Digital Creativity Snippet


Spirograph Logo

Discovering the possibilities of spirograph

The possibilities of spirographs are endless. However, they are mathematically quite complex to understand and some degree of understanding is necessary in order to enter the right coordinates during the design process. As a first step, it’s wise to discover how they work on a spirograph generating website. An easy website to experiment on is SeedCode. When you choose the mandala version and use a single rotor, it will create relatively simple spirograph shapes for you. By adjusting the radius of the different elements, the results that are created can change drastically.
Playing around with this for some time starts to give you a sense of how it works. Another website where you can find several examples of spirographs and see the mathematical details that created them is JW’s Pictures and Patterns. After adjusting the wheel size and wheel rate, you can choose the overlay and evolve options to see several (often amazing) variations of that pattern. Ideally, after this phase of experimenting, you now have a clear image in your head of what the spirograph you wish to create looks like. The next challenge is to identify the right input to create that pattern.

Creating a spirograph using Inkscape

Now it’s time to try to create your own spirograph. These instructions assume you are using Inkscape, but it is possible that it will also work with other graphic design applications. To create a spirograph, you choose extension render spirograph. The next step is entering the input. This Spirograph tutorial shows several examples with the corresponding input. To create the foundation for the spirograph logo, the following input was used:

After creating this trifold knot, use the option edit clone create tiled clones, which allows you to make rotated copies of the same shape. It’s important to move the center of the shape manually to exactly the center of the empty area in the middle. By only changing the input at the rotation section (and leaving the other settings the way they were), an impressive spirograph mandala can be created:

For the logo, a slightly smaller rotation angle was used, along with the scale option. By entering an amount of 25 rows and 1 column, at a rotation angle of 2.6°, with a scale of -1.5% per row and column, and an exponent of 1.8 per row and column, the following shape appears:

As you can see, there are many possibilities when you play around with creating your own spirographs. Please be warned: this can be an addictive activity!

Experimenting with stroke and color

The desired result could be plain with a simple black stroke on white background. However, you could play around with adjusting the stroke width, stroke color, background color, and gradients for these colors. An important first step is to select all clones and turn them into a single image using object group. To separate the created clones from the original shape, the grouped object can be copied and pasted into a blank new document.
Next, you select the object and then you change the stroke style and stroke paint. To add a gradient, select the radial gradient option for the stroke paint and click on the middle node to adjust the center color, and the outer nodes to adjust the outer color. The outer nodes can be pulled away from the center to let the middle color seem more prominent. One of the colors could also be set at a partial transparency.

Hopefully this new activity will give you much joy and satisfaction. And for the moment of frustration when the desired result simply refuses to appear on the screen, consider leaving it for a day or two. When you come back with fresh eyes and fresh brain, it just might work perfectly. Lots of luck!