Saturday, May 3, 2008

Spokewheeling

Lines converging on the center of interest of a picture are like spokes around the hub of a wheel. Since this design device needs a name, let's call it “spokewheeling.”

For centuries, artists have used converging lines to attract attention to a face or an eye.

In this picture of a Triceratops pulling a turnip cart from Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara, the lines point to the eye of the dinosaur.

Here is Goldsworthy Marlinspike from Chandara. There are a lot of lines converging on his left eye. The lines come from the top of the window, the telescope, both of his arms, and the top of the map.

Spokewheeling turns up everywhere. Jean Leon Gerome used it to center our gaze on the face of the victim of the masked duel. Click to enlarge.

And here, sans arrows, is a painting by Dean Cornwell. Look at all the spokes converging on the the left eye of the seated figure. There's the doorway, his left shoulder, both lapels of his jacket, his red necktie, his right arm, the gunman's belt, the leg of the fallen man, and the blue line on the building. The chair leg and the man's own leg almost align.

By the way, this piece is a nice example of shape welding, too.

Tomorrow: The Mud Debate

11 comments:

Dag said...

Hi James,
Its a great pleasure for me to see your blog every day, you make me learn lot of things about arts, paints...
And i really like your Dinotopia's works, it's really amazing how you paint all of your masterpieces.
Have a nice week

Kristina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristina said...

Quick question: Where do you get all of your Dean Cornwell images? Do you have a certain book that you draw from? I would love to know what the best Cornwell book available would be, as most of the ones I find are dominated with B&W images.

James Gurney said...

Thank you for your generous words, Dag. I love the artwork on your blog.

Kristina, that Cornwell came from an old auction catalog. You can find about 35 more Cornwells at: Leif Peng's Flickr Page

Kristina said...

James, thank you so much for sharing that page! What an incredible collection.

Joshua Hendry said...

Wow the dark/light study is still spinning my head. I've got so much to learn! Thank you for always putting useful info on your blog. What a gift!

Tom said...

Great Post James

I like to think of it as the big bang theory, with all the energy radiating from the center of interest, or the beginning of the universe.

Raluca C said...

No line no shape just by coincidence,all make sense and guide you through the picture in a ''subliminal ''way:))!An entire strong and invisible arhitecture behind the finished image!Thanks for this info:I must dedicate few days to your site:just to look,read and learn!Oh,I forgot to add:''and enjoy''!

monbaum said...

Hi James! Great post, thank you so much!

d-vallejo said...

How interesting. Obviously, I had heard of lines that direct the viewers attention but I never heard or knew of the term "Spoke Wheeling". Thanks as always for providing something new to ruminate on.

~grzesiek1e5 said...

From your posts about eye tracking ( gurneyjourney.blogspot.nl/2009/09/eye-tracking-and-composition-part-3.html ) I understood that this technique doesn't really work. (On the other hand shape welding does.) Did I misunderstand these posts?