Gas Giants – Art from Chaos

Image: Malon, Hauldryn’s seventh planet, with the Milky Way running vertically through the background.

Creating gas giants brings an interesting philosophical perspective to the act of making art.  You start out by selecting some colors which appeal to your imagination or your artistic sensibilities (not having any of those, I can only guess what choices a truly artistically-gifted person might make).  Then you add some noise – in fact, you add a lot of noise.  Your cleanly demarcated blocks and lines of color break up, decay, distort into a chaos of bands and blobs.  But wait, that’s not enough, we need a dash of turbulence, some eddies, swirls, clouds ….

A true computer programmer can do this in a few lines of code.  A half-assed Jane of all trades like me finds someone else’s code, preferably already prepackaged in an easy-to-use-for-dummies GUI (for example, I used a program called Textures for Planets, with a little modding, to create my gas giants).

With a few tweaks, shifts, head cocks to the side for a better angle on the subject, order degrades into chaos and suddenly evolves into beauty.  That’s got to be a statement of some significance about the processes of our lives!

Image: Eyon, Hauldryn’s eighth planet, a Saturn-like gas giant.

Select a different palette of colors, change the levels of Perlin noise, banding, and turbulence, and the result will look completely different.

Image: Firolwen, Hauldryn’s ninth planet, similar in composition to Neptune.

Wait, there’s more.  We want gas giants with rings, like Saturn or Neptune.  Simple.  Find a photo that has some nice color banding in it that you like.  Trim off an edge, like this …

Feed that into a good modelling program like Celestia, which essentially takes the band and smears it into a 360 degree arc, and beauty unfolds again … let there be rings.

Image: Ryriri, Hauldryn’s tenth planet, bearing ghostly rings like Neptune and Uranus.  Note the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters and Messier 45, just below Ryriri’s rings, on the right-hand side.  It’s an open star cluster located in the constellation of Taurus, among the nearest star clusters to Earth, and the most obvious cluster to the naked eye in the night sky, for both Terrans and Ellendrians.

Strange the relationships between order and noise, beauty and chaos, art and science ….

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