Five years ago, I launched Turtletoy, an online platform that enables users to create plottable generative art using a simple Turtle graphics API. Today, Turtletoy continues to be a popular destination for artists looking for plotter-friendly vector graphics.

Why Turtletoy?

At first, I created Turtletoy for my personal use, as I needed a platform to generate plottable SVG for the plotter I intended to purchase. After a long Sunday of work, I completed the first version. However, I found the minimal drawing environment so enjoyable that I decided to refine it and make it accessible to the public.

After five years and over 8000 users, Turtletoy has demonstrated its lasting power as a web platform.

I spend much time at work writing fragment shaders, which usually involve “implicit” procedural content. On the other hand, Turtle art is usually “explicit” procedural, which is often easier to understand. This makes Turtletoy a refreshing way of thinking for me.

Embracing Minimalism

Within Turtletoy, you are limited to a square canvas and can only create black-and-white line drawings using the Turtle API. Its minimalistic design not only stimulates creativity but also facilitates ease of use. Its straightforward interface and direct visual feedback allow users to see the results of their code immediately, making it an efficient tool for quickly bringing ideas or algorithms to life.

As an active user of Turtletoy, I find myself continuously drawn back to this platform for one specific reason: quick prototyping.

Turtletoy’s simplicity and instant visual feedback offer a seamless experience when quickly prototyping ideas or algorithms. It’s a straightforward process: write your code, execute it, and the result directly appears on the canvas. This immediate visual representation provides a tangible understanding of how the idea or algorithm performs, which is invaluable for quickly refining and improving the concept.

Plottable, Generative Art Playground

Each artwork, also known as a ‘turtle,’ can be downloaded as an SVG file. Many users have used the turtles from Turtletoy to produce fabulous plots with their plotters and cutting plotters, thus bringing Turtletoy’s digital art to life in the physical world.

The Turtletoy community has introduced various plotter-focused features to the platform, including single-line SVG text, hidden line removal, voxel raycasting, and other utilities, increasing its usefulness for creating plottable art.

Share your work

Perhaps Turtletoy’s most impressive feature is its community of generative art enthusiasts. This community is a crucial asset to Turtletoy, providing knowledge and resources to support learning and growth in generative art.

Members can share their work to get feedback, explore other artists’ work for inspiration, learn new techniques, or participate in the comments section of each turtle.

Tezos NFT community

A testament to Turtletoy’s community is the recognition it has gained within the Tezos NFT space. Some of the top-selling art pieces in this NFT space originated from turtles, and several Turtletoy users are active and well-known within the Tezos world:

More Creative Coding Websites

Turtletoy is not my only hobby project :) I also made these creative coding playgrounds:

  • Dittytoy (blog post)
    Dittytoy allows you to create generative music using a minimalistic javascript API.
    The API syntax is loosely based on the syntax of Sonic Pi. You can find the full Dittytoy API Reference here.
    If you don’t like reading documentation and want to see sample code, then these ditties give a good overview of the capabilities of Dittytoy.
  • OneShader (blog post)
    OneShader is an online tool for creating and sharing WebGL fragment shaders. You don’t have access to 3D models, textures, buffers, or any other (external) resources, so it’s just one fragment shader and your imagination. 

Most loved turtles

Do you want to see more? These are Turtletoy’s six most loved turtles.

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Five years of Turtletoy: a minimalistic, generative art platform