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What is Painting By Code?

An artist puts a fresh canvas on the easel, mixes some ultramarine oil paint with a little thinner, loads a brush from it, and drags it from left to right across the canvas.

It is the start of a landscape painting...

An artist sits at a computer and writes some code which creates a white rectangle in the computer's memory...

...writes some code which describes to the computer how to draw a line between any two points inside the white rectangle...

...writes some code which describes a particular shade of blue in a colour language the computer understands...

...then writes some code which combines all of the previous pieces of code to draw a blue line from left to right across the white rectangle.

It is the start of a landscape painting...

This is Painting By Code

The painting only exists in the computer's memory and the artist has no idea what it actually looks like, so writes some code which displays it on a monitor.

Some more code adds a "Save" button next to it. Clicking the button runs more code which saves the rectangle as an image file on the computer's disk. From there it can be printed, uploaded, or maybe used as inspiration for an oil painting.

Of course a white rectangle with a blue line on it doesn't make a very satisfying landscape, so there is a lot more code to be written. For example to make different kinds of lines, to join lines together to make shapes filled with colour, and to develop a more sophisticated way of handling colour within a painting.

The artist wants something recognisable in the painting, so spends some time writing code which describes to the computer how to use the line drawing code written earlier to draw something that looks like a house...

After lots of trial and error, false starts, changes in direction, experiments with shape and colour (and more and more code) a finished painting emerges.

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