1. Introduction
  2. Hyphae
  3. Trees
  4. Linetrace
  5. Differential Line
  6. Differential Mesh
  7. Differential Mesh 3d
  8. Fractures
  9. Sand Spline
  10. Differential Lattice
  11. Sand Creatures
  12. Sand Glyphs
  13. Not a Conclusion


This essay was written between late 2015 and mid 2016.

I've always been fascinated with patterns. It doesn't really matter what kind of patterns; I've played with networks, leaves and leaf venation, branches, lightning, flocking, tracing outlines of shapes, river formation, rock sediments, landscapes, slime mold, lichens, reaction-diffusion, cellular automaton, some fractals, and a few other things. I think what I enjoy the most is how complex and intricate results you can get from a set of simple rules.


Recently I've been particularly interested in biological patterns, and differential growth. My background is in numerical mathematics, not biology. So I have limited knowledge of how biological systems actually work. Even so, I've been experimenting quite a lot with recreating various biological behaviours. Part of the challenge is to try to recreate some pattern or behaviour with as few and as simple rules as possible.

Sometimes I manage to recreate the phenomenon I set out to create, and sometimes not. More often than not I get something interesting, even if it is not always what I expected.

A Confession

In the interest of disclosure I should point out that I sometimes base my work on the ideas that I have seen done elsewhere by a number of other generative artists. Most notably Jared Tarbell and Nervous System. For instance the algorithm I named Orbitals (image below) is very heavily based on Happy Place by Tarbell.


I point this out because I have always found it hard to know where a piece of software—and in my particular case, the images generated by that software—is novel enough to be viewed as a separate work.


I started working with generative algorithms when I was supposed to be studying for my exams at university. For that reason I bought the domain name, as a joke on me diverging from my studies. The first thing I did was to copy several of Tarbell's algorithms using Javascript/Canvas. After a while I started getting a few other ideas of my own.

sand creatures

Apart from Orbitals, the first algorithm I got working was Hyphae. It came to me when I was trying to recreate the behaviour of Hyphae by Nervous System. At this point I hadn't realized how complicated that algorithm actually is, and I spent way too much time trying and failing to get it anywhere near decent. I implemented it later, and you can read the Siggraph paper describing it if you are interested. It is a fascinating read!


I make almost all of my code available at Github. All the following sections have a link to the corresponding repository. Unfortunately not all of it is entirely well documented or up to date.