May 12, 2012

Recursive drawing

What do you think of this cleverness?


Could people wrap their heads around the idea enough to use it productively? In my experience many people still struggle with things like symbols & Smart Objects–if they even use them at all. [Via Mausoom Sarkar]

Posted by John Nack at 8:31 AM on May 12, 2012


  • Kat Gilbert — 8:42 AM on May 12, 2012

    something for AI CS7?

  • Johan Kerver — 9:03 AM on May 12, 2012

    Is it based on fractals? Looks like that. Good idea.

  • Allen Cobb — 9:28 AM on May 12, 2012

    Recursion is found in fractals, but I don’t believe there is anything inherently fractal in recursion.

    IAC, this is a beautiful demonstration of recursion, and deserves plenty of exploration.

  • salvis — 11:30 AM on May 12, 2012

    This is pretty cool. I didn’t realize you could try it out (web app) until i went to the site. You can do similar things with 2d and 3d objects in Blender 3d with its dynamic arrays. However, this is faster/easier/simpler to use for 2d stuff with a web interface and only two basic shapes. You can make some pretty neat things really fast.

  • Doug Nelson — 1:29 PM on May 12, 2012

    I don’t know if I’d have any use for that application per se, but it did bring up a couple of ideas I could see being useful creatively in Photoshop.

    The idea of a 3D canvas is attractive, if kept separate from “3D” (ie: meshes, splines, etc.). Layers would get resized nondestructively depending on how far “back” they are in the canvas. This has design uses, of course, but I’m thinking more about photo compositing. It might also be interesting for layers to have a positional ranking separate from their literal stack ranking.

    The other idea might already be possible in a limited fashion with smartobjects, and that is the idea of reusable placeholders. This might be common in design apps, I don’t know, but Photoshop doesn’t really have anything like it, short of using many, many smartobjects, each adding to the memory footprint and taking up space in the layer stack.

  • Matt Connell — 2:23 PM on May 12, 2012

    Yes, people can wrap their head around it. Sometimes I wonder whether developers hold back complexity because they are afraid it will confuse the user. Of course there is a tricky balance to find between usability and complexity, but ultimately I think it’s a mistake to hold back progress only because it may be intimidating at first.

    I agree with Doug regarding reusable placeholders. I always thought it would be nice to have the option to update smart objects externally (by overwriting the full resolution source image, placed as a link) similar to how inDesign functions in image placement.

    Either way, this is a pretty fun application!

  • Sandee Cohen — 4:58 PM on May 12, 2012

    This is barely more than a gimmicky game. I can see something like this on an iPad as a doodle app. But I don’t see any artist, designer, or illustrator using it at all.

    The “tree” is much too uniform and the mathematics are too obvious.

    If Adobe wants to create a fractal generator, go back and play with Kai’s Power Tools. They were a bit more organic.

    I have my wish list for Illustrator and this isn’t on it.

    I have a few wish list items for Photoshop, but there are people with more knowledge of that program you should listen to.

  • Stephen Walker — 3:12 AM on May 13, 2012

    Love it. Exciting stuff.

  • Elliot J Geno — 12:21 PM on May 13, 2012

    @john Please don’t sell professional users short! I have been using Photoshop since version 4 (13 years) and Flash since version 5 (9 years). (Our company is also an agency partner)

    While this particular tool may be gimmicky, symbols are so powerful that it is absolutely essential for professional work!

    I had such high hopes for the Smart Object. I was hoping Photoshop was finally getting an equivalent to Flash’s library. Every time I show Flash’s library to designers who are used to designing entirely in Photoshop, they say “Why doesn’t Photoshop do that!?” We’re still waiting!

    [I know, I know; I’m with you completely. –J.]

  • Richard Morey — 8:00 PM on May 13, 2012

    I think this is a very cool idea. I do use Smart Objects but wish (like @Elliot) that Photoshop has more of the library features of Flash. I like the ability to edit an “instance” of an object and have it update everywhere I’ve used that object.

  • Marcello Damasceno — 10:02 AM on May 14, 2012

    Are you guys aware that illustrator has had something like this for quite some time? The results are almost the same, but the feature is not as interactive. It is the Transform Effect and is located under \Effect\Distort & Transform\Transform . The secret about it is to stack up effects and play with the parameters afterwards. I’ve been using it for a few years now.

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