Generative Design Variations M.1.6 Agents in space

The Generative Design book starts this example with the following text: ‘For the last example in this chapter, the use of the noise () function as a way to determine the direction of agents’ movement is carried into the third dimension. The swarm of agents leaves the flat area and moves in three-dimensional space. An agent is represented by a ribbon composed of its previously executed positions. The agent class is adjusted.’ Here are the two tools which I have changed and used during this assignment.

I have created a Flickr Album with all the images I made during this exercise. There was no JavaScript involved because JavaScript does not support the Processing controlp5 library. So if you click on the previews of the loftmatic page you get the Processing code. Clicking the program numbers under each paragraph will also take you to the Processing code.

First thing that attracted my eye was: hint (ENABLE_DEPTH_TEST); What does that mean? I found some useful information here: Not that it is now clear to me but I know now a bit more of what it does. It allows you to combine 2d and 3d drawing? Anyway… I am using it and maybe I will find out why it is there later. I think I am going to need an on/off-key for the blue box which is around the agents. It might be handy for orientation purposes. But I don’t need to see that box always. Especially when I make screendumps. I define the variable ShowBox for that. And pressing the ‘b’ / ‘B’ key toggles between ShowBox and do not ShowBox. Made the usual adjustments of global variable names and wordspaces. And I have put the menu name outside the display screen. Otherwise that name will show up during the animation or screendumps. I did not change anything in Marius Watz’s TileSaver’s tab. That would take an extra week to find out how it works.  Instead I played with the controlp5 settings for a while. Ah… same problem as the earlier examples with the png’s. It’s creating a transparent file. So I have to import it into Photoshop to make it full color. Make the background a color of my choice and save it as a copy. Or save it as a jpg. Which might lead to lower image quality. Does the TileSaver class make any sense or does it produce the same transparency problem? No it doesn’t. It gives me a perfect 2400 x 2400 pixels png file. No transparency at all. Just a very large screendump. But how do I get it smaller. What does the global variable QualityFactor 3 do? My display window size is 800 x 800. Hmmm… 3 x 800 = 2400. So maybe if I make the QualityFactor just 1 it spits out an 800 x 800 png. And this is the case! So QualityFactor = the size of the image. As a result I have renamed that global variable to ImageSize.

I would like to bring in some color. Where can I do that? I saw that color is used in the next example. And the color is generated in the Agent class. I copied that piece of code and adapted the colors to my needs. Also added transparency. Strange enough the setting does not give me an idea of a 3d environment. Are those lights working? Even if I switch them off the scene seems to be lighted. And because I don’t know why they are on I leave them off (like in te real world).

Cranked up the AgentsCount to 10000. Made a few examples with rectangles.

Slowed down the animation to 10 frames per second. Otherwise it is difficult to get an impression of what is really going on in the display window. Created long rectangles.

In the Agents tab I repeated the ribbon.drawMeshRibbon twice. One with a width of 10 and one with a width of 50 (pixels?). Not sure about that size.

Used very small rectangles. Almost particles size.

I found a few lines of code in the Ribbon3d tab which were commented out. Just put them in again to see what would happen. It creates triangles.

Continuing with replacing PVectors. PuhVector! As Daniel Shiffman mentions it in the accompanying videos of his ‘Nature of code’ book. I did not finish his book yet but I noticed that you can use a lot of methods with PVector. I will try to use some of them. A PVector is a way to store two values. Or in this case three values because I’am working in 3d. Talking about PVector I have thrown away all my vertices and replaced them by curve-vertices.

Made every movement very relaxed and easy. Slow changing lines which render for 3000 pixels. So they render outside the box. Eventually they stop in the box. If you put the box upside down and looking into it you get a total different view of the same object. I let it render for fifteen minutes while cleaning my espresso machine.

1500 AgentCounts. It is still rendering very slow. But it delivers interesting images in the display window (if you let it render for fifteen minutes).

At this point starts the second part of the agents in space. The functionality of the ribbon is summarized in the class Ribbon3d. But at that moment I was so annoyed by the fact that I did not find a way how to control the lights in the previous example. because they just didn’t have any effect. So I tried it once more. Switched off all lights. And created a spotlight. On a certain moment I saw that spotlights light fall on a small part of a ribbon. So I tried to manipulate the spotlight so that it had more effect on every ribbon which was rendered. And… succes! I now have to uncomment the coloring of the ribbons because to get an ideal coloring by light I have to color all ribbons white. So that is my next step.

I have the impression that the lights are not working on lines. In the Agent’s draw block I have changed drawMeshRibon for drawLineRibbon. And I get white lines. Which is the real color of the line. Another thing is that these spotlights do not give enough light. So I used an old trick which I used when I was using Lightwave 3D. I duplicated the spotlights exactly at the same coördinates. And that helped. The brightness of the spotlights is now twice as high.

Just playing with the controlp5 settings for now. Added a green light on the 200, 200, 200 position. It seems that this is not in the middle of the display window. Ok… the light positions are calculated within the display window. Which seems logical to me. I have increased the agents count to 10000. That makes the rendering again very slow. But that is not interesting because I do not make animations (yet). I only have to render one frame.

Increased the noise-scale to 10000. Added one blue light at the top left corner.

Going to put four lights on each cornerpoint. Doubled those lights to increase the brightness.

NoiseSticking? What does that do? Doubled it from 0.9 to 1.8. Hmmm… I did a search through the sketch but NoiseSticking seems to be nowhere else than at the top of the program were all variables are being declared. It is nowhere else being used. Changed angleY for angleX. Which did not deliver anything new of course. Changed offset from 1000 to 1. Played with stepSize.

Uncommented the Arrow mesh code in the Ribbon3d tab.

Reduced the agentsCount to 700. And strokewidthrange to 20. The camera points right into the box!

Increased MaxStroke to 200.

I used the camera to get very close into the box. Weird things are going on in there.

Finally I think that Marius Watz’s TileSaver class worked out very fine. I will use that from now on (if I can). By using it I can always make very large images without losing lots of image quality.


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