Light Drawing in Color

Light drawing is a night-time activity using a camera to take long-exposure pictures (usually 15 seconds or so). During the exposure, you can move lights around to create trails of light, making glowing doodles and sketches that seem to hover in the air.

It can be hard to find good lights to use—they have to be pretty small to make good drawings. You can make dedicated LED pens for doodling, but this requires soldering together LEDs, switches, and button cell batteries. It’s a fairly easy but time-consuming DIY project.

An alternative is to get super-bright and inexpensive keychain lights: 10 lights at 47 cents a piece. These lights are blinding—and at a price that makes them disposable.

Next you can add color with cellophane! This stuff is actually kind of hard to find in small quantities, but I saw some at Party City, 50 cents for a 5′ x 20″ roll—that’s enough to make color filters for at least a hundred of these lights. I cut out the cellophane and wrapped it around the light, tacking it down with just a bit of Scotch tape. Four layers of red produced a more vivid (but dimmer) red, and 2 layers produced pink. Alternatively, it could be easier to stick colored latex balloons on the lights.

Now to test out drawing:

FINALE: a falling block game

For my final AP Computer Science project in June 2008, I worked with Brandon Liu and Yuzhi Zheng to develop FINALE, a falling block game based on the PSP game Lumines. The object of the game is to match colored blocks into squares, which are cleared away when the “time bar” passes them. Clearing more squares in each pass of the time bar gives an exponentially larger number of points.

Here are some screenshots. (I’m happy to say our graphical presentation was spectacular, with all graphics, backgrounds, and game pieces custom designed in Inkscape.)

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