A few months ago, I was contacted by the fine folk at Wired Magazine. They were asking if they could commission me to create a feature illustration for issue number 18:08. They were particularly interested in the aesthetic of the Addition Subtraction project and wanted me to do something which used the issue number itself and still maintained the feel of the original inspiration.
The project went through many different looks. My original idea was to try to make the gravitational and orbital forces mold the digits out of a sea of particles. The initial studies were pretty positive but the leading ‘1′ digit was proving to be problematic. The ‘8′ and ‘0′ were fine because they were simple forms made of circles. Spinning an attractive force did a good job of creating the rounder digits but I was struggling with the ‘1′.
I went with an entirely different approach (which was eventually rejected) for a while. I created gravitation depressions where the digits forms were and flooded the scene with force particles. The forces repulsed each other but were drawn into the digits and spread out to create the 18.08. I then flooded the scene with particles and let them do what the forces instructed, much like in the Addition Subtraction project. I was rather fond of the result but it deviated from the original inspiration too much so we ended up going back to the original idea.
I ended up turning the ‘1′ into the particle emitter. It made the most sense to do it this way. Even though I was bothered a bit by segregating the digit from the other three, the end result came out nicely. A glowing series of particle emitters aligns to form the ‘1′ and as the particles spread across the screen, they are pulled and pushed into whirling black holes which end up forming the other three digits (and the decimal).
Early test render. Audio by Tim Stutts.
Final render. Audio by Tim Stutts.