11 February 10

Bird Looking Right

yellow-billed magpie, pen and ink Long-time readers of Bird by Bird may have noticed that i try to alternate my bird sketches to the left and right of text. This is mostly to break up visual monotony on my blog page. But I’m also always trying to have the bird facing the text, rather than looking off the page. (I can’t help it. Years of work as a designer make me notice this kind of thing as opposed to being able blithely to ignore it.)

Yellow-billed magpie, pen and ink But the problem is this: most of the birds I sketch are facing right. This doesn’t mean that most birds face right; it means that most of the ones I actually sketch are facing right. Studies have shown (and if I were writing a psych paper I’d run out there and fish out some references) that the human brain is far more likely to home in on not just the eyes of something with eyes, but the eyes looking a particular direction. This seems to change with hemispheric domination, and I’m not sure what dictates what, but my hemisphere seems to dictate that I draw birds facing right.

Photoshop to the rescue? Alas. The lower magpie is flipped in photoshop but it looks wrong to me, off, somehow, definitely off-balance. It’s very strange. You should try it.

Posted by at 07:23 AM in Bird By Bird | Link |
  1. wow, I didn’t know that was a real brain thing. interesting! I consciously try to alternate sketch birds’ direction every once in awhile, but there’s no helping it when I’m mindlessly doodling.

    marissa    11. February 2010, 15:28    Link
  2. Fustian, welcome! I just took a look at your prints, and I’m drooling.

    Yes: if there’s a field full of crows out here, I try and do them both ways, but I have to make a conscious effort to do the ones facing left…

    Pica    11. February 2010, 16:08    Link
  3. My first reaction is that if you are right handed it’s easier to draw a left facing bird because you start with the head and draw across the body, (or vice-versa if left handed) but I may be way off base!

    Funny thing about flipping images in PhotoShop. I do that with photos sometimes and they don’t look right, sometimes it’s the shadows….

    marja-leena    11. February 2010, 17:49    Link
  4. Actually, your magpies look great either way round! I find it much more easy to draw a left-facing bird. Just as we write text from left to right, I like to start with the head and progress along the body.

    rjhall    16. February 2010, 06:30    Link

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