I’m not new to using Processing/p5.js, but creating sketches within the constraints of them being drawn using a single pen/marker at a time (singly or in layers) has presented several challenges. I am finding that that is all just part of the fun of art making with pen plotter.

Aside from the doodles and drawings I make from time to time in my sketchbooks, these pen plotted prints are the first physical art objects I have ever created as an adult, aside from the one canvas print I had made from a digital artwork a few years ago. Most of the art I have made is digital, and has been confined to being presented on the screen, and having these printed onto paper or canvas and mailed to me still feels very… not sure what exactly… disconnected? immaterial?

While the pen plotter is just a programmed mechanical arm following the instructions created by my code, something about watching it being drawn in real ink before your eyes is incredibly exciting and fulfilling. The constraints of working in this medium are also exciting. I have to think more materially from the start of the process (the choice of pen or marker, thickness of the pen tip, color, single layer or multiple), which directs me to think more basically about what process or algorithm is being applied and what all can be done with just lines, shape primitives, and loops. No shades of gray, no colors, no alpha, no fills.

Anyways, here are some images of what I’ve made so far from my first few experiments. I’m still just writing code to test out how the SVG will translate into the pen plotter’s actions, and what methods work best, on which pens etc. I want to use. Maybe in the next few months I’ll be grounded enough in the basics to really move out into more interesting works.

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