Evolvotron pattern generator revitalized

Evolvotron pattern generator revitalized

So, it's officially the comeback summer: Tim Day released an update of Evolvotron, a generative art application for producing patterns and all kinds of abstract images.

Previously updated in 2009, Evolvotron is a dangerously meditative kind of application. You start with a random set of patterns, and several hours later you discover yourself in the same position staring at the screen with your neck not quite as flexible as you've grown to know it.

What does it do?

In short, Evolvotron generates random images, lets you pick one and spawns controllable mutations from each subsequent generation. The result of mutations can be a typical abstract wallpaper:

Abstract wallpaper created with Evolvotron

Or a slightly less abstract wallpaper:

Less abstract wallpaper

Or a bunch of textures. Just to give you idea how different they can be:

Arbitrary patterns

So, is it just clicking around?


In the short user manual provided with the application Tim Day wisely warns:

Don't start a session with any preconceived ideas about the kind of image you want to get out of it. You will be disappointed.

Evolvotron actually provides UI for all the math behind the calculations: mutation parameters and function weightings. Actually, the newest released got some "tartan" inspired functions, as well as pixel/voxel/hex grid quantizing functions. If you feel geeky enough, feel free to tweak those.

Autocooled mutations

However for most cases you will needs to know just this:

  1. Single-click on a tile to spawn mutations.
  2. Enable “Autocool” option (status bar) to make mutations less crazy.
  3. Press X whenever you want to get a bunch of random patterns like in the beginning.
  4. Press U to go to the previous set of mutations.
  5. Middle-drag to pan around.
  6. Shift+middle-drag for zooming; try Alt+Shift as well.
  7. Use right-click menu to access enlarging, saving and recoloring .

Any particular tile you see you can save as a function, so you can easily reopen it at a later time. Evolvotron always saves bitmaps in PNG. Additionally, a console switch allows recording animations. That feature is, however, somewhat CPU hungry.

Getting Evolvotron

To compile Evolvotron you need Boost libraries, especially boost-options. On Ubuntu you'll also have to run 'export QTDIR=/usr' before running './configure'. Note that 0.6.2 seems to ignore installation prefix. Fortunately, you can simply run the resulted binary file in the 'evolvotron' directory.

As of publishing this news there is no build of Evolvotron for Windows and Mac, but there are DEB packages for Ubuntu 12.04 and Debian Squeeze available for downloading.

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11 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. It is fantastic! :) thanks!

    Working on Kubuntu 12.04 with Oneiric deb package.

  2. Wow, I’d never heard of this, thanks for the heads up.

  3. very nice! I can see this becoming a secret weapon in my design arsenal :)

  4. Amazing tool, never heard of this tool either. After testing and playing around a little, I have found creative ways to use this tool in combination with other programs.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Another great tool is Kandid ...

  6. Alexandre Prokoudine 10 September 2012 at 7:41 am

    Marc, thanks for the hint!

  7. I don’t know if the author of Kandid is planning a new version but I hope it will restart. With Kandid, you choose the parents of the next batch of image, so you can tune and explore what you want to see/happen. There is also a connection to an online library of images that you can use to respawn.
    I can’t count the hours I spent on this tool.

  8. Yes, you have to keep an open mind. Just start and you will see something start to form. You roll with it as you go.

  9. wow, cool art application, but i can’t try this..i have windows xp…

  10. Gerald, that’s easily remedied. Just grab a copy of some linux distro and free yourself. :)