SuperShapes Applet: A tool for dynamically demonstrating the 3D super-shapes formula. Click and drag the sliders with the left mouse button to control the patterns and use the middle and right buttons to pan and rotate the view.

Run with WebStart

Launch as a separate application.

Download Application

Right-click the icon for your operating system and choose 'Save target as...'


Two superformula (hence eight parameters) are used to generate complex 3D forms. By modulating the radius and/or Z coordinates, it can also create shells, spirals and helixes.

Shape Generation and Stability

The superformula can generate a hugely diverse range of shapes. However, there are also many combinations of input parameters that produce unstable results due to division-by-zero errors, powers of a negative number or value overflows. All these are trapped in this applet to ensure that it doesn’t crash, but the results will likely look pretty terrible.

Hence the two ‘Random’ buttons along the bottom. The Simple Random constrains input parameters to a range most likely to produce simple but relatively pleasing results. The Fully Random option is just that, often resulting in many more unstable forms than stable ones. However, sometimes it throws up that specific magic combination that you would never have discovered solely by trial and error. Thus it’s worth playing with despite a relatively low hit rate.

Some Background

Like the Spherical Harmonics viewer, this applet was probably most inspired by Paul Bourke’s page on Supershape in 3D, as well as the many supershapes viewers already written for Processing. For more details on the maths and history of the equations, see the Superformula Wikipedia page and all the links it provides.


30 June, 2011 - 14:44Arthur

It is wonderful application!!! And I got an issue. For some window PC, the dxf/image feature is not working. Can you fix the issue soon ?

Thanks your nice work!!!

12 July, 2011 - 13:54Dr. Andrew Marsh

I’ll certainly look into it.

Three questions though: 1) Do you mean in the downloadable applications? 2) Is there any error message or exception displayed when you click the menu item? 3) Does it display the system ‘File Save’ dialog at any point?

Sorry to be a pain, but that would be useful so I know where to start.


16 July, 2011 - 22:38Sean

The dialog box doesn’t pop up when you either choose save as dxf or image. Otherwise, this is an amazing application!

21 August, 2011 - 18:19Guest

hi Andrew,

The issue is same as Sean said. The dialog box doesn’t pop up when you either choose save as dxf or image, but I am on Windows (XP, 7) system. And I found that issue may relate to Java. Because one PC is installed Java vision6 Update13. Its export progress time took less than Java vision6 update 26(actually that vision can not export anything). Hope this can help you. One more thing, your application is really awesome.

And there is a website. I think you may know Nathan Miller. He did Supershape stuff under rhino/Grasshopper. And I use Revit all the time at work. So insert your application export dxf and Nathan Miller grasshopper vison into revit. Both of them works well. Hope in near future, someone can integrate grasshopper with revit. Make that workflow more easily.

21 June, 2011 - 07:34Johan Gielis

Wonderful application.

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