Nerdy Tech Talk:

PlotterFlamingo is written in C,C++, Python, Tcl/Tk, and some FORTRAN.  Yeah, I know you're wondering why, but long ago I did some stuff in FORTRAN and it still works, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it.;The display and editing portions of the program utilizes X-Windows.  There are four main portions of the program (GUI, preprocessor, drawing, and display) as well as 20-some-odd utilities.  Tcl/TK and Python with WxPython is used for various user interfaces when creating and modifying the drawings and in a number of  places to glue together C/C++ programs.  There is a Tcl/Tk utility I've written that can create animations that look pretty good.  One of these days I'll see if I can whip up an animation that can run on this page, but that will have to wait for another day.  Flamingo is approximately 50,000 lines when all the different parts of it are included.  With the exception of 30 lines that I looked up in a book for a random number generator, every single line was written by myself.

The drawings you see here are eventually drawn on a pen plotter using light fast acrylic inks and 100% cotton rag, acid free paper.  It's all museum and archival quality materials.  A pen plotter is not a regular printer, such as an inkjet or laser printer.  The plotter actually draws the pictures by moving a technical pen around the page.  The technical pens have tungsten carbide points that from .13mm to 1.0mm.  Mylar, a frosted plastic 'paper' is also used for some applications.  When using mylar, a .13mm pen can be used.  Trying to use such a tiny pen with paper is problematical as the paper fibers can clog the pen.  

Pen plotters are much more labor intensive than a more modern inkjet plotter but when it comes to work like Flamingo, which is line oriented, the pen plotter is second-to-none when it comes to anything approaching an affordable plotter.  The pen plotter can take between a few minutes to a few hours for a drawing.  In the case of the biggun drawing, 9-12 hours were required to render the work each of the four pieces.  The plotter I use is a Houston Instruments DMP-162R, which has the capability of plots up to 3 feet wide by 20 feet long (.9 by 6 meters).  The plotter pictured to the right is not the 162R, but is quite similar.  One feeds the paper into the front of the plotter and rolls in the bed of the plotter move the paper back and forth.  The pens are held in a small arm and they move from side-to-side.  To draw a diagonal line, both the rollers and pen move at the same time.  Any linear drawing that a person can draw, a plotter can draw  The 'thing' above the paper in the picture is a pen holder.  The plotter can hold up to eight pens of differening widths and colors at one time and the arm will swap the pens as needed.  If more than eight pens are needed, the plotter can pause and send a message asking for a new pen.

Flamingo runs under Fedora 14 Linux 2.6.35 on a Core 2 Duo with 8GB of memory.  It has been tested under several Unix and non-Unix systems alike, but I very, very much prefer to stay in the Linux environment.  I sometimes use a Summagraphics Summasketch III Professional graphics tablet which is 12 by 18 inches (30 * 45 cm) in size.  Since I actually have to do the programming, a 24 inch monitor, 1920*1200 monitor is a nice addition.