User's Manual
Spirographer version 1.0.4 (English Version)
* Introduction * Launch * "Spirograph" window * Place the pencil * Roll the gear
* Change the color * Auto coloring * Change the size of gear * Erase the design
* Print your design * Save your design in a file * Preferences panel * Conclusion


This document presupposes that you have downloaded Spirographer and have installed it.


To launch the application, double-click on the Spirographer icon.
This will bring up Spirographer's startup screen. You'll see a gear (or "wheel") rolling about in a hole (or "ring") and drawing a flowery pattern.
After the shareware registration, you can disable this startup screen on the Preferences panel (Other > Preferences) by checking "Disable startup screen" on the "General" tab.

"Spirograph" window

After the gear has made a complete tour, the "Spirograph" window will appear.

The green rectangle you will find at the center is the ruler and the green circle with cogs is the hole (or "ring"). In the hole you'll see a red gear (or "wheel"), with spirally arranged small holes, in which you put the point of the pencil and roll about.

Place the pencil

It is not necessary to place the pencil precisely in one of these spirally arranged pencil-holes. (You can place it wherever you want.) The spiral pattern will disappear if you check "No gear pattern" on the Preferences panel (Other > Preferences > General).

That means that you can place the pencil outside of the gear, specifically on an auxiliary line extending from the center of the gear to the point of the pencil. This line indicates the connection between the gear and the pencil.

Roll the gear

You have two way to roll the gear: When the gear rolls, it will make a tick-tack sound.

You have a means to let the gear roll about automatically:

By default "Auto Rotation" stops automatically when the gear returns to where it started.
If you want to let the gear roll forever, uncheck "Stop rotating when walked around" on the Preferences panel (Other > Preferences > General).

It can take more than 100 turns to make a tour according to the combination of gear and hole sizes.
There is an Easter Egg (an undocumented bit of code that is hidden inside an operating system) that will draw the complete tour at one time. (Hint: It's the keyboard character that appears in everyone's e-mail address!)

You can slide or rotate the ruler by dragging it with the mouse.

These features are useful when you wish to superimpose or accumulate patterns on one page.

Change the color

You can change the drawing color of the pencil and the background. If you have a favorite color with which you wish to start drawing, choose the "Color" tab on the Preferences panel (Other > Preferences > Color), then change the color of the "Pen" or the "Background" field. (Whenever you click on a colored rectangle, a color palette will appear.)

Auto coloring

There is a psychedelic feature that allows you to draw with gradually changing color.
Choose "Auto coloring" from the "Other" menu (Control-C or Command-C).
The pencil icon, which was solid-green, will change into a more colorful one.
If you roll the gear with this colorful pencil, the color of the design will change little by little.

Change the size of gear

If you change the size of gear and/or hole, the design will be changed. Choose from the "Canvas" menu to change them. It is handy if you remember these keystroke shortcuts.

The number of cogs (or "teeth") on the gear (or "wheel") and the hole (or "ring") are in proportion to their radius.
The number of cycles and characteristics of the pattern you draw are associated with the greatest common divisor (gcd) and least common multiple (lcm) of the numbers of cogs (or "teeth") on the gear (or "wheel") and the hole (or "ring").

The number of petals (or "cusps") is given by

gcd (R,W)
and the number of cycles (or "laps") by
lcm (R,W)
where R and W are the number of number of cogs (or "teeth") in the hole (or "Ring") and gear (or "Wheel") respectively.

If you want to specify the number of cogs, use the "Set by Data" option (Control-T or Command-T) on the "Canvas" menu.
When the pattern's cycle is indicated as 5, the patterns that would be drawn are characterized by the number 5: a pentagon (five apexes), pentapetalous (five petals) flower, ranunculoid (five cusps), etc.

You can have this information appear at the bottom of window by choosing "Show Info" (Control-I or Command-I) in the "Other" menu.   ** Software Error: Windows info appears as gibberish **

Erase the design

You can erase all patterns by choosing "Clean Up" or "Erase" (Control-E or Command-E) in the "Canvas" menu.

