Everyone here is familiar with the concept of the Trefoil Knot, right?
Topologically, it’s the simplest possible non-trivial knot. Well, I like that shape a lot, so I wanted to make one of my own… but this is where the recursion comes in, and this is the cool part: The objects moving along this path are exactly the same shape as the path itself, and they’re all interlinked! They each move and rotate along the path while maintaining that linkage the whole time. AWW YEAH HOT MATHS!
For this design, I chose to learn how to work with moving objects along a Bezier Curve using the Blender Animation Nodes Addon. It took a while to figure out how to move objects along a curve using the “Follow Path” constraint, and then to ditch that approach because it wouldn’t allow me to build complete loops in rotation. Then it took me a while to learn how to use the “Evaluate Spline” node, and convert the derivative tangent at that point in the curve into a rotation that I could use to orient my moving objects like the “Follow Path” constraint does. It took me a while longer to figure out that I needed to be performing compound rotation matrix multiplication in order to rotate the shapes along their animated axis first, and then orient them to the direction of that tangent.
While I originally didn’t think I had anything to say about this design, now that I sit down to post it, it feels more and more like a kind of progress and internal change marker for me. Seeing it completed, I’m realizing that it’s motion is almost the exact inverse of the design I created named “Hexeosiversary” as tribute for hexeosis. The difference is that my whole design and production process has undergone 2 or 3 paradigm shifts since then. Things have also significantly changed in the ways I’m able to spend motivation on my art, and those are the areas which I will be focusing most on addressing next in my life.
Then: The production process used to be more labor intensive, but the inspiration and energy I had available was fresh and crisp, and even if the design was not perfectly clear in my mind, the inspiration lasted through posting. In the older design, I was getting frustrated and stuck with the mathematical imprecision I had with manually keyframing my animations, then restarting and retrying for about 3 hours until I got the animation right. I struggled with composition for some reason, and my usage of the material and lighting system was far from realistic. It used to be that my inspiration came from actually opening my production program of choice and just playing around with built-in functions until something aligned in such a way as to be interesting, and I worked with the design from there. I haven’t been able to do that in a while though, but I want it back.
Now: The production process is a lot easier for me, but finding and keeping focus and inspiration to make it to the finish line are increasingly difficult. This time, I implemented the animation using the Blender Animation Nodes addon in about 1 hour, and I let my design inspiration guide me with the lighting and shaders, which took about 1 hour as well. I find that the more Math I put into practice through building custom shader node networks and animation node networks, the more natural and intuitive those things become to me. But this is where I hit my points of difficulty. Part way through the rendering process, I am held back my technical issues in the sotware tools that I use. They’re typically tiny things that are simple to fix in production, but the fact that a render broke means that I have to go fix it, and that’s not a super big problem… But wait, there’s more broken, or the breakage stacks on top of some other bug in the software that’s prevented me from completing other renders… and the motivation is just gone. So I have this amazing design that’s stuck at 99% completion, but I don’t have the motivation to deal with the crazy obscure problem that comes up in only this circumstance. These days, finding inspiration in someone else’s work, or something else that I can already see, is the most essential part of my artistic and motivational processes. Without the inspiration, the work is simply drudgery and becomes completely impossible for me to complete. It is currently a hardship, but I will find my way back to a point where motivation is no longer a struggle. This is a promise which I make to myself, and all those who’s lives I will positively effect through my work.