The Fire Within
A study of ink
Ink has always been on the top of the list that I want to experiment with code. And I have done it multiple times, however I'm still finding new ways to create it. There's so many different ways to recreate it depending on which characteristic you are focusing on, the only thing that doesn't change is how much fun I had each time I experimented with it.
These are 2 examples of the ink brush experiment that I've done. Both of them focus on the brush itself, using millions of short strokes to represent brushing across the paper. I adore these 2 experiments very much, but they resemble more of 'dry ink'. Which is still very interesting, however it's hard to recreate the 'bleeding' effect of 'wet ink' with this approach.
I'm deeply inspired by these ink brushes references that I found, and fascinated by the bleeding effect of the ink. Therefore I start experimenting with different techniques trying to recreate this effect in code.
Eventually I settled with the approach of a feedback loop, where I ran a small simulation of the ink spreading. The ink continuously spreads out a little bit every frame, but also dries out a little bit each iteration. Obviously there's a lot of randomness involved such as the direction where the ink spread, how far they can spread ... etc. On top of these I also added a layer of noise to disturb the spread of the ink in both the speed and the direction. And then it comes to this result which I'm very satisfied with :
And interestingly, now looking back at the whole process, it resembles a lot with an ink drop experiment that I did years ago. Not with code, but on the paper :
In the experiment I record the spreading of an ink drop, but first I apply some water on the paper to determine the flow of the ink. Then I use tissues to absorb some of the water. This creates noise and disturbs the flow and amount of the water left on the paper so when the ink drops it'll create an organic shape instead of a perfect circle. This process is exactly how I create the ink bleeding effect with code this time. It's striking how everything is connected. And now it makes me want to do more generative ideas without coding.
The next step is colouring. Obviously most of the ink artwork is black and white. But there are some cases where you can see these really nice gradients of colour. Thus I started experimenting by applying a gradient map with the ink map that being generated, which is how I get the result of these :
I am very pleased with these, however I started wondering whether it will look like if I put multiple layers together and how to do it ? I went ahead adding more layers with each one of them having their own colour and an ink map as a transparency map. In results, it generates these refreshing styles.
I really like the look of these. They are busy compared to the gradient map approach, but they generate a very different look, almost like a mural instead of ink. In the end I decided to keep both, while I like the energy of the second layered approach, I still enjoy some of the minimum look from the gradient approach.
Decorations and texts
It is common in the traditional Chinese paintings that have poems in it to go with the drawings.
When I first created the ink texture and applied it with some colour. I felt there's something missing. I started experimenting with putting in some randomly generated Chinese texts from my old project excursion. I enjoyed these a lot however I have concerns about using the text. I've asked the opinion of some close friends on this and they have mixed opinions on this, so at the end I turn to the other direction.
At the time I was playing with this layout experiment which is heavily inspired by Matt's FOLIO project. And suddenly it hits me that maybe I can overlay this texture on top of the ink to mimic the look of texts.
I'm excited about this idea and started experimenting right away. Eventually I applied a layer of noise on this texture in order to blur out the boundaries of the texts a bit but still keep the essence of the grid. Then I overlay this text onto the ink textures to create the final look of the project.
It is such a long journey of this ink study and I feel I only explore the tip of an iceberg. I had tons of fun working on this project I'll definitely continue exploring. And lastly this project is now finally on fxhash and going live on the 10th of October at 16:00 GMT+1 ( London time ) You can find the link to the project here :
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