Category Archives: Art

Evil Mad Scientist Valentines: 2018

2018 valentines

Today we are releasing our newest set of “Download and Print” cards for Valentine’s day. This is our sixth year, and sixth set of cards: The 2013 set had six equation-heavy cards, the 2014 set was a set of six symbol-heavy cards, and the 2015 set included love, hearts, and arrows. The 2016 set featured Pluto’s cold heart, and the perfect card for your robotic expression of love, and last year’s set featured atomic orbitals, exponential growth, and an epsilon delta declaration of love.

This year’s set features parallel lines, friction, and activation energy:

My love for you is at a stable equilibrium and therefore resistant to external perturbations

What could be more romantic than telling someone that the second derivative of your potential energy is at its minimum when you’re around them?

I'll Never be NP Complete Without You

The perfect card to give to any computer scientist when you want them to both (A) appreciate being given a valentine and (B) secretly wonder whether you don’t quite understand what np completeness means, or whether you do but thought it was funny.

Parallel lines never meet. But we should.

Parallel lines never meet. But we should.

It takes a special person to overcome my activation energy to send this card to you and ask if you will be my  valentine.

For when you have chemistry with someone.

Let's  measure our coefficient of kinetic friction

Why measure? Because it’s generally considered impolite to ask someone what their normal force is.


2018 valentines

You can download the full set here, which includes all 36 designs from all six years (a 1.6 MB PDF document).

As usual, print them out on (or otherwise affix to) card stock, personalize, and [some steps omitted] enjoy the resulting lifelong romance.


Update: New cards have been released! Please check out the 2019 set, which contains all 42 cards from 2013 through 2019.

AxiDraw, JavaScript, and Generative Art

Matt DesLauriers published a two-part blog post, Pen Plotter Art & Algorithms exploring his JavaScript workflow with AxiDraw and generative art.

Unlike a typical printer, a plotter produces prints with a strangely human quality: occasional imperfections arise as the pen catches an edge or momentarily dries up, and the quality of the ink has the subtle texture and emboss that you normally only see in an original drawing.

He has also posted his source code on github for the articles.

Part 1 covers getting started and explores Delaunay triangulation. Part 2 delves deeper into developing algorithms.

Plotter Portraits

Plotter art portrait drawn by Jojo the robot

A couple of creative artists, Makio&Floz, are offering custom plotted portraits, drawn by their AxiDraw, playfully named Jojo the robot.

Makio&Floz is a duo working on digital based projects. Without limiting themselves to a virtual space or a physical one, their goal is to explore design and generative art using code as a pencil.

You can upload a photo, preview the “Plottrait”, and order your own custom generative art piece.

Plotter portrait in progress

Using the WaterColorBot to teach programming

Water color painting titled Ocean Woman
JR has been volunteering in a high school programming class and wrote up a thoughtful post about his experiences using the WaterColorBot in the classroom. He wrote a Python library that allows users to directly control a WaterColorBot by writing Python code.

To be honest, this library is a pretty insane way to control the bot. It’s needlessly low-level: you’re manually controlling the brush’s position, you’ve got to remember to wash and re-ink the brush every so often, etc. If your main goal is to just get the bot to paint a pretty picture, there are lots of better ways to go about it.

As a teaching aid, though, it’s been a total success, because it lets students flex their burgeoning Python skills and actually make a real thing in the process! We’ve been blown away by the stuff our students have created.

He has also documented and shared his code on github.

AxiDraw on Stage

In unusual uses for our drawing machines, AxiDraw is playing the role of the master of ceremony in Joël Maillard’s play “Last sheet (after the big lack)”, a production about the robotic future being put on by Theater Marie in Switzerland.

Happy Halloween!

Paintings of skulls made by WaterColorBot

I also thought you might enjoy seeing the design we were running today in the classroom…

Spencer Yonker sent in these skull paintings made by WaterColorBot in the classroom.

Halloween!

And we had a customer stop in the shop to show off his red velvet skull, with added flickering LED eyes.

Thanks to both of you for sharing your Halloween spirit with us! And Happy Halloween!

AxiDraw and TouchDesigner

We’ve noticed a few artists on twitter and instagram using TouchDesigner as a tool in their workflow toward creating output with AxiDraw.


David Braun has been posting beautiful, and sometimes mindbending artwork on twitter.


Chris Hall posted this piece using sound waves to create scenes.

Some like it plot . . . . . #inktober #axidraw #touchdesigner

A post shared by Hard Work Party (@hardworkparty) on


Noah Norman has been posting geometric plotting videos.

#axidraw #touchdesigner

A post shared by Matthew Ragan (@raganmd) on


Matthew Ragan has been taking advantage AxiDraw’s ability to draw on just about anything, and plotting over already printed materials. He also has published his tools on github for getting vectors out of TouchDesign. He describes it as:

A pipeline for handling the SOP to SVG pipeline. This is especially handy for using procedurally generated geometry for paths to be cut or plotted.

We’ve added a link to his repository on the AxiDraw documentation wiki. We love it when folks share their tools and would love to hear what tools and processes people are using or creating for working with our plotters.

Electronic Kintsugi

Vanessa Julia Carpenter from FabLabRUC did a workshop at FabCafe Tokyo with Kintsugi Artist Kurosawa using mended dishes as conductors in circuits.

The precious metals used to repair the dishes are used to trigger sound or light, encouraging the participants to connect with the dishes in interesting ways. There’s much more detail on this intersection of craft and electronics over in Vanessa’s post about the workshop.