An Introduction to Processing

Posted by Jan Vantomme on 31 August 2007.
Tags: , ,

A while ago Veerle Pieters posted a nice tutorial on her blog: Transform Again in Illustrator](http://veerle.duoh.com/blog/comments/transform_again_in_illustrator/). If you are into scripting, there is a faster way to achieve a similar design. Over the years, Illustrator has become more and more scriptable. This is really great for generating designs. But there are some better apps out there to this kind of work. Take a look at Processing and Nodebox.

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to render a design with Processing, an open source and designer-friendly programming language. Download the latest release to start with this tutorial.

Step 1 - Creating Variables

First of all you need to create some variables and assign a type to them. Type the following code in the Processing window.

int   xy;
int   numberOfArcs 10
float rotation = - (HALF_PI 3);
int   arcSize;
int   step 40;
float startstop

  • x and y: x and y coördinates of the arc.
  • numberOfArcs: the number of arcs you want to generate.
  • rotation: how many degrees an arc is rotated compared to the previous arc. In this case each arc is rotated 15° counterclockwise.
  • arcSize: the size of the arc.
  • step: how many pixels is the arc bigger than the previous one.
  • start and stop: start and stop point of the arc.

Step 2 - Setup

You can now start with the setup() function. The statements in this function execute once when the program begins.

void setup()
{
    size
(420420);
    
background(240);
    
stroke(127);
    
noFill();
    
ellipseMode(CENTER);
    
strokeCap(PROJECT);
    
smooth();
    
noLoop();

  • size(width, height): the size() function must be on the first line in the setup() function. It defines the width and height of the canvas you will draw on.
  • background(value): the background() function sets the background color of the canvas. In this case the background will be a light gray.
  • stroke(value): the stroke() function sets the color of the stroke of the object you will draw on the canvas. A value of 127 gives 50% black.
  • noFill(): the noFill() function disables filling the arc.
  • ellipseMode(value): the ellipseMode() function tells Processing how the arc or ellipse should be drawn. In this case, Processing will start drawing the arc from the center.
  • strokeCap(value): the strokeCap() function tells Processing how to render line endings.
  • smooth(): use the smooth() function to draw the arcs with anti-aliased edges.
  • noLoop(): when you use noLoop() in the setup() function, the code within the draw() function will only be executed once. Note that the noLoop() function should be on the last line within setup().

Step 3 - Draw

This is the function where all the magic happens. The draw() function will draw the arcs on the screen. This is the code you need to create your design. The code in the for-loop calculates all points needed to draw the arcs on the screen.

void draw()
{
    
for (int i 0numberOfArcsi++) {
        strokeWeight
(i);
        
width 2;
        
height 2;
        
arcSize 200 + (step i);
        
start rotation i;
        
stop rotation TWO_PI HALF_PI;
        
arc(xyarcSizearcSizestartstop);
    
}

The Result

If everything went ok, your image should look like this.

Arcs

The Full Code

Download the full code or copy/paste this in the Processing window. Note that the downloadable code is a little shorter since I’m skipping a few steps in the draw() function.

int   xy;
int   numberOfArcs 10
float rotation = - (HALF_PI 3);
int   arcSize;
int   step 40;
float startstop;

void setup()
{
    size
(420420);
    
background(240);
    
stroke(127);
    
noFill();
    
ellipseMode(CENTER);
    
strokeCap(PROJECT);
    
smooth();
    
noLoop();
}

void draw
()
{
    
for (int i 0numberOfArcsi++) {
        strokeWeight
(i);
        
strokeWeight(i);
        
width 2;
        
height 2;
        
arcSize 200 + (step i);
        
start rotation i;
        
stop rotation TWO_PI HALF_PI;
        
arc(xyarcSizearcSizestartstop);
    
}

Playing with numbers

Next up is changing numbers to make some variations on the theme. A good exercise for you to figure out how to do this.

Variation on the Arcs image

Variation on the Arcs image

Variation on the Arcs image

Tweet this article