Flowing fabrics are beautiful to watch when done well, however what piqued my interest before I started this one was the aim to control that dynamic motion into something that could live in motion forever without feeling restricted. During my experimentation I began layering up different cloth simulations and set about seeing if I could replicate the motion within an enclosed spherical form. Essentially, I wanted to create a multiple layered fabric that would keep moving (or at least seem too) in the same direction – I knew it would not have the organic nature of a simulation but if I could capture the same essence in motion, I would consider it a success.
Starting with a dodecahedron I split it into 2 sections, kind of like the way a tennis ball is split into its interlocking segments. As I would be creating a continuous path for my fabric to flow along, I only worked on one section initially as the other part would be a mirror image so to speak (i.e. if my system works for one part, it would also work for the other). Taking the boundary line of one segment I duplicated it inwards towards the centre, smoothing each iteration to ensure I did not create any pinch points in my topology. As I retained the point count for each iteration I was able to connect them together to form a singular surface from which I could carve open giving the impression of the surface moving.
With my moving surface established I just needed to duplicate this set up to the other segment half and offset the carving of the surface animation so that it looked like the movement continued at the seams where they met. The secret of this technique is to ensure that the surface area remained consistence (or at least optically so) – it added a sense of wonder as to where the motion would end. The last trick was to pin the textures to the leading edge of the carve animation to enable the shaders to move with the surface and not to swim through them. A little side note, I intended initially to have the layers look like citrus fruit peel however during look development it did not look as appealing as I had imagined hence why I settled on the fabric driven aesthetic.
© 2021 Mark Lindner