miscellaneous ramblings

Miscellaneous Ramblings is a place where we will post stuff related to MandalaGaba, mandalas, and other stuff related to that stuff.

The Reddit Tsunami

Yesterday, Ben posted the following post on Reddit’s r/InternetIsBeautiful sub-reddit:

Play with Recursive Drawing

Kablamo.

We’re getting a decent influx of traffic onto Mandalagaba. As of this writing it is still ongoing peaking right now at 45 thousand visitors for more than 2 million hits.

Yesterday’s number were also faily overwhelming (29k visitors).

Reddit waves are quite something when you ride them. They allow you to test drive the platform’s performance, you get tons of user feedback, users giving you bug reports and on top of that you’re getting massive traffic.

Pretty productive use of copy-pasting a link.

It’s an art to master Reddit. Everytime I try I botch it and 80% of Ben’s postings generate results, and sometimes even climb their way up to the sub-reddit’s front page.

We got about 120 comments, most of which are very positive and helpful. Some are negative of course and some are both, like this one “This is pretty cool but man... sometimes this can also act as a migraine aura simulator”.

We got tons of polishing to do on the recursive drawing facet so this facet can be somewhat of a brain teaser right of the bat, even for us.

Anywho, here are two cool drawings that came out of this Reddit wave.

Screenshot 2019-04-17 at 21.06.51.png
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Game of Thrones teaser made on Mandalagaba

Lara Laubert, whose outstanding talent is visible on this website in various posts (like: New drawing styles made possible thanks to recursive drawing) has created the following House Stark sigil surrounded by a super rad mandala.

Lara created this on Mandalagaba’s pro facet that can be found at: https://pro.mandalagaba.com

Complete Mandalagaba overhaul

Last week we pushed a big update. The idea behind it was to separate various features we had built into Mandalagaba these past two years. We had various reasons to do this, the main one being that the interface was becoming an puzzling mess. Our theory is that 90% of our users were only using 10% of Mandalagaba’s features and tools, and we decided that was somewhat of a pickle if we wanted to increase our user base.

Sure Mg is fun and all (from now on Mg is Mandalagaba) but we have been dealing with the same number of users for the past year although we have implemented tons of new features, redesigned the controls menu, built an online presence, created marketing content, etc. Basically we’re stuck at an average of 500 unique visitors per day. By actively promoting Mg we are gonna get bumps here and there. When we get a wave coming in from Reddit, or from a Facebook post or ad, we can generate enough interest to flow in thousands of people (up to 28 000 visitors last December on our Snowflake Designer Reddit post we did last year) These waves and bumps have a tail of course, but its usually fairly short lived and doesn’t bring in much peeps on the long term.

We have our theories on why this is and most of them have to do with the overdose of icons the old Mg was undergoing leading to users not really knowing what to do with the platform once they fiddled arround with a design or two.

We also know that implementing accounts will help out in terms of having people come back to the platform, and those are on the way.

Anywho, to solve this issue we started thinking about ways to make Mg more user friendly and understandable, and one of the first solutions we found was to divide Mg into its different facets.

Here’s a little breakdown of the awesome entertaining zen mantra-guru-massage-lounge tools and features Mg offers to the world for free (‘cause that’s how we roll):

  • Mandala creator

  • Tessellation builder

  • Snowflake manufactuer

  • Matchmaker

  • Replays

  • A network engine

  • A session fork tool

  • Session statistics

  • A plant designer (this is brand new)

  • Recursive drawing apparatus (also brand new)

So to make things easier, we separated Mg into 5 facets for now.

Behold:

  • The mandala maker:

Is found at: https://mandala.mandalagaba.com

In effect, Mandalagaba allows people to draw mandalas. That much is fairly easy to understand. The etymology of Mandalagaba come from the ancient latin word mandaleum, which means “For where thou art, there is a mandala in thy hearth”.

That was made up.

Anyways, here is what the new Mandala facet of Mandalagaba looks like:

Screenshot 2019-03-06 at 17.32.45.png

In this new version, we took out a lot of stuff to give it a breather. We want people to have a hands on approach to using the interface, and we want to reverse those percentages cited above: we want 90% of the users to master 90% of the tools right off the bat.

This is just the first step of our simplification process, and there’s still lots to improve in terms of design, but we believe this is a good first step in the right direction.

