Pattern made with the help of Nodebox

lastvector's Avatar


17 Jun, 2024 02:26 PM

I enjoy creating patterns.

Here is another one of my attempts with Nodebox.
The basic pattern was made in Nodebox. It is a great
way to try out different variations and I really
enjoy experimenting.

I then used the vector graphics program VectorStyler
for further editing. It has, for example, more extensive
Boolean options. In this case I used Divide. It also
has many tools for recoloring areas.

Nodebox and VectorStyler complement each other wonderfully.

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by john on 18 Jun, 2024 09:02 AM

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    This is Excellent!

    First, it's a lovely pattern. But it's also a great example of something that is easy to understand, but hard to do purely in Nodebox.

    Making the outline is fairly easy in Nodebox, as you proved. That's what Nodebox is particularly good at. But identifying all the little tiles that form in the intersections of the larger rotated and reflected shapes - that's hard! So this is a great use case for starting a pattern in NodeBox and then transferring it to another program, like VectorStyler, to finish it.

    I would very much like to see a YouTube demo of this project to see just how you did the coloring in VectorStyler.

    Although I think it makes perfect sense to finish this project in VectorStyler, it is actually possible to do it entirely in Nodebox. I found it to be a difficult but irresistible challenge, so I went ahead and did it.

    See attached demo and screenshot.

    It turns out that I have a node in my library, Overlaps, that can automatically find all the little intersecting tiles in a list of overlapping shapes. The problem is that, because the number of possible intersections increases exponentially, it can only handle a maximum of TEN shapes. Your design involves TWENTY FOUR overlapping shapes (once all the rotated copies are made).

    So, to find all the tiles I had to break the pattern into smaller pieces, find subsets of the tiles, then put it all back together. This took me a few hours of head scratching and eye squinting.

    First I combined 9 of the 24 shapes to find the 16 tiles in each tip of the star. Then I combined 11 shapes to form the 30 tiles in each sixth of the central hexagon. To do this I had to modify my Overlaps node to handle 11 shapes instead of just 10. When I combined everything, and rotated and copied it six times, there were a total of 276 individual tiles. It takes Nodebox about 8 seconds to do this on my MacBook M3 Pro.

    I didn't try to replicate your colors, but this would have been easy. I used a total of 30 random colors (the first 16 of which were repeated on the star tips), but I could just as easily used 276 different colors. You could have endless fun coloring this design in many different ways.

    So while this can be done entirely in Nodebox, you would have to be skilled and a little bit crazy to do it. Thanks for a truly interesting challenge!

    I look forward to your demo and to many more such wonderful projects!


  2. 2 Posted by lastvector on 18 Jun, 2024 09:47 AM

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    Wow !!!

    Hi John

    I can't tell you how impressed I am that you have recreated
    this design in Nordbox. Especially the color scheme.

    The video you asked for is below now.

    I just experiment around and follow the ideas that come
    to mind. Ultimately without a plan as to what the outcome
    should be. If I find something that I like, I work on it in one
    way or another.

    Of course a lot can be done in Nodebox, but it requires
    a lot of abstraction skills. Vector graphic programs and
    especially VectorStyler offer tools that fit my approach
    a little better. Getting the thing done somehow. :)

    As I have already written, Nodebox and VectorStyler
    complement each other wonderfully.

    So thank you for your wonderful Version.
    Have a nice Day

  3. 3 Posted by lastvector on 18 Jun, 2024 10:50 AM

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    Hi John

    Some additions to my post above:
    I decided to post a video in this thread too.
    Where I show some steps of my process and
    the tools I used.

    And I do a short summary video in that upcoming post.

  4. 4 Posted by lastvector on 19 Jun, 2024 12:57 PM

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    Here the Link to the Video which shows the steps
    in Nodebox and in VectorStyler.

    Have a nice day

  5. 5 Posted by lastvector on 19 Jun, 2024 04:41 PM

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    Hi John

    Made another Variation with a bit further editing
    in VectorStyler.

  6. Support Staff 6 Posted by john on 20 Jun, 2024 10:41 AM

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    I enjoyed your video and found it intriguing. I like that you shared your creative process, including some of the rabbit holes and dead-ends. Your technique of using text paths to sprinkle in comments and captions in a silent video is clever and works surprisingly well, though your audience would probably prefer audio narration.

    Your boolean intersection with a polygon would have (mostly) worked in Nodebox if you hadn't grouped your paths before compounding them. That is, you can do a separate compound with each individual path instead of doing a single compound with the whole group at once. The compound node, though, does cause the outline of the polygon to become incorporated in your design, which you may not want. If so, using a mask cutout like you did was a reasonable next step.

