What other platform pairs well with Grasshopper for generative art?

I’m teaching a couple of classes on digital tools, Rhino and Grasshopper are the centerpieces because that’s what I know best but I’m looking for another parametric/generative platform that pairs more easily with raster-based design, with an emphasis on outputting visualizations.

Right now I’m considering lessons on Processing.py, P5.js or Touch Designer. I was wondering if there were any other suggestions. Leaning toward Touch since it’s also visual programming but have no experience. I just want to do an introduction at the end of the course, but I’m also interested myself. I really enjoy creating animations from sliders in grasshopper and have to remind myself to stay focused on the geometry I’m creating and not “cool gifs.”

Definitely P5.js and Processing: great community, sheer endless online resources, great web support, shader support with WebGL, and traditional coding - which still is better than any node based system, because the possibilities are quasi endless -, etc.

I’d forget about TouchDesigner. It’s another, flashy proprietary tool, but the value for students to learn “real” programming is far superior, if that’s something that you can teach the basics of.

Here are some links featuring tons of resources:

I guess Blender is also worth mentioning.

Coolness is in the eye of the beholder.


We have used vvvv a lot with Grasshopper and it works well. vvvv is a great and extremely versatile tool. The basics are very similar to Grasshopper, just the names for things are different. There is 2 versions of vvvv - the new Gamma version, which is great, but a lot more involved and the older Beta, which is still amazing, but a lot more close to Grasshopper. There is a good book with some fun experiments and examples called Prototyping Interfaces (only in german I think).

Incidentily, vvvv has a course for “Teaching vvvv” that is starting in 2 days.

If you want something a bit simpler and quicker to learn, check out Cables.

I have not played with Touch Designer so have no experience there, but I think its quite geared towards visual output, whereas vvvv is a lot more universal.


@diff-arch @seltzdesign

I appreciate both very informative posts. If I am going to introduce coding directly, does Processing.py make sense over Processing with java and P5.js. I feel like I could introduce Python in Grasshopper fairly organically. Like “how to make x in Rhino manually, how to use components in Grasshopper to do it, and finally, how a Python script in Grasshopper does it.”

vvvv has such an amazing story, I’d love to support them but I don’t see how they are much different than Touch Designer, except perhaps an underdog, in terms of publicity at least. The teaching course looks so convenient though!

I think the difference in vvvv and Touch Designer is its intended purpose. It appears that Touch Designer’s main purpose is outputting visuals. Also in their software you can see they have a timeline at the bottom, showing it is mainly intended for live performance.

Vvvv is a much more universal programming kit. You can choose to have visual output, you can choose to have a timeline, but you don’t have to work that way. It’s a visual programming language, much like Grasshopper, but a lot more universal. Do you want to have an arduino control some lights? Do you want to host a webserver and get some tweets to generate graphics? Do you want to use a joystick to control a 3D printer? You can do all of that with vvvv. There is a lot built in already and there are hundreds of add-ons.

Like I mentioned there is the new gamma and the older (but still updated) beta. Gamma is actually more like a full on programming language using object oriented programming. Beta is a lot more like Grasshopper, except everything always runs in realtime.

I have not played with Touch Designer because it always seemed geared at visual live performance and that’s not really what we need. Vvvv has served us in tons of different use cases.

If you want something that is closer to Grasshopper, go for vvvv. If you want something to create visuals, check out Touch Designer.


That seems like a sound plan.


what is helping your students most?

Basically, all these apps are more approachable tools for dealing with computer graphics. Assuming you are teaching designers or architects, most of these tools hardly output something of value for them!

The good thing about GH is that you can bake and produce your creations. And even if you create pure digital art, you can apply these skills on a real project later.

If you are looking for useful tools, choose packages which also let you translate your design into the real world. In that regard, any scripting within a CAD (Rhino, Fusion360,…) or CGI (Blender, Maya …) software has much higher value, if you ask me!

If you still want to teach plain computer graphics, my advice would be either WebGL or Processing! Although WebGL has a much steeper learning curve, it’s low level, but still easier than OpenGL/C++.
If you understand the real basics, you can master anything related with ease!

Processing is great because it offers you export functionality. To output a .dxf or .svg, without implementing that part for yourself, can at least give you some practical value. But again, you are only touching the tip of the iceberg without giving a true understanding about the matter.

I agree. It really depends on what and how you want to teach. I would say:

If you want create visual output that you want to use somewhere else in another program, then Processing is great. Get a copy of Generative Design and you will have a lot of great examples and concepts to play with.

If you want to create something more interactive and physical, go for vvvv.

Incidentally most of the things from Generative Design also exist as vvvv patches. But as @TomTom said, exporting things from vvvv is not as straightforward/built in as in Processing, although still absolutely possible.