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Introduction to 3-D Design

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Potters and ceramic artists should have at least an introductory knowledge of three-dimensional (3-D) design. Objects which have height, width and depth have greater intrinsic impact than their two-dimensional counterparts. A large part of this is that 3-D objects naturally impart a deeper sense of reality, solidity, and presence.

Elements of Design

3-D design involves the same three main elements of design as does 2-D design: balance, proportion, and rhythm.

  • Balance: this refers to visual balance, as opposed to an actual physical ability to remain upright. Visual balance can impart feelings or stability and peacefulness.
  • Proportion: the various parts or sections of a three dimensional object need to feel like they belong together. For the average pot, proportional ratios are 1:2 or 1:3, eitehr vertically or horizontally.
  • Rhythm: repetition of line or shape within the overall three dimensional form builds a sense of rhythm, which can be very regular or syncopated.

Methods of Developing 3-D Forms

"Sculpture" is from the Latin verb sculpere, which means to carve, incise, or cut. In this word we see the first of the three methods of developing three dimensional forms: subtraction, addition, and manipulation.

  • Subtraction: in sculptural terms, this means to cut away or otherwise remove material from a base block or lump to reveal and define the desired form.
  • Addition: in sculpture, this means to add material onto a base block or lump, building up or assembling material into the desired form.
  • Manipulation: also know as modeling, this sculptural method moves a mass of material into new configurations, without adding or subtracting any of the material.

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