    I do have both a clip node and a mask node, which I thought might work in this situation. The clip node (which is based on compounds) also ends up incorporating the outline of the polygon. The mask node (which is based on delete instead of compound) almost works, but is not precise and allows some lines to slightly over or undershoot the polygon boundary. So neither of those nodes provides an acceptable alternative.

    I find this example truly interesting. Although, as I showed above, it is POSSIBLE to do this entirely in Nodebox, there should be an easier way. I did come up with another technique, a node which generates intersections of all possible pairs from even a fairly long list of overlapping shapes. It could be quite useful in some cases and I may add it to my library. It produces a colorable pattern which is almost identical to your VectorStyler pattern - but cheats by having some larger intersections poking out from behind an incomplete set of smaller tiles. So again, this is almost good enough but not QUITE what you need in this situation.

    I will continue thinking about this. Thanks again!


  7. 7 Posted by lastvector on 20 Jun, 2024 11:47 AM

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    I know that the audience would prefer an audio commentary. But they would
    certainly regret it if I actually did that. Firstly, I am much better at writing in English,
    with the help of translation tools, than speaking. I am German, which is my native language.

    Secondly, I don't have very good hearing, so I would not be able to check whether
    the audio recording would be good. I have no problem with that and I am aware of
    the misunderstandings that this causes in everyday life. Of course, I know that people
    are used to what is “normal”.

    So the audience will have to accept that there are video recordings that will not
    meet their expectations.


  8. Support Staff 8 Posted by john on 20 Jun, 2024 05:14 PM

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    Fair enough. As I said, I think your clever solution works well enough and successfully communicates your process. I am grateful to have your video and have watched it multiple times.


  9. Support Staff 9 Posted by john on 21 Jun, 2024 06:23 AM

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    I am continuing to play with this basic design and color it in different ways. I might even try animating it.

    If I end up with something I like, would you have any objections to me posting it in my portfolio on Instagram and elsewhere as my own art?

    My philosophy is that art is a continuous conversation with each each artist taking in the work of fellow artists, being inspired, recreating or imitating parts of it from scratch, playing with those parts, distilling deeper patterns, mixing it with parts from earlier work or other art, and eventually publishing it and thus adding new work back into the global conversation. I am happy when I see others riff on my designs.

    But in cases like this, where my process was initiated directly from your specific design, and my end result may still bear a recognizable resemblance, I want to be extra cautious not to step on any toes. So if you feel at all possessive about your original design, and would be at all uncomfortable seeing me release something that shares some of the same DNA, please let me know before I go any further down the path. If you have any objection I will stop working on this and turn to other projects.

    Let me know. Thanks!


  10. 10 Posted by lastvector on 21 Jun, 2024 07:43 AM

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    I have no problem with that. Especially not with you,
    who are so generous with your knowledge.
    Use what comes out of it as you like.


  11. Support Staff 11 Posted by john on 21 Jun, 2024 08:19 AM

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    Thank you, Gottfried.

    I've been playing with colors all night, using a wild hodgepodge of different techniques, but have not yet found a path forward. So I may or may not come up with anything worth sharing.

    Just playing!


  12. 12 Posted by lastvector on 21 Jun, 2024 10:09 AM

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    ...So I may or may not come up with anything worth sharing...

    No Problem with anything halfbaken :)
    Thats the case with most of my tries. As i wrote i like to
    experiment and not everthing results in something useful
    or something i like.

    But all of this tries are always useful as a inspirational Source
    for new and often very different Ideas.

    So have fun, just trying :)

  13. Support Staff 13 Posted by john on 21 Jun, 2024 09:22 PM

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    As I think you know from my many comments on this forum, I am a big fan of playing. I play constantly and never regard it as a waste of time, even if things never get past halfbaken. As you said, even if one project doesn't pan out, the energy invested and lessons learned go back into the pot and come out later as something even better.

    Many years ago I wrote an essay on this subject, which I published as my very first web page, back in 1995 when the World Wide Web was brand new:


  14. 14 Posted by lastvector on 22 Jun, 2024 06:38 AM

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    In the meantime, I read your essay and often had to smile.
    Can say that I see things in the same or similar way.
    But I never seen it described as beautifully and aptly
    as in your essay.


  15. Support Staff 15 Posted by john on 23 Jun, 2024 07:51 AM

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    FYI, I posted an animated version of the star tiling on Instagram:



  16. 16 Posted by lastvector on 23 Jun, 2024 08:07 AM

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    like it :)


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