New app by me: Swarmpaint

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The generative drawing app that I’ve been working on for the last few months has finally gone live on the Google Play store for Android.

Swarmpaint is an extension of ideas that took root back before I switched to a teaching career. I was taking New Media classes (taught by Kenneth Newby, an excellent and interesting artist and teacher) and came across the idea of “computational expresssionism“. If we take on computational tools as a drawing medium, then by designing our own software we can use computation as an additional way of shaping and expressing what we draw.

More recently, I just taught a Digital Media Arts course at a local middle school. One assignment had students using Scratch to generate their own visual art. The results were often chaotic, but they often stumbled upon something truly amazing.

After a while I realized we could easily turn this assignment into a drawing program by having it follow the mouse. A few students even discovered this themselves (if my shaky memory serves me). And it was amazing how easily we could turn a boring line into something fantastic just by adding a few command blocks.

This inspired me to return to my own computational expressionism sketches from those four-or-so years ago and see what I could do with them on Android. In the end, I overhauled the actual drawing engine to something more physics-y, added a lot of controls and hopefully enough polish that you all agree it’s worth the (really cheap!) price of admission.

So, I invite you all to try out a taste of what a computational drawing medium could let you do. And if you’re curious about how to make a computational drawing tool truly your own, keep an eye out here or let me know on Twitter as I’m considering putting some sample code online to get people started.

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