So I've been babbling a lot about generative art strategies recently.  And people seem somewhat confused about what i'm talking about. So i'll try to provide some examples in this forum discussion.  I'll be adding to this discussion over time to showcase different approaches.

What is an art strategy?

You can think of it as the 'recipe' to create a particular artistic style.

What i mean by this is the series of different steps to get from point A to point B.

Point A is a blank canvas (white in my particular case).

Point B is the particular style you are shooting for.

That could be many things, including

1: a particular paint or visual effect style

  -natural media looks, like watercolor, oil, chalk, pencil, etc

  - art history styles, like pop art, cubist, etc

  - particular artist's style, like Francis Bacon, Chuck Close, Albrect Durer

  - marking technology, like woodcut, engraving, screen print, etc

2: a mood, feel, emotion, etc

  - calming, busy, evil, intense, etc

3: something different

  - let's see where we get taken as we try new ideas

4:  something that makes sense artistically to you

5:  etc

We could endlessly flesh this list out, but i'm hoping you get the idea

What is a generative art strategy?

One could create any art strategy by executing a series of steps necessary to create it.

A classic example would be what i will call 'generic make a painting approach #1'.

This generic approach to building a painting is very straightforward.

1: One starts with a fairly large brush size, and roughs in the background.  Broad strokes of color, not paying too much attention to detail. It's really just about covering the canvas in an expedient manor.

2:  You now start reducing the brush size, and paying more attention to detail.

3: Repeat step 2 until finished.

Now the classic beginner Studio Artist approach is to choose some random factory paint preset, hit action, let it draw, then complain that it's not really a finished painting (because there's too much uniformity).

I would answer that it's because you didn't follow the 3 steps above. Or some other more sophisticated art strategy.

Of course you could instead choose a Paint Action Sequence (PASeq), which is a series of Studio Artist actions.  The whole point of PASeqs in Studio Artist is to encapsulate 'art strategies' into a single action script.

But the crux of the above discussion is that the artist has to do some work to build an art strategy. And people are oftentimes lazy. So they just press the button, and then are either happy, or complain it isn't doing what they want. 

So, generative art strategies to the rescue.

Generative art strategies build the individual components of an art strategy for you.

In the penultimate example of a generative art strategy, you simply press the 'generate' button, and Studio Artist does all of this tedious 'build an art strategy from hand' stuff for you.

Of course Studio Artist is really all about 'auto-intelligent assisted' creativity. So the artist can be directly inside the active intelligence loop. Directing it, controlling it.  This is a thousand times more interesting than systems that just do it all, and then you are stuck with the end product.  It's also how you as an individual artist with individual feelings about what is good or bad about art to be a part of the creative process.

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The gallery show 'Source Option' let's you auto-transform the source in different ways. So you could be using things like the Vectorizer, or MSG, or Ip Ops to abstract the source image directly, and then paint off of it.

Of course you can do this manually, but people are lazy, and the element of surprise when it does it automatically is also cool i think in many situations.  If you don't like what it gave you, press it again until you get something that you find interesting.

If you shift click the GSrc button in the PowerToolBar it will grab a random source image (from your current GS Source Folder, and then apply some random transformation to it.

Heads Up- That last V5.5 build you got today has a fixed vectorizer abstraction option hard coded in it right now, as opposed to using the current vectorizer preset.

I should point out that what is currently in GS Source Option is just the beginning of what we can do with that particular feature.


A whole other notion when working with Gallery Show is that by using multiple source images over the course of your working 'art strategy' you end up with something that is not tied to any one particular source image.  You are really working with a bag of perceptual attributes at that point..  Your source is a database of features associated with a collection of images. By curating the set of images appropriately, you can tailor what happens.

I think when you dive more into the existing set of adjustable parameters for the generative paint, you'll see that you can start to specify whether you want to pull in the generated representation, or push it out more.

We can make that more explicit as well. Again, i view the existing set of generative features as just the start of a really exciting development trend as Studio Artist moves forward.

