Software to create procedural graphics

I’m currently looking into procedural image generation, but I don’t really know where to start.
I know Processing is a thing, but not really sure if there’s anything less coding-oriented.
I’m looking into ways to create things like this:

Any pointers at what might be the most effective tool to create something like this?


If you’re looking for something less coding-based, cables might be of interest. It’s a browser-based tool for procedural graphics with a graphical user interface. Some other more GUI-based tools that come to my mind are vvvv and Jitter.


HAve you looked into Nodebox?

You might want to look into TouchDesigner. It’s used to make stage shows by nearly everyone. I learned about it while looking into the production methods for Amon Tobin’s ISAM show (lots of projection mapping and generative graphics).

And I should say that OpenGL plays a big role in the type of thing VSquared is doing above.


Thanks a lot for all the links!

I second the suggestion of Touch Designer. If you have any experience with node based programming, like Max, it will be an intuitive process.

Some “coding” options + inspiration, should you decide to go that route.

The example work reminds me a lot of Inconvergent, who has been very generous in explaining some of the techniques that go into their work, including source code. Last I checked, they were using Cairo for generating 2d graphics, which is a pretty solid library (a great tutorial as well that I always go back to). Programs themselves seem to be either written in Python or common lisp for the newer stuff.

I remember looking at Context Free a while ago. Not sure if it’s still being maintained though.

Something to keep in mind for performance is that there is a big difference between getting stuff to be interactive in a realtime environment. Inconvergent’s stuff is all done offline, and it apparently takes a while to generate the images.


TouchDesigner. @jasonw22 beat me to it. you could look into Processing maybe with controlP5 but if you’re after performance for animation, be prepared to start thinking “threads” and, quite quickly, Java.

that said, if you’re after procedural graphics that don’t move, then nothing is stopping you from adding a canvas element to an html page and coding everything in text. hook up a bunch of slider elements and have an exploratory play. costs nothing other than time.

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Right. I even got a book about that from @mzero through the last album exchange thing here on lines. I do prefere to work in nodes though.

that’s my problem right now. I need to prototype some ideas and what I do not have is time.

Touch designer does look like the final answer to my question though. Even if I’m primarily looking at something to make static images, and if animated (that is still an option), it’s not something that has to be generated real-time.

If you’re comfy with C-like syntax, then something I’ve always wanted to jump into but haven’t budgeted the time yet is GLSL. (

Generates code that’s run directly on your gfx card which sounds very fun.

EDIT: and WebGL is cool!

Yes it is! My husband is the primary developer - and he still works on it, fixes bugs, adds requested features, and ensure that it ports to all three supported platforms (OS X, Windows, Linux).


I believe that some of the image processes in this may be of interest


+1 for touchdesigner
heres an old video i made

for the particle things, check this tutorial:

Lumen is great!


Since real-time isn’t a factor, Houdini is also worth a look, it’s got a more robust ecosystem of tutorials around it than Touchdesiger, although most of that is very VFX-industry oriented.

Entagma offers good tutorials around procedural images and motion graphics in Houdini, both free and through their Patreon. To me those images look like they could be right off the Entagma site!


I highly recommend playing around with Shadertoy for web-based procedural visual generation. Check out their gallery and play around with the code in any of the pieces.

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For programming them there are lots of approaches but I’ve been far more impressed with artbreeder. It is a great image generator using some large GANs (neural networks). Try it out at


Code is in the title but this is a great introduction to code that mimics natural systems.

It’s tough to avoid math. If you read every post I’ve written here you can see years of me trying to avoid math. The “precalculus for dummies” book in my bag is my final acceptance that I made a mistake taking study hall in 12th grade instead of calc. Math.



This is really cool! Ever since I learnt about formal languages I’ve wondered about using them for generating musical patterns and images, but never stumbled upon software built for that. I’ll have to give it a try!

I’m playing around with Cables now, thanks a lot @lsky!
Nodebox also seems interesting, but I like the idea that the stuff I make can run in the browser. I can see some good use for that!

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