Making the cover
This issue’s cover enjoyed a particularly involved and lengthy gestation period, ironically matching its own ‘shapeshifting’ coverline.
We knew straight away that we wanted something that suggested metamorphosis – the process of logos changing rather than any final result – and we found inspiration in the iconic Unknown Pleasures album sleeve by Peter Saville and a beautiful poster by Studio Mut (Effect and Affect: Architecture and The Digital Sublime) that depicted a wonderful, rippling metal wave. We wanted to combine the scientific mystery of the Joy Division sleeve with the mysterious fluidity of the Studio Mut poster: an elaborate process that belied a ‘less is more’, minimalist black disc with bold functional text in full view.
Whatever strange hybrid was in our head, we needed a 3D artist to weave together our disparate strands of DNA, and since we were intrigued by where the creative process might lead us, we asked Future’s resident 3D supremo, Dan Pearce, to magic up something.
“Thinking of an approach that would allow for creative control of over 600,000 individual particles was key,” Dan explains. “It took some head scratching, but Element 3D for After Effects proved to be the best solution. The form was created in Autodesk 3ds Max with a modified space-warped plane, then tessellated several times to the desired density of vertices. Using this plane as a particle generator, a small 3D rectangle was assigned to each vert, creating the surface on which to project the logo. After some lighting, masking and various other manipulation the final image took shape.”
Dan ran through a lot of variations, altering light source, texture, scales and distortions, before a radical last minute departure – shifting from Joy Division black to a bright white version that we felt would stand out better on newsstand.
Post-render, we took Dan’s already warped graphic and distorted it in Photoshop to give us an exaggerated shape, then pulled back a little from the image, and finally played with coverline composition and Pantone colours to emphasise the non-symmetrical design.
Top and top right: The 2D template (inspired by Peter Saville’s Unknown Pleasures cover design) that we gave Dan to transform into three dimensions.Left: Wonderful 3D viruses twisted and turned, making fascinating shapes but constantly challenging the legibility of the LOGO typography.Above: The white version of the cover render took us further away from our starting point but it felt right.