Elements of the slant style

I didn’t get a chance to ask this question on today’s Q+A, so I will put it out to everyone.

I have a couple of white pine prebonsai that are about 15" tall, and it’s time to start guiding them in the direction they might hopefully go.

What are elements of the classic slant style? From some reading I’ve done, there is the “formal slant”, where the trunk is kept very straight, albeit on a slant. Is there also an “informal slant” style?

The trunks already have a slight kink to them, so informal is definitely their destination. I know that pretty much anything goes these day but would like not to commit any obvious faux pas.

How are branches typically styled? My reading says straight out to the side.

Thanks in advance.

A slanted trunk tells me that the tree has suffered some form damage or lack of light to cause it to grow away from vertical. As a result, I think that rigid, horizontal branches don’t look natural. I have a couple of blue atlas cedars (C. atlantica gluaca) that I am developing in a slanted style. In both cases I have the longer lower branches sweeping down a bit as if deformed by snow load. Here is a picture of the better developed one. I think the apex is getting a bit tall which is starting to look a bit more like a tall informal upright so it will get pruned some this summer.

Thank you. That’s a very interesting idea. Your tree looks great.

I was just unwiring some small pyracantha where I had put in some tight bends. Most of them had shoots that were growing straight up. That reminded me that another story would be a tree that got knocked over by a one-time event, but not all of the way to the ground. The branches on the top would then grow straight up like some raft styles. Kimura did at least one forest slab planting with the slabs at an angle and the trunks straight up that can be another inspiration.