View Full Version : Working in a "Computational Creativity" class

02-04-2014, 07:07 PM
Hello All,

My name is Rick Pingry. I am working on my Master's Degree in Computer Science, and I am taking a class called "Computational Creativity." We could have all kinds of discussion about whether or not computers could ever be creative, but it is an interesting exercise none the less to push that boundary. Something that might give you a better understanding of the kind of thing we are studying is "The Painting Fool" (http://www.thepaintingfool.com/).

The entire class is project based, and the objective of the project is to write some software that produces some artifact that might be cosidered creative (have quality and some kind of innovation). My partner and I decided to at first to write some software to generate a terrain. After some discussion with the teacher and doing some research, we decided that there were already lots of terrain generators out there, and that was not pushing what might be considered "creative." What we were really interested in was not the terrain itself, but the art involved in displaying the terrain - the MAP.

As we were looking around online, we came across this site. I really love how artistic these maps are and it has given me some inspiration about where I might go with this program. I would really like to become a part of this community (to be honest, I am kind of new to it all, it was my parnter that had the inspiration to make maps because his wife likes to write fantasy fiction, so this is kind of a new world to me). I would love it if we could write something that might provide some value to the community and get some feedback from you about some techniques that might be written in code generally, but more specifically, can we define some of the thought processes that you go through when making artistic decisions. We would also love some feedback about what makes for a good map. As a novice, I can get some ideas from what I like, but I am sure that you as Journeyman and Masters in the field have a much more refined sense of quality.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts,
-- Rick

02-05-2014, 05:38 AM
Welcome to the Guild Rick! That sounds like a fun and challenging project, and it's great that you want to share it with us. There are a number of artistic factors to consider when creating a map. What is the genre and/or intended theme of the map? What sort of medium and style would be fitting to represent that genre and/or theme? How to create a composition that draws the eye to the important details of the map and yet also contains all of the necessary map elements (e.g. title, key, compass, scale etc)? These are only a few initial considerations and I'm sure others here could name dozens more.

Definitely curious to follow the progress on this. Please let us know how the project progresses.


02-05-2014, 07:35 AM
Welcome aboard!

04-01-2014, 02:18 PM
I'm rpingry's lab partner. He is no longer in the class, but I've been continuing to work on this project. We got the terrain of the project to draw, but I'm still working on adding text. We are using mountain and tree images from ironmetal250's post here http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/5664-%5Baward-winner%5D-hand-drawn-mtns-other-stylistic-map-elements-use-ps-gimp.html.

Here is an example of the program's output.

I created the background and land textures in Gimp, so they always look the same each time to program runs. The terrain is generated though, so it varies a lot from one run to another.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

04-22-2014, 06:18 PM
The semester is ending, so I'll show what we have done on the fantasy map creator. Our terrain generator is based on a polygon-based map generator by Red Blob Games to create the terrain. You can find it at Polygonal Map Generation for Games (http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~amitp/game-programming/polygon-map-generation/). We added a tectonic plate simulation so that the maps have a variety of land formations such as multiple islands, continents, peninsulas, narrow necks of land, continental divides, and mountain ranges surrounded by hills.

The map creator takes a book and extracts a genre. The goal is not to create a map for a book, but rather to use the book as inspiration to create a new map with new names. It finds location names, and noun-verb and noun-adjective pairs. It uses the location names to create a model which generates new names, although if the book didn't have enough locations, you will see some names straight out of the book. It uses the noun-verb and noun-adjective pairs to name rivers and mountains.

Here are examples of outputs from three books. Two are books of scripture (The Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon), and the third is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.




The first two maps use 12000 polygons. The last one uses 9000.

The background images are still user specified. I created two color schemes: old paper, and stone, which are shown in these examples.

If I had more time it would be nice to add other features to the map creator, such as automatic color scheme creation, cities, a frame, a scale indicator, a compass, the ability to use multiple books, and more use of biome information.

04-23-2014, 03:37 AM
A very interesting subject indeed, the result of your program is already good and very promissing! i guess that the digital revolution will surpass cartographers one day, hope it wont be too soon;)

04-24-2014, 12:37 PM
A very good idea indeed, and the results are awesome.

04-24-2014, 01:37 PM
The output is not bad but I cant see it displaying creativity as the program is just using hard wired styles with random variations. Not creating something unique out of inspiration.

But besides that I find the subject of computational creativity highly offensive.

04-24-2014, 02:46 PM
I agree that it isn't a very pleasant feeling to know that one day we cartographers might be replaced by an app, the digital revolution is really a period as scary as it is interesting, redefining what an usefull skill is. Maybe that at this point where an app can equal the quality of our best cartographers we'll only have to talk with the computer to describe the map as we see it in our heads;)

04-25-2014, 08:56 PM
The thing about it, though, is that human interaction with the computer will continue to push the art beyond what the computer can do on its own. Even if a computer can create a fully-realized piece of "art," a human operator building on that will be able to make much more out of it.

In my own particular line of work (visual effects for film and television), there are a number of systems that can do automatically what used to take hours of artist labor. That hasn't reduced the demand for artists, though. On the contrary, visual effects budgets continue to climb as the bar for professional work continues to rise.

05-05-2014, 02:40 PM
I just ran across this article, that sort of speaks to what I was saying: Sketching on tablets promising for collaborative design, creativity (http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/Q2/sketching-on-tablets-promising-for-collaborative-design,-creativity.html)

09-01-2015, 10:20 PM
I know it's been a while, but thanks for all of the comments. I agree that advances is computer technology can do a lot to help artists, although I don't consider myself an artist. The map generator was designed to be a creative muse for authors trying to get ideas for a book. It can also be helpful if you need ideas for land shapes or region names.

I have continued to work on the map generator in my free time. I made it into a Java app which you can download for free. It is named "Nortantis", which is a name it generated. If you want to try it, you can find it here (http://jeheydorn.github.io/nortantis/). It is an open source project, so you can also get the source code if you want it.

09-01-2015, 10:58 PM
http://techxplore.com/news/2015-09-neural-algorithm-photo-masterpiece-style-treatments.html makes me vaguely uneasy, if only because of the uses that the Facebook crowd will put it to...

09-02-2015, 08:43 PM
Very interesting. Thanks for the link.

http://techxplore.com/news/2015-09-neural-algorithm-photo-masterpiece-style-treatments.html makes me vaguely uneasy, if only because of the uses that the Facebook crowd will put it to...