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Intro to Generative Art

Generative Art is a method of art that uses algorithms and rules input into a computer to output artwork independent of human interaction to produce specific or random results…

If you search ‘what is generative art’ in Google…

You will get about 50 million results… so this is a field of art that has limitless possibilities with numerous ways to execute, using different types of code, software and methods to output art. The processes achieve many purposes, some of them merely for artistic purpose, but often it is used for science and business to provide data visualization, mapping and more.


Generative art originated from computer art, which is a form of art where ‘computers play a role in the process or final product’ of an art piece. Generative art is very similar but is broader, generally meaning that it is created by non-human systems. ( In the 1950s, artists started to explore art through mechanical devices and analog computers, but generative art really took root when computers emerged in the 1960s. Artists would use room-sized computation machines’ to make a mix of art and computer science. A lot of the generative art was done not by artists, either, but by engineers and scientists in their research labs. Michael Doll was an engineer and professor at University of Southern California, and was one of the first people to program a computer for artistic reasons. Lillian Schwartz was one of the first artists to adopt the method, so she really influenced the field of generative art, too. Computer advancements in the 1990s helped inspire visual artists to use computer programs to code their art and from that Design by Numbers and Processing were developed for use. ( Around 2015, AI-produced art started impacting generative art on a larger scale, so now it is used in many fields for many different purposes, for neural networks, GANS, and programs ‘designed to think like a human brain’ to successfully create artwork that competes well with analog artwork.

A Couple Myths…

Myth One: The artist has complete control and the code is always executed exactly as written. Therefore, generative art lacks the elements of chance, accident, discovery, and spontaneity that often makes art great, if not at least human and approachable.

Myth Two: The artist has zero control and the autonomous machine is randomly generating the designs. The computer is making the art and the human deserves no credit, as it is not really art. Taken from Let’s explore a bit more… the artist below inspired Design by Numbers…

In 1995, Joshua Davis became using programming to produce art and he used Flash to create generative art… He has an incredible portfolio.


He has gotten involved in NFTs and BlockChain with his work. If you don’t know what that is google both for more information.

Generative Art Playground

  • TensorFlow end-to-end open source platform for machine learning. It has a comprehensive, flexible ecosystem of tools, libraries and community. (Code to try out if you want to download and experiment)
  • Distill By using feature inversion to visualize millions of activations from an image classification network, we create an explorable activation atlas of features the network has learned which can reveal how the network typically represents some concepts.
  • Acrylicodelet’s create something here to save and print out.
  • Quick, Draw! The Data Over 15 million players have contributed millions of drawings playing Quick, Draw! These doodles are a unique data set that can help developers train new neural networks, help researchers see patterns in how people around the world draw, and help artists create things we haven’t begun to think of. That’s why we’re open-sourcing them, for anyone to play with.
  • GalaxyKate just a neat art playground that you can adapt.
  • Google Arts & Culture
  • Fractal Art Generators Specifically, let’s try this one out. Here is what I came up with.
  • Another fractal generator.
  • Tinkersyth is just a fun GUI to create generative art. Let’s make something!
  • ArtBlocks (huge in the NFT Market)
  • Neural Blender is website where you can try and search terms for images and the website will find a collage of sorts for you. Each search will differ from the next.
  • Take your pick and explore other art generators
  • Generative Art with Mathematics
  • Snorpey Triangulate Images

Practice and Make Generative Art

  • Generative Artistry website has a podcast and also several interesting tutorials. We will be using this to adapt some of the existing artwork and save our own version.
  • CodePen is a valuable resource to learn and practice working with code to create generative art. Once signed up and logged in you can save your favorite pens and then adapt them, saving them under new names as you adapt the code. Try it! And since we’re going to be working with a specific javascript library called paperjs, try out this pen and see how you can change it.
  • Let’s start learning p5.js, a javascript library that you can continue to learn about after class if you choose to. Here is a video series to watch if you’re serious about learning it. Also, look at p5 Examples, Learning Section, and the Reference. LinkedIn Learning on the Library website is also another resource with free tutorials.
  • paperjs, and the online editor is convenient to test things out and create your designs in.

Free software, too, you can try if you want to keep learning…

  • Cinder is an open-source coding software for generative art, built in the C++ coding language.
  • OpenFrameworks is an option to explore, but you’ll likely need an IDE to go with it. It is also based in C++
  • PlayCanvas offers a free version to practice this software which is used by digital art agencies and gaming developers.
  • Try the art in Python coding language. Vsketch is another software that uses Python where you can create awesome designs… Here is a tutorial for creating something if you wish to explore it more.
  • GIMP even has a ‘Script-Fu’ language to create Mandelbrot fractals. Here is a tutorial on how to set one up. You can also learn more about fractals here.

Check out these interesting videos and articles on Generative Art

How this Guy Uses A.I. to Create Art

Tyler Hobb’s Website

Javascript Art Composition Video Series

Changing Colors from RGB to HSB

Article we practiced a few designs with


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