Friday, January 21, 2011

Tangents are annoying.

As I was putting down my most recent project on canvas, I was struggling, as I always do, against tangents. Tangents are an interesting feature of high school geometry, but are very annoying for artists.

For instance, take a look at the two T. Rex above. You can't really tell which Thunder Lizard is in front of the other, or whether they have dipped their tails in a tar pit and are stuck that way. The tangent of their two tails meeting is uninformative and draws way too much attention to itself.

Above is an improvement. Now we have more information, a little visual weight and we can now concentrate on the subject of the drawing.

But tangents get more annoying as the complexity of the image increases. In this drawing, All the circled points need to be addressed. Either I need to change the proportion of the bricks, or I need to change the position or pose of the figure. The shoulder area is not really a tangent, but the meeting of the shoulder with the brick edge is distracting.

Tangents and awkward line intersections happen automatically and often. My mind always wants to join two lines neatly. I always have to fight that response in favor of a more pleasing solution. By the way, enjoy these sketches because they are some of my best work recently.


  1. yes, very nice work. i can tell you shot reference for them. I feel the exact same way, so at least I know now my mind isn't just broken.

  2. Sounds like you went on a tangent to me... but what do I know about art? :-)