programming, drawing, photograpy etc.
Version Date Comments
0.1 05/05/2024 Initial version
0.2 12/05/2024 Added demo gif, spelling and style edits

Polar Perlin Noise Loops Simulation

Note: Although the title says Perlin Noise, we use Simplex Noise as this is readily available in the package love.math.noise.

This is a literate program that implements the simulation described in the tutorial Coding Challenge #136.1: Polar Perlin Noise Loops at The Coding Train youtube channel.

In this simulation we develop an interesting visualization of circular shapes drawn in a distorted fashion using multi-dimensional Perlin Noise.

The simulation is implemented in Love2d unlike the video above where Dan Shiffman writes the program in javascript using the p5.js library.

Here's a demo of this program in action...

Polar Perlin Noise Simulation Screenshot

The source code for this program is on github at

Literate Programming using litpd

This program is written using my own literate programming tool named litpd. litpd is a command-line tool that takes a markdown document in pandoc format, and creates two outputs. The first output is a human readable document in a format like html/pdf. The second output is the source code files for building and running the program.

Build/Run the Program

See the Makefile in the current directory to see how to build and run the program.

The Program

  • Central Idea: The central idea of the program is to draw a distorted circle as a series of line segments.
  • Shape Distortion: The distortion is created in a natural and continuous manner by using Perlin/Simplex Noise.
  • Path in Noise Space: If we move in a loop through a 2D noise space we can create a sequence of noise values which will return to the starting value at the end of the loop. This property is utilized to ensure that when distorting the circle, there is no jagged transition.
  • 2d Slices of 3d Noise: If we extend our noise space to three dimensions then at each frame we can take a different 2d slice of 3d space by utilizing a slightly different z-index. This will ensure a smooth but random animation in the visualization.

The over-arching idea of the simulation is the creative usage of Perlin/Simplex Noise to transform polygons into beautiful shapes and animate them at each frame.

Program Structure

The entrypoint of a love2d game is a main.lua file. We will write the bulk of the program (excluding a few configuration items) in this file.

The main.lua program has the following parts. Each of the parts of the program are developed in the later sections. (The litpd tool will weave it all together into a single file.)

  • Header: contains some standard bookkeeping remarks at the top of the file.
  • Imports: All the dependencies of the program are imported in this section.
  • Globals: There are several global constants and variables use in the program, these are listed in this section. Some of them are assigned initial values.
  • Love2d Methods: The bulk of the program is implemented in the love2d entry-points viz. love.load to initialize the program, love.load to update the state of the program every frame, and love.draw to draw the state of the program every frame. There are some other functions defined in the love namespace which will handle user input from keyboard and mouse.

file: main.lua









File Header

id: header

--- main.lua: Polar Perlin Noise Loops Simulation in LÖVE
-- date: 09/05/2024
-- author: Abhishek Mishra

Module Imports

The program uses the following modules:

  1. utils.mapRange: We re-use an implementation of the p5.js map function written for another simulation. The code is available in the utils.lua file which was copied over from another project.
  2. ne0luv: This is a library of some commonly-used utilites that I've developed for use in my Love2d simulations. In the current program I've only used a slider control to change some of the parameters of the noise generation. To read more about ne0luv see its project page at ne0luv

id: imports

local utils = require("utils")
local nl = require('ne0luv')

Global Variables

In this section of the program we define a few global variables used across the program. Strictly speaking these are NOT lua global variables. However they are defined at the module/file scope for the main.lua file, which means that they are available across all the methods in the file. See PIL: Local Variables and Scope for a full discussion on the topic of lua local variables.

The file local variables are:

  1. cw, ch: The dimensions of the love2d canvas.
  2. noiseMax: The maximum input values for the x and y dimensions used when selecting noise from 3d noise space.
  3. noiseSlider: The Slider UI control displayed on the screen to control the noiseMax value.
  4. phase: We are selecting noise in the noise space in a circular path to give us a closed loop. If we always start from the same place in every frame we will end up with the same sequence of noise values. However if we add a changing phase value every frame, we get the same path but shifted by a few values. This gives a smooth animation to the output drawing.
  5. zoff: Since we are selecting noise from a 3d space we need a z-index. This zoff value can be changed every frame to change the slice of 2d noise that we get from the 3d space. This provides a jarring effect to the output drawing.

id: globals

-- canvas dimensions
local cw, ch

-- maximum noise
local noiseMax = 0.5

-- maximum noise slider control
local noiseSlider

-- phase of the angle to select from circular path in perlin noise space
local phase = 0

-- value of 3rd-dimension while selecting from 3-d perlin noise space
local zoff = 0


The love.load function is called by love2d once when the game/simulation starts. We initialize the simulation by querying the dimensions of the canvas, and setting up the slider control for selecting the maximum value of the noise range.

id: loveload

--- love.load: Called once at the start of the simulation
---@diagnostic disable-next-line: duplicate-set-field
function love.load()

Querying the canvas dimensions

This is straight-forward and self-explanatory.

id: querydim

    -- query the dimensions of the canvas and store in cw, ch global vars.
    cw, ch =

Setup Noise Slider

We setup the Slider control at the bottom right of the canvas. And we plug the change handler with the control such that the noiseMax value is updated when the Slider changes.

