Alex is a designer and illustrator from Rochester in the US. I’ve been following him on Instagram for a while and I’m constantly impressed by his work. His drawings have a lovely balance and harmony to them and he manages to convey a sense of naturalness despite the fact that he draws almost exclusively in very simple forms.
So what is it that makes Alex’s drawings so harmonious? Of course it’s partly clever choice of colour. In the image on the right above, Alex has chosen complementary colours that fall to the right and left of the key colour on the colour wheel.
But is there more to it than that? I decided to analyse one of his drawings to try to find out if there is a pattern or a set of rules that he follows that makes it so appealing to the eye.
As an architecture student you learn dozens of ways to analyse a drawing, but unfortunately I didn’t have time for all of them. I decided to pick just three: figure/ground, grid, and shape distribution.
The figure/ground study show that there is an even distribution of patches of purple. This contributes to the harmonious feel of the drawing. I didn’t have time to trace all the other colours, but I expect they would give the same result with the exception of the dark base colour.
More interesting perhaps, is the grid analysis in which you can see some remnants of the original grid Alex used to create the picture.
The last thing I decided to look at (realising that I’d spent far too much time on this already) was to trace every circle used in the image. It seemed to me, looking at the image, that the proliferation of circles was one of the key factors in its visual appeal. What I hadn’t realised until I started tracing them was that the circles were only of a few different sizes. In fact, that there was a set of rules governing the use of the circles in the same way that there were rules governing the use of colours and the layout of objects on the grid.
I began to wonder about Alex’s design process. I presume he went to design school and learnt about grids and colours and figure/ground and all those things whilst he was there, just as I did at architecture school. Yet, to me the naturalness of the image and the way the objects are placed, suggests a highly developed instinct for making an image appealing to the eye. A skill well worth having.