This post will be a guide to some of the interactions of Zoologic that can help you get the most from your mint! The controls covered here will be related to adjusting the sizing and framing of outputs.
Full-Screen (aka Awesome Mode) - [A]
Just what it sounds like -- press the [A] key to make the art go full-screen. It will also change aspect ratio to match your screen, and disable composition framing (see below). This is the recommended viewing experience for Zoologic. There are some important things to note when using this feature:
1) It doesn't work on OpenSea. I'd recommend using it from the Art Blocks live view.
2) On the live view, pressing this once will make the output go full-screen, and also adjust the aspect ratio.
3) On the Art blocks "detail view," pressing this once will go full-screen but will not adjust the aspect ratio. Press [A] twice to get the full effect.
Toggle Square/Fill Aspect Ratio - [E]
Note that while all mints are designed to work at any aspect ratio, some of them may differ slightly in appearance or behavior based on aspect ratio. By default, full-screen mode adjusts the aspect ratio to fit your screen. If you would like to maintain the default 1:1 square aspect ratio, you can toggle this using the [E] key.
In live view when not in full-screen, this feature will toggle between 1:1 aspect ratio and sizing to fit your window.
Comparing Square and Fill aspect ratios for Zoologic #275 with a rectangular window
Composition Framing - [Z]
This feature limits the active area of the animation to be centered on the canvas, surrounded by negative space. All outputs default to having some randomized amount of space in the margins (a hidden feature). Press [Z] to set this to a standard width, and press again to toggle it off, allowing the animation to run all the way to the edge of the canvas.
Examples of different Composition Framing for Zoologic #282 paused at 100 frames
Some outputs of Zoologic have lines or shapes that may expand beyond the edge of their frame, which can be a really nice effect. Going all the way to the edge of the canvas can truncate some of these features. Which effect is preferable really depends on the individual output and the viewer's preference -- try both and see which you like best!
Zoologic #250, with and without Composition Framing. Big difference on this one!
Cell Count / Detail Level - [X]
This feature is critically important to getting the most out of your Zoologic mint. Each mint comes with a preset cell count that should be aesthetically pleasing and performant, but in some cases non-default settings may be better than the default!
Primarily, the cell count determines how many grid cells are available in the underlying simulation and how many creatures are placed to start the animation. This has several secondary effects that significantly impact the simulation and can be used to generate a variety of different outputs:
Higher cell counts generally have smaller, finer details.
Higher cell counts typically make starting placement easier to see, and longer lasting.
Performance decreases exponentially with cell count -- e.g. a cell count of 100 requires at least 4x the resources to reach the same frame rate as a cell count of 50. This can affect the appearance at high cell counts.
More crobes means more "food" in the simulation. This can affect mechanics such as shape and line size, altering the appearance of the output.
Spacing between cells can change, affecting the degree of overlap between adjacent shapes.
More crobes means more population diversity. This can effect the evolution of the simulation in ways that significantly affect appearance over time (not to mention learning and battle mechanics, which are covered in more detail here: https://www.ixnayokay.art/post/zoologic-battle-competition
Cell Count is a "mode" in Zoologic -- meaning it can be enabled, and then interacted with via additional controls. To enable "Cell Count mode" - press [X]. To exit, press [Q] (true of all modes).
While in Cell Count mode, press a number from 0-9 to set the cell count to a preset number:
You can also fine-tune the cell count by increments of 5 using [Left Arrow] and [Right Arrow]. This feature is so important that it's also available on mobile: [swipe up/down] to raise/lower the cell count, respectively.
Cell Count examples
There's a lot to this interactive feature, so I'm including various examples of the role it can play below.
This is one of my favorite mints from the set -- a psychedelic output with color and shape diversity that emerges best at larger cell counts.
Zoologic #227 @ 10 cell count. Fast, sharp, zoomed in -- but lacks some of the beauty seen at higher detail levels.
Zoologic #227 @ 45 cell count. Sharp and maintains some of the hexagonal character of the lower cell count.
Zoologic #227 @ 70 cell count. Still nice and performant, but shows a lot more diversity and emergent color that lets this fantastic output shine. You can see some of the lines are thicker than @ 45 -- both because of how lines scale at different cell counts, and the additional resources available in the simulation with more crobes.
Zoologic #227 @ 200 cell count. Pretty slow on modern hardware, but this might be really remarkable in 10 years. Incredibly detailed and diverse, but probably best used for capturing stills at this point in time.
Another of my favorite outputs, also psychedelic. These examples further illustrate differences in diversity.
Note the uniform hexagonal shapes that correspond to the underlying grid. They have a nice overlap. Still good diversity of color and opacity. This setting has its own appeal.
At high cell counts, #143 takes on an entirely new character with differently-sized crobes. The negative space lasts a lot longer, allowing the "diagonal cross" starting placement and neural network behavior to shine. This is what makes it one of my favorite outputs.
An example of how cell count can effect line characteristics and relative sizing.
On the left, the high 200 cell count concentrates a lot of resources, causing large, curved tails to blast out in 8 directions. The lines are very large relative to the shapes, and don't appear to trail behind them.
On the right, at lower 40 cell count, the lines truly look like tails following the shapes of the crobe bodies. The 8-directional tail behavior isn't apparent, and the lines are much smaller relative to the shapes. The diverse polygon shapes and "space warp" feature are also easier to see.
I've heard this one referred to as an "exploding squiggle," which is kind of accurate! This mint is an example of the Sinusoidal starting placement, which is one of several that are highly dependent on cell count and aspect ratio to determine appearance.
Pictured here, from left to right, are #153 @ 20, 90, and 200 cell count, respectively. Each captured after 5 frames.
You can see how at low cell counts, the sinusoidal shape isn't really apparent at all. At high cell counts, it's really high in frequency. In the middle, it has a more characteristic sin wave appearance. Higher isn't always better for cell count! Just different. It depends on the mint.
Aspect ratio is also important to starting placement. 16:9 aspect ratio @ 130 cell count
Custom Aspect Ratio - [G]
Speaking of aspect ratios, Zoologic comes with a custom aspect ratio mode designed for creating outputs at a particular ratio. As seen with #153 above, this can also play a role in how some starting placements manifest.
To enter Aspect Ratio mode, press [G]. Press [Q] to quit. While in this mode, number keys control the aspect ratio:
If you'd like a setting that isn't listed here, arbitrary aspect ratios are available. Just set your window to the exact aspect ratio you want and make use of the [E] key to fit to screen.
Zoologic #269 in one of the vertical aspect ratios with some framing. Looks nice!
This pretty much wraps up the features related to sizing and framing Zoologic. If you have any questions that aren't answered here, please reach out on the Art Blocks discord or find me on twitter @ixnayokay.
The next post will go into details about working with the colors of Zoologic.