Posted by: jstorm1 | November 7, 2010

Reticulating Splines

If you are familiar with this phrase then you’ve probably played one of the first renditions of the SimCity games. After selecting some options the program began creating your city’s landscape and this seductive intoxicating female voice softly speaks out a status of the program stating, “reticulating splines”. I, for whatever reason, was always captivated and fascinated by this small two worded sound byte. So much so that I took it upon myself to do a little research to find out what the gossamer voiced lady was saying.

According to my research, a spline is basically a mathematical function to create a curve. This is used in many graphics and computer-aided designs include JPG images. You see JPG images lose a little of their resolution because the spline approximates mathematically the curve in a picture, but the calculation takes up less space than would the actual point-by-point plotting of the curved line itself. Here is the Wiki on splines if you would like to venture further into the actual mathematical progressions: Spline (mathematics).

According to, reticulating means to make a net or network of. Therefore, what the subtly seductive voice is saying is that it is creating a marked network of mathematically drawn curves in order to render the three dimensional field upon which you will build your city.

I shortly became a little obsessed with splines, not so much the mathematical formulas to create them, but the actual splines themselves. I searched Google images and downloaded several splines images and calculations and used Photoshop to “reticulate” them into a cohesive graphic image that I later horizontally inverted and printed on T-shirt transfer paper. And then of course, ironed the transfer onto a nice white shirt. Being very proud of my design and being enlighten to what was being said on the so antiquated game that it is now free to download, I unwillingly forced the definitions on many an unsuspecting ear about my design and what it all meant. Still, I am proud of my graphic design and thought I would post it on here and share it with whomever wishes to see.


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