We already mentionned the book The Nature of Code in a previous post and on our bibliography page, a fantastic book to understand basic concepts of “computational design” with Processing such as vectors and fields. Daniel Shiffman now has great videos to teach these concepts on his VIMEO Page, here is the first of the series:
Here is the book that I kept mentionning in the tutorial: The Nature of Code by Daniel Schiffman
The book explains many algorithm that attempt to reproduce natural systems (including swarms and fractals) using Processing, the java-based scripting interface.
For some example, you will need to need to download the Toxiclibs library and you might want to use the Eclipse IDE to speed up your workflow. You can also follow the great Plethora-Project.com tutorials by Jose Sanchez.
Below are several Reaction Diffusion System apps which help to understand the parameters at play on the famous algorithm developed by Alan Turing (1912-1954).
The first one is programmed in Java: http://cgjennings.ca/toybox/turingmorph/
The source code is available for you to tweak in a java app, you can use the Eclipse IDE (integrated development environment) to program in Java and test the results: http://cgjennings.ca/toybox/turingmorph/TuringMorph.java
The second one is programmed using Processing which is a language based on Java: http://www.openprocessing.org/sketch/15905
To download and try Processing go to Processing.org you can download the interface for free and access the forum for help.
A 3D processing app and pavillion design was done by BioThing (Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez) based on the same Turing patterns: http://www.biothing.org/?p=449 Biothing also held a workshop with the DRL studio based on 3D reaction diffusion patterns:
Create and Play with wireframe creatures following Physical laws using Java Script.