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DIGITAL MARBLING  
( 2021-present )  

Building off my work on realtime fluid simulations with WebGL, I've been building a physics-based marbling simulation to explore the ways that paper marbling can be augmented through digital tools. I'm interested in how digital marbling could unlock new aesthetics that make use of turbulent and ephemeral behaviors of fluids, which would normally be very difficult to transfer to paper.

The craft of paper marbling dates back to the 12th century in Japan, where it is known as “suminagashi”. Inks were floated on top of water and manipulated into delicate, flowing shapes using breath, fans, and other utensils before being transferred to paper. Later, marbling traditions emerged in the Middle East and Europe, making use of more viscous media and fine-toothed combs to create repeating patterns with greater regularity and control. Paper marbling is commonly used in bookbinding as a decorative endpaper inside the book cover.

I began this work by porting the methods from Mathematical Marbling to WebGL. Eventually, I combined the transformations described in Mathematical Marbling with a realtime fluid simulation to create more dynamic and life-like results. The pattern above was created using a combination straight line and sinusoidal combing patterns.

By running an underlying fluid simulation, it's possible to create irregular patterns that have undergone some distortion due to fluid motions.

An early experiment "combing" a multi colored fluid with virtual combs. In this example, the forces exerted by the combs are diffuse and soft, leading to a looser result.

These examples are something I'm calling "brushed marbling" – where I modulate the effect of the virtual comb with some high frequency components to bring out more detail. The end results are somewhere in between a traditional marbling and the types of textures resulting from brushing thick paints. The next few examples show variations on traditional combed marbling patterns using a brushed style.

Variation on a bouquet marbling pattern in a brushed style.

Variation on a birdwing marbling pattern in a brushed style.

Some very early results suffered from bugs that created interesting artifacts. The following examples are the result of an early freeform marbling experiment where I manipulated the fluid by hand and let it mix and settle over time to create tiled patterns. I noticed that small barb-shaped structures emerged from this version of the fluid simulation, due to an unknown issue that seems to have been resolved in later versions.

U-shaped barbs that emerge within the fluid tend to point up and to the right.