Painting with Plotters

Licia He

About this Course

Painting With Plotters is a virtual course that introduces Licia He's method for making generatively-designed, plotter-rendered paintings using a variety of water-based paint.

Painting with plotters (or other types of robots) requires design efforts from different aspects: 1. the preparation of machines 2. the selection of material 3. the making of the design 4. the machine operation.

The course aims to provide an in-depth presentation of Licia's research and practice in these aspects. It contains 14 modules. Each module includes video tutorials, notes, and code snippets. Although all course materials are developed for Axidraw and using Python , most of the content could apply to other machines and design environments.

Course Plan




0: Introduction to Plotter Painting: A Speed Run

  1. Why I made this course
  2. My plotters and why I use them for paintings
  3. What will this course cover
  4. Course resources

Coming Soon

1: Everything You Need For Plotter Painting: Machine, Material, and Safety

  1. Equipment needed for plotter painting
  2. Prepare the machine
  3. Prepare the painting environment
  4. Materials to prepare

Coming Soon

2: The Plotter Language: How to Talk To A Plotter

  1. What can a plotter do
  2. Two ways (Svg, Python Script) to communicate with Axidraws
  3. Producing simple images manually

Coming Soon

3: Developing a Plotter Painting Environment in Python

  1. Ideal development process for my painting practice
  2. Why I use Python
  3. Developing a setting and storage management system in Python

Coming Soon

4: Authoring Plotter Instruction

  1. Developing a SVG-authoring tool
  2. Drawing simple geometries (lines, rectangles, uniform polygons)
  3. Drawing polygons, curves
  4. Authoring Python-based Axidraw instructions

Coming Soon

5. Advanced Path Manipulation for Plotter Painting

  1. Cut shape by distance
  2. Polygon Operation
  3. Hatch

Coming Soon

6. Practice: Pen Plotting with Multiple Colors

  1. Generating individual scripts for colored plotting
  2. Split instruction based on max drawing distance
  3. DIY Ink reservoir for technical pen
  4. Add shake operation

Coming Soon

7. Preparing Painting Materials

  1. Making inkwells
  2. Preparing watercolor papers
  3. Preparing brush
  4. Safety and tips

Coming Soon

8: Logic Behind Plotter Painting Explained

  1. Refill Action
  2. Refill Distance
  3. Manually designing a plotter painting

Coming Soon

9: Developing A Paint Refill Station

  1. Designing a paint refiller
  2. Designing a painting generator

Coming Soon

10: Test Before Making Your First Plotter Painting

  1. Placement of inkwells
  2. Z-axis alignment
  3. Safety

Coming Soon

11: Putting It Together: Project Demonstration

  1. A project from the ideation to finish

Coming Soon

12: Exploring Different Materials and Techniques

  1. Ink vs. watercolor vs. acrylic
  2. other creative materials

Coming Soon

13: Conclusion and Studio Tour

  1. Virtual Studio Tour
  2. Going through my favorite plotter paintings
  3. Additional Resources

Coming Soon

Additional Resources


  1. The course primarily focuses on sharing my (Licia's) plotter painting practice. Audiences will have to adjust according to their own setup. This is especially important regarding machine operation. Always follow instructions and safety rules provided by your machine manufacturers.
  2. The course is free and open to all. Unless otherwise mentioned, this course contains no paid promotions of any product. Opinions towards machine and materials are my own.