Tree Studies

  • Self-directed independent project from January 2015. 
    My initial goal was to combine programming and drawing to create illustrations, but in the process of doing so I realized that my actual goal was slightly different. It wasn’t about combining two media, but combining two ways of working: procedurally and by hand. 
    I have a tendency to always look for a method, a system, a collection of rules and patterns; this is perhaps the common thread that ties programming and illustration together, for me. They both involve setting up structures with their own internal logic. This project was an opportunity to think procedurally about illustrations, and also to realize the limits of procedural thinking, because in the end there is always some feeling of aliveness missing from pure structure. I tried to strike a balance between relying on rules and trusting the process of searching and discovery.
    I decided to focus my project on trees because they are complex forms that follow well-defined rules but have a lot of room for variation. Most of the trees were generated by an add-on I wrote for the open-source 3D modeling program Blender. Other elements include ink, digital drawings, manipulated photographs, and graphics generated in Processing.
  • An animation of randomly generated trees. Some don't look like trees, but I would argue they are still trees because they follow the exact same rules as any of the others--their parameters are just a little unexpected.
  • Since this project was essentially about my own working practice, sketches can hopefully give a good sense of the processes involved.
  • marker sketch
  • ink blob trees
  • ink forms, for digital compositing
  • blob tree generator (interactive version)
  • triangular blob tree generator (interactive version)
  • parametric-equation tree generator (interactive version)
  • pipe tree generator (interactive version)
  • generated trees, unedited output
  • marker sketch
  • ink marks/patterns
  • vector drawing brushes (interactive version)
  • ink marks, for digital compositing
  • ink marks, for digital compositing
  • vector drawing brushes (interactive version)
  • 3D flowers in Processing
  • ink drawing
  • observational ink sketches
  • more observational ink sketches
  • demonstration of tree curvature
  • demonstration of tree gradual angle