Hardscape Aquarium Design Using The Rule Of Thirds

Placing The Elements

The rule of thirds, or plac­ing the ele­ments with­in a nature hard­scape, is a rule or method used when cre­at­ing ele­ment place­ment for a nat­ur­al aquar­i­um aquas­cape. It is uti­lized in the begin­ning stage of a hard­scape design. This rule is used as a guide to ensure the ele­ments, the bones, are placed in an aes­thet­i­cal­ly, pleas­ing man­ner. It is a rule in guid­ing place­ment of the bones of any nature aquas­cape, mak­ing it an impor­tant rule to con­sid­er before start­ing. The rule or guide is made to con­trol where the view­ers’ eyes will trav­el and focus on and what they will see. Pho­tog­ra­phers, land­scape and aquas­cape artists use this rule when tak­ing pho­tos or design­ing land­scap­ing and nature aquas­cap­ing pieces.

Breaking The Rules

You don’t have to fol­low the rule of thirds in your hard­scape or nat­ur­al aquar­i­um. It may be eas­i­er to fol­low this rule when you are a begin­ner so you can get the feel of how to place ele­ments aes­thet­i­cal­ly. You can still be suc­cess­ful and cre­ate a beau­ti­ful, stun­ning hard­scape or nat­ur­al aquar­i­um when break­ing the rules. I think of this type of art as “abstract scaping”.

Rule Of Thirds: Placing The Elements For Your Hardscape

Imag­ine that your nat­ur­al aquar­i­um is divid­ed into nine equal parts by two equal­ly spaced hor­i­zon­tal lines and two equal­ly spaced ver­ti­cal lines. The ele­ments (rocks,etc) that you are using to scape should be placed along these lines or their inter­sec­tions. The rule of thirds is used to cre­ate a more desir­able and inter­est­ing design result­ing in the view­ers’ eyes flow­ing through grace­ful­ly and enjoy­ing the beau­ty with­in these inter­sec­tions. The basic prin­ci­ple of the rule of thirds, is the divi­sion of a pho­to into 9 equal parts. Con­fus­ing? Absolute­ly. Even­tu­al­ly it will fall into place.

You will want to think about where you would like your view­ers’ to be drawn first, a focal point. From there the eye will then explore the rest of your scape, your com­pli­ment­ing pieces. The rule of thirds is to deter­mine where you are plac­ing the focal point and the sec­ondary points in your design.

tailsnteeth-aquascape-aqua-terra-hardscape-rule-of-thirds-placement-of-elements-article

Explain­ing it fur­ther, start by imag­in­ing that there are four lines. Two are hor­i­zon­tal. Two are ver­ti­cal. These lines are run­ning through a square of white paper and it is split into nine equal sec­tions. Where the lines cross it is called the gold­en focus point or the sweet spot for what you will be arrang­ing on it. Pho­tog­ra­phers and artists uti­lize the rule of thirds in their work. Here is an exam­ple of a sweet spot or focal point in a pho­to. The basic prin­ci­ple of the rule of thirds, is the divi­sion of a pho­to into 9 equal parts. A grid.

 

 

Rule Of Thirds In Your Nature/Natural Aquarium

Here is the rule of thirds for a stan­dard aquar­i­um seen from the front. The sol­id red sweet spot is where you would place your largest and high­est hard­scape ele­ment like rock or a main piece of drift­wood. This will be depen­dent upon what you have cho­sen. The red spot which appears to be fad­ed is where your sec­ondary hard­scape fea­ture would be placed. It is a com­pli­men­ta­ry piece to your focal point.

When trans­fer­ring the same grid lines to the top of the aquar­i­um, the rule of thirds is still in place. It indi­cates that the main ele­ment which is big­ger and high­er, will be placed near the back of the aquar­i­um. The sec­ondary fad­ed red sweet spot tells that the com­pli­ment­ing ele­ment should be place clos­er to the front of the aquarium.

You can add oth­er accent pieces remem­ber­ing to keep them com­pli­men­ta­ry and har­mo­nious togeth­er in style. There are many dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions that you can cre­ate to achieve a beau­ti­ful result. For instance, fill­ing 1/3 of the aquar­i­um spaces with your main fea­tures and 2/3 of your space will be neg­a­tive space or swim­ming space.

The rule of thirds can be con­fus­ing at first. When you have fig­ured out the con­cept of it, you will be able to see how it is used in oth­er aquar­i­ums. Test your under­stand­ing of the rule of thirds by look­ing at the hard­scape and nat­ur­al aquar­i­um. Try to see how they have incor­po­rat­ed this rule into their design in the pic­tures below.

You don’t have to fol­low the rule of thirds in your hard­scape or nat­ur­al aquar­i­um. It may be eas­i­er to fol­low this rule when you are a begin­ner so you can get the feel of how to place ele­ments aes­thet­i­cal­ly. You can still be suc­cess­ful and cre­ate a beau­ti­ful, stun­ning hard­scape or nat­ur­al aquar­i­um when break­ing the rules. I think of this type of art as “abstract scap­ing”. Here are two exam­ples of how the rule of thirds can be bro­ken and still pro­duce a beau­ti­ful scene that is pleas­ing to the eye and cre­ates nice flow.

Creating Depth In Your Scape

There is usu­al­ly not enough room, front to back, in an aquar­i­um to cre­ate a real sense of per­spec­tive and depth. You will have to be cre­ative and build an illu­sion of per­cep­tion and depth by care­ful­ly posi­tion­ing all the ele­ments you have cho­sen in your scape. You can also do this by remem­ber­ing the rule of thirds. Cre­ate more points of depth by begin­ning at the front of your tank where ele­ments should be low­est and con­tin­ue high­er and high­er in the fol­low­ing lay­ers until reach­ing the back of your aquar­i­um. You don’t need to place ele­ments in a straight line from left to right or side to side, or it will look unnat­ur­al. The flow of the view­ers’ eye will be off bal­ance and will not know what to focus on. These are just guide­lines to help you cre­ate a hard­scape or aquas­cape with depth and dimen­sion. In the pho­to below, it shows how rocks are placed in a lay­ered look from side to side and front to back. Each rock is placed in a dif­fer­ent plane and is not only cre­at­ing depth but a nat­u­ral­is­tic look. The rule of thirds was used to cre­ate the bal­ance in this tank. Plac­ing or lay­er­ing rocks like this also keeps a fair­ly shal­low and nar­row fore­ground. The expe­ri­enced aquas­cap­er will uses the space out­side the front of their tank for airi­ness (the space in between the ele­ments and the aquar­i­um glass). This also cre­ates a sense of depth and will make a beau­ti­ful, nat­ur­al tran­si­tion between the fore­ground, midground and the back­ground spaces. When cre­at­ing the fore­ground, try to envi­sion a river­bank. The edge of the water or shore has sand fol­lowed by small­er peb­bles and as you get clos­er to the land, the rocks grad­u­al­ly get larger.

tailsnteeth-hardscape-vs-aquascape-element-depth-rule-of-thirds

Although these exam­ples below are plant­ed tanks, it clear­ly shows how these ideas are used with hardscaping.