Phases of Ice
Janice Huang
Junior, College of Engineering


Acrylic paint and digital brushes


I made playing cards depicting different phases of ice, which exist at different temperature and pressure conditions. There are 19 known phases, and I illustrated four that are found or speculated to exist in nature, mostly in space. I used acrylic paint to depict what these environments where they’re found might look like, then I used digital tools to show the crystal structures of each phase, which is what makes them distinct, as they are chemically the same, the water molecules are just arranged differently.

This was done for my final in studio 2d (artdes 115) . We made playing cards with a theme, and mine was “phases of ice”. Conveniently, these phases have numbered names so I could easily use those for the playing card numbers. I am a materials science major and we learn about crystal structures in class so this naturally, this interested me. I painted the environments these respective types of ice are found in, most of which were imagined because we don’t have good photos of faraway planets and moons or underwater caves. Then I used Adobe Fresco to digitally draw the crystal structures of these phases of ice over them. The ice 1 card depicts a glacier on earth, the ice 5 one is the ocean floor of Ganymede, the ice 7 one is an underwater cave with diamonds, and the ice 11 one is the surface of Hydra would look like. The reason these types of ice have different crystal structures is because ice is always made of water molecules that are chemically identical, but they can be arranged in different ways, forming crystal structures. Under different temperature and pressure conditions, different ones can form. For example, ice 7, which is found in space and in diamonds on earth, requires higher pressure to form. It’s no different from how iron can exist in FCC and BCC crystal structures under different temperature and pressure conditions, but ice has even more possible crystal structures. Ice has at least 19 phases it can exist in, many of which have only been made in labs and some which have been found or are speculated to exist in nature, mostly on other planets.