Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dutch Angle


On the newsstands now is a special collector's edition about dinosaurs from Scientific American. The cover image is the running Giganotosaurus that I painted a while back. (Thanks, Gene)

Note that this is the cloudless version of the image. A later state of the painting (below) includes cirrus clouds and a flock of pterosaurs.

For this picture I used a compositional device called a "Dutch angle," where the camera is tilted off its vertical axis to lend a sense of unease, tension, or impending danger.

The term Dutch angle (also called Dutch tilt, canted angle, oblique angle or German angle) comes from the movie world, where it was pioneered in the 1919 German film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

It was also often used by illustrators doing movie posters and paperback covers in the 1970s and 1960s.

This poster by Frank McCarthy has it all: guns, girls, explosions, bright colors, and a Dutch angle.

And John Berkey used it in this hydro ship, which would have looked more static if the horizon had been level.

7 comments:

Tom Hart said...

First of all, congratulations on that cover! And thanks for discussing the Dutch Angle. It's something I hadn't consciously thought of a lot before, though I've certainly felt its effect in the types of images you cite.

Is the color shift in the image of the Giganotosaurus due to the printing, or did you actually change that in the later stage?

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Tom. The apparent color shift is just due to the various cameras and printers each image has been through. The blue sky is the same in both versions.

THOMAS NACKID art & design said...

The 60s Batman TV series used the Dutch Angle a lot to give the villain's lairs a sinister, twisted feeling.

http://terrymalloyspigeoncoop.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/batman1966_pdvd_205.jpg

Rich said...

Amazing cover.

Quite interesting also the color shifts. A theme of its own. I have observed such astounding shifts by looking at the very same famous painting printed in different artbooks and publications.

As to the "Dutch Angle":
I'm getting sea sick;-)

There's also an aerodynamic counterpart called "Dutch Roll" , countered by a device called "yaw dampers".

Don't need any yaw dampers looking at your gorgeous Tyrannosaurus though...

Pierre Fontaine said...

Dutch angles. I learned all about those in my film classes! It's nice to see John Berkey's painting featured here as well. His work has been enormously influential to me.

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Ivo said...

"Dutch" doesn't refer to Holland, but to Germany. It was first used in the German avant-garde movie "Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari", so it is a "German angle", or as they call it a "Deutsch" angle. "Deutsch" became "Dutch" when some non-German speaking people picked up the term.