A curated list of code and resources for computer-controlled drawing machines and other visual art robots.
- grblShield - All the stepper motor control hardware needed to turn an Arduino into a G-code-based motion controller using the grbl firmware. (adafruit)
- TinyG - More featureful and robust 6-axis G-code-based motion control hardware. (adafruit)
- Arduino CNC Shield - Grbl-compatible stepper motor control shield for Arduino, similar to the grblShield.
- Raspberry Pi CNC Hat - Raspberry Pi add-on board w/ stepper controllers and a microcontroller running grbl. Interfaces with the Pi’s serial pins.
- WiFi232 - Wifi to RS-232 serial via a DB25 plug. Control your serial plotter wirelessly.
- Plotter Cable Pinout - Schematic for a plotter cable that will work for most HP and Roland plotters. Search eBay or Amazon for
DB9 to DB25 Serial Null Modem Cable or similar to find them for sale.
HPGL is a serial/text-based protocol used by most old pen plotters, and even many new vinyl cutters.
- Chiplotle - Python library for generating HPGL and interfacing with serial plotters.
- HPGL Reference Guide - HTML-based HPGL Reference.
- HP 7475A Interfacing and Programming Manual - Scanned PDF manual that contains a full HPGL reference.
- djipco/hpgl - A Node.js library to communicate with HPGL-compatible plotters and printers.
- hp2xx - GNU tool to convert HPGL into other vector and raster formats. Can also be used as a previewing in X11.
- vec - Example C code for generating HPGL, with a turtle graphics interface.
- d3-hpgl - An adapter for the HTML Canvas API so you can output HPGL using the popular D3 library.
- HPGL Sender - A web interface for previewing HPGL and sending it to your plotter.
- HPGLGraphics - A Processing library for writing HPGL files.
G-code is a text-based standard for controlling CNC machines. Though it was designed for industrial machines, its use in many hobbyist 3d printer firmwares has made it ubiquitous in small-scale DIY projects as well.
- grbl - A high-performance G-code interpreting firmware for the Atmega 328 microcontroller and Arduino.
- cncjs - A web-based interface controlling CNC machines running grbl, TinyG, or other G-code-based firmware.
- node-gcode - Node.js-based G-code interpreter and simulator.
- svg2gcode - Node.js-based command line utility for converting SVG to G-code.
- svg2gcode - Python-based utility for fast SVG to G-code conversion.
- jscut - A web-based utiltity for converting SVG to G-code.
- Universal-G-Code-Sender - Java-based grbl-compatible cross-platform G-code sender.
- ChiliPeppr Hardware Fiddle - Modular web-based workspaces to visualize G-code and control hardware.
Software that is specific to a particular plotter or controller.
- axidraw - Official AxiDraw extensions for Inkscape.
- axi - Unofficial Python library for the AxiDraw v3.
- xy - Utilities for the Makeblock XY Plotter Robot Kit.
- LaserGRBL - Laser-optimized Windows GUI for grbl controllers. Could be repurposed for DIY pen plotters that use a solenoid for pen up/down movements.
- Line-us Inkscape Plugin - Sends drawings to the Line-us plotter directly from Inkscape.
- Line-us API Examples - Example code for the Line-us plotter’s G-code-based API.
- PenPlotter - Polargraph controller that uses repetier firmware.
- Makelangelo-firmware - Firmware for the Makelangelo polargraph robot.
- RoboPaint - Software for the WaterColorBot.
- AxiTurtle - Turtle graphics for AxiDraw in Processing.
- GRBL-Plotter - Plotter-optimized Windows GUI for grbl controller with SVG and DXF import, and flexible pen up/down control.
- saxi - Driver and library for the AxiDraw. Uses constant-acceleration motion planning and automatically resizes to paper.
- MP2300-Tools - Software for converting HPGL to Graphtec’s GPGL format, as well as CAD files for a Graphtec plotter pen adapter.
Tools to create vector artwork from scratch or by conversion from other formats.
- Inkscape - Popular cross-platform open source vector graphics editor.
- Paper.js - “The Swiss Army Knife of Vector Graphics Scripting”.
- ln - Vector-based 3D renderer written in Go.
- autotrace - Converts bitmap images to vector graphics.
- stipplegen - Creates interesting stippled drawings from bitmap images. (blog post)
- SquiggleDraw - “SquiggleDraw will create a SVG file from an image, using the brightness to change the amplitude of sine waves”.
- svgurt - Web-based PNG to SVG creative noodler.
- maptrace - Produce watertight polygonal vector maps by tracing raster images.
- Drawbot_image_to_gcode_v2 - Creates G-code for use on drawbots.
- blackstripes - Turns a PNG image into a SVG line drawing.
- Ribbon - Ribbon diagrams of proteins in written in Go.
- penkit - A Python library for creating line-based SVG graphics.
- generativeExamples - Example Processing code that generates plottable PDFs.
- Let’s make map - Web-based tool to export an SVG map from Mapzen tiles.
- SuperformulaSVG for web - A generative line art web app.
- scribbleplot - Scribbly image transformations in Processing.
- Maker.js - Library for creating 2D vector drawings for CNC and laser cutter machines.
- cozyvec - Web/Standalone terminal environment for plotter art and tweet plots.
Tools to manipulate and optimize vector-based file formats.
- svgsort - Path planning for plotting SVG files, reduces time spent moving with the pen up.
- svgo - Node.js-based tool for optimizing SVG files.
- Polargraph Optimizer - Optimize drawing plan for a polargraph.
- penkit-optimize - An SVG optimizer that uses a vehicle routing solver to minimize plot time.
- svg-crowbar - Chrome-only bookmarklet for extracting SVG from an HTML document.
Single-line vector fonts or “engraving fonts”.
Inspiration and Instruction
Blog posts, articles, tutorials, galleries, videos, et cetera.
Where to find other plotter and drawbot friends.
Plotter Art For Sale
To the extent possible under law, Brian Boucheron has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.