples here.

Organomorphic and MENDELicious – scripts for 3DStudio Max for creating natural structures and creatures.

Fractals and Math Art Software

Fractal Software

Incendia Subblue Mandelbulb Subblue Mandelbrot orbit trap

Mandelbulb3D – very powerful application for creating 3D fractals (distance estimated systems like Mandelbulbs, Mandelboxes, KIFS, and hybrid systems). Free, but Windows only.

Mandelbulber – similar to Mandelbulb3D, but open source. Runs on Windows and Linux.

Fragmentarium. My own application for rendering 3D fractals (and other systems) using the GPU. It contains a small IDE for writing GLSL snippets, and comes with support for animations and large resolution rendering, and several examples of 2D and 3D fractals. Open source, cross-platform. Requires a decent GPU.

Incendia – is a very promising fractal generator. Especially the 3D fractals are interesting and different from other fractal software. The beta versions are free.

Subblue has some very nice Pixel Bender (GPU accelerated) fractal plugins: Fractal Explorer Plugin – Mandelbrot and Julia sets, including orbit trapping, and a Mandelbulb Plugin (a possible 3D generalization of the Mandelbrot set).

JWildFire – impressive 3D flames renderer.

Jenn3D for visualizing Coxeter polytopes.

Live and Interactive Coding

SuperCollider – A real time audio synthesis programming language

Impromptu – Realtime programming (Scheme based, OS X only).

Chuck – ” Strongly-timed, Concurrent, and On-the-fly Audio Programming Language”

Fluxus – “A rapid prototyping, livecoding and playing/learning environment for 3D graphics, sound and games.”. Scheme based.

Shader Toy by Inigo Quilez. The first real-time code environment using WebGL (I think).

GLSL Sandbox by Mr. Doob. Interactive WebGL GLSL environment. Many great examples.

WebGL Playground by Krystian Samp. Again a WebGL GLSL editor, but more flexible, e.g. allowing multi-pass shading.

Yet.Another.Shader.Editor – particle GLSL editor, made by @notlion. Two of my attempts: Lorentz attractor, Pulsating knot.

APIs and Frameworks

Cinder is a C++ library for creative applications. It is free, open-source, and cross-platform.

OpenFrameworks – openFrameworks is an open source C++ toolkit for creative coding.

OpenCV – Computer vision library. Originally created by Intel. Powerful and extensive.


Tohu77 on Flickr (Made with Structure Synth and Sunflow) Dave Bollinger on Flickr (POV-Ray render) Blender Grasshopper 3dD

Academia, Books, and Papers.

Generative Art Conference (Milan) – The only academic conference I know of dedicated entirely to Generative Art. The full archive of conference papers is freely available.

Hyperseeing: Journal on Arts, Mathematics, and Architecture.

GASETHJ – journal and web site for Generative Art, Science, and Technology.

City Synthesis Papers by Paul Merrell.

What is Generative Art by Philip Galanter.

Real-Time Rendering – Probably the best book about real-time graphics.

Physically Based Rendering – A great book about ray tracing theory.

The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants. Lindenmayers book about L-systems.

Hypercomplex Iterations: Distance Estimation and Higher Dimensional Fractals (2002). by Dang, Kaufmann, and Sandin is a rare mathematical treatment of higher-dimensional fractals and their distance estimates. It is free (but tough!).

J. C. Hart’s original paper Ray tracing deterministic 3-D fractals and his sphere tracing papers are must-reads. He has also written many other great papers.

On my own blog, I have also covered various techniques. This is a selection of some of the more worthwhile posts:

Distance Estimated 3D Fractals – A long running blog post series on rendering 3D fractals using distance estimation.
Reaction-diffusion systems
Rendering 3D fractals without a distance estimator
WebGL for Shader Graphics
Distance Estimated Polychora
Knots and Polyhedra

Blogs and web sites

General Purpose Software

Flight 404 Marius Watz Daniel Piker Subblue

Generator X – generative strategies and software processes
Processing Blogs
Display Hack – Demo scene related techniques.
Flipcode – Game programming and graphics coverage.
Visual Complexity
Fractal Forums – good discussions on fractals. I visit regularly. is a web site for demo scene coders. Several demos features distance estimation and fractals.


General Purpose Software

Dave Bollinger Inigo Quilez Dreamlines

Tom Beddard – Generative stuff and 3D fractals – @subblue
Mark J Stock – Fluid dynamics – @markjstock
Dave Bollinger
Marius Watz@mariuswatz
Michael Hansmeyer – Architecture
Ramiro Perez – (Aexion) – Incendia creator – @Incendia_3D
Space Symmetry Structure by Daniel Piker.
Kyle McDonald@kcimc
Jonathan McCabe – Multiscale Turing patterns
Teeming Void by Mitchell Whitelaw.
Iñigo Quílez – amazing 4K demos. @iquilezles
Joshua Davis
David Wicks@sansumbrella
Robert Hodgin@flight404
Dr. Woohoo (Drew Trujillo)
Erik Natzke@Natzke
Matt Pearson@zenbullets
Alex Dragulescu
Dataisnature – Paul Prudence – @MrPrudence
Jared Tarbell
Glen Marshall
Craig Reynolds – Flocking, Boids
San Base – Dynamic painting
Jon McCormack – L-Systems, hybrid grammar systems, cellular automata.
Holger Lippmann
Vladimir Bulatov – Math art, 3D sculptures, Shapeways
MRK / Markos Kay, digital artist, London. @mrkfolio
Miguel Cepero – procedural modelling. @miguelcepero
Nervous Systems – Generative design. @nervous_system
Jos Leys – Math and Fractals.
Eiffie (ytalinflusa) GLSL and distance estimated fractal videos.
Marcin Ignac@marcinignac
Leonardo Solaas@solaas
Philip Rideout@prideout
Greg Little@tohu777
Altered Qualia@alteredq
Felix Woitzel – @Flexi23
Ricardo Cabello – three.js author – @mrdoob
Samuel Monnier – Fractal artist – @AlgWorlds
Frederik Vanhoutte@wblut
Karsten Schmidt@toxi
Leander Herzog@lennyjpg
Philip Galanter – notice the Generative Art link collection.
Jason Rampe – Softology – Vision of Chaos creator.


Written Images – The first generative book?

Cindermedusae – Ernst Haeckel inspired generative goodness.

Solaas Dreamlines

Postmodernism Generator

SCIgen – An automatic CS paper generator

Distance est. 3D fractals in Processing by Edward Porten – Java is much faster than I expected!

Visnut’s One-line music programs

Ghost Diagrams – a program that takes sets of tiles and tries to find patterns into which they may be formed.

Generative Machines by Michael Chang

Energy Flow – Non-linear film experience by FIELD for the iOS and Android

Continuous version of the Game of Life. Paper, Video

“Raymarching an infinite city” (in GLSL): project presentation in PPT

Hartverdrahtet – great demo scene fractal use.

23 thoughts on “Generative Art Links

  1. After I went to a presentation by Joshua Davis, I became a huge a fan of of generative art. It was really inspiring that I started generating art using NodeBox. It’s free.

  2. Wow! I love the Arabesque like fractal on Tom Beddard’s website…
    I should definitely try to use these in my artwork, that would be a plus on portfolio.

    Thanks for shearing.

  3. Pingback: EEG | Pearltrees

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *