Watching the hellboy extras today, including Carlos Huantes Behemoth design, and I noticed they kept commenting on how symmetry in a creature or a character is a bad thing, hence why hellboy, and the other creatures all have slightly larger appendages on one side? Do you guys agree with this notion?

I personally think A symmetry can be more interesting, especially if it makes logical sense but I don't know about all cases

2. making them unsymmetrical can make them more interesting i think, because we are so used to things being symmetrical. but its all good.

3. Nothing in character design is bad as long as it has a clear purpose!

Generally, asymmetry is used for characters who are meant to be evil or at the very least, a little unsettling. Asymmetry makes humans nervous by default, even if on a minute level. Pairing asymmetry with sharp angles and harsh shapes is effective for an immediate read of an ill-natured character.

But it's more fun to bend the rules once you know them! One of the exercises from my character design class in college was to design a symmetrical, round character that was unpleasant and an asymmetrical, sharp character that was pleasant. It was HARD. One of the best submissions in the class for the symmetrical/unpleasant one was a monster made of squishy, interlocking human baby limbs. It fulfilled every aspect of the assignment for sure

However, if you are designing characters for something that will be animated in Flash (particularly for a video game where memory is always a concern), it's very wise to make characters symmetrical, whether they are good or evil. That way you can cut back on the number of symbols you will need - if I have to do a turn sheet of a character from 7 angles (profile R, 3/4R, 2/3R, front, profile L, 3/4L, 2/3L) I need only to draw half of those angles and then flip the symbol, resulting in 4 symbols rather than 7. If each pose needs their own sets of hand symbols, mouth symbols, feel symbols, etc then that really adds up and saves a lot of memory.

...did that make sense? O_o

Last edited by Steph Laberis; March 26th, 2007 at 09:17 PM.

5. I think it's bad and stagnant in composition - though I'm experimenting with that a lot

6. I think it's bad and stagnant in composition
except those times when it's awesome. Stop with the rules people, makes me cranky

7. <Mr. Mackey voice> Symmetry is bad, mmmkay?

8. show me when it's awesome Dave! I must know!

9. that's William Hand's artwork, the face is symmetrical, BG pretty much too,
The image fits requirements of awesome, IMO.

I might get scolded by the artist, I'm reposting without his permission...for you Tom.

10. Well, loosely speaking, a monolithic composition is a symmetrical composition. I happen to think monolithic compositions can be pretty kickass when appropriate

11. Sveta, here the subject is symmetrical and not the composition in my opinion. Bill is a stud If her face was right in the middle I think it wouldn't be nearly as interesting.

Dave; having a hard time finding anything on monolithic composition - I'm really interested, how about a hand?

12. Asymmetry is just more interesting.

I remember clearly of the time when I was young and really into robots/mechs. Transformers, Robotech, the good stuff.
However, I would only like the robots that were symmetrical. Then gradually as I got older, for no apparent reason, I started to like asymmetrical objects.

13. I think you need symmetry, then you can break it at some places which you want to be characteristic/interesting. A human is largely symmetric, but you can have an asymmetrical hairstyle, smack on a beefy cyborg arm, or whatever. The brain will register the form, compress it to "symmetric humanoid", and then add the exception. The combination results in the experience of 'character'. You don't want ot make it too hard for the brain to register and memorize the form by making it completely noisy and assymetrical. It's a balance, you need to have boring familiar stuff so the other stuff will stand out.

Similarily, a perfect (or totally average) female face is more interesting if you break it at some places. It brings character.

14. There are no hard and fast rules. Loosely, a composition should be assymetrical if you want it to portray action or a complex story, and symmetrical if you want it to present one subject in a meditative or glaringly direct way. Loosely, anatomy should appear symmetrical if you wish to portray health, normalcy, or beauty. Everything else is up for grabs.

15. I think it's easier to get a asymmetrical composition to be interesting and intriguing - I've always had difficulty doing something symmetrical that grabs the viewer. However, as the pros have said, there is nothing wrong with either. It depends purely on your goals with the piece - form follows function type of idea, though that's perhaps a bad analogy.

- d.

16. Not surprising. Perfect symmetry is actually something we don't like to look at, and when we see it, the fact that it is perfectly symmetrical jumps out at us to such a point, all we notice is it is symmetrical, not what it is.

17. i find it fascinating that so many professional and highly experienced artists cant come to a single 'concrete' conclusion of whether symmetry is good or bad. goes to show you that 'art rules' are subjective and bent in so many ways by so many people.. its almost pointless to learn them, yet essential to understand so they can be manipulated.

im by no means an expert or a professional, but my 2 cents is to say that it depends on the subject or how you want to portray the subject. there is a better way and a not so better way, and sometimes symmetry can help in that matter.. - JAG

Last edited by JAG.; March 27th, 2007 at 01:21 PM.

