Fedora 28's Desktop Background Design

Fedora 28 (F28) is slated to release in May 2018. On the Fedora Design Team, we’ve been thinking about the default background wallpaper for F28 since November. Let’s walk through the Fedora 28 background process thus far as a sort of pre-mortem; we’d love your feedback on where we’ve ended up.

November: Inspiration

As of the past 3 releases, we choose a sequential letter of the alphabet and come up with a list of scientists / mathematicians / technologists to serve as an inspiration for the desktop background’s visual concept:
F25's wallpaper - an almost floral blue gradiated blade design, F26 a black tree line reflected in water against a wintry white landscape (the trees + reflection resemble a sound wave), F27 a blue and purple gradiated underwater scene with several jellyfish - long tendrils drifting and twisting - floating up the right side of the image
Backgrounds from Fedora 25, 26, and 27. 25’s inspiration was Archimedes, and the visual concept was an organic Archimedes’ screw. F26’s inspiration was Alexander Graham Bell, and the visual concept was a sound wave of a voice saying “Fedora.” F27’s inspiration was underwater researcher Jacques Cousteau, and the inspiration was transparency in the form of jellyfish.
Gnokii kicked off the process in November by starting the list of D scientists for F28 and holding a vote on the team: we chose Emily Duncan, an early technologist who invented several types of banking calculators.

December: First concepts

We had a meeting in IRC (which I seem to have forgotten to run meetbot on 🙁 ) where we brainstormed different ways to riff off of Emily Duncan’s work as an inspiration. One of the early things we looked at were some of the illustrations from one of Duncan’s patents:
Diagram etchings from 1903 Duncan calculator patent. Center is a cylindrical object covered in a grid with numbers and various mechanical bits
Gnokii started drafting some conceptual mockups, starting with a rough visualization of an Enigma machine and moving to visuals of electric wires and gears:



During a regular triage meeting, the team met in IRC and we discussed the mockups and had some critique and suggestions which we shared in the ticket.

February: Solidifying Concept

After the holidays, we got back to it with the beta freeze deadline in mind. Note, we don’t have alpha releases in Fedora anymore, which means we need to have more polish in our initial wallpaper than we had traditionally in order to get useful feedback for the final wallpaper. This started with a regular triage meeting where the F28 wallpaper ticket came up. We brainstormed a lot of ideas and went through a lot of different and of-the-moment visual styles. Maria shared a link to a Behance article on 2018 design trends and it seemed 3D styles in a lot of different ways are the trend of the moment. Some works that particularly inspired us:

Rose Pilkington’s Soft Bodies for Electric Objects

Gently-textured pastel hues of bright cyan, orange, yellow, and pink in a softly gradiated set of flat but almost 3D like rounded abstract shapes

Ari Weinkle’s Wormholes

Almost psychedelic, cavelike, wavy environment made with cascading 3D ridges, orange and purple hued palette

Ari Weinkle’s Paint waves


Both myself and terezahl, taking these inspirations as directions, started on another round of mockups.
Terezahl created mockups, one which appears to be inspired by Pilkington’s work, based of the concept of 28’s being a triangular number:
On top, a black to greenish blue shaded abstract composition with a floating triangle floating in front of a background with an inverse gradient. On bottom, rounded abstract shapes in purple, blue, and cyan jewel tones.
I was inspired by Weinkle’s paint waves, but couldn’t figure out a technique to approximate it in Blender. Conceptually, I wanted to take gnokii’s wires with data ‘lights’ travelling down the wires, and have those lights travel down the ridges in an abstract swirled wave. I figured probably it would take some work with Blender’s particular system, since the mass of a character’s hair is typically created that way. I had never used Blender’s particle system before, so I took a tutorial that seemed the closest to the effect I wanted – a Blender Guru tutorial by Andrew Price:

As per the feedback I received from gnokii – the end result was too close to the output you’d expect from such a tutorial. I wasn’t able to achieve a more solid mass than the fiber optic strands, although they visually represented the ‘data light’ concept fork I was going for:

Time was short, so we ended up deciding to ship this mockup – as close to the tutorial as it was – in the F28 beta to see what kind of feedback we got on the look. Thankfully Luya was able to package it up for us with some time to spare! So far, the preliminary feedback we’ve gotten from folks on social media and/or who’ve seen it via Luya’s package for beta has been positive.

March: Finalization

Since the time-consuming work of building the platform in Blender from the tutorial is done, I’ve started playing around with the idea to see what kind of visuals we could get. The obvious, of course, is to work the Fedora logo into it. Fedora 26’s wallpaper had a sound wave depicting the vocalization of the word “Fedora” – I was trying to think of how to have the fiber optic ‘data’ show the same. Perhaps this is too literal. Anyhow, here are the two crowd favorites thus far:

#3

3D render of the Fedora logo in blue fiber optic light strands against a black background. Image is angled with some blur and bokeh effects

#9

3D render of the Fedora logo in blue fiber optic light strands against a black background. Image is angled with some blur and bokeh effects. the angling of this version is such that it comes from below and looks up.
we need your help!
Anyway, this is where you come in. Take a look at these. With the system built in Blender, we have a lot of things we can tweak easily – the angles, the lens / bokeh / focus, the shape / path of the strands (like how the latest renderings follow the Fedora f/infinity), the shape / type of object the strands are made of (right now long / narrow cylinders.) These kinds of tweaks are quick. Any ideas you have on a path forward here, or just simple feedback, would be much appreciated. 🙂

7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Fedora 28's Desktop Background Design | Linux Hub

  2. Beni

    Hi,
    thank you for your great work :). the idea with those fibre optic paths is awesome. my first impression of the crowd result is, that these are a bit dark, surely because the background is black.
    How is the idea of the fedora logo stickying out of a sea of light paths? So it haves 2 different height levels (or more).

  3. cmurf

    I really like the back story, and though process for inspiration and design. As for feedback, perhaps some extra exaggeration (maybe elongation) to help differentiate infinity from the number 8? As this is Fedora 28, the number 8 is already in my consciousness, so some way of countering the notion this is a numeral.

  4. Pingback: A follow up on Fedora 28’s background art – Máirín Duffy

  5. Pingback: Máirín Duffy: A follow up on Fedora 28’s background art | Fedora Colombia

  6. gb

    #3 is a good rendering of the current fedora logo with the higher density of the fibre optic strands forming the familiar ‘f’ in the fedora logo. It is a good beta base to be polishing up on to help produce you final product for the wallpaper for the 28 release of fedora, Good work, and nice short history too…

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