about code drawings

Code Drawings with Hopscotch

I have been exploring how very simple algorithms might be able to generate complexly interrelated lines of great beauty. I’ve been writing code hoping to be surprised, and sometimes succeeding. I have been sharing them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Ello, a further experiment in dissemination.

I’m not the first to make code drawings. I’m making them with tools few others would think to use.

Hopscotch an app for the iPad. It provides a block-based visual programming environment that was inspired by Scratch. It uses a touch, swipe-to-drag and drop interface. It includes resonances with Logo, Design By Numbers, Processing, and Scratch through a “pen” entity that is plotted in two dimensions with either direction and stepping, or changes in X and Y values. It has been designed with very young learners in mind, and affords the kindergarteners the opportunity to program for touch interfaces.

I have been making drawings with small algorithms. I was going to say the smallest ones possible, and indeed in my head that is the case. There is a sense of self-discipline where I am trying to minimize the size of the algorithm. I am also trying to retain the legibility of the the code, its intelligibility. At first with as few sprites as possible, and then with a single sprite and clones when that became possible. I’ve introduced small possibilities for variability in the lines. I’m hoping to give them some liveliness.

code drawing 104i was one of the ones I shared on Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter. It caught the attention of the Hopscotch team who then featured the program on their social network. That was some time in August of 2015. As of this writing that project now has surpassed 20,000 plays. I think that there are several others that create even greater beauty, but those have enjoyed less notice.


exemplary images (links will be added in an update)

code drawing 104i

code drawing 104j




October 15, 2015