I second (or third, or forth, etc) the level of awesomeness. And thank you for sharing your experience. I sometimes feel like the key to shaping the perfect scape is a secret those in the know wanna keep secret.
Any comments on the "rule of thirds"? I know what it is, but how is it put into practice on the tank? Is the tank actually measured and the intersecting points carefully plotted out or is it approximate? Ive heard some use graph sheets, but how is that used?
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I feel the same way about both shrimp keeping and aquascaping. Folks in this hobby seem to love their secrets
I think that the rule of thirds is the most common design and photographic element known to man, and that it applies to almost any art form, so of course it also applies to aquascaping. I think that any designer, photographer, or painter has a distinct advantage over those without such a background when it comes to scaping because those basic design ideas have been drilled into them over time.
Most definitely, I would not dream of using graph paper or a ruler. Your eye should be able to tell you what's right
or what's wrong
. And truthfully, there is no right or wrong, but merely ideas that tend to make a scape stronger or weaker instead.
And as you develop your eye, you will also know when to employ the infamous rule of thirds, and when to break that rule and leave it out all together. It certainly isn't required to make a great scape, but if you do follow that rule then your odds are increased.
Lately, Amano has taken to literally dropping small rocks into his hardscape pre-flood to mimic nature and get the point across that randomness and nature is a better designer than your mind's eye ever could be. If you contemplate some of the more beautiful focal points in nature, they often contain a very strong element wrapped and surrounded by either newborn growth
. Either way works.
For example, think of a cliff on a beach. Here is a photograph of beach rocks in Australia. Notice the flow of the rocks out into the ocean? That part is obvious. But as the "scape" has matured, small rocks have fallen off of larger rocks and dribbled down below to the beach representing a decay
element. In that sense, they are the same element but in miniature form, and they lay close to the main element, the rocks.
Then, think about your flora. You may have trees, and right at the base of those trees are smaller elements and various shrubs. For example, there are ferns right at the base of these trees just like there are smaller rocks right at the base of large rocks in the previous image. This time, we have the newborn growth
So, your job is to find a focal point you enjoy and then tease out the nature of that focal point by adding accents that truly contrast the magnificence of your focal point, but also compliment that focal point by contrasting enough in size, and sometimes in nature.
***Extra hint on rock work. Most rocks enter the substrate not in a perfectly even pattern, but in a place that creates dramatic points or lines, much like the rocks above. If you dribble smaller rocks right from the base of these points where the rock enters the substrate then it tends to look less artificial and more natural.
Here is a perfect example in nature.