Project: Rule-based collaborative drawing

Warm up

Let’s examine this computer generated artwork.
What are the key rules generating this composition?

(10 min) Go through all the examples from the conditional design website and pick one that intrigues you.
(10 min) Examine it closely and present it to your team mate(s).


Given 2 or 3 participants, working on the same document on or magmastudio
(I have a trial pro account for magma but I have to invite your team)

Write a set of drawing instructions to be followed by all the participants at the same time.

Try to be as unambiguous as possible.
Avoid rules like “draw a dog”, limit the instructions to individual marks, gestures, operations.

Use only 5 or less instructions.

No verbal communication is allowed while drawing.

The players don’t always have to draw at the same time, you can have rules for different turns.

Each player can have a different role / set of rule.

The layer system can be incorporated in the rule set (eg. assigning a layer to each player)

How Can you avoid an MS paint aesthetic? If you have no tablets you can use only straight lines. To achieve consistency you can limit the use of colors and tools.

You don’t have to start from a blank page, the initial condition can be a color, image, grid etc.

Think outside the screen: make rules based on the environment around the player, the time of the day, or the weather.
You can make rules involving personal and biographical information to add a touch of humanity and randomness.

This assignment is more about aesthetic than interpretation. Try to generate an interesting, visually appealing image.

The instructions should include:

-At least one condition eg “if your line crosses another participant’s line” or “if nobody else is currently drawing”

-At least one iteration, that is a set of operations repeated until a condition eg “draw parallel lines for 30 seconds”, “draw a line ten time” or “draw dots until the area is filled”

–  An ending condition of some sort, ie a rule that determines when the image is done. It can be “end after 3 minutes” or “end when one participant say they are done”


This is a group project, you should brainstorm and “playtest” ideas together and come up with a ruleset for each group.


Delivery format: either 3+ images resulting from the same algorithm or a time lapse / video recording of the process, whichever is more interesting to look at. Post the rules as well.