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Behind the screens of Windows 8’s nature-inspired artwork

We speak to Marius Bauer, the designer responsible for the leafy on-screen imagery of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system.

For US-based designer Marius Bauer, creating artwork for the recent release of Microsoft's Windows 8 represented something of a career pinnacle. Working with the Microsoft design team, Bauer created images for the start screen (the one displayed when you first boot up or log in) as well as the lock screen, which kicks in when you resume from the screensaver.

"The design guidelines of the modern user interface in Windows 8 itself are authentically digital - clean, simple and direct. Based on that vision, they selected artists who had a matching portfolio," says Bauer. "We took quite an open approach to the design process itself. 

Marius Bauer’s designs for the new start and lock screens for Windows 8 combine a clean, authentically digital aesthetic with Bauer’s own nature-inspired illustration style

"My work has strong connections to nature, and draws a lot of inspiration from it," he goes on. "With Mount Rainier and the space needle we also wanted to include two local icons from the Seattle area, and combine them with the natural elements of my style of illustration."

An important part of the design process was scalability, Bauer adds: "Windows 8 can run on a variety of devices, from laptops to tablets, in landscape or portrait mode and up to 80-inch screens, so I had to take this into account when I was designing the images."

Scalability was critical to the designs, as it is for Windows 8 as a whole

His work sits alongside offerings from other artists like Joshua Davis, Si Scott and Joshua Smith in Windows 8. "12 years ago when I started to design user interfaces and to illustrate, Windows was my entry point to the discipline," he recalls. "It's always been my top-of-the-list dream project to design the default wallpaper for this software."

This article was originally published in Computer Arts issue 209.

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