Note that the Slider control's lifecycle methods will have to be called at appropriate love2d lifecycle functions viz. the update, draw and input event functions.

id: initslider

    -- create slider on bottom right corner
    noiseSlider = nl.Slider(
        nl.Rect(cw - 200, ch - 50, 200, 50),
            minValue = 0,
            maxValue = 100,
            currentValue = 0.5,

        noiseMax = value

Connect the lifecycle methods for Slider

id: updateslider


id: mousepressedslider

noiseSlider:mousepressed(x, y, button)

id: mousereleasedslider

noiseSlider:mousereleased(x, y, button)

id: mousemovedslider

noiseSlider:mousemoved(x, y, dx, dy, istouch)

id: drawslider


love.update - Update the Simulation

There's only the one UI Control - the noise slider to update in this method.

id: loveupdate

--- love.update: Called every frame, updates the simulation
---@diagnostic disable-next-line: duplicate-set-field
function love.update(dt)

Draw the Simulation

  • The bulk of the program is implemented in this function.
  • As we have discussed at the beginning of the section, the central idea is to draw a distorted circle.
  • The circle is drawn at the center of the canvas.
  • The circle is drawn as a sequence of line segments. The more the line segments the smoother the curve of the circle.
  • The line segments are drawn using the API.
  • We define a variable called angle_delta. Then we divide 360 degrees by this number and get the number of segements to draw. The larger the value of angle_delta the fewer the number of segments.
  • For each line segment we calculate an end-vertex which is slightly shifted from the ideal position on the curve of the circle. This shift creates an appearance of the distorted circle.
  • To get the shifted vertices we use a sequence of noise values from the love.math.noise API which in turn implements simplex noise.
  • We select noise values from a 3d noise space, where the z-index of the noise selection changes every frame. This gives rise to a continuous change to the distorted circle which make the simulation animated.

Structure of Draw Function

The love.draw function is called by love2d every frame. We define a new coordinate system translated to the center of the screen. Then we setup the circle parameters, and generate the distorted line segments for the circle, and draw it. Finally we pop the graphics coordinate transform and update our animation variables.

id: lovedraw

--- love.draw: Called every frame, draws the simulation
---@diagnostic disable-next-line: duplicate-set-field
function love.draw()









Graphics Setup

  • Push a new coordinate transformation onto the transformation stack.
  • Translate the coordinate system to the center of the canvas.

id: graphicssetup, ch/2)

Circle Parameters

  • In this section of the program we define the initial values of the parameters for the circle.
  • We define the number of line segments to use by dividing 2*pi by the value of angle_delta which is in turn defined as a suitably small value.
  • We define an empty table of vertices called vertices which will be passed to the function to draw the circle.
  • We define xoff and yoff variables with initial value of 0. These variables provide the first two indexes into our lookup into 3d noise space.

id: circleparams

local angle_delta = 0.001
local segments = 2 * math.pi / angle_delta
local vertices = {}
local xoff, yoff = 0, 0

Circle Definition

  • In this part of the function we generate the vertices for the line segments.
  • We get the values for xoff and yoff values.
    • xoff is calculated as the cosine of the angle of the segment vertex, plus the phase. Since the phase value is incremented every frame we get a slightly different value for the xoff every frame.
    • The resultant cosine is mapped to a range of [1, noiseMax]. Therefore as the user changes the slider, the value of noise can be restricted to a smaller range or its range can be increased. The greater the range of xoff, the greater the distortion.
    • The yoff is calculated using the sine function but without any application of phase.
  • The xoff and yoff value alongwith the time dependent zoff values are used to lookup in the noise space. The resultant value is mapped to a range of [50, 200]. This is the value of radius of the circle for that iteration.
  • Since the value of radius is slightly different for every segment of the circle we get a distorted circle.
  • The radius value is used to calculate the x and y values of the vertex endpoint of the current segment using the cosine and sine functions.
  • Finally the x and y values are appended to the vertices list.

id: circledefinition

for i = 1, segments do
    xoff = utils.mapRange(math.cos(i * angle_delta + phase) + 1, -1, 1, 0, noiseMax)
    yoff = utils.mapRange(math.sin(i * angle_delta) + 1, -1, 1, 0, noiseMax)

    local radius = utils.mapRange(love.math.noise(xoff, yoff, zoff), 0, 1, cw/8, cw/2)

    local x = radius * math.cos(i * angle_delta)
    local y = radius * math.sin(i * angle_delta)
    table.insert(vertices, x)
    table.insert(vertices, y)

Draw Circle

Drawing the circle is a single call to the function.

id: circledraw"line", vertices)

Pop Coordinate System

We pop the coordinate system at the end of the graphics operations.

id: graphicspop

Animation Update

We update the values which animate our drawing. The phase value is incremented by a small amount, and the zoff is incremented by a small amount.

id: animationupdate

phase = phase + 0.05
zoff = zoff + 0.05

Handle Keyboard Events

We define the love.keypressed function to handle the escape key and quit the application if it is pressed.

id: lovekeypressed

-- escape to exit
---@diagnostic disable-next-line: duplicate-set-field
function love.keypressed(key)
    if key == "escape" then

Handle Mouse Events

The love2d mouse handlers are implmented to call the corresponding methods of the noise slider control object.

id: lovemouse

---@diagnostic disable-next-line: duplicate-set-field
function love.mousepressed(x, y, button)

---@diagnostic disable-next-line: duplicate-set-field
function love.mousereleased(x, y, button)

---@diagnostic disable-next-line: duplicate-set-field
function love.mousemoved(x, y, dx, dy, istouch)


The conf.lua file is called at the startup of love2d to setup some parameters before the window is drawn. We define the canvas size and window title here. We also turn off some unused modules to make the program faster.

file: conf.lua

--- conf.lua: Config for the love2d game.
-- date: 4/3/2024
-- author: Abhishek Mishra

-- canvas size
local canvasWidth = 800
local canvasHeight = 800

function love.conf(t)
    -- set the window title
    t.window.title = "Polar Perlin Noise Loops Simulation"

    -- set the window size
    t.window.width = canvasWidth
    t.window.height = canvasHeight

    -- disable unused modules for performance
    t.modules.joystick = false
    t.modules.physics = false
    t.modules.touch = false