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Designed by Stacie Sansone Designed by Mark Fuelle Designed by Hannah Hwang Designed by Erin Rossini
200 lines: in space / of code

[Project Narrative] [Instructional Narrative]

Project Narrative

200 lines: in space / of code was developed out of a desire to integrate code-based technologies into an existing foundations curriculum that was otherwise just beginning to recognize and incorporate emergent forms of practice. Accordingly, the project can be thought of as transitional—that is, it addresses the new and emergent by re-framing the existing and established.


The project brief given to students is to:


Create a design in Processing that uses at least 200 lines to form a non-representational illusion of three-dimensional space by manipulating the principles of design. You may not use any other elements in your work. You are free to vary the characteristics of the lines you use, such as line weight/thickness and color.



The only Processing functions that are allowed to be used are:


  • size();

  • background();

  • line();

  • stroke();

  • strokeCap();

  • strokeWeight();

  • strokeJoin();

  • noFill();

  • beginShape():

  • vertex();

  • endShape();

This project aims to:


  • Expose students to a new digital medium. Processing has been an entirely new experience for every first year Art and Design student that I have taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Only a few students have had previous experience with any type of code. This project helps to expand students’ conceptualization of creative practice and better positions them for further investigations into digital work.

  • Encourage students to work creatively within a set of restrictions / limitations / guidelines. While the limited set of functions allowed to be used is partially reflective of the amount of class time able to be devoted to the project, it also provides a creative challenge for students. Many of the most successful designs are by students who manage to exploit the full capabilities of each function available to them.

  • Begin to develop students’ awareness of how the principles of design relate to the effectiveness of a design. This project provides an initial opportunity to discuss and experiment with the formal principles of design: unity/harmony, emphasis, balance, rhythm, variety, movement, and economy.

  • Continue to develop students’ sense of good craft. While not related to the code-based aspects of the project, I use 200 lines: in space / of code as an opportunity to introduce Art and Design students to the digital print production equipment available to them at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Students export their design from Processing as a PDF (introducing them to some of the vector output capabilities of Processing), then print and appropriately mount it for a formal critique. 

Instructional Narrative

200 lines: in space / of code is structured around four class sessions of two hours and forty minutes each.


Class 1


  • Introduction to Processing: Students are introduced to Processing and the Processing website at http://www.processing.org. They review the “Exhibition” section, choosing one project to present and describe to the class. This is done to help show the potential of using Processing as a creative tool, despite the fact that this project amounts to a rather rudimentary introduction to it.

  • Procedural drawing activity: Students manually produce a drawing on graph paper, based on a set of written instructions, as an exercise in understanding Processing’s coordinate system and how a computer interprets code.

Class 2


  • Introduction to Processing—continued: I demonstrate the project’s allowed Processing functions, describing the behavior of and required parameters for each.

  • Studio time: Students begin coding their designs, with the expectation that they will have additional progress completed prior to the next class session.

Class 3


  • Individual desk critiques: I meet with each student one-on-one to consult them on their progress, both conceptually and technically.

  • Studio time: When not meeting with me, students are able to use in-class time to work on their project.

  • Output demonstration (optional): As I have my students print their designs, I walk through the established procedures for using the Art and Design print production equipment. This involves exporting a PDF from Processing, manipulating that PDF to add margins, setting up the file for print, printing, and finishing (cutting and mounting).

Class 4


  • Critique: Students participate in a formal critique of their classmates’ work. Students are assigned a classmate’s piece to write about, which they then present to the class. 

Contributor(s): Brad Tober

Updated date: 02/23/2015 - 20:57

Software: linux, mac, processing, windows

Other Hardware: 2D printer

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