What's the name for this illustration thing?
March 16, 2004 11:22 AM   Subscribe

I've come across this kind of very large1, detailed, abstract illustrations, which are great for backgrounds or extracting small parts to use in your own projects. I thought they were called "macros", but have been unable to find any references or collections by that name. Is there a generic name for this kind of thing, what is it and where could I find more to download?
1 The original image is 10 times larger.
posted by signal to Media & Arts (13 answers total)
I'm not sure what those are called, but I like the looks of that one. Are you able to share that one, or others, at full size?
posted by jammer at 11:38 AM on March 16, 2004

This is the most difficult post I've ever done. Ask MetaFilter has done a variety of things to prevent it. I blame the Illuminati.

Anyway, I believe that these things are called Guilloché patterns. Here are some links.
  1. mathworld
  2. Mathematical Association of America
  3. A software package for Illustrator
  4. Excentro, another package (for the Macintosh)

posted by substrate at 11:51 AM on March 16, 2004

Response by poster: Substrate, while enormously interesting, I think Guilloche patterns is more specific than what I'm actually looking for. Some of these illustrations have text, rectangles, etc., and don't seem to be automatically generated.

Jammer: I'll try to get the original and others, and post them. I'll let you know where they are.
posted by signal at 11:57 AM on March 16, 2004

You don't simply mean fractals, do you?
posted by milov at 1:02 PM on March 16, 2004

Response by poster: milov: no, I don't mean any sort of automaticaly generated curves or patterns (though they could be used as a component, I guess), but rather large, complex illustrations like the one I linked to, that have obviously been made by an artist of some kind, and are routinely used for backgrounds on websites and printed media.
posted by signal at 1:21 PM on March 16, 2004

That one looks very familiar to me. Are the very large versions available online? Would you post a link?
posted by rhapsodie at 1:49 PM on March 16, 2004

OK, so I have made some of these images before...but the process is not what you would think is cool - or exact. I use Alias|Wavefront Maya for work and pleasure. Sometimes when lofting multiple lines to create a warped plane, things go wrong. Very Wrong, and I have a cool image, but nothing usable. Or if I am playing with the "natural forces" generators to warp a plane and something looks cool, I'll save it and render it later. Mostly it is the mess-ups that look cool - I have all sorts of these on file at home. I have, in the past, collaged them together, or as a design exercise, created new materials from the original mess-up. That is how I make these images...with of course photoshop. I don't know if that helps and I don't know if that is how other people generate those cool images.
posted by plemeljr at 1:54 PM on March 16, 2004

i'm not sure what they're called, but i know of a collection of images that i think is what you're talking about. it's called "Infinity" in Getty Images' "digital vision" series. The catalog is here. these images are offered in layered files and are used as backgrounds by all kinds of companies, including Mattel and Sega (examples from the catalog at my office). some of the artists that contributed to the Getty catalog are Jens Karlsson, Vinh Kha, James Widegren, Steven De Loenen, and a firm called Aeriform.
posted by edlundart at 2:01 PM on March 16, 2004

also, what plemeljr says is very true. that's how i've made such images in the past too.
posted by edlundart at 2:02 PM on March 16, 2004

Looks like there's a name up at the top, right of centre; but I can't read it on my iBook at that resolution. Do you have a link to the larger image?
posted by carter at 2:31 PM on March 16, 2004

the designer i used to work with in santiago made things a bit like that - i think it's just a general style rather than anything with a clear label. i would have put you in touch with him, but he left to canada... :o/
posted by andrew cooke at 3:05 PM on March 16, 2004

It looks similar to some of the desktop images included with MacOS X
posted by golo at 6:27 AM on March 17, 2004

This type of thing looks kind of similar to an attractor, which is another type of mathematical art.
posted by abcde at 11:07 AM on March 17, 2004

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