This will be the first of many aquascape analysis posts, where beginners and even intermediate aquascapers can learn some of the basics of aquascaping. Each post, I'll take an aquascaped aquarium that I feel is an outstanding example of the art form and perform a detailed analysis of just what makes it so special. This week I'll be analyzing "ADA Tank 21" from the ADA Thailand website galleries. Click on the pictures for larger versions.
This is one of my favorite ADA (Aqua Design Amano) aquascapes because of the colors and the flow. The contrast between the red and the green plants is outstanding, and the light gravel further heightens the contrast. First, let's look at the profile of the scape:
As you can see, this aquascape has a "V" profile, where the plants seem to dip down to some point, creating a valley. This creates interest for the viewer, because their eyes are drawn to this dip. It also creates interest for the viewer. The human mind is curious, and we wonder what's through that dip and behind the tall plants. The variation in height also eliminates the "wall of plants" effect that can occur if all background plants are the same height.
Next, the focal point of this aquascape is clearly the red plant in the middle (I can't quite tell what type of plant it is exactly). It instantly draws the focus and attention of the viewer, acting as a "home base" for their gaze. Note well that this focal point is not in the center of the aquarium, but off to one side, following the Golden Rule of Aquascaping. However, there are also two other points of interest (yellow). From the focal point, the viewer's gaze is drawn to the left and to the right to the two groups of bright green plants on either end of the aquarium. This draws the viewer's eyes in a natural flow around the aquarium and back to the middle.
This flow is further enhanced by the placement of the driftwood. All of the pieces guide the eyes in the direction intended, that is either to the left and the right (or back to the focal point). They essentially act as a road map for the viewer's gaze. Eyes that wander uncontrollably or have no guidance in an aquascape create an uneasy, stressful feeling for the viewer. The driftwood pieces also help to separate the foreground from the background and create a defined midground, but at the same time, soften the boundaries between the areas by transecting them.
Here we can see the three seperate areas of the aquascape. The foreground (in green) is low and consists of moss covered rocks. The midground (blue) consists of driftwood and Java Ferns that add contrast to the fluffy moss foreground. The background (yellow) is the "meat" of this aquascape, with vibrant stem plants making up the entire background. Each area contrasts with the other areas, defining them for the viewer without sudden boundaries. This is done through colors and leaf shape/general plant appearance. This helps to create depth in the aquascape.
The name of the game in this excellent aquascape is contrast and the aquascaper uses colors, plant types and leaf shapes, and flow to help define areas, create depth, and guide the viewer's gaze.
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