Jan 292013

I have thought for a while it would be really cool to be able to model an new braid on the computer. My idea was that I would put in the marudai moves of the braid I wanted to “make” and my program would figure out how the threads moved and what the braid looked like.

Well, I never got around to it; there were always too many other things that seemed more urgent, and I have to admit I wasn’t sure how I would go about it.

Murray is by far the better programmer of the two of us – he has been earning good money doing that for the last 20 years, until a change in the company he worked for meant that we had the opportunity to both try working on Craft Design Online for a while. Having got Pattern Grid to a point he was happy with last year, then spent some time in the run up to Christmas tweaking things on it, he needed a new project. So he decided to look at 3-d modelling in javascript.

At the moment he’s got something that is getting quite usable. You can move threads around a marudai drawing and once you have put all the move in, tell it how many times to repeat the moves and your braid will be drawn. It works better in Chrome than Firefox – Chrome is able to use the graphics card which improves the image processing. It needs a reasonably powerful computer. We haven’t tested it on an iPod or mobile phone – we think it might work, but very slowly. And it needs to be made easier to use  – but that should come quite soon.

Computer generated diagram of braided tubesComputer generated diagram of braided tubes

I was quite impressed at the 24-thread mitake braids it generated. Just like the real braid, as you make it the threads are quite loose at the top, but they gradually get pulled in tighter. The threads are modelled as tubes, so you don’t see the flattening of a real thread.

It’s not going to totally replace the need to test braid before starting an important project, but it certainly gives a good idea of how a braid will turn out.

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