Mak­ing the cover

Computer Arts - - Cover Artist -

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.

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