Digital Tools for Artists: Space Oddity

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still from climax of video piece.

My first action in response to this prompt was to make a mood board. I found myself drawn to representational images of the solar system. I was finding images of spheres and circles. I was also influenced by images I found in a book on Elizabethan theatre: Kingdom for a Stage by Joy Hancox. The architects of the Globe and other contemporary theatres were influenced by cultural ideas such as astrology, sacred geometry, and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Their sketches contained complex interlocking patterns composed of simple shapes.

I wanted to work with rich colors and textures, and this dark purple to me has the mood of Bowie’s song and the feelings of deep space and travel.  The background layer is a solid color with a “noise” effect.  I lowered the opacity of the noise so that it would show the purple.
Now for the animation. Initially I wanted nine planets and nine movement paths for them. If I’m able to work on this animation further I think I’ll build it out.  I started with the goal to animate a single planet moving along the path of its orbit.  There is no sun or visible central point in my animation until the video shifts and I cross fade in the fractal shape.  I kept my turbulent purple background layer behind the fractal to keep continuity, but key framed the color scheme of the fractal to create a sequence of rapid change.  The symmetry of the fractal equation complements my symmetrical orbital paths.  I see the fractal as a wormhole or mysterious portal, and the color wheel sequence as an electrical storm in deep space.

Preliminary movement sketch.
Preliminary movement sketch.

I began with a solid filled circle overlaid on a circular shape layer with a trim path. The circle follow the rotation of the white path. The rings of my planet are larger than the frame to suggest a cosmos which extends beyond what we are seeing. The blue planet disappears and reappears to stimulate the eye.  I used a repeater effect on the shape layer of the original white ring to create 2 more complementary rings moving in harmonious motion.
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I was challenged early in the process to think about color holistically. The flat fill inside my circle created by the program was not speaking the same language as my textured background layer. I tried creating a sphere shape, but that changed the way my animation moved, so I stuck with the simple circle. In critique I received the suggestion to stack many shape layers together and reduce the opacity of the fill color to create depth.  I am also not satisfied with the spacing of the rings.  They do not align with the center of the image.  I believe that this is an unintended consequence of the repeater animation.

showing the building of concentric, harmonious movement
showing the building of concentric, harmonious movement
Author: Alina Pontius