For good measure, here’s a beautiful mandala design by one of our users from Brisbane, Australia in 107 pen strokes.

b0054A_G2YSZC - Brisbane 107.png
  • A tessallation builder!

Can be found at: https://tessellation.mandalagaba.com

To tessallate: To form into a mosaic pattern

In other words tessallation are mandalas that are not only multi-axial, but also multi-centered.

We applied over-simplification to the tessallation facet much like we did for the mandala maker.

These are the controls you are left to play around with:

Screenshot 2019-03-06 at 17.53.50.png
 

Here is superb tessallation created by one of users from Pocos de Caldas in Brasil in 62 pen strokes.

Screenshot 2019-03-04 at 18.37.46.png

This next one is created by the infinitely creative Hava who helps us out a lot at Mandalagaba, who is super nice and who defied the laws of rationality and creativity in regards to how she masters Mandalagaba (I can assure you this is one of the most simpler ones):

Screenshot 2019-03-04 at 18.40.31.png
  • A snowflake manufactuer

Can be found at: https://snowflake.mandalagaba.com

We added a neat little twist to the mandala maker allowing user to design snowflakes in a jiffy. It’s also a pretty efficient tool to create transformer masks.

Screenshot 2019-02-03 at 11.48.42.png
  • A plant grower!

Can be found at: https://plant.mandalagaba.com

Say hello to our new addition: the mandala plant creator!

Ben has been working hard on adding recusrsive drawing to the Mandalagaba engine, and now he’s got something pretty awesome to show for it. Most of the recursive drawing tools and parameters are only present on the “pro” facet of Mandalagaba which we’re gonna talk about in just a sec.

This plant growing facet is a cool variation that guides you into drawing alien like plants to which you can add leaves and flowers of different colors.

Screenshot 2019-03-07 at 23.27.25.png
  • Mandalagaba Pro

Can be found at: https://pro.mandalagaba.com

If you want every single feature Mandalagaba has to offer all in one package, and that your brain is resilient to icon pandimonium, head over to the “pro” facet of Mandalagaba. We call this pro because only our hardcore power users tend to play with mosts the devices and gadgets this facet proposes.

It’s only in the Pro facet that you are going to find numerous paramters, tools and functions such as the recursions paramters, forking, access to match making, etc. Hopefully sooner than later we are goind to be dispatching all those tools more conveniently across Mandalagaba’s other facets.

The picture below is an attempt I made at using every single feature Mg has to offer in one single drawing:

I got caught up in colors and reconnected with my five year old self.

I got caught up in colors and reconnected with my five year old self.

Collaborating on mandalas

The basics of Mandalagaba’s network engine

Mandalagaba has a robust networking engine at its core. Essentially this means it is possible to have multiple people drawing on the same session.

A word about Mandalagaba sessions:

Everytime one loads up Mandalagaba, he falls upon a random empty session. This sessions has an ID that can be found in the URL.

It is also displayed directly on top of your canvas:

Session ID.png

This session ID is unique and links back directly to your session exactly as you last left it. This means that whatever you do on your session, everything is saved in real time and stays put indefinitely.

This also means that you can share this session ID with anyone so they can access your session at any time and start drawing on it. All they have to do is copy the ID and paste it right after the URL http://www.mandalagaba.com. (for example: http://www.mandalagaba.com/#uwCEeX).

A great number of people can connect at the same time on the same mandala session and collaborate together on creating amazing designs.

Mandala Matchmaking

We have been wanting to push the network engine aspect of Mandalagaba a bit further for some time. To do so, one feature we implemented recently is some sort mandala matchmaking engine.

The concept is very simple:

You head to http://match.mandalagaba.com and you are brought to a page where you wait for a random person to be matched to.

We added one filter option for now: your gender.

Screenshot 2019-01-05 at 18.04.08.png

Once you are matched with someone, you are both brought to your new empty session and you can both start collaborting on designing wonderful mandalas.

Humongous printed Mandalagaba mandalas!

A very cool and insightful person by the name of Amy Walker made some awesome mandalas with Mandalagaba and printed them out on huge sheets of papers for people to colorfy them!

This happened during the annual Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival (http://stillmoon.org/) last week-end.

Yup. That’s one of our mandalas. Couldn’t find the original in our daily digests.

