Grasshopper/Thea Render abstract work for my new website


yesterday I finally finished a major update for my website with lot’s of new artwork, a better structure and based on a different CMS (“Get Simple CMS”).
There is quite a lot of new content in there that was created with Rhino/Grasshopper and rendered in Thea Render, like this sphere created in Grasshopper for the start page:

And a darker version with shadows playing over the walls:

Another for my “Sculptures” topic is also done with Grasshopper:

And this one is an Album Cover for one of my soundscapes called “Digital Nature”, created in Grasshopper and further refined in Adobe Illustrator:

For more:




Hi Tom,
I really enjoyed your cool images and the link to your music. I enjoyed the soundscape work you are making very cool stuff.
Are you on the street where all this cool software for the music industry is produced, I don’t know for sure but are Steinberg, Ableton, Bitwig all in the same area?
Thanks for sharing,
Roland M

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Thanks, great you like it! :smile:

Yeah, basically they are all DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) but Steinbergs Cubase/Nuendo are linear DAWs where you have tracks that represent a timeline that moves from the start to the end. This is what’s mostly used in Studios for recording and mastering and is similar to a written score.
Bitwig Studio and Ableton Live are a bit different in that they offer a Clip-Launcher in addition to the linear arranger, where you can play clips from a grid and each clip can loop as often as you want or can have follow actions like “After four loops, advance to the next or a random other clip in the same track”. Also, you can start all those clips independently from each other and jam with them in a non-linear way. So Live and Bitwig are great for live use and DJs who can build their whole set from clips and then improvise with them on stage.
Live is around for quite some time while Bitwig is quite new (a bit over two years) and “the new kid on the block” - and my absolute favourite which even brought me to working for them for a while in 2014 as a freelancer.
(after re-reading your post, I wasn’t entirely sure if you meant it literally or more allegorically so I added this:)
Bitwig and Live are actually headquartered only some hundred meters away from each other in Berlin (15 minutes walk from my home) while Steinberg is located in Hamburg AFAIK. Most of Bitwigs founders worked for Ableton before and wanted to create something fresh.

I somehow like generative things a lot, both for graphics and sound. For graphics, Grasshopper is a dream come true and for sound, Bitwig with Reaktor and a growing collection of VST plugins is equally exciting to me :blush:

This one is created in Grasshopper and finalised in Affinity Designer:




Hi Tom,
Very cool image thanks for posting. Yes I did mean literally, I thought you might be one of the lucky ones to be around those innovative areas and to have worked at bitwig wow!

I’m using ableton and cakewalk. Cakewalk now too has non linear similar to ableton and bitwig but I need a score or the ability to write music the traditional way as well so I use cakewalk more and sometimes slave abelton via rewire. I also have a sleeper program I think is the best scoring program out there called Harmony assistant from France. I do most of my scoring there and then bring that in for further break down in ableton or cakewalk.

For my aleatoric areas, I wrote a few cal scripts that generate random notes, random patch events, random note values and random velocity events, Also a 12 tone row box generator that shows in an excel spreadsheet the 12 tone row, table and all it’s combos and chords.

I noticed your random midi generator and was thinking that would make a great VST plugin. I’m really impressed with your work and enjoyed your films and music as well. The ideas behind what you are doing and the purity of your music are impressive.


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Hey RM,

ah, somehow I first thought you ask me if those applications are similar, “up the same alley” :wink:
Ok, so I don’t have to tell you how they work…:grin: Sorry.

Thanks a lot for the great feedback! I was working for months on the site so it feels all warm and cosy that people enjoy it! :smile:

I’d love to write VST plugins but the overhead is too much for me so far, If you have Reaktor 6, you may like the Midi Mangler - feed it with some simple Midi and generate endless variations… Also cool after an arpeggiator or a drum machine like Jamstix :slight_smile:

The new website paid off already, so I can’t chat too long :smile:



Wow, that job was one hefty stresstest for Grasshopper/Rhino/Thea Render and YT.
Saw the first BlueScreen in many years when trying to render a 1GB+ Rhino file… :persevere:

After that we took a different approach with lower geometry density and it worked out smoothly.

Grasshopper is such a dream to work with - the day when it will finally be multithreaded will be one day to remember for sure… :wink:

Rhino is rather weird when like me you come from more animation oriented 3D software, where you always have a hierarchy of objects, a clear pivot point and even a real camera. Lot’s of things to keep in mind when dealing with similar things in Rhino.
And the screen update rate is abysmal if you are used to Softimage XSI… Will have to check if it’s better in the v6 WIP.
But it worked out in the end.

And Thea was awesome. Tons of geometry, hundreds of objects emitting light, reflections and extreme depth of field and still it was really fast to render on GPU & CPU.
The only thing you should not do is move a selection of several hundred objects around while you do interactive rendering in T4R. Then it hangs for minutes. Seems like every object is moved and updated in single file or something.

Got some new ideas for artwork for the website already…



These are beautiful!
Was the “Sculptures” image made with mesh+ ?

Hey David,

I honestly can’t remember, sorry.

I switched completely to SideFX Houdini after that last job I mentioned where Rhino and GH really got to their knees and showed their underlying weakness.
This is one of the (reduced) images I did for that job (for Passion Pictures Animation in London who allowed me to show it in the meantime), rendered in Thea Render:

The transition was a ton of work, Houdini “thinks” totally different in many ways, but I was able to use a lot of what I learned in Grasshopper and from todays perspective, Houdini simply has a much better structure and framework for serious work where Grasshopper is great for playing around and testing relatively simple stuff and get into generative things with it’s friendly approach and beautiful interface.
I also had to switch to Redshift, since Thea isn’t integrated in Houdini and exporting became a drag after a while, especially for animation (which Houdini excels in). Thea also is in a stupor since Altair bought it.

I have some Houdini work on my website (Generativa - Abstract Works in SideFX Houdini) and sometimes show my explorations on Twitter ( if anybody should be interested.

I can highly recommend Houdini to everybody who hit’s the ceiling with Grasshopper and especially for everybody who is into animation/motion graphics etc.

Not so much for fabrication and NURBS work though… :wink:



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That’s what I’ve been wondering about. Thanks for the heads up.

Thanks for the news. I think Houdini could also be very good for implicit volume/ isosurface because of its implementation of Open VDB.

Gr8 job Thomas!

Yes it is - OpenVDB is implemented extremely well in Houdini and allows for amazing things.

Check the tutorials of these guys if you want to get a deeper look at Houdini (not only VDB):



Yes I saw that and a tutorial for clouds. I also replicate in rhino grasshopper 3 tutorials of entagma. Quilling,snowflake and flights around earth.

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