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The Power of the Tangent

This is a sidebar issue, reflecting on a issue that my friend Rick Catizone brought up.

Rick was concerned about the near-tangents in one of Moebius‘ pieces. I answered that what Jean did might have been deliberate.

I learned something about tangents when I was working on a mammoth picture for a book cover. In art school we were told to always avoid them (tangents, not mammoths). I accidentally discovered one way to positively use them.

This is the uncropped version of my mammoth cover painting. In trying to figure out where to crop the art for publication, I experimented with different croppings. The one that amazed me (because what happened so went against what I was taught in art school) was this one:

I found that putting the outer vertical edges as close as I could to the outer curve of the mammoth’s tusks, by creating that near-tangent, my picture suddenly appeared three-dimensional. The visual tension/vibration created by the close proximity of the tusks to the border perimeter made the tusks look as if they were coming out of the picture.

That was the cropping I ended up using for the cover.

That’s it.

Now, back to Moebius.

2 thoughts on “The Power of the Tangent

  1. Yes, I see that ….of course, in the new crop it becomes more dynamic because he is barely “containable” within the frame…meaning he is much closer to US…and that increases the threat to the viewer…

  2. By God! The cropping makes it look like a 3-D image. It also has the element of time (this is based on something that Mike Royer once said about Jack Kirby’s drawing). It’s tusks are moving forward and the body is getting ready to follow. Very dynamic.

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