Intro: TouchDesigner

What is TouchDesigner?

TouchDesigner is at its core a programming language. However, it probably looks and works quite different from the programming languages that you might have encountered before. First of all, Touch Designer is a visual programming language which means that instead of the code expressed in text, TouchDesigner utilizes visual and graphic elements that are already optimized, structured, and basically ready to work (think, you get chunks of code at once instead of a single function). Each of such clusters of code expressed via a graphic element is called a node. You can connect various nodes into a string establishing a relationship between them and creating a sort of a network between the elements of your code. This might sound a little confusing (and it is at first), however, don’t worry, you will get used to dragging little boxes around pretty fast.

What do you need to know to use TouchDesigner?

TouchDesigner is used by designers, artists, and musicians for a vast array of purposes. This piece of software allows its users to create sculptures, animations, live performances, and immersive VR spaces. TouchDesigner’s toolset extends to editing still images, videos, 3D models, as well as working with sound through converting sound frequencies of a compatible music device (MIDI or a simple keyboard) into numerical values and, thus, allowing for music visualization. The program possesses a wide range of tools that facilitates visual manipulation from color editing to data visualization with an emphasis on geometry nodes as a way to create complex generative artworks. Unlike other image editors and 3D modeling software, TouchDesigner also offers an impressive arsenal of pre-made widgets, movement sensors and trackers, and other interactive components. Hence, ether you want to create a cool GIF for you website or design the real time responsive visuals for you DJ set, you can do it all in TOuchDesigner.

Why learn TouchDesigner?

Digital design is becoming more and more diverse encapsulating hundreds of programs for editing or modeling. TouchDesigner combines features of a simple graphic editor with some experimental and immersive approaches allowing for innovative UI/UX design, creative coding, and music visualization. Without spending countless hours on learning multiple pieces of software, by learning TouchDesigner you can try yourself out in various domains of design without familiarizing yourself with confusing and intimidating interfaces of multiple programs. By learning TouchDesigner, you are not only exercising your creativity but also getting useful skills of coding which is virtually ubiquitous in the world of design today. Moreover, TouchDesigner is an upcoming platform soon to be considered Industry standard, and it is always good to be ahead of the game.

How can you learn TouchDesigner?

The main resource I have been using in my journey with TouchDesigner has been a YouTube course that covers the basics of the program. The author goes over all the beginner things such as layout, main tools, and techniques (basically how the program operates). The format and language are very accessible even to non-tech/design people. Most of the videos are 20 minutes maximum which allows you to maintain a high level of concentration and learn a lot fast. Besides this course as well as a plethora of tutorials on YouTube, TouchDesigner also possesses an extensive textual database that covers almost everything in the program. Whereas it is not as accessible as the video course due to the abundance of complicated coding and techy vocabulary, the manual allows you to really go in-depth into the piece of software and grasp the primary algorithms that Touch Designer is built upon.

Where to download TouchDesigner?

Here: TouchDesigner is free, however, you could also subscribe to get more features available (for instance, the basic version only allows for maximum 1080 x 1920 resolution).

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