"Seadragons" is a generative catalogue of imaginary sea creatures and will be released on Wednesday October 6th, 2021 11am CT (5:00 PM London time) as a limited edition of 1000 NFTs on Art Blocks Factory platform.

Each seadragon belongs to Syngnathidae family and one of the real Weedy, Leafy or Ribboned species, while the patterns and the small leaf-like appendages are an artistic interpretation.

The dragons are rendered in real-time allowing you to watch them slowly drifting in the water or moving your mouse to nudge them slightly. This project is a continuation of my long term fascination with using code to recreate forms and patterns occurring in nature.

By using a range of non-photorealistic rendering techniques I strive to document those explorations as if they were actual sketches, posters or biological illustrations of the encountered specimens. Algorithmic variations of their patterns, sizes, colors, poses, complexity and surrounding seaweed present in each artwork are only a minor drop compared to the diversity observed in natural environments.


Despite weighing only 40kb the script can produce wide range of outputs. When designing the look of the Seadragons I aimed at styles that look like illustrations and are a bit more timeless than your usual CG 3d render.

Below you can find sneak-peak of some of the test mints showcasing the range of possible styles and configurations. Expect full breakdown after the drop.


Each seadragon is unique and generated based on the crypto currencty transaction hash. As the dragons are rendered in realtime using WebGL in your browser they are animated (drifting slowly) and interactive (gently responding to mouse/finger movements).


Seadragons is successor to my previous generative artwork Cindermedusae (2010) - published as part of Written Images book and which received high acclaim and was exhibited in London, Moscow, Toronto and Brighton.

While using similar sketch-like rendering Cindermedusae was based on idealised shape of a jellyfish. Seadragons on the other hand take inspiration from 3 real spieces: Weedy seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus), Leafy seadragon (Phycodurus eques), Ribboned seadragon (Haliichthys taeniophorus). The least one is actually a pipefish only commonly called a dragon.

Source: Wikipedia

Taking inspiration from nature is a long term trend in my works in previousily involved corals, flowers, other plants and cells. For me mimicing the organic shapes and color patterns is both technical challenge but also a way for deeping my understanding and appreciation for the life forms I'm replicating.


I've prototyped first concept for a generative seadragon already in 2012 as a follow up to Cindermedusae. At the time while procedurally generated, the seadragon was modelled manually by tweaking parameters by hand. The project was put on hold shortly after but never left my mind completely.

Only when a chance of publishing on ArtBlocks arrived I immediately new it's a perfect fit allowing me to explore full potential of the idea. The new version created for ArtBlocks uses completely new algorithm that takes hand draw line as an input and then generates the whole body, fins and appendages automatically.

What followed was weeks of experiments with textures, shader materials, rendering styles, layout automation (so for example each seadragon is alwasy fully visible, no matter it's shape or rotation) and optimisations for mobile and weaker GPUs.

Some of the ideas despite promising results had to be removed from final algorithm due to size and performance limitations. E.g. Reaction-diffusion texture algorithm featured below.

The final algorithm was then rigourisly tested on test net to verify quality of each output and distribution of different features and color combinations.

You can browse them here https://artist-staging.artblocks.io/project/14


Seadragons were designed and prototyped using JavaScript and WebGL in Nodes but the final version wouldn't be possible without regl, OpenGLInsightsCode and oklab.


The algorithm is capable of outputing very high resolution artworks ready for print. I'll be offering signed 1 of 1 editions for the owners of NFTs printed on archival paper. More details to follow.


Seadragons will be released on Wednesday October 6th, 2021 11am CT (5:00 PM London time) on ArtBlocks Factory at www.artblocks.io/project/160 as a Dutch Auction starting at 6 ETH and dropping every 5min to 5 / 4 / 3.5 / 3 / 2.5 / 2 / 1.75 / 1.5 / 1.25 / 1.0 / 0.75 / 0.5 / 0.25 ETH.

15% of profits will be donated to Oceana for protecting and restoring the world’s oceans on a global scale. Another 10% will be donated to Give Well.


Follow me on Twitter at @marcinignac for more updates before the drop or reach out on ArtBlocks discord (user marcinignac#1841).

nft, generative
javascript, webgl, glsl