Generative Art
A practical guide using Processing
Matt Pearson
Foreword by Marius Watz
  • June 2011
  • ISBN 9781935182627
  • 240 pages
  • printed in black & white

Perfectly placed at the intersection of code and creative thinking.

Marius Watz, Founder of Generator.x

Generative Art presents both the technique and the beauty of algorithmic art. The book includes high-quality examples of generative art, along with the specific programmatic steps author and artist Matt Pearson followed to create each unique piece using the Processing programming language.

Table of Contents show full

List of artworks




About this book

About the author


Generative art is easy

Order and chaos

Programming as poetry

The chaos artist


Part 1 Creative Coding

1. Chapter 1 Generative Art: In Theory and Practice

1.1. Not your father’s art form

1.2. The history of a new idea

1.3. The digital toolset

1.4. Summary

2. Chapter 2 Processing: A Programming Language

2.1. What is Processing?

2.2. Programmatic drawing 19

2.3. Structure, logic, and animation

2.4. Looping

2.5. Saving, publishing, and distributing your work

2.6. Summary

Part 2 Randomness and Noise

3. Chapter 3 The Wrong Way to Draw A Line

3.1. Randomness and not-so-randomness

3.2. Iterative variance

3.3. Naturalistic variance

3.4. Summary

4. Chapter 4 The Wrong Way to Draw a Circle

4.1. Rotational drawing

4.2. Case study: Wave Clock

4.3. Summary

5. Chapter 5 Adding Dimensions

5.1. Two-dimensional noise

5.2. Noisy animation

5.3. The third dimension

5.4. Summary

Part 3 Complexity

6. Chapter 6 Emergence

6.1. Emergence defined

6.2. Object-oriented programming

6.3. Summary

7. Chapter 7 Autonomy

7.1. Cellular automata

7.2. Simulation and visualization

7.3. Summary

8. Chapter 8 Fractals

8.1. Infinite recursion

8.2. Coding self-similarity

8.3. Exponential growth

8.4. Case study: Sutcliffe Pentagons

8.5. Summary

© 2014 Manning Publications Co.

About the Technology

Artists have always explored new media, and computer-based artists are no exception. Generative art, a technique where the artist creates print or onscreen images by using computer algorithms, finds the artistic intersection of programming, computer graphics, and individual expression. The book includes a tutorial on Processing, an open source programming language and environment for people who want to create images, animations, and interactions.

About the book

Generative Art presents both the techniques and the beauty of algorithmic art. In it, you'll find dozens of high-quality examples of generative art, along with the specific steps the author followed to create each unique piece using the Processing programming language. The book includes concise tutorials for each of the technical components required to create the book's images, and it offers countless suggestions for how you can combine and reuse the various techniques to create your own works.

What's inside

  • The principles of algorithmic art
  • A Processing language tutorial
  • Using organic, pseudo-random, emergent, and fractal processes

About the author

Matt Pearson is an artist, coder, and award-winning blogger based in Brighton, UK. His popular blog recently won "best blog" at the DiMAS awards. Matt is also the creative force behind the 100 Abandoned Artworks Generative Art project, where you can see many examples of his work.

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Succeeds in teaching without lecturing... turns dull programming concepts into fun explorations.

Frederik Vanhoutte,

If you're interested in generative art, this is the place to start.

Robert O'Rourke, Founder of HasCanvas