The Stroker App is the software used to generate strokes which the Machine App can understand and direct the machine to paint. Alternatively the collection of generated strokes can be used by a human as a step-by-step set of instructions to creating the piece of art (see the gallery for examples of both approaches)
What the App does
The function of the Stroker App is not to convert a digital image into a set of strokes using a predefined algorithm that takes in a bunch of settings.
The function of the Stroker App is to allow the user (human or machine) to create their own algorithms and then use these to convert a digital image into a collection of strokes. The idea is that over time the platform will become ever more flexible and allow users to create algorithms that capture their own artistic style.
This was one of the early tests of using an ‘edge-map’ to define stroke direction. The edge-map can be any digital image and in this case it was simply a radial gradient which causes the strokes in this image to run either towards the center of the gradient or perpendicular to it.
The composition of the edge-map relative to the image that is being stroked is one of the key creative decisions in the process.
This post will have some details and thoughts on the hardware and electronics that make up the physical machine which does the drawing and painting. It has a total area 1.15 x 1.2 m with a painting area of 0.9 x 0.9 m.
- 24V Power Source
- Arduino Uno
- CNC Shield V3 (http://blog.protoneer.co.nz/arduino-cnc-shield/)
- with GRBL V1.1 (https://github.com/grbl/grbl)
- and 4 x A4988 Stepper Motor Drivers (http://www.robotshop.com/media/files/PDF/datasheet-1182.pdf)
- 12V DC fan and some high load resistors to step voltage down
The Moving Parts
The machine itself is built using:
- 4 Nema-17 stepper motors
- V-Slot build system (http://ooznest.co.uk/V-Slot)
The Machine App is designed to control a machine specifically designed for creating art. It lets the user configure a layout and define a set of tools and paints that the machine can use for it’s art.
One of the application’s main task is generating a set of machine commands based on:
- The collection of strokes generated by the Painting App
- The machine config
- The complexities of painting (think cleaning the brush if a paint changes between two strokes)
The application’s final task is to send these commands to the machine, listen out for problems and to track progress.
In a nutshell, Ernest the following things:
- A piece of software for turning an image into strokes
- A piece of software for controlling a machine
- A machine for painting
- A bunch of AIs trained to use the software (in development)
In these pages you’ll find details of the software and hardware components which make up “Ernest” and how all the pieces fit together.