18. Straight on symmetry can be a bit static, but I'm pretty sure there are many ways of applying symmetry in interesting and less obvious ways, something like diagonal symmetry or an arm mirroring a branch in the background or something.

For example, in one of my self-portraits I hid the form of a symmetrical fish and a heart in the composition of the folds of my t-shirt, and the bottom of my hand mirrored another one of the folds in my t-shirt, I know the first example sounds a bit corny but I didn't make it obvious and it happened naturally so it gave me a sense of design to work from.

19. Originally Posted by JAG.
i find it fascinating that so many professional and highly experienced artists cantcome to a single 'concrete' conclusion of whether symmetry is good or bad.
Of course we can't come to a conclusion! This stuff is all subjective. Get a room full of professional artists together, and the debates just get more fun.

20. Yeah, Tom, I agree it is a sly use of both, composition contains elements of asymmetry as well, and the center of the page isn't a center of composition. But symmetry is the whole idea of this image IMO. Up close and personal, persistent look right into viewer eyes with not being able to avert eyes. Straight contact, not barriers or sideways glances. Symmetry gives this clear straight forward feeling. You want examples of absolute symmetry? I doubt it exist. Art is not created by machine.
Edit. I'll try to look at Greek or Russian Orthodox icons, I might find a a lot of symmetry there used with the same purpose. Unavoidable contact and solemnity.

Even in the painting I posted there are elements of asymmetry inside her face, apparently put with the reason Prom or Steph explained in their posts, to offset it a bit, stir a different emotion, still giving to brains a lot of recognizable comforting forms.

Last edited by sve; March 27th, 2007 at 10:10 AM.

but of course i'm a little bit
biased, being

22. Yes, I know it is not a pure symmetry of composition, but it is the main element and it is still attractive. Symmetry is rarely used as I observed looking for it in art galleries on-line.

Taj Mahal looks better when photo is strictly symmetrical. Those damn clouds, just can't stay on both sides . .

Last edited by sve; March 27th, 2007 at 11:23 AM.

23. Ikuru's TD entry. Posting without permission again, Sigh.. I'll shut up now.

24. wow even the ehad cloak balances out to the right on mary while the body cloak goes left ! baby jesus is the only thing ruining the symmetry!

25. Among symmetrical pieces I really like this one made by Android:

http://www.androidjones.com/images/m...DREW_JONES.jpg

There are subtle differences in detail between left and the right side and this makes the picture interesting.

26. Gods have a habit of doing that...

Perfect symmetry in a subject can sometimes be deadly boring, but the same used compositionally can result in some extremely powerful images. This is the "monolithic" look Dave referred to earlier. I have a natural tendency to go to this when I'm in a hurry, so I have to make a conscious effort to avoid it.

27. Hmm, I have a question to ask, slightly away from the whole symmetry in art thing.

I personally find assymetry in people attractive. A quite large scar for example; it's just far more interesting and on very rare occasions it even does naughty things to me. Also, faces, male sex symbols often seem to have quite clear cut faces, whether that's just fashion of the time or is natural attraction I'm not entirely sure, but either way a small amount of sharp angles or assymetry or the likes does seem to have a rather appealing effect, in different ways and maybe to different people.

So, the questions are, 1. does anyone share this. 2. does anything think this isn't really true, and that if I saw someone who was symmetrical I would actually be more attracted. 3. How much is this reflected in liking of art.
You see, some people have said 'I like symmetry' some people have said 'I like both' and so on... so how well do you all think it relates and where does a/symmetry just make you think "Eurgh."?

Oh, and Rabid Peanut, I was going to say 'yeah, damn baby jesus, ruining everything', but if you draw a line down Mary's left eye, you can see symmetry with Jesus and Mary's headscarf. There's even symmetry with Jesus's leg and arm and Mary's left arm.

Last edited by Rhynome; March 28th, 2007 at 01:15 PM.

28. Oh wait, symmetry in composition and not character design? Looks like I rambled for nothing ^^;

One of my favorite Illustrators uses symmetry quite often and I do not feel a sense of static composition - my eye moves along the image quite nicely actually.

Can't we all just agree that the rules are made to be broken?

29. Originally Posted by Steph Laberis
Can't we all just agree that the rules are made to be broken?
*laugh* There's no sense of Rebellion if we all agree! Conformity is the artist's nemesis.

30. Originally Posted by Rhynome

Oh, and Rabid Peanut, I was going to say 'yeah, damn baby jesus, ruining everything', but if you draw a line down Mary's left eye, you can see symmetry with Jesus and Mary's headscarf. There's even symmetry with Jesus's leg and arm and Mary's left arm.
SHit......your right, damn jesus and all his omnipotentnessessesss!!!!

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