Defining apical direction

I just finished up the Design Fundamentals video. Excellent video and it really helped me think about and see design choices.

I did struggle to follow @ryan’s logic when determining the direction of a tree’s apex. Either I missed some specifics that Ryan mentioned or different criteria matter in different contexts and I didn’t follow. Any pointers?

I sketched up these four hypothetical apices, absent from the rest of the tree:


#1 definitely moves to the left. Here, the high point is on the left side of the apex, and boundaries are roughly level

I think #2 moves to the left, but I’m less sure. The high point is laterally equidistant from the right and left boundaries of the apex, but the lower boundary leans the tree that way

#3 moves to the left as well. High point is on the left side, and the left boundary leans down too.

#4 I’m less sure about. High point is laterally to the right, but the left boundary leans down. Maybe this is a bad theoretical example and I’m just confusing myself :sweat_smile:

Is this something that just takes time and practice to see better? I’m definitely a beginner and trying to train my eyes to see design better


I think maybe you’re creating a confusing example by using a symmetrical box and trying to define something that should be asymmetrical. In your example #2, if I pull the right side of the tree in, then I create movement:

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Fair enough that I’m framing a thing that’s supposed to be asymmetrical. The grid might be visually constraining it a little. I’m mostly looking at pictures or other people’s trees instead of creating my own currently. Trees like Ryan’s Utah Juniper confuse me because they appear to have a high point that is equidistant from the right and left corners, and relatively little upward/downward motion

I think your re-drawn apex illustrates one of the conflicts I was struggling with too. Pulling the right corner of the apex in moves the high point to the right of the center, creating movement to the right. Simultaneously, the lower left side creates movement to the left. Am I interpreting this incorrectly?

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Ah, I think I see what you’re getting at now. I missed the line that pointed out that the drawings were just an apex isolated from the tree. However, when we talk about the directionality of the apex it’s in relation to the flow of the trunk line and the direction of the defining branch.

In the Utah example, it’s difficult to see the direction of the branch that forms the apex, but I believe that one goes back to the left.

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The center line should intersect the top of the apex. To that end this is how I read your examples.

#1 - Moves right, but needs to drop the right side to drive that home
#2 - Moves left
#3 - Moves right, but really needs to drop the right side
#4 - Moves left

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I read this as the apex moves right. The right side is just a tad longer and lower than the left. Given the wild nature of the tree it can pull of the dynamic design with, as far as I can see it, the defining branch going to the left.

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