And we can certainly tweak the language, as we add new generative paint adjustments, to help people get to where they want to go.

There are some specific 'mass abstraction' settings in there already (in the Action : Art Strategy : Draw Options).  And i'd love to expand that out.

Good suggestion about thinking about it in a MIPmap way. Or having features that let you do that kind of fine tuning.

One more art strategy to think about related to what you were saying about wanting to sample from the source, but not paint it directly in a representational way.

If you use auto-generation of selection masks, you can choose the options that do it from what is already in the canvas. So then it's adding structural detail that is being controlled at a fundamental level by what is already in the canvas, but if going to be grabbing color or local shape information from the source at the same time.

So what are the components of the this art strategy.

1> Overdrawing.  Painting on top of what you already have in the canvas.

2> Building up the final image as a repetitive 'process'.

3> Auto-generating selection masks based on auto-processing the canvas to create the selection mask. Studio Artist does this for you automatically, and you can choose a specific generative selection mask strategy, or let it free-riff.  You can also set it up to randomly choose either the source or the canvas for the base of the selection mask, so what it does changes each cycle in your repetitive process.

There are plenty of 'abstraction' option sin the auto-generation strategies for auto-masking, in addition to the ones that are more representational.

One more comment about the original three step process that started off this discussion.

I was trying to start off with a simple example of a generative art strategy, before i started to dive into more complex examples. So it's an example of a particular simple generative strategy, not a definition of generative strategy itself.

But also, you aren't restricted to representing the source image if you use that particular generative strategy (course to fine detail representation).  You can start out with some paint preset that abstracts, and then your subsequent steps can be to refine the detail associated with the structure of the abstraction in the canvas, as opposed to refining detail that pulls in the source representation more.

So i added a new paint synthesizer QuickEdit command and associated generative paint option(s) that force path shape abstraction. I don't think this is everything you are looking for Craig, but it's a start.

Here's a quick grab of a few examples while auto-testing it.

One thing i've noticed is that we have a lot of generative paint options that can push towards diversity.  And lot's of options to tighten in various ways. But it would be cool to have more that push towards greater simplicity (if that makes any sense to people).

It's funny (after the recent discussions in this thread), because i spent an hour yesterday sitting with a commercial graphic designer showing off the new generative paint features.  And the first thing she said was 'where's the generative strategy that really defines the source image'.  Like super tight generative edging effects to be applied to the canvas that really emphasis source detail.

This was after i showed her at least 4 or 5 different ways to generatively tighten up the paint.

I told her to make a Favorites folder with a few presets in it that do that, and then use that Favorites folder for end cycle processing in gallery show.  And then we did just that as an exercise in how to do it to show it off. And it worked like you would expect it would.

I actually use that very same generative art strategy in some of my gallery show work (when i'm not in stress test mode).

I'll add something to the automatic generative paint options to do it as well.

So we're trying to satisfy everyone's artistic tastes as best we can.

I totally dig it.

In the marketplace - tools that can focus in and out on photo/moving picture sources are super useful. Tools that apply some art like variations to the focusing in and out are even cooler. SA is a great tool for being able to focus in and out of an image - AND throwing all kinds of artistic curves into the mix.

I make most of my living as a "cartoonist". But have worked just as long with photo manipulation. If I made my living in advertising - for instance - I would be using SA as one of my primary tools to amp up imagery based on photo sources. I would want tools that DID focus both out (abstraction) and in (retention of source information/detail).

In SA I have a tool (surface and medium) that I can work up a HUGE variety of cartooning (representational art) - and find I can also use the tool to get away from representation altogether. I am totally grateful for all the options!

The guy that created the generative art here is doing a little of each. Using sources and abstracting them - but retaining their recognizability and even tightening down into some specific detail:

He is also just letting things go and making big pretty messes. Doing a lot of it with Flash ActionScript is extra cool to me (Flash is my number one work production tool)


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