notes/ridge-wallpaper - 03/15/23
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Ridge Wallpaper

For one reason or another I love the "minimalist wallpapers" you can find for your desktop (not that my desktop is ever clean enough to warrant what that phrase implies). There are a lot of sites out there that publish a specific one I am overly fond of which looks like a stylized mountain range drifting into the fog. I like this one so much, I used it for my AppStore screenshots for ZeroScan.

After using this image a lot, and it being a little too long since I wrote any "creative" code, I decided I wanted to replicate this image, and see if I could iterate on the concept. So I decided to write some code and see where I landed.

Version 1: First version

After a little bit of fiddling with python I had replicated the base image to my satisfaction. I used Python, numpy, and Pillow for this, which I know might seem like an odd choice, especially when Processing and OpenFrameworks are so readily available, but I am using python day-to-day and it was what was closest to the surface.

In less than 50 lines I had achieved my goal of 4K resolution infinitely generated minimalist wallpapers. The code wasn't wonderful, but it was effective. My approach was to calculate a line of points across the screen, close it in as a polygon, fill that shape with one level of grey, then repeat the drawing process slightly lower, and in a slightly darker color.

Here is the function that actually generates the line moving across the screen:

# Calculate points for a line from sx to ex with count points
def getPeaks(sx, ex, h, count):
  pts = []
  width = ex - sx
  spacing = int(width / count)
  for x in range(count+1):
    xPos = x * spacing
    if x > 0 and x < count:
      xPos += random.randint(-peak_spacing_jitter, peak_spacing_jitter)
        (xPos, h+(random.randint(peak_size_range[0], peak_size_range[1]))))
  return pts

Version 2: Second version

This level of controlled chaos left me with some nice options, but I wanted to push things a little further. So I decided to add color.

Version 3: Color Wallpaper

# Example Color set
background = (25, 25, 25, 255)

colors = [
# Draw the ridges
for x in range(len(colors)):
  pts = addEnds(getPeaks(0, w, curve_starts[x], random.randint(min_peaks, max_peaks)))
  draw.polygon(pts, fill=colors[x])  # draw the polygon

Adding color lead me to the realization that if I moved the lines up on the screen, and repeated the background color as the last polygon I was left with a crack / reveal look that I am very happy with. The calm dark grey fragments slightly to reveal a minimal layering of color.

A favorite output: Favorite Wallpaper

While I may have wandered slightly from my original goal, I am happy with the results. I want to make more little explorations like this, and attempt to document them. Towards that end I've setup a repo with this code, where in future I will hopefully be adding more graphics experiments:


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