ar from always you'll be able to easily include a realistically
dynamic image into your composition. Much more common are elements of
abstract dynamism featured by mainly static objects. As I
mentioned above, perhaps the only geometric
figure without any trace of dynamism is an isolated circle; all other
forms, as well as some textures and even colors, are to some extent
inherently asymmetric, unstable, and therefore dynamic.
Instead of analyzing various classes of forms separately, let's
enumerate some implications that various form-related features may have
when viewed from dynamic perspective:
Visual simplicity (Fig. 2) is an essential prerequisite for any object's
dynamic function: we tend to feel that a too complex of intricate object
would have troubles moving swiftly. Quite often by just simplifying the
structure of an element, by streamlining it and by arranging its parts
in a more obviously hierarchical pattern, we reduce the "drag" (in
aerodynamic terms) and
reveal the intrinsic dynamism in that element.
Dynamic simplicity (the figure on the right is more dynamic than that on the left)
Diagonality, rotation, non-horizontality and non-verticality
all have, as we've just seen, a strong
motion implication (Fig. 3). Physical world around us offers plenty of
examples showing that any non-architectonic object is either
falling, or jumping, or simply unstable - in a word, dynamic.
Slant, or skew, is a special case of rotation with some parts
of the objects's outline still horizontal or vertical, and others,
rotated at some angle (Fig. 4). Here, the architectonic parts of
the contour define the direction of the motion, while the slanted parts
add force to it and make it more expressive. Physical analogs for this
feature would include deformations in moving objects caused by inertia
or aerodynamic drag. It is this effect that makes sans-serif italic
typefaces so expressively dynamic - especially when compared to
serif italic which are not slanted variants of the roman faces, but
independent imitations of handwriting without much dynamism.
Curvature range discussed in my previous column is directly related
to dynamism, too. In most cases, expanding the curvature range leads to
adding more explicit dynamism to the shape, as we go from a perfectly
still and symmetric circle with its zero curvature range to expressive
Beziers, and further on to the
forms made of straight lines and sharp corners (e.g. triangles and
arrowheads) - which, indeed, represent nothing but the ultimate
case of infinite curvature range.
In the world of textures, dynamism is most
often expressed by various blur themes, notably by the "wind" and
"motion blur" texturizing effects.
Indeed, anything moving swiftly enough appears blurred to the human eye,
and imitating that blur by design means is a sure way to add dynamic
flavor to the composition. This effect is especially useful in that it
is capable of dynamizing abstract shapes or letters of text in a quite
realistic (to be precise, photographic)
Asymmetry of any kind, be it in the aspect of form, size, or color,
is another source of dynamic implication (Fig. 6). In fact, what is called
asymmetry is a single object version of what we call contrast for a
couple of objects; much as contrast is perceived as such only when the
objects are visually linked and not just dissimilar, asymmetry may
only produce any effect when we get the feeling that the shape could
be symmetric but isn't. Dynamic eye flows induced by pairs of
contrasting objects are the subject of a next
Now, imagine that all of the features listed
above do not apply, and what we have is a simple, perfectly symmetric
shape without any slant, rotation, or blur. Even in this case some
traces of dynamism are present in the object, and it's easy to see that
its inclination to move mostly depends on the object's
proportions (Fig. 7) - in other words, on whether its
height is close to its width, or the dimensions differ considerably.
Simply put, a stretched rectangle is more likely to imply some dynamism
than a square.