Custom Tools LiST

Graphics Software

General-Purpose Software

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

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.
It offers a large number of possible customizations, hosts a very fast built-in raytracer, with a nice GUI.

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


Fractals and Math Art Software

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.

APIs and Frameworks

Cinder is a C++ framework created by Robert Hodgin and Andrew Bell. It is free, open-source, and cross-platform, and it has made its proofs in big projects.

OpenFrameworks – openFrameworks is an open source C++ framework for creative coding, with a huge number of libraries


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