A Fimo climbing wall for getting to the top of Google

Kyle Bean explains how he made a climbing wall out of Google's letter 'g' for net magazine's brilliant issue 258 cover.

We're particularly proud of the cover art on this month's edition of net magazine. It was created by illustrator Kyle Bean, who made the entire model from scratch and also shot an animation for our iPad edition.

We asked him to tell us about the brief he worked with and his process for creating the photograph and GIF. Here's the finished article:

The animated GIF used in the iPad edition of net

Tell us how you approached the brief and came up with the idea

I was asked to visualise the idea of 'getting to the top of Google's SEO rankings'. I had a number of ideas, mainly involving staircases, but the favourite idea that I had was to make the Google 'g' into a climbing wall. I had a clear idea about making it quite graphic, but using the Google colour palette to make the grips on the front of the model.

Why did you decide to make a model rather than creating the image and animation digitally?

As with the vast majority of my work, I tend to take a very tactile hands-on approach to image-making. I always love working with physical materials as it comes much more naturally to me than creating imagery digitally.

Fixing the Fimo foot holds

What materials did you use?

The main structure is made from card and perforated paper. The colourful grips are made from Fimo (a type of polymer clay that I used a lot as a child). Then I used string and other materials to make the pulley mechanism.

Tell us about the process of making the model and the animation.

I started making the model by making a template of the Google 'g'. I cut this out of mountboard and made a few copies that I layered together to form a structure for the 3D type. I then wrapped paper tightly around the edge of the 'g' to finish the letter. I then moulded the grips from the Fimo and put them in the oven to harden. These grips were then attached to the model, as was the pulley mechanism.

Shooting the animation of the clip going up and down

To animate the model I simply adjusted the length of the string and we took photos at each stage so when the images were stitched together the clip appears to to raise up. I worked with my photographer Aaron Tilley to capture the model for me.

Find out what else is going on in issue 258 of net magazine right here!


Tanya Combrinck is digital editor on net magazine.