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The Art Behind The Latest Android Marshmallow Wallpaper

Carl Kleiner is back with a new set of colorful 2021 "paperscapes"

If you have used an Android device, you have probably seen Carl Kleiner abstract wallpapers on your home screen. What you may not realize is that the compositions are not digitally created; they are painstakingly designed and crafted photographs. Through lighting, layering, and considering color blocking, Kleiner's work echoes some of the early material studies we made while we were developing Material Design, specifically our process for developing iconography and emphasizing natural shadows and realistic depth with three-dimensional objects.

For an introduction to Material Design, we commissioned Kleiner to create three sections called "paperscapes." Cuts are made from several types of paper, and are released with Material Design guidelines as well as hero images and photography sets for Lollipop and various marketing warranties. This year, we commissioned Kleiner to create a new set for Android Marshmallow, which was released to the public on October 5. The Marshmallow set plays out subtle changes in tone and texture instead of relying primarily on bold color shifts. As Kleiner explains, “We wanted to work with surfaces that had a smooth, sophisticated texture,” Kleiner said, “organic to the touch and in graphic composition… Painted surfaces, color pigment powders, floating inks, and the like.”

The above three wallpapers were launched as part of the Android Marshmallow default set.

Behind the scenes at Carl Kleiner's studio in Stockholm, Sweden.

We limited the palette to the core Google brand color with a neutral gray. Kleiner retains the mathematical precision of the original paperscapes, but scales it down, making the geometry slightly more complex. We add dimension and depth by using materials like colored water to create the trough, and coarse powder to suggest pixelation.

To create a strong and discreet visual language, imagery needs to be taken as seriously as graphic UX elements. This allows users to understand our products intuitively and know they are in a space that has been thought through to every last detail. Kleiner's abstract photographs share the spirit of the Material Design system, while adding a new dimension of interest by drawing from multiple art disciplines and artistically blurring the lines between illustration, photography and design with his unique visual style.

To celebrate the launch of Marshmallow, we are sharing two exclusive wallpapers for you:

Get blue wallpaper

Get red wallpaper

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