Creative Coding

Harmonic motion, a study

Since a little while, I am diving more and more into the field of animations – generated by Python code. To achieve movement with a natural feel, as it appears in waves or the flapping of a bird’s wings for example, it’s necessary to look into harmonic motion. I tried out a few things with Lissajous curves – which step by step should evolve into typographic animations …

Starting with a simple sine wave

Harmonic motion is always a combination of amplitude and frequency. If the frequency gets faster, the curve is steeper and the period shorter. Following the graph of a sine wave, a movement is progressively speeding up and slowing down again, like any organic movement.

When two wave motions with different frequencies are combined, a Lissajous curve is generated, named after the french physicist Jules Antoine Lissajous.

When those curves are animated the movement has a natural organic feel. Even though everything is based on numbers and math, the motion doesn’t look mechanic.


With the help of object-oriented programming, a lot of graphic elements can move across the surface in different directions and at their own speed.

All this can be translated to typographic animations, which will be the next steps ...