Functional Design
#1
Hey, is it true that things look the way the do because of what they do?

Does function rule/dictate the shape/form something is going to take?

Can you figure out what the purpose of parts of an object are just by observation


How do you research how things work? Read about it, see it in action, Study multiple views?

Are there any general rules and limits on the mechanics that objects are capable of?
Are there any basic laws of how mechanisms work?

It seems that understanding the mechanisms of how things work is just as important as perspective for making something up out of your head. If you have the experience of understanding alot of different objects and their part's functioning and location. Like the humerus rotates inside the scapula, or the knee flexes and extends.

Is the base of it as simple as hey this thing turns, this thing pulls, this thing twists, this thing reaches toward the sun, etc. ?

Is it as simple as using verbs and adjectives to understand mechanisms?

p.s. I don't have a clear cut question, I don't really know what I'm asking. I'm brainstorming because I don't get how to understand more complicated objects I guess. And wondering about the importance of the function of things and how one can go about by breaking things down and understanding them, without being an engineer or industrial designer and getting into all that math boleshit.
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#2
Form follows function! Generally anyway. Can't really say much more than that unless you're talking about a specific "thing". There's lots of things in this world.

One thing I will say though, nobody is going to give a damn that you know how some bone rotates, or how an engine works, if your drawing isn't good. Knowledge of mechanics wont necessarily enable you to draw that thing. Brings to mind an aphorism by the artist John Ruskin. He's told about a great picture of St. Jerome and his lion; St. Jerome painted by a saint, the lion painted by a hunter, and the chair painted by an upholsterer. To which his reply is essentially "no thanks". (I'm paraphrasing).

You probably get the idea.

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#3
I guess I was thinking that if there were some overall principles of mechanics that helped being aware of details of objects and the different positions they took, you would have more to back up your memory of something rather than just remembering what something looked like from a particular view point.
And also helping you design believable concepts that could function atleast in a fictional world.
I've heard form follows function before, I think Vilppu says that. But I don't get how to apply that idea I guess. So if something is needs to stretch and reach the form is going to be more thin and balance off a fulcrum of sorts. IDK I'm a fucking retard lol.
I think probably it seems people just understand things like this unconsiously just by doing alot of drawing.
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#4
Well, what's an example? Maybe i'm on the wrong track. Because there's so many different contexts where you might need to know how something works, especially if you're talking about design. And a lot where you wouldn't. Do you need to know the mechanics of a clock to draw it? no.

But then cloth, maybe you'd need to know how it folds and drapes. There's different kinds of folds, points of tension, etc. Those are mechanics too, and they effect its outward appearance. But again, if we are just talking about basic drawing stuff, my point is that knowing stuff like that might help, but it wouldn't enable you to draw cloth or anything else.

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#5
(05-09-2020, 04:21 AM)JosephCow Wrote: But again, if we are just talking about basic drawing stuff, my point is that knowing stuff like that might help, but it wouldn't enable you to draw cloth or anything else.

This is a good point. If having a functional understanding of something was enough to enable one to draw it, doctors would be able to draw good figures and mechanics would be able to draw great tractors with minimal effort. SOME functional understanding is needed, especially for creating new designs, but there is some basic drawing ability that's more important.
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#6
Hey there Forsaken Pluto, welcome to Crimson Daggers by the way :).

You sound like a bit of a thinker!

If I may read between the lines here - it seems you are thinking about making art from imagination?

Thinking about how things work so that you can make it up out of your head?

Making art from imagination is something I have been giving a lot of thought into myself and for me - I agree with Joseph and Pubic about training in drawing skills but also I think understanding how a mechanism functions is very helpful too - for me it boosts my confidence when I am inventing and confidence is a very useful thing when going into making a piece of art.

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#7
" is it true that things look the way the do because of what they do? "

Yes, its true. For example a tank is basically a metal box, because it basically has the purpose to take heavy damage and to serve its efficiency in battle to is maximal capabilities. There are no aesthetic purposes when designing a tank , because it would be a waste of money. Same with heavy equipment and farming machines .