If you want to erase only the last pattern, choose "Undo" (Control-Z or Command-Z) from the "Edit" menu. You can Redo (Control-Shift-Z or Command-Shift-Z) if it is executed immediately after the "Undo".

Print your design

You can print out the pattern (or patterns) you have drawn with Spirographer.

First select "Page setup" from the "File" menu and set up your printer. Then select "Print" (Control-P or Command-P) to send your pattern to your printer.

You can get the print-out of the pattern that you see on the screen, but because the printing resolution is generally higher than that of the screen, you will need to control the thickness of lines more precisely. You can adjust the "line thickness" on the "Print" tab of the Preferences panel (Other > Preferences > Print) by changing the number of  points (pt).

Incidentally point (pt) is a unit of length, often used for the size of font, etc. 1pt is approximately 1/72 inch and 3pt corresponds to a little more than 1 mm. [Actually a point is equivalent to 1/72.27 inch, however most computer programs and systems adopt 1/72 inch.]

Before registration, you can print out only 1 pattern per window and a watermark "Spirographer DEMO" will print over the pattern.

Save your design in a file

Whatever you draw with Spirographer can be saved in a file. You can save the pattern in several picture formats and retouch it with your favorite retouching software, like Photoshop or Ultimate Paint.

The "Save" submenu is located in the "File" menu. To save the content of a window, choose Save" (Control-S or Command-S) from this submenu. The content will be saved in the original format (called SPG) which saves all information in the window and allows the file to be reopened for further use. SPG cannot be read by software other than Spirographer.

If you want to save the pattern in picture format, please choose from

 "Save in PICT"  (Command-1)(Mac Only) 
 "Save in BMP"   (Control-1)(Win Only) 
 "Save in JPEG"  (Control-2 or Command-2) 
 "Save in EPSF"  (Command-3)(Mac Only)
in the "Save" submenu, in accordance with the intended use.
JPEG is highly recommended if you want to place the picture on a web site.
EPSF (Mac Only) is compatible with Adobe Illustator (5) and it is the best choice for printing.

I have illustrated all the features of Spirographer above.
In next section, I will describe the Preferences panel, which allows you to use Spirographer more conveniently and comfortably.

Preferences panel

The Preferences menu appears in the "Apple" menu (Mac version) or the "Other" menu (Win version).

The Preferences menu has four tabs:

(1) General
Disable startup screen

Doesn't show the startup dialog in which a small gear rolls about. Valid after registration. 

Stop rotating when walked around

Stops the automatic rotation when the gear comes back to where it started. If it is turned off, the gear rolls forever. 

No gear pattern

Doesn't show the spirally arranged small holes on the gear. This might prove useful once you get accustomed to the application.

(2) Color

Sets the default color of the pencil - adopted when the Spirograph window opens. You can set different colors for each design.


Sets the default background color - adopted when the Spirograph window opens.


Sets the color for the ruler.


Sets the color for the gear. The pattern on the gear will also be drawn in this color.

Auto coloring: Saturation

Sets the saturation level in Auto-coloring mode. When you move the slider to the left, the color becomes paler (more opaque). When you move the slider to the right, the color becomes deeper.

Auto Coloring: Brightness

Sets the brightness in Auto-coloring mode. When you move the slider to the left, the color becomes darker (more blackish). When you move the slider to the right, the color becomes brighter.

(3) Sound (Mac Only) 
Instrument #

Changes the percussion instrument which makes the tick-tack.


Check if you don't want the hear the tick-tack.

(4) Print
Line thickness (pt) 

Changes the thickness of the line. Valid from 0.001pt to 10pt. This value affects all the design patterns which are displayed or printed.


The graphic patterns drawn by Spirographer are also called "spirographs" and are mathematically profound.
Spirographer is sold as a toy with which you can enjoy these patterns intuitively - without thinking much about mathematics.
You can create new patterns indefinitely by changing the size of the gear (or "wheel") and hole (or "ring"), the pencil's position and the pen color.

I hope that you will enjoy Spirographer.

Copyright ©2003 Naoya TOZUKA. All Rights Reserved.