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Chinese calligraphy in 3D and Reasons to be creative

I’ve been playing with Chinese brushes for a while now, besides the ink drops i created and use it to create mountains, I’ve created these strokes too. 03_strokeMy favorite part of these strokes is the gradient, I created them actually by accident. I find some amazing work of 張大千 and there is a lot of beautiful gradient in his work. I was wondering how to do it but it turns out not as complicated as I thought, of course there’s a lot of trials and errors, I throw out a lot fail tests before i get this. The trick is simple : put only color ink on your brush, when you are about to draw, just dip some black ink on the tip of your brush and there you go, really easy and you get a very nice gradient. I had a lot of fun trying with different portion of color ink, black ink and water, at the end it’s very hard for me to stop and to pick the one I’m going to use in my code, because each one of them is unique and have its own character. I think this is one of the reason why I like to create these ink textures so much. It’s a similar process as doing generative art : you have few controls, and you just let it run and enjoy the result, and then you go back to tweak these controls again and try to discover new controls or new settings. I’ve done this a lot in the code but it’s the first time for me to do it outside computer, really enjoy it.


Bringing it to code

After I created these strokes, actually I don’t really know what am I going to do with it, they look amazing but I don’t have any ideas how I can use it. Until one day I was building some prototypes for a project and doing some explorations, and one of the idea is to create ribbons, then suddenly this idea strike me : how about put the textures on the ribbon, and that’s how this started. The moment I put it on the ribbons, it feels totally fit with it. And really gives the feeling of the real brushes. I show it to my colleagues and they all love it. So I start to make some decorations for it : adding a texture background, some ink drops and lastly : a video layer to overlay on the textures, it makes the texture moves constantly, it just a small touch but make it feel different.


A online demo could be found here.


Drawing a smooth ribbon in 3D space

One problem I had while building these ribbons is that it sometime twisted in 3D space.  Calligraphy_05

The one on the left is twisted, you can see the normal (  the purple lines ) are flipped to the other side. Luckily there is a solutions for this called Parallel Transport Frames , I was building this in cinder and it’s already part of the framework so it’s very straight forward to use. You can check the Tubular sample of cinder. Using this could generate a smooth ribbon ( the image on the right), you can see the normal is now all in the same side.


Another theme, another world

Two years ago when I went back to Taiwan and visited the national museum. I found something really fascinating that haunt my mind for years. Which is this old book, these golden characters are just so beautiful to me and also the dark blue background. And since after I’ve been always want to find a place to try out these colours.


After I build the prototype this idea come to my mind again, therefore I put the golden colour on the strokes and put a dark blue background to give it a test. Surprisingly it works ! I did try to keep the gradient of the stroke but turning them into grey scales then overlay this golden colour on top of it. Also the video layer helps a lot as well.


And it looks a little bit flat so I add some random shadows around it. I put this on my backyard with projector for my kids and they love it :

I actually did couple more prototypes based on this however they are build in C++ with cinder. I’ve put my source code on the github which you can find it here. It includes 2 versions in cinder, one is with leap motion, the other one is for the projection table i made, with kinect. And a version in web which is build with WebGL. I didn’t have too much time to go into details of these codes so if you have any questions please send me an email. And also the video texture that i use is too big to upload, so you might need to find one yourself or remove it from code.


Reasons to be creative

One of my resolutions this year is to give a speech on stage, so when I saw that Reasons to be creative is looking for elevator pitchers I didn’t hesitate too much then send them my proposal. I was thinking about to give a talk about my DevArt project with my friend together. But John (Davey) of RTBC replied it’s impossible to do that, the elevator pitch need to be solo, but he is very kind and said that he like both of our works and offer us one pitch each.  Therefore we decide that my friend Bertrand will still be presenting our Kuafu project, and I will be talking about these ink experiments i made ( strokes and ink drops )

It’s first time for me to step on the stage, I was scared to death. I am really glad that i didn’t do this alone, myself and bert we practiced a lot in our hotel room and time ourselves so we had a good sense of our timing. Also the crew from RTBC ( Chris and Andy ) helped a lot as well, they let us know all the details we need to take care of and always cheering for us. We rehearsed couple of times and at the end it all went well on the stage. It is such a great experience that I won’t ever forget. I encourage you to do the same if you haven’t done it before, it’s scary but also it’s a lot of fun ! Also I am really glad to meet all the other elevator pitchers as well, they are all very talented and amazing.


I was at RTBC last year but i was working for the first day and get called back the last day. So this year is the first time for me doing the whole event. I’ve never been to other events like this and this is totally mind blowing. I enjoy almost every talk I went. Pretty much every talk implied one thing : work on your stuff, don’t wait things to happen. You might get a chance to use one of your old stuff someday. I think this is the biggest thing i get from these 3 days, keep doing the stuff you like and enjoy the process. I really feel full of energy and motivations to work on my stuff after this event. Now I’m just trying to find a way to keep the motivations not to be destroyed by the daily life.



I really glad I made this 3 minutes talk, and I really enjoy these 3 days. I’ve been working by myself for a long time and it’s really great to see that there are some people like my work. That gives me a lot of motivations to keep going. I hope i’ll get other chances to give speeches in the future, i’ll keep working my way to it. But the most important of all is to enjoy and have fun. That i’ll keep in my mind and create more stuff.