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What is Generative Art?

Discover the generative design trends and how to create generative art.

Portrait for Envato By Envato
Posted 12 Sep 2017

‘Generative art’ is a term for graphic design that is created with the use of an autonomous system. Using programs such as Cinema 4D, artists use algorithms and equations to create artwork that’s unique and slightly futuristic in style.

Note: All of the artwork presented in this article was created, in part, by a computer algorithm.

Generative design is used in various areas of design, such as art, architecture, communications, industrial design, animation, and music. The phrase generative music was coined in 1995 by musician and composer Brian Eno.

Spiral wave backgrounds, Explosion of Colorful Dust Backgrounds, and Abstract Generative Backgrounds.

How to Create Generative Art

These neon field flow backgrounds are an example of generative art, created by Envato Elements contributor themefire. “I had to use a lot of parameters to get the desired result,” he says. “The software takes on a very important role on the end result of the product, using a set of rules or algorithms. The designer only directs the software by changing the parameters. Therefore, in the modern world, the designer needs to be a little bit programmer, mathematician or physicist.”

A simple at first glance background, is created using complex algorithms that determine the position or source of particles, their vector direction, and so on. I was just Harry Potter with a magic wand, everything else has been done by the software.

Envato Elements Author – themefire

This process is beneficial for designers, and can sometimes be unpredictable. For themefire, it’s an art style that’s enabled him to make his creative designs come to life, and he says he often feels like a ‘DJ-designer’.

Using generative art techniques, artwork can be created from photos and other designs.

Abstract Polygon Backgrounds by themefire

Sometimes, a similar design style can be created through generative art in a fraction of the time. For  example, themefire’s Polygonal Background Set, created in Adobe Illustrator, took about two days to create.

Yellow Polygon Backgrounds by themefire

By contrast, these yellow polygon backgrounds were created in Cinema 4D in less than 15 minutes:

Marmoreal Painted Canvas Backgrounds by themefire

If you’re interested, you can watch the process of creating these designs in this  7-minute video.

Overall, themefire says that Generative Art isn’t as new as it seems, and it has improved each year. “Thanks to the basic knowledge of mathematics and physics, I can create realistic backgrounds for other people,” he says. “I’m just using parameters, settings and algorithms. It’s cool, when the imagination of a designer can be realized by smart software.”

For more design updates, sign up for an Envato Elements account. Or head over to the Envato Blog to read up on the latest trends, tips, interviews and roundups!

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