Existential Friday NewsletterGenerative Art

v64: Generative Art Series 7 of 13 . . . Perlin Noise and Randomness

Perlin Noise Generative Abstract Sun

Do you ever think about how the things you saw and experienced growing up shape the way you see the world today? I grew up surrounded by different types of art and one of the significant pieces was a large metal sun.

The sun is around 4 feet across and made with some type of copper looking metal. I have no idea what it’s actually made with. It has metal rods coming out from the center in a circular pattern.

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that sun. It illustrated how we can model something from the natural world without it being an exact representation of the actual thing. Maybe that’s one of the appeals of art . . . a well executed lack of precision is desirable.

Inspired by the metal sun, I decided that I wanted to create some generative suns. I wanted the suns to look more organic so I decided to use Perlin Noise to draw the rays. Generative Art frequently involves creating and managing randomness and Perlin Noise is an alternative.

Note:  Perlin Noise is different than randomness because the values have some type of relationship to nearby values. Random values have no relationship to nearby values. The math is beyond me, but using Perlin Noise produces images that are more organic in nature.

Visually, a horizontal line drawn through random points looks like this:

Random Noise Line P5js

A line drawn with Perlin Noise points looks like this:

Perlin Noise Line p5.js

And if you fill in the Perlin Noise line, it looks kinda cool:

Filled Perlin Noise Line p5.js

Perlin Noise has some interesting implications for 3D shapes and organic movement. Check out this link to read more.

One of the early sun images drew Perlin noise lines and rotated them around a circle.  At this point, I was experimenting with a bunch of different colors.

Perlin Noise Generative Abstract Sun

I felt like the lines were a little sparse so I decided to thicken them slightly and change the colors.

Perlin Noise Generative Abstract Sun

After doing that, I decided to close some of the lines that made up the sun.

Perlin Noise Generative Abstract Sun

And a later iteration replaced the lines with circles.

Perlin Noise Generative Abstract Sun


This history of S’mores is a timely summer read.

This video about trying to buy a Bob Ross painting is really interesting.  It’s surprisingly difficult . . .

It’s now time to admit that the Bob Ross video above led me down a nostalgic 1980’s rabbit hole that naturally ended with Cyndi Lauper videos.

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