Have you ever seen a word created from actual water drops? I hadn’t either until one day I came to work to see this beautiful picture of our company name made from water drops. Yes, a picture of the word “axosoft” made from water drops. This wasn’t some 3D computer generated graphics. It was a picture! To think that all these water molecules would be coordinating with each other and gathering themselves into English letters that formed the word “axosoft” was just amazing. I had never seen anything like it before. To me, it was an absolutely stunning thing to see. The picture was created by our resident design guru and videographer, Shane D Rymer. He’s a true genius when it comes to these things and because I thought this was such a unique creation, I asked him to document how he did it. Enjoy…
The Making of Axosoft’s “Logotype in Water on Leaf”
Hi, this is Shane from Axosoft (sensitive .mov-smith and sometimes pixel dabbler). I’d like to share the process, techniques, and equipment that I used in creating Axosoft’s “Logotype in Water on Leaf”.
For this particular image, I had decided to be open-minded and just experiment with things to capture the spirit of Axosoft- a progressive, successful, agile company that truly walks-the-talk. A couple of weeks ago, a colleague, Chad, had brought in a piece of wood that he had sprayed with NeverWet. It was so fun and fascinating to pour water on it and watch it bead-up/ aggregate around non-sprayed surfaces.
All the little balls of water were coming together, moving with agility, and splitting up to join other water drops. Seeing the possibilities, I thought it’d be cool to try to form the Axosoft logotype in water.
- 1 kit of NeverWet
- 1 piece of foamcore (black on one side, and white on the other)
- 1 pack of adhesive letters- Helvetica Rounded Bold
- 1 fallen leaf from a plant in our office
- 1 plastic bottle
- 1 plastic spray bottle
- 1 tube of blue food gel
Process: Creating the board
In the center of each side of the foamcore, I adhered the letters to spell out “axosoft” (the metallic, reflective surface of the letters was the only available style for that size of the typeface).
The pack didn’t have enough o’s, so I cut two c’s in half and put them together to form an “o” for the white side. I was really excited about the black side because the contrast looked so cool, but found out quickly that it was going to be very difficult to keep it scratch and fingerprint free.
Once the letters were securely on the board, I sprayed both sides of the board with the first coat of NeverWet and let it dry. My hopes for the black side began to fade as there was a white-ish discoloration, while the white side was still flawless looking. After 30 mins., I sprayed the second coating on both sides and let that dry. The discoloration on the black was increasing and now had a blue-ish haze. I thought to myself, “Well, maybe there is something I can do in Photoshop afterwards… or maybe the discoloration will look supercool!” Therefore, I didn’t abandon the black side.
I brought the board inside and let it dry for one more hour. Meanwhile, I mixed blue food gel with water in a plastic bottle, as well as, in a small spray bottle. Once the board was good-to-go, I used an Exacto blade to remove the letters. On the black side, the letters seemed to stick to the foamcore. No matter how carefully I tried, the letters would frustratingly tear the surface of the foamcore. I declared the black side a failure. But in all cases, whatever I did, I did to the black side first, and because of that, I could apply what I had learned from the black side to the white side. Consequently, the white side came out near-perfect.
I felt eager and quickly grabbed some paper towels and began pouring the blue water on the board. It worked, but while the water formed perfectly on most of the letters, the “o” that I had created using 2 c’s, was a problem. It just wasn’t able to hold the water-tension in the center. This was almost a deal killer and as usual I started thinking, “Oh, I can take care of that “in post” (as if post-production is the fix-all; when in reality, often, it’s a time-draining nightmare. These days, I try to get everything as perfect as I can in production). So, I used compressed air with a long red straw to spray the water out of the center of the “o”. The blast of air dried the center and pushed the smaller drops of water into the rings of the “o” so that it could hold the tension —whew! I then used the spray bottle to create a “community” of droplets around the logotype. I was super-psyched that it worked, so I set-up the shot.
Process: Setting up the Shot
I used a firmware-hacked Panasonic GH1 with a 14-140mm lens on a set of Manfrotto sticks. For lighting, I used natural lighting in combination with an F&V R-300 ring light and an orange diffusion filter. The shot came out great, even without any post-production, but somehow it was conceptually ambiguous. To connect it more with Axosoft, I decided to bring the leaf into it, “What if I composited the water with the surface of a leaf”?
Process: The Leaf
I found a fallen leaf in one of the plant pots in the office. As I examined the details of it’s surface by holding it up to a light, complex fractals of stems were revealed. The stem structure just gets smaller and smaller, making me wonder, “Is there really such a thing as a surface? The linear, fractal-lattice of stems will make a great visual counter to the bulging, spherical drops of water.”
I placed the leaf on a miniature cyclorama that I created with a sheet of paper and some tape. I combined 3 sections of macro tubes with the 140 mm lens and used a slide rail to allow micro focusing. I put a white diffusion filter on the ring light. I used the timer feature on the camera so that there would be no camera-shake on capture (when doing macro photography the slightest movement (even the shifting of your weight from one foot to the other) can become visible as a motion blur in the shot).
Everything up to that point had been like creating the clay for which I would now have to sculpt. The basic idea was to composite the water with the leaf in a believable way.
To accomplish this, both images had to share a similar white balance, exposure, focal depth, and perspective. In Photoshop, I used the “distort” tool on the leaf to match the scale and perspective of the letters. I then colorized both images with Red Giant Magic Bullets plugin to have the same look. Then, I used layers, blending modes, and channel selections to composite the images.
That’s It! I want to thank Chad for advising me on the Neverwet coating, as well as, helping me with ideas and experimenting with the water on the letters. Also, thanks to Hamid for green-lighting the experiment!