Dynamic Design. Dynamizing a line | WebReference

Dynamic Design. Dynamizing a line

  Dynamizing a line

The last item in the previous section suggests that a straight line (i.e. an ultimately stretched rectangle), even being perfectly horizontal or vertical, would have a relatively strong dynamic power. Much as a naturally dynamic image introduces a line of motion, any visible line creates some dynamism. Such a line drives our eyes away, working as a railway to quickly travel from one part of the composition to another (which partly explains the popularity of the lines theme in modern design).

The dynamic component of a straight line mostly depends on its ends are formed. An unconnected line (Fig. 8, a) not only has no direction of its own. Only a small fragment of the line near the middle can serve as a guideline for the eye, while at the ends, any movement tends to slow down - we just don't see any reason to keep running along the line as soon as we note that the end of the path has nothing to offer to our perception.


Figure 8

  Fig. 8:  Dynamizing a line by playing with its ends  

  Our first attempt to accelerate the dynamism of the line by attaching some objects to its ends (Fig. 8, b) is not too successful. Not only the line ends now fail to attract the viewer's eyes, but the static objects that they grow out of seem to suppress any traces of dynamism remaining in the image. What we see is not a couple of objects connected by a straight line, but a symmetric and therefore almost motionless simple figure. Of course, this is only true for this specific kind of objects attached to a line, and in the next section will discuss how contrasting objects may be used to generate streams of perception between them. However, it's more interesting to investigate how two identical objects can nevertheless generate a strong directed dynamic flow.

This is done by changing the method of attaching the line to an object: from "grows out of" to "jumps into" (Fig. 8, c; even the very prepositions "out of" and "into" used in the previous sentence are dynamic!). Although it's still symmetric and therefore directionless, from the dynamic viewpoint it is a highway compared to the road block of Fig. 8, b. Now it is obvious that the circles do not belong to the same object as the line; they work as separate magnets driving our perception towards the ends of the line.

Not surprisingly, Fig. 8, d has the strongest dynamism of all samples studied in this section. Its left end pushes and the right end pulls, resulting in an powerful dynamic flow along the line, from left to right. It is also clear that if the right end simply "hangs in the air" as in Fig 8, e (or if the right circle becomes too large in d) then the dynamic force is pretty much diminished - even if we attempt to keep it up by adding an arrowhead on the loose end.

This example is very instructive. Although, as we'll see shortly, contrasting objects are the primary source of dynamism in any composition, even simple and absolutely identical elements - with their added advantage of uniformity and consistency - may induce a strong dynamic flow, if only these objects are properly laid out with regard to their internal dynamic properties.


Created: Mar. 16, 1999
Revised: Mar. 16, 1999

URL: http://www.webreference.com/dlab/9903/line.html