Yup. That’s one of our mandalas. Couldn’t find the original in our daily digests.

Write here…

Bird mandala!

Bird mandala!

Paintified bird mandala

Paintified bird mandala

Flourescent Bird Mandala

Flourescent Bird Mandala

Coloring our mandalas is something we are working on. We are going to let users decide whether they let other users color the mandalas they create on the platform. This concept will make much more sense when we will be adding user accounts and user galleries.

Another really cool aspect of this initiative is the collaboration side of it. Mandalagaba is built on a hefty network engine allowing collaborations between users, but for various reasons, most of whom are related to us not communicating enough about it, this features is unknown or misunderstood by 90% of our users.

Multiple facets of Mandalagaba either need to go through some fine-tuning or some simplifications to make our network engine more user friendly, and that is also something we are working.

In any case, we really appreciate that Amy did the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival.

More about Amy Walker and her Make Mobile workshops can be found on the Make Mobile website. Check it out at http://www.makemobile.ca !


Making mandalas with a Leap Motion

 

Man, producing what you just saw was frustratingly tough.

First time I set up the Leap Motion, I thought this was going to be easy. I thought I would be able to mass draw amazing mandalas just by waving my hands in the air like I just don't care. Turns out you have learn to master the Leap Motion before you manage to make anything more meaningful than a smudge on your screen.

Actually, the first thing that was super challenging was to get the stupid thing to left click. I followed the basic instructions and read best practices on the net on how to set it up but I was having a very hard time calibrating the damn thing. It kept on right clicking, making extremely irritating "Thump!" noises over and over again and being very good at being very imprecise.

At first I thought my Leap Motion had issues. I am still not putting that possibility aside entirely but here's the thing: the more I practiced using it, the more I mastered its quirks and managed to be precise.

That being said, I doubt I would ever be able to do anything fancy with it. To put this into perspective, I was thrilled to be able to produce the ultra simple mandala you saw in the video above. In other tryouts I had managed to do crazy things like changing colors (which I actually really got a hang of after a while), adding tessellation grids and even changing stroke thickness when I was really lucky, but making all that happen in a flawless single shot with no bugs felt impossible.

I'm not pulling the plug on this yet though. Making retarded mandalas using my Leap Motion became somewhat addictive. I'll definitely try to get better at it in the future.

 

 

The Power of One Stroke and the Reddit hug

We posted the GIF below on Reddit yesterday and it blew up. Here I have to post it as a video because SquareSpace doesn't accept images bigger than 20 megs, but originally its a GIF.

By blew up I mean it took off. Our stats skyrocketed. Just by posting a simple GIF with a catchy title on a popular website where people share stuff.

This isn't the first time that this happens. Every now and then Mandalagaba finds itself on Reddit and we try to make the most out of the attention. The user feedback is invaluable, we learn a few lessons about server load balancing and new users try their hands and bring new styles we've never seen before.

We noticed that GIFs worked really well for the type of content we publish. They are very popular on most sharing-driven environments. Have a cool simple video that you don't even need to play and you got yourself one nifty dopamine generating machine.

Looking for online mandala websites? Look no further friend.

We thought we'd share some websites that do what Mandalagaba attempts to do: let cool people build cool mandalas online, and for the most part do it for free. We all have a different take on how we go about it, and the tech is always different as well.

Most of these services are free just like we are. We even made the iOs app free. We prefer accumulating good karma.

Anyways here's the list of mandala making websites we found browsing through the interwebs. If you happen to know any others, please let us know about them (essentially so we can go steal their ideas, concepts and design 'cause we're the mandala gangstas yo!).

MandalaGaba

If you're reading this article, then you probably know what MandalaGaba is. In case you don't, please let me introduce ourselves. MandalaGaba is single page website that hosts various tools to design and create multi axes symmetrical designs.

We started off by allowing users to simply create mandalas (so symmetrical designs constructed around a single center). With just a simple set of tools, users from all around the world managed to produce jaw-dropping mandalas. Some of our favorite designs can be found in our MandalaGaba Mandala page.

Not long ago, we added a tessellation engine to allow for the creation of multi-centric symmetrical designs (a tessellation = an arrangement of shapes closely fitted together, especially of polygons in a repeated pattern without gaps or overlapping). We also re-designed our controls panel to the dismay of many of our users, but now we're hearing a little less fuss about it so I think they are cool with it.

