I have found the app of my dreams.
Remember how I said I wanted to design a series of shawls and scarves such that each shawl would be unique, but they wouldn’t take forever to design? Well, a week or two ago I discovered iOrnament: an app for iOS that allows you to generate beautiful designs more or less instantly. As you draw a line in the app, it’s immediately transformed according to your choice of 17 symmetries, and retiled across the plane.
Here’s a design I sketched up in the app. It took about fifteen minutes:
As you zoom out, you can see the design tiled across the plane, at whatever size you like:
With the touch of an icon, you can see other variations of your design under different symmetries:
If you spring for the Premium version (a whopping 99 cents extra), you get a bunch of cool stuff. You can see your design on a sphere, again with your choice of underlying symmetries. Here’s a five-fold symmetry on the sphere:
And here’s a slightly different symmetry on the sphere:
And a tiled version within a circle:
You can also do rotational 2 or 3-color symmetries, with just a tap on an icon:
This is all with a very simple design. Far more sophisticated artwork is possible with iOrnament – for a stunningly beautiful gallery, visit the iOrnament website.
“Okay,” you say, “but what does this have to do with weaving?”
Well, here’s a mockup I made in Photoshop, using a brush defined from the pattern, and then simulated on a black warp with a turquoise-to-fuchsia gradient weft:
And of course there are many other design options using Photoshop.
The entire design process took less than an hour, and produced a result that can easily be taken into Arahweave and turned into an attractive, unique, handwoven shawl design. I’m sold!
And best of all, iOrnament costs a whopping $3.99 (premium upgrade 99 cents). It’s written by Jürgen Richter-Gebert, a math professor at the Technical University of Munich. He says, “The amazing fact about these kind of programs is that everyone starting from a three year old child to an highly intellectual adult can at the same time be creative, have fun with them and learn something about mathematical structures….I try to combine mathematics, modern visualization technics and playful approaches to demonstrate that math can be beauty and fun.”
It’s easy to start drawing in iOrnament – you can create beautiful designs with just your finger as soon as you open the program. (The bells and whistles do take a little longer.) But if you want to delve deeper into the mathematics, the app explains the seventeen underlying symmetries, and there’s more information on the website.
I gotta say, this has got to be The. Coolest. App. Ever. The only negative thing I can say about the app is that it’s iOS only, so Android folks are out of luck.
Stay tuned for more wonderful designs as I continue playing with iOrnament…I am winding a warp now in 60/2 silk, 14″ wide, sett for double weave – one layer of black and one layer of white. The plan is to make some scarves using iOrnament-generated designs…so watch this space!