My friend Nick has asked me to write a post on ramification (also, to explain the triangle). I told him I would try. The triangle is a mystery to men the world over. Ramification is basically this: we have the main branch and it splits and splits until we have a system of smaller and smaller twigs. This “twigginess” is evocative of a mature tree.
There are several steps involved and, as far as some of the literature I’ve seen, the last steps are never covered.
Let’s quickly go over the basics.
The top pic is the unadulterated branch.
We cut at one of the first nodes in the next pic (at the arrows)
Pic 3 shows the branch grown out. Cut at the arrow again and we have pic 4. This is how we trim for movement and taper.
Technically, we would like branches to grow at the arrows (pic 1) but, as in pic two, they will tend to grow where the leaves are. And also where the arrows in pic two are. Growth in the inside curve is not desirable; it causes a weakness in the branch and interferes with the artistic “line” one is striving for.
So remove any growth there.
This shows branching. The terms are: primary, secondary and tertiary.
So far this is all according to dogma.
If we follow this line of technique we get, as the artist has so aptly put it, flat branch pads.
One remedy is to use wire.
Before we begin the process we put up and down moment in the branch. Using wire.
When the secondary branches grow in, they grow in a different plane of existence, uh…plane of the ecliptic …. No ummmm. The branch on the tree goes “up and down” the branches go “round and round, round and round”. You get the idea.
The second hand is that upward growing branch, bent down and filling in the flat bare spot that is represented by the palm.
(Big thanks to Fast Eddie, professional hand model. He’s available for hire lady’s)
Make sure you use that top branch to fill in spaces and not shade out the bottom
The pink is a top branch brought down and the yellowish, orangey (raw sienna to be precise) is the secondary branching off of the top. (This is the ficus retusa from this post)
Don’t like wire?
Here it is in ‘clip n grow’
Wait! What in the hell is that?
Basically, a scalene triangle (a triangle with all sides uneven) is an asymmetric shape that pleases the amygdala region of the brain. This is the happy place in the brain. Look it up.
Not to go into a dissertation on the mechanics of aesthetics and artistry, I will point out that the brain prefers asymmetry and odd numbers more than symmetry and even numbers. (Here’s a link to the ABS site for a decent explanation)
There have been arguments from every discipline starting at religion and philosophy through biology and psychiatry why this is so.
Let’s just simplify it and say that balance using an unbalanced form is pleasing to the eye.
Now to take a tree and doodle on it some more.
Here is a trick to help you visualize the triangle (there was a book called The Golden Triangle I came across as a young man. It was about blondes)
Using the same technique a movie director uses to frame a shot
(Make it look like a tree, Daniel-San)
Hopefully I’ve cleared it up a bit.
Mostly it takes time and patience. If you have neither, get more trees or grow tropicals.
Here’s a close up of that elm flower as a parting shot.