In the Spring of 2022, while preparing the syllabus for Future Sketches’ fall lecture on Drawing and Computation, an adjacent idea popped into mind: Without coding, can we teach the steps and logic of computer graphics algorithms by drawing them out by hand? Can we do this in a fun, engaging, and lightweight way? What if we turned computer graphics algorithms into a coloring book?
In creative coding, computer graphics algorithms are the underlying logic that is used to create visual artistic outputs of digital art. Getting through learning the syntax of computer programming languages can sometimes be initially off-putting and intimidating. It also requires getting past a steep learning curve to be able to learn the logic of a specific computer graphics algorithm, write the code necessary to implement that algorithm, and then visually see the output it creates. What if we could provide an earlier, more introductory step to learning this logic and way of thinking through the lightweight lens of a coloring book? This is where the idea to create and design a “coloring book” of computer graphics algorithms started.
Over the Summer of 2022, we made progress on this idea by designing four prototypical drawing activities that present the logic of four computer graphics algorithms– the Voronoi algorithm, the Quadtree algorithm, the Gaussian blur algorithm, and the Delaunay Triangulation algorithm– broken down into instructional drawing steps. These four drawing activities are available for download here as PDFs.
Our ultimate goal is to create a range of coloring/drawing-based activities around this idea and publish them as a thoughtfully designed activity or coloring book. Our overall desire and goal is to show how computer science can be used for creative expression and to introduce this idea to the wider public through the low-stakes, friendly, more approachable medium of drawing.