Design In SIDE VIEW - View from above

Wood turners, if we actually design a piece - before we get to the lathe, usually draw design ideas with pencil and paper Usually, what we're after is a pleasing profile about a single axis, with nice proportions and flowing curves. And usually we design in a SIDE VIEW of the piece we're designing and may turn.

When designing, we have several Rules of Thumb - for good proportions and for good combinations of curves that flow together as Fair Curves. We can play with the Golden Ratio, 1:1.618 or 1.618:1 for the basic AREA of the piece and its profile. And we can use The Rule of Thirds or The Rule of Fifths to determine the VERTICAL PROPORTIONS - where the transistion of the curves of the profile will be (for a tall hollow form, the Shoulder where the upper curve and the lower curve meet should be 2/3rds up the piece, or 3/5ths up the piece). There are also Rules of Thumb for Neck Width and Foot Width - relative to the maximum width of the piece.

Within the design envelope determined using these Rules of Thumb as a starting point, we may tweek The Rules to come up with a design that we find pleasing. BUT - we're doing the designing in SIDE VIEW and we're thinking in terms of the AREA the profile of the piece occupies - in 2D space (the piece of paper we're drawing on) - and - in SIDE VIEW.

When we get to the lathe and are turning, we're still turning - and thinking - in 2D and in SIDE VIEW. And while on the lathe, the profile we're seeing - is laying on its side - NOT standing upright. After finishing the turning of a piece that looks great - laying on its side - and seeing that it doesn't look as nice standing upright, we become away that the Visual Conext of the piece is important. So removing the piece from the lathe periodically and standing it up (or taking some digital images of the piece on the lathe and then rotating the images to see it standing up) to see it as it will be seen - from a SIDE VIEW - becomes part of our turning process. As a result, we turn pieces that we like - more often.

However - we're still playing with the SIDE VIEW. The problem is - the piece is seldom VIEWED in a SIDE VIEW, but more often is viewed from a distance and - FROM ABOVE. To see the SIDE VIEW of a piece in a normal setting, we'd have to hold the piece up to eye height - or lower our eye height - by squattig, sitting or kneeling down. At shows, folks are hesitant to pick pieces up to examine them - the Break It and You BUY It thing. And chairs at shows, strategically placed, ain't gonna happen either, nor are folks apt to squat down to see the SIDE VIEW profile of your piece.

We spend all that time and effort to come up with perfect proportions and nice profiles - and that's NOT what the viewer is going to SEE. They're going to see the piece from a distance and basically from above. All that effort spent on the 2D SIDE VIEW gets watered down between DESIGN and VIEW.

BUT WHAT IF . . we could design, INITIALLY, in SIDE VIEW, and then adjust the VERTICAL PROPORTIONS to compensate for some of the effect of PERSPECTIVE "foreshortening"?

THAT is what this article attempts to do- to come up with a VERTICAL ADJUSTMENT FACTOR, that, when applied to our initial 2D, SIDE VIEW, design, will result in a piece that, when viewed at a normal viewings distance and from a standing position - will visually have the proportions that we initially designed in SIDE VIEW.