Processing, Second Edition

A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists

by Reas, Fry

ISBN: 9780262321853 | Copyright 2014

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The visual arts are rapidly changing as media moves into the web, mobile devices, and architecture. When designers and artists learn the basics of writing software, they develop a new form of literacy that enables them to create new media for the present, and to imagine future media that are beyond the capacities of current software tools. This book introduces this new literacy by teaching computer programming within the context of the visual arts. It offers a comprehensive reference and text for Processing (, an open-source programming language that can be used by students, artists, designers, architects, researchers, and anyone who wants to program images, animation, and interactivity. Written by Processing’s cofounders, the book offers a definitive reference for students and professionals. Tutorial chapters make up the bulk of the book; advanced professional projects from such domains as animation, performance, and installation are discussed in interviews with their creators.

This second edition has been thoroughly updated. It is the first book to offer in-depth coverage of Processing 2.0 and 3.0, and all examples have been updated for the new syntax. Every chapter has been revised, and new chapters introduce new ways to work with data and geometry. New “synthesis” chapters offer discussion and worked examples of such topics as sketching with code, modularity, and algorithms. New interviews have been added that cover a wider range of projects. “Extension” chapters are now offered online so they can be updated to keep pace with technological developments in such fields as computer vision and electronics.


SUE.C, Larry Cuba, Mark Hansen, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Jürg Lehni, LettError, Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman, Benjamin Maus, Manfred Mohr, Ash Nehru, Josh On, Bob Sabiston, Jennifer Steinkamp, Jared Tarbell, Steph Thirion, Robert Winter

This essential book is a tool for unlocking the power of Processing. With this completely revised edition, Casey Reas and Ben Fry show readers how to use Processing for thinking, making, and doing. This remarkable software environment has opened the world of code to designers, architects, musicians, and animators. Providing a powerful alternative to proprietary software, Processing speaks to self-education and networked engagement.

Ellen Lupton Director of the graphic design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and author of Thinking with Type and Type on Screen

Processing has unlocked the potential of software as a creative medium by integrating a programming language and development environment and linking computation and the visual arts. This revised handbook provides expertly designed and invaluable tutorials that introduce the syntax and concepts of software and position it in the field of arts. Interviews with renowned artists give insight into the creation of their landmark software projects, illustrating how programming is applied in art.

Christiane Paul Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art

In addition to what you can expect—a great compendium explaining the software’s features and applications—the second edition of Processing comes with a well-curated series of interviews with artists and designers for whom software is key to their work. These exceptional insights into artistic practice contribute to the writing of history of software-based art and design and contextualize Processing in an adequate way.

Joachim Sauter University of the Arts Berlin, Founder and Creative Director of ART+COM
Expand/Collapse All
Contents (pg. vii)
Extended contents (pg. ix)
Foreword (pg. xiii)
Preface (pg. xv)
1 Processing… (pg. 1)
2 Using Processing (pg. 9)
3 Draw (pg. 21)
4 Color (pg. 39)
5 Variables (pg. 51)
6 Flow (pg. 65)
7 Interactivity (pg. 83)
8 Repeat (pg. 103)
9 Synthesis 1 (pg. 115)
10 Interviews: Image (pg. 125)
11 Text (pg. 143)
12 Typography (pg. 149)
13 Image (pg. 163)
14 Transform (pg. 175)
15 Vertices (pg. 187)
16 3D Drawing (pg. 199)
17 Shapes (pg. 215)
18 Synthesis 2 (pg. 227)
19 Interviews: Interaction (pg. 247)
20 Calculate (pg. 265)
21 Random (pg. 293)
22 Motion (pg. 305)
23 Time (pg. 327)
24 Functions (pg. 333)
25 Objects (pg. 359)
26 Synthesis 3 (pg. 381)
27 Interviews: Motion, Performance (pg. 397)
28 Arrays (pg. 415)
29 Animation (pg. 431)
30 Dynamic Drawing (pg. 439)
31 Simulate (pg. 453)
32 Data (pg. 489)
33 Interface (pg. 509)
34 Image Processing (pg. 529)
35 Render Techniques (pg. 547)
36 Synthesis 4 (pg. 559)
37 Interviews: Environment (pg. 579)
38 Continuing… (pg. 597)
Appendix A: Order of Operations (pg. 601)
Appendix B: Reserved Words (pg. 603)
Appendix C: ASCII, Unicode (pg. 604)
Appendix D: Bit, Binary, Hex (pg. 609)
Appendix E: Optimization (pg. 613)
Appendix F: Programming Languages (pg. 619)
Related Media (pg. 627)
Glossary (pg. 633)
Code Index (pg. 637)
Index (pg. 639)

Casey Reas

Casey Reas is Professor of Design Media Arts at UCLA and coauthor of Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists (MIT Press, 2007).

Ben Fry

Ben Fry is Principal of Fathom, a design and software consultancy in Boston. Together, Reas and Fry cofounded Processing in 2001.

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