A car for example has to have more aerodynamic form in order to cuts though the air better, this way it reduces fuel costs and makes the car more stable. You can see that a lot of people took inspiration from birds and water creatures, because their forms are aerodynamic. This is may be most obviously seen in Luigi Colani's work. To understand this concept better, you should research what " packaging" is. There is this book called H-point by scott robertson which explains it.

Also check out this : https://gumroad.com/l/visualdesign

When somebody designs a product which looks very beautiful, well designed or expressive, they take artistic liberty. Still the designer usually first designs the "packaging", how something would function, its dimensions , where the handles would be etc. . Then dress it on top, changing the forms to something incredible looking. Imagine packaging is the under drawing, and designing is the layer you draw on top. The more visually design things usually have to do with showing status or being a part of some movement or idea, not function.

A good analogy for balancing in between the two is "If you ask an engineer to design a sports car , it would look like a tractor. If you ask a designer to design a sports car , it would look very cool... but where do you put the engine?"

For us , as concept artist's, we can go with 30% function, 70% design. However that's not the point at all. The point is that every concept in a movie or a game is a part of a story, or a metaphor for saying something. Sometimes you might have 2 designs of a spaceship, one insanely functional looking and one insanely beautiful. The question is not , which one looks better(the beautiful one) or believable (The functional one) , the question is : Which one enhances the story and the role of that spaceship in the story? The spaceship is there for a reason, its used as a symbol -> to say something by the way it looks and not to be beautiful or functional. Thus concept art has to do more with a design giving you meaning/ an experience and enhancing the meaning in the story. If it just looks cool, but gives no experience , its absolutely pointless. Because beautiful things which don't give you personal meaning, are very forgettable.

I hope this helps
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#8
Oh also, the reason why things look the way they do has to do with production as well. For example the way machines bend metal sheets to create certain forms and then merge those sheets to create the overall form of an object. If something has great packaging and design , but it order to produce its shapes would cost a lot or would require special machines for production, its very likely the product wouldn't make it to the market.
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#9
Well you certainly seem to have a strong interest toward analytic drawing.And possibly product design if your really interested by those question.Well to think in term of function you need to start to use the vocabulary that goes with.For example what the use of the object? What it range of motion? How do it shape change if you do this or that.Those are example of question that try to problem solve what the object about and how it behave in 3d space.Being able to have a rich vocabulary help you develop more precise solution to your design problem.But not every product who as a function is functional unless it form was tailored to make it functional.For example a vase that would have an empty inside but no opening would be a fail design.

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The journey of an artist truly begin when he can learn from everyone error.
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#10
(05-09-2020, 04:21 AM)JosephCow Wrote: Well, what's an example? Maybe i'm on the wrong track. Because there's so many different contexts where you might need to know how something works, especially if you're talking about design. And a lot where you wouldn't. Do you need to know the mechanics of a clock to draw it? no.

But then cloth, maybe you'd need to know how it folds and drapes. There's different kinds of folds, points of tension, etc. Those are mechanics too, and they effect its outward appearance. But again, if we are just talking about basic drawing stuff, my point is that knowing stuff like that might help, but it wouldn't enable you to draw cloth or anything else.
I kinda have a different opinion on that.I say it always help to know how thing work but ultimately it the intention(Story) that determine what the viewer is required to see.I would also argue that even a static clock require you know atleast it the visible component you don't need to know everything about the thing that the viewer doesn't see but it might be necessary if at one point or an other the viewer as to understand the function.Let say you draw a comic or draw for animation in those case there more chance that you have to know more about an object because there can be an actual interaction between a imaginary person and the object.It no longer just a stand alone illustration.

My Sketchbook
The journey of an artist truly begin when he can learn from everyone error.
Teamwork make your dream work.
Asking help is the key to growth.
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