On Revolver Aesthetics, Part 2 - Principles of design: Proportion and Balance
As I mentioned in Part 1, there are some recognized design principles that are universal. Let's look at some of them.
Proportion is the relationship, in terms of size and scale, among the various parts of a design, and of each element to the design as a whole. Proportion is about measurements: length, width, etc. and how those measurements compare to Remember that a revolver is a three-dimensional object: proportion is not just about length or width, but also volume. If we were to increase the barrel diameter of a revolver, even a small amount, its proportion to the rest of the gun would change dramatically - possibly more so than a simple increase in length. One could also alter the proportion my using visual tricks to make a part look more "3D" and increasing its visual volume - even if the part is essentially unchanged in physical size!
Proportion also applies to every part on the gun. If we were to increase the size of a hammer spur or triggerguard, it would change the proportions and alter the design. Maybe it would be better, maybe not - but each element has to be judged not just on how it relates to each other element, but how it relates to the entire object. Proportion is all about relationships!
Balance, on the other hand, is the concept of visual equilibrium. When balance is not present, the whole design looks as if it will "fall over" in some direction (if not literally) Achieving visual balance can be done symmetrically, where the elements are arranged equally on each side of an imaginary balance point, or asymmetrically, where the elements on each side of that point are arranged non-identically so that the whole looks balanced.
The latter is kind of a hard concept; imagine a teeter-totter. Balance is made when we have two children of equal size on each end of the beam (symmetrical), but could also be made with one really fat and two really skinny kids on opposite ends, of of one fat and one skinny kid, with the fat kid closer to the balance point and the skinny child at the end of the beam. These are examples of an asymmetrical balance, and the same principles apply to design balance.
The interesting thing is that balance is variable, because it relies on a visual fulcrum for your eyes to focus on, and can be very complicated, because there might be more than one balance point. Let's take an example of varying barrel lengths; radical changes in barrel length might change the visual balance of the gun depending on where your eye finds a fulcrum. In a good design, there might be several such points for your eye to rest on, resulting in good balance with a variety of barrel lengths.
What kinds of things can serve as visual balance points? The cylinder, the triggerguard, the cylinder latch, the recoil shield, and so on. Anything that can serve as a reference point on which to "arrange" other objects is a fulcrum.
Understand that this is distinctly different than physical balance, and it is important to separate the concepts. A great example is the Colt Python; while there are small visual changes in the earliest guns to the latest, the design was essentially unchanged from start to finish. An early 4" example has the same visual balance to a late model, yet the physical balance changed dramatically - because the lug on the earliest models was hollow, giving a distinct rearward weight bias. So, the guns had the same visual balance, but very different physical balances.
Next time, we'll examine some more concepts of design as applied to the revolver!
-=[ Grant ]=-