If you wish to build your own illusions or magical apparatus you must understand that designs must be functional, eye-appealing and structurally sound. Over look these facts and you can expect
to produce some rather ludicrous apparatus.
There are three inter-related factors dealing with proportions which govern good design. They are:
- The shape of an object must be proportionate to it’s size.
- The size of an object must be proportionate to it’s function
- The function of an object must be proportionate to its mass.
These factors are employed to camoflauge vulnerable areas, to create psychological stimulus and to produce a well balanced design. The most important thing about any design is that it should have stability. The object in question must appear to be well balanced and firmly anchored. There are few things more aggravating to the mind than an object that appears ready to topple over at any minute.
To illustrate the effect of a top-heavy design and poor structural design, look at the pagoda pictured on the right. This production stand is designed to conceal a load behind the roof. The apparatus appears awkward but the roof section cannot be reduced in size because of it’s function (see rule 2 above).
To improve the appearance we can make the base look heavier and wider and reduce the massive appearance of the roof with a relief design as shown in the second figure on the right. It is hard to believe that the size of the roof was not altered the slightest bit.
The problems of stability in design are almost always the same – that of reducing the appearance of weight at the top and adding the appearance of weight at the bottom. Most forms may be optically balanced with the aid of smooth lines, relief designs and stepped down bases. Color may also be used in stabilizing a design and I’ll talk about that in the future.