• Pierre Paslier

Line-us plotter & Generative Art - A tutorial for beginners

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

If you’ve been wondering how to get started with plotter art, here is a step-by-step tutorial to create your first generative drawings in less than 5 minutes.

About Line-us drawing robot

Line-us is an internet-connected robot drawing arm. It’s small, portable and draws with a nice wobbly line using a real pen on paper. It’s a lot of fun and very easy to get started with. You can get a 10% discount via this link.

Prerequisite (for Mac)

Inkscape: Install this software to read and plot vector files…https://inkscape.org/release/0.92.2/mac-os-x/LUS plugin: The plugin for Inkscape to talk with your Line-us https://inkscape.org/~Line-us/%E2%98%85line-us Here’s help on how to install plugins for Inkscape. Connect both your Line-us and your mac on the same wifi network

Step 1 — Generating the shape

Let’s use Jason Webb’s brilliant SuperformulaSVG (tune mode), an interactive generative art web application that makes it easy to create and discover interesting shapes, with the ability to export SVGs.

Play around with the sliders until you’re happy with what you see. Then hit the “Export Svg” button

Step 2 — Loading SVG in Inkscape

Launch Inkscape and open your design which is named something like superformula.svg. You’ll have to clean up a few things before being ready to plot. Under Object -> Objects, you’ll open a panel showing you what the drawing is composed of. Expand the group by clicking on the arrow in front of “g64".

You can now delete all the objects except the g44 group.

Optional tip: At this stage, it’s not a bad idea to apply the Path -> Simplify option a few times to your selection. This doesn’t visually change much your design but it will speed up the plotting step.

Now you need to set up a few parameters for your page. Under File -> Document Properties, change the “units” to px and set the custom size to 2000 width and 2000 height.

Move/scale your design so that it roughly fills the area I’ve marked in red. This is the ideal drawing area of your Line-us.

Congrats, your drawing is ready to be sent to the Line-us!

Step 3 — Plotting

From the Extension menu, go to LUS -> LUS Controls… On the Options tab, set Curve smoothing to 6 for faster plotting. Get back to the plot tab and get ready to hit to “Apply” button.

But first, let’s make sure your Line-us is set up properly. Place the metal base under your paper. The magnets under the Line-us should hold your page tight. Adjust the height of your pen so that the tip hovers a few mm above the page. I recommend the Pilot V5 Liquid Ink Rollerball 0.5 mm as a good starting point.

Now that you’re all set, click on “Apply”, sit back, relax and enjoy your first Generative Art piece becoming reality.

Congrats! You now have a basic understanding of the most important steps to plot generative art! Share your prints with the hashtag #generativehut!

You can get a Line-us robot drawing arm with 10% discount via this link.

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