Paint with Numbers

Asdiel recently created a system for exploring patterns similar to the one I made in 1993 that gave us the name Alien Skin. I don’t know if we’ll ever turn it into a product, but it has been fun to play with.

Under the hood it uses a special programming language that combines math functions to make pictures. A finished product would provide a simple user interface and completely hide the language, but for a math nerd like me the language is a blast.

I created the first two pictures in the top row by programming in Asdiel’s language. The others were mostly discovered randomly by Asdiel and me, with just a little hand tweaking.

Click a thumbnail to see a large version. Then you can get to a 2048×2048 pixel version through a link above each image. They would make nice iPad backgrounds if you trim them to the right size.

Creative Commons License
The images in this article by Alien Skin Software are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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About the Author:

Jeff Butterworth is the founder of Alien Skin Software. He used to create the products, but now he does marketing and gets coffee for the programmers.


  1. Michael Liggett May 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Is the programming language something proprietary to your company or can anyone use this programming language to create these types of images?

    • Jeff May 24, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Right now Asdiel’s system is not for the public. It is very much a messy unfinished research project right now. Even I had a lot of trouble using it. Someday we may release a texture generator product based on it, but even then we will probably provide a simple user interface rather programming in this geeky language.

      Mike, I’m sorry to be such a tease by showing off the pictures but not providing access to the tool that made them. If you’d like to play with similar systems, check out the following products. I haven’t used them, but they seem similar to Asdiel’s system.

      Filter Forge
      This one has a cool graphical editor for connecting math components. Seems nicer than a text programming language.

      Texture Maker

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