In the future we plan on allowing users to create accounts. This will allow them to save their designs, share them with the world more easily, collaborate with other users in a more practical way.

One thing we don't communicate enough on is the fact that Mandalagaba hosts a robust network engine. Every time you load a new session, that sessions get an ID associated to it. This ID is present at the level of the session's URL. For instance, if you load the URL http://mandalagaba.com/#oHrDhQ you will load a session I created for the purpose of this article where I wrote "Hello World". Essentially this means that any user having created a session can easily share their session with anyone else just by sharing its URL. Another user that goes onto that session can start drawing on it and all the new pen stokes will be registered. Makes up for a wonderful collaborative environment.

Thanks to our network engine, you can also fork your sessions. Forking will allow a user to take an existing session, copy it (fork it) and start designing from the new forked session without altering the initial session (sorry for the overuse of the word "session" in this paragraph). This allows you to start creating designs form a preexisting design by keeping a copy of the original. Pretty neat.

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The Kaleidoscope Painter

The Kaleidoscope Painter is a pretty cool little website to doodle around with. It has got some neat features like Dynabrush that automatically adjusts pen stroke thickness according to something (have no idea what though), and Autodraw that automatically draws mandalas for you. I like that Autodraw thingy. You can just sit back and watch it do its thing. Another interesting aspect about the The Kaleidoscope Painter is that it chooses your strokes' colors for you and gets really creative about it too. Only taking magic mushrooms can counter the effects of the exuberance going on here. I reckon it chooses a set of colors and gradients and does its thing. Pretty cool results. Here's my piece of art:

Color Mandala

With Color Mandala you don't actually draw mandalas. You design them by incrementally adding figures and shapes and by playing around with various settings. I must say the creative process in which it engages its users is quite peculiar but the person behind this project clearly thought things through.

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 20.11.11.png

Mandala Creator

Mandala Creator is quite fun to work with because they added tools such as RegularFill, SmoothFill and PolyFill that do stuff I don't fully comprehend but that generate cool wow-effects. In just a matter of seconds you can create very interesting designs. Behold.

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 20.20.08.png

Mandala Maker

Basic and simple. Not much else to add. No fancy features. Just mandalas and other things described below.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 15.39.53.png

MandalaMaker offers other cool little creation tools too:

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 15.45.39.png

In their own words, you "choose the mandala you want and then print it and color it , fill it with beautiful colors
be creative and have fun with our Beautiful mandalas coloring pages".

Spiral-1.gif

Makes spirals. Funky

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 16.24.39.png

Just lol.

Myoats

Myoats is one crazy piece of work. Very fancy stuff going on here. You have a bunch of different tools to create some pretty amazing designs. One thing that really sticks out from the other mandala sites we've discovered is that you can create an account, save your designs to your gallery and engage with the Myoats community.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 16.31.05.png

WeaveSilk

With WeaveSilk you create symmetrical designs very easily with a psychedelic twist. Very beautiful wow-effect rainbow unicorn pumped-up pen strokes right off the bat.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 16.43.00.png

Drawerings

Drawerings seems pretty basic but it actually hosts tons of little nifty features. For instance its records all your pen stokes gives users the possibility to replay your drawings. It also proposes to animate them by moving your various layers around. User account creation is seamless and its community is quite active.

drawering-gif.gif

That about does it for now. There are certainly other only mandala creators out there. I haven't gone past the 2 first pages of my googles searches.

If you find any others, please let us know.

Welcome to the MandalaGaba blog

In this here blog we share whatever crosses our minds regarding mandalas, MandalaGaba, tech, art, stuff related to what we do or are trying to do or, what we're in and what we looking forward to getting into.

Here we also share content such as:

  • Images and videos of awesome mandalas our users created as well as images and video we produced,
  • Our Changelog that we are going to try to keep up to that (essentially a Changelog is a place where you publish all the worthwhile tech updates we bring to the MandalaGaba platform),
  • Our tech Roadmap where we will share what we are working on and what we planned  for the future in terms of features, functionalities and so forth.

We believe in transparency. It's always interesting to see what a project has in store for you. It also forces us to stay focused on what we want to achieve.

In any case, we're gonna try to make this blog interesting in one way or another.