Archetype 101

An overview of the 600 newly minted Archetypes and their various features.

Kjetil Golid
6 min readFeb 28, 2021
Archetype #580

The Procedure

The Archetype project recently dropped on is built on the concept of rectangle partitioning, which is the act of splitting a rectangle into smaller rectangles. A sample of partitions of a 5x3 rectangle can be seen below.

After having built an algorithm for generating these, I found a lot of potential applications to it. In order to make the algorithm more flexible, I parameterized it so one can vary the probability of a split at each location on the rectangle.

For the Archetype project, the main procedure has three steps.

  1. Make a random partition of a rectangle. Let’s call each resulting rectangle a section.
  2. Divide each section into a grid. Each section will now have a number of equally-sized, rectangular cells.
  3. Make new partitions on each of the cells so that all cells within the same section get the same partition.

The result of this procedure applied 4 different times can be seen below, with the rows corresponding to the steps above.

The Features

Now that we have a general understanding of how the algorithm works, let’s talk about the various features in this project. There are 6 different features/properties listed on Artblocks and OpenSea:

  • Framed
  • Shading
  • Scene
  • Palette
  • Coloring Strategy
  • Layout

While the first four are pretty straightforward, the last two might call for some explanation. We will nevertheless go quickly through them all:


Simplest of them all. An Archetype is either framed or not. The frame color is decided by the palette and is the same as the background color for the cube variants.

There are 575 framed pieces and 25 unframed.


Shading refers to the the amount of shade on the two non-top sides of a shape. No matter the property, the shading color is decided by the palette and is always the same as the stroke color.

Roughly half of the pieces have the shading-property Noon, which means that both the sides are completely shaded. Morning and Evening — with 56 and 67 pieces resp. — have shading on only one side, while Bright (33 pieces) has no shading. Bright Morning and Bright Evening (58 and 60) are equal to Morning and Evening, but with a lower-opacity shade.


Probably the property with the highest impact, and quite self-explanatory. A piece can be one of three scenes; Flat, Corner and Cube. This decides whether we will be looking at a flat Archetype, the corner of a larger, three-dimensional one, or if we will be able to see the very edges of a complete Archetype cube.

In order for a piece to be eligible as a Corner or a Cube, it has to have one of the following Shading properties: Bright, Bright Morning or Bright Evening. Roughly a fourth of the pieces (151) satisfy this requirement. Among those, 27 pieces received the Corner property, and only 10 received the Cube property. This leaves Flat with 563 pieces.


This property decides what kind of colors will be available to use in the piece. It does not necessarily use them all, which is why we see a collection of mono-colored pieces even though no palettes contains only one color. A palette consists of three things; a set of colors used to fill the shapes, one color used for stroke and shading, and one color used for the background and the frame. These are not interchangeable.

There are 42 different palettes with varying probability of occurrence. I won’t give the complete distribution here, but it is worth noting that three palettes only occurs once! Ducci, Mono and Spider King. I was actually a bit sad to see Spider King only getting a single piece, as it is one of my personal favorites, and also the union of all the other spider palettes (Red Spider, Green Spider etc), which had a quite high probability of occurrence.

Coloring Strategy

This is where it is not so straightforward. The Coloring Strategy property can be either Group, Main, Random or Single. This property refers to how we decide on a color from the palette to use on a single shape.

Single is the simplest and will fill all shapes within a section with the same color (with a few, small exceptions). Random will pick a color at random every time. Main will also fill each section with the same color, but has a small chance of diverging from this — picking a color at random instead, then returning to the main color. Lastly, Group will work like Main, but instead of returning to the main color after diverging, it sticks to the new color.

The distribution are as follows: Group is most common with 272 pieces, Main has 146 pieces, Random has 115 pieces and Single has 67 pieces.


With an understanding of the procedure, this is now easy to explain. The Layout property can be either Order, Balance or Chaos. This simply refers to the size of sections!

The Order property makes is so that the piece only have one, big section. Filling it with a grid and a repeating subsequent partition gives us nice patterns. Chaos goes the other way and makes many small sections, which lowers the possible number of repeating cells and thus increases “entropy”, causing an intriguing disorder. In the middle, we find Balance, which makes moderately sized sections, making for a pleasant middle road.

Balance is the most common with 325 pieces, Order has 179 pieces and Chaos has 96 pieces.

Sneaky features

Archetype creates a wide range of aesthetics, but not only because of the features/traits/properties listed on Artblocks and OpenSea. Here is a handful of unlisted features that contribute to Archetypes variance. (Note that the following observation are highly subjective compared to the descriptions above)

Shape Size

Layout controls the size of the sections, but there can be large variation in the effective size of the actual shapes within a cell. Only small shapes or only large shapes, for instance, would be quite rare. Large contrasts is also something to look out for, like a piece where you see both very large and very small shapes. These are usually very fascinating. Here are some examples of high-contrast ones.

Archetype #8, #185, #246, #491 and 564

Effective color distribution

We already mentioned it, but a mono-colored piece occurs quite rarely. Both mono-colored and nearly mono-colored pieces have a nice, calming feel to them. Also, there a not many nearly mono-colored piece that does not have the Order property, so these should be quite rare.

Archetype #266, #274 and #326

Long cells

When splitting a section into cells, we can sometimes get cells that are long and thin. These usually makes for very pleasing structures.

Archetype #22, #141, #203 and #282

By the Sea

Again, very subjective, but some of the pieces have a large portion dedicated to a pure grid without any partitions. I always start imagining these as busy, industrial landscapes right by the calm sea.

Archetype #24, #70, #81, #440 and #448

… I might need to step away from these now.