Advice required - Generative sculptures

I recently came across very beautiful generative digital sculpture work on Instagram. Sharing some images. I asked the artist and came to know that these are made on Mandelbulb 3d. What all plugins in Grasshopper can be used to make such work and what are the main keywords I can search on the internet to know more about designing such sculptures using Grasshopper native scripting (no coding) plus plugins?

These are probably done with shaders, which aren’t something that you can easily deal with in Rhino or Grasshopper. Processing, OpenFrameworks, and Cinder are much more apt to this task, but it still is no easy task and requires lots of coding.
Shaders are written in a C-like language and calculated on the GPU, which makes them super fast and efficient. However, they don’t produce “real, three-dimensional geometry”, but rather a GPU-computed 2D image for your computer screen.
For images or video games this is perfect, but if you want to produce sculptures that you may want to realise in the physical word (i.e. additive manufacturing, CNC, etc.), you’d be on the wrong track.

Geometry similar to the third image could probably be achieved with some kind of strange attractor that would produce a base curve. This curve could be thickened by sweeping, piping, Dendro, Cocoon, etc.

The second and maybe first one could probably be reproduced with some kind of agent-based system on a base geometry that would define the shape. The particles would simply draw trails that could be meshed.

Anyways, you’ll need lots and lots geometries to reproduce all the intricacies and Rhino is probably not up to the challenge. Houdini would probably be an alternative.

This no easy task! :slight_smile:


Thank you so much for your detailed reply!! :+1:t4: :+1:t4:

I’ve heard of the term shaders being used in 3dsmax but never looked into them.

This is the most crucial part. I’ve been exploring computational design more intensively since January 2020. And this is the best advice I’ve ever got which has given tremendous amount of clarity with my decision making about what to learn and what not to learn. I think I should stick with Grasshopper and Plugins as of now. I attended a webinar on Processing which looked really cool. Tried touch designer then uninstalled it.

I believe as of now Grasshopper is probably more than enough for my pursuit of computational design with respect to architecture, industrial design and landscape design.

I’ll surely explore these plugins. This is the best part about the Rhino environment that people all across the globe are involved in development of some seriously amazing plugins. It is definitely very hard (or maybe even impossible)to catch up with news of plugin development being done at lightning speed with so many people involved.

Last year, had a chat with this guy on Instagram, Oleg,

He advised me that Houdini is easier and faster to grasp than Grasshopper when it comes to handling lot of complexity in geometries.

True that! Thanks a lot. :+1:t4:

You’re welcome.

Yes, but I was thinking of an even more barebones version that you script yourself.
If the topic interests you, you can check out the amazing Book of Shaders website by Patricio Gonzalez Vivo and Jen Lowe.

Until it isn’t. :wink:

I don’t know about that, but it sure handles complex geometries better than Rhino/Grasshopper do, and the implementation of scripting is more mature.

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Briefly went through the Book of Shaders. It’s too technical and not for me as of now. Too technical and codey. I’m completely staying away from code.

By saying ‘mature’, you mean it’s faster, efficient and easy or it’s difficult and requires more practice than Grasshopper?


Not necessarily faster or easier to learn, but better implemented in the workflow as a whole, I’d say. However, it’s also nearly required to do some coding here and there, whereas in Grasshopper, you never have to use a scripting component, if you don’t fall over something that can’t be done otherwise, which is a big plus in terms of beginner friendliness.

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I would recommend the Chimpanzee plug-in which focuses on fractal math and chaos theory. Current version supports strange attractors, maps, 4D hyperchaotic systems and iterated function systems (IFS).

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Okay. Thanks. Hmm…Now I’m in a dilemma of trying Houdini or not. I think I’ll still stay minimal and master Grasshopper first with respect to solving more architectural problems rather than alien sculptural geometry. I’ll put Houdini in my to-learn list along with Blender. I’m saying this because of a plugin called Tissue developed by architect Alessandro Zomparelli.

Thanks @matous.stieber, I’ll surely check this plugin out. So many plugins man!! So many plugins coming out. Super grateful for this wonderful community that’s here on this forum. :raised_hands:

My journey of learning Grasshopper has been going great because of awesome support from this forum.

Haha, sure! I don’t see the dilemma though. You could slowly try them all. :wink:

Ah yes, I’ve somewhat experimented with this one. It does a lot of thing that can be done with Pufferfish or Weaverbird in Grasshopper, but it also has some features that I’ve only seen as scripted components in Grasshopper or not at all for that matter.

Check out Gediminas Kirdeikis on YouTube! In my opinion, this guy is the contemporary rockstar among the Grasshopper tutorial vloggers. He explains things well and his example projects are very elaborate. Many of the others are more of gist let-me-show-you-what-I-can-do, which is not the best way to learn. :wink:

Junichiro Horikawa has another great channel about both Houdini and Grasshopper. Some videos are in Japanese, but hey another thing to learn. :smiley:


C4D and octane renderer’s vectron tool

Those are 3d Julia fractals and as stated above probably done with shaders to achieve realtime rendering and geometry generation through sdf’s and ray marching. Search Julia 3d shadertoy and you will get a lot of hits.