After Effects

Spirograph-style pattern generator

This is one of my favourite After Effects projects, and one which I have used many times in various ways. It’s very easy to use and fun to play around with.

This project was originally inspired by Ayato’s website, and in particular project 39 – Spirograph-style animation. Ayato’s tutorial shows Illustrator being used to repeat some circles many, many times with a very small offset in their position. The moire patterns that result from the multiple layers interacting create a really lovely gradient.

I was interested in this process but I didn’t own Illustrator- so I figured out it wouldn’t be too hard to come up with a few expressions to repeat and offset multiple copies of a layer. This is the latest version of that initial experiment.

The project allows you to adjust the position and rotation offsets for each layer in the composition and if you don’t mind long render times you make some amazing patterns with hundreds of layers. There are more opportunities to play if you use an animating shape, and when you play around in 32-bit mode with blurs and transfer modes. Included in the download is a greyscale quicktime which has 18 different frames demonstrating some of the different looks you can get. If you’re really adventurous you can use 3D layers in your source composition and enable “collapse transformations” in the main project.

This zip file also includes both the original project to generate patterns as well as a separate project demonstrating the process used by Ayato to create his finished product.

Incidentally, when I originally posted an older version of this project on my website I emailed Ayato to check that he didn’t mind… he was very happy.

Download and play:Spirograph-style pattern generator