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Moonlighting is an occasional series about designers who spend a significant amount of professional time not designing. Fit the bill? Email

Dave Whyte: Physicist by Day, Designer by Night

Dave Whyte

This was supposed to be a Timeout with motion graphics designer Dave Whyte, creator of GIFs that mesmerize and astound. But when we discovered the amazing Dave also toils as a physics student, we decided to (nicely) shove him into the Moonlighting box, instead.

Dave first came to motion design as an undergraduate examining computational models. Now a PhD candidate at Trinity College in Dublin, Dave explores the tactile; specifically, foam. Come downtime, Dave’s back to virtual reality, creating twirling, waving digital images. His art and his willingness to share his processes have people thumbs-upping all over the internet.

Below, Dave discusses points where his two interests meet as well as his process on Circle wave.

(Warning: Dave’s art warps time. You think you’re taking a quick look over lunch and next thing you know, it’s tonight and your eyes are still stuck on the spiral. You are very relaxed. Also, late for dinner.)


Circle wave

My work in physics doesn’t influence my design work too much. But a lot of my designs I couldn’t have done without being comfortable with mathematics, which is down to having studied physics.

I suppose my scientific work and my art both stem from the same math foundation, as well as both being computational in nature.

My favorite shot of my own is Circle wave probably, because I think it has a tad more subtlety than what I usually do, but still has enough going on to warrant at least a few seconds of staring.

To make a GIF, I usually start with a particular motion in mind then, via preliminary pen/paper sketch (plus sometimes a bit of trigonometry) into Processing. I often share my source code (but sometimes like to keep it a little bit guarded).


Worm.gif by Mathew Lucas

When we sent Dave down the Timeout path, he identified a favorite shot from another player: Worm.gif by Mathew Lucas, above.

My favorite shot by another player is probably Mat Lucas’s Worm.gif. The motion is fascinatingly organic but there’s obviously some clever geometry at play. And that palette is just killer.

Find Dave at Dribbble, on Twitter, and on Tumblr.

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