Series - Deep Stars

2019-03-22

It's finally time for another artwork series! I'm so happy that I'm almost done with the workflow and editor changes and now I can focus on the actual artwork instead of hopping here and there from editor to editor seeking the perfect setup.

So, before talking about the series I want to spend some few last words about the final workflow in which I'm right now.

More workflow tweaks

More editor changes

In the last article I talked about all the editor madness that I went through while trying to setup a really comfortable environment to work with when I'm making sketches. I wrote that article using Spacemacs, and even if I loved it at first I didn't liked the way it worked as a mess of configurations made by a lot of different people. I think that Spacemacs is a perfect solution for who wants to feel what Emacs can do, since it come preloaded with a lot of interesting packages and features, but I personally want to know exactly what is going on under the hood when it is possible. So, after trying Spacemacs I decided to start from a clean Emacs installation and build my personal minimal Spacemacs piece by piece. Now I understand a lot more of what is going on and I can more easily tweak settings and apply changes to the packages.

Sketch project fine tuning

After such heavy editor changes, my project needed some tweaks too. I use Quil and Clojure to make my Sketches, so I have a REPL running inside Emacs in which I can inject code to execute my core functions. So I made some custom functions that let me execute Emacs shortcuts like :

  • -"SPC c l" to reload all my project files restarting the program
  • -"SPC c r" to refresh the program state generating a new image without exiting or restarting it
  • -"SPC c R" to generate a new image with a different random seed

If you work with Clojure I really suggest to implement those functions since it really speeds up the "sketching" process.

Public draw functions

Right now my sketch project consists of many different files that stores a bunch of functions to ease out the process of drawing stuff. I'm thinking of splitting the project isolating all these "generic" functions creating a stand alone library which I could post on GitHub. It's still only an idea, but I'll look into that to check if that's easily maintainable.

More Chaikin experiments

In the last series I talked about the Chaikin algorithm, a beautiful piece of code to make really cool and interesting curved lines. I felt that there was much more to explore and learn from those curves so I kept working and experimenting with that. At first I tried a more minimalist version of Color Mountains with simple pure Chaikin lines distorted with some incremental noise repeated on each line.

The result was really chaotic but I felt some kind of harmony from the repeated distortions. To try to make the image more readable I reduced the lines count and added a fill color inside each couple of lines to create full shapes.

Aesthetically the result was really enjoying to me, but it felt pretty limited so I decided to revisit the concept of repetition with additive shades.

After some trouble with my shapes drawing function not adding light alphas correctly I managed to make it working correctly. I used that function with concentric elliptical shapes to create the figure displayed in Shades 2. I found that composition really interesting since it could be seen in two way:

  • From top to bottom it gave me a sense of depth, like the feel when you look down a deep lake from the surface.
  • From bottom to top it gave me a sense of height, like the feel when you look into a clear night sky full of stars.

Deep Stars

That mix of contrasting feeling hooked my interest and made me try expand that concept more into the artwork.

The next logical step was to add color.

My old canvas-like texture didn't really fit the mood of the artwork I was looking for, so I tried a bit more random and interesting texture. The final look was achieved with the generation of many random ellipses inside and outside the canvas.

At first I tried to draw circles on random points of the main lines in order to create all the stars of the sky, the main conceptual sketch was something like these:

Which was then translated into a more refined style with the new texture, colors, and lines into the final series called "Deep Stars", which you can see all its pieces at full resolution down below.


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