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The "EYE"

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by tfeverfred, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. There's actually more than one kind of 'eye'. Some have only one, a few fortunate individuals have them all. I'd separate them out as the 'designer', the 'engineer', and the 'color'.

    The 'designer' has the eye for lines and shapes and how they work together. Arguably the rarest of the 'eyes', these are the people who can integrate all the design elements so it's looks like an organic whole. The downside with a 'pure' designer is practicality is sometimes sacrificed to the design.

    The 'engineer' is often mistaken for a designer, but they're more about 'form follows function' and attention to detail; the story above about the painter is a classic 'engineer' tale. An engineer will usually discard or modify a design element if it compromises function too much.

    The 'color' eye is also rare, but much harder to identify. There's so many variables that it doesn't always matter, although the more 'designer' influence there is generally makes color selection more important. If you have a hard time imagining the design in any other color, the 'color eye' is the reason.

    Most builders you see are 'engineer' types with maybe some talent in the other two types. It's definitely the most consistent 'eye' and by far the easiest to learn. To be really good at the other two you need some innate talent (which can't be taught) and the ability to fully visualize the finished item in your mind, although it's extremely hard to maintain original creativity all the time. Love him or hate him, Chip Foose is probably the best 'designer' in the US today and worldwide you still have to give it up to the Italians.
  2. ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1392615751.983013.jpg I think brizio has it down this car to me in every way has it all

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  3. ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1392615825.081733.jpg I would also add ryan reed to that his 37 is something else he has THE EYE

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    Kelly Burns likes this.
  4. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,608

    Rusty O'Toole

    Make a half assed effort, get no result

    Make a good effort, get a half assed result

    Make an excellent effort, get a good result

    Make a perfect effort, get an excellent result.
  5. adamshumard
    Joined: Jan 18, 2007
    Posts: 1,380


    Here's a couple shots of my truck. I like to think I hit the mark on it. At least as far as my taste goes. I didn't do a lot to it, but that was kind of the point.


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    rc57 and blackanblue like this.
  6. That "5-winder" is extra nice, Adam. I think you have the "EYE".:)
  7. metalman
    Joined: Dec 30, 2006
    Posts: 3,284


    When your talking about "eye" it's pretty ovious that some have it some don't. Years ago some customizer (can't remember who) told me that change has to be to make something to either make it look better or perform better but so many builders get into change for the sake of change only and that is where they get into trouble. Look at some of the early mags and becomes very apparent, guys would change lights, grills or something, especially on customs because they were "customizing". Often the change would look worse then the original, i.e, they had no "eye".
    We have a builder here, I respect his work and he has a good eye when it comes to hot rods but it seems he fails anytime he attempts a custom, guess he has a selective eye!
  8. teejay99
    Joined: Sep 26, 2009
    Posts: 356


    A good friend of mine who is an expert model builder calls it " the touch " but I suspect " eye " and "touch" are one and the same .

    The old saying " Less is More " applies here I think . Some folks overdo their cars/trucks to the point where they nullify the effect . Someone mentioned Foose ...I've always liked his look ( eye , touch ) .

    In the first set of pics , I think the 32 pickup is about perfect for effect , simplicity and continuity of theme .


    ** I have to say that most of the work of legendary customizer , George Barris , was in my eye , overdone . I think Ala Kart was the only one that grabbed me .
  9. wicarnut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2009
    Posts: 7,958


    The "EYE" or the "LOOK" go hand in hand IMO. We all have different ideas, taste, but for the most part the "GREAT CARS", have that something or combination, that grabs us and makes us agree, "WOW" nice car. I'm pretty happy with my "MINDS EYE" When I look at my cars, my "CAR CRAZY" life makes me a happy boy, now an old boy, still playing with cars. John
  10. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 4,274

    Ned Ludd

    Fred, the Eye of which you speak has a lot do do with the ability to set aside one's knowledge of what one is looking at and to consider only the form, shape, etc. It is that which moves the sharp kid to discover that the sky goes all the way down to the horizon, quite unlike the blue line across the top of the page the other kids are drawing. Later it is what lets the budding portrait artist see that a person's eyes are around half-way between the top of their head and their chin, and not considerably closer to the former. It's a way of seeing what you see by deliberately ignoring what you know (or think you know) is there.

    When it comes to cars it is the ability to see exactly what it is that makes cars that have a certain look succeed; to translate a visceral impression of coolness - of whatever kind - into a simple understanding of form, type, dimension, etc.

    It is best illustrated by what happens when people get it completely wrong. Decent hot rods have been a long time coming in my part of the world. For many years most failed to capture that look because the front tyres were too wide. There was no understanding of "bigs and littles". If you were to ask any would-be local hot-rodder what a definitive hot-rod wheel/tyre spec was they'd say, big fat tyres on the back and ever-so-slightly smaller on the front. The idea was that a proper hot rod couldn't have any tyres that weren't significantly wider than stock; "wide tyres" are, after all, a definitive high-performance thing. This despite many, many photographs on shop walls showing American hot rods on bigs and littles: what was lacking was the Eye to see how little the "little" half of that was - right there on the photographs - in the face of the "common knowledge" that all high-performance cars had hugely wide tyres all round.

    I must say that I am generally unconvinced of the idea of Beauty inhering in systems of proportion. Various proportions do all kinds of cool things; like a Golden Section will perpetually divide into a Golden Section and a square, setting up a series of nodes which can describe an infinite spiral, or any √x:1 system will perpetually divide into x² of its own proportion - the basis of the "A" and "B" series of paper sizes, using √2. I don't think it has anything to do with "inherent beauty", though.

    There are simple multiple-based systems. It is not generally appreciated to what extent the Classical Orders of architecture are just set out according to multiples of the column base diameter: no fancy math, no cosmic mystery. It's found in cars, too. I was looking at a photograph of a Bugatti Type 41 the other day, the Binder "Coupé Napoleon": the wheelbase is five times the tyre diameter; the overall height is twice the tyre diameter; and (unusually for a luxury body of even this size) the A-pillar is at the midpoint of the wheelbase.

    That that Bugatti looks extremely right to my eye has at least in part to do with my being into late-Vintage coachbuilding in a big way. Applying its approach to proportioning to another car might produce a car that looks good, but it will look good in a late-Vintage European quality car sort of way. Few hot rods will conform to this system of proportion, but may look as good in their way. As an aristocratic classic a '32 Ford is too tall in height, is too short in length and too short in the nose, and has wheels that are way too small, but these are exactly what might make it work very well as a traditional hot rod.

    I don't think any of these systems of proportion impart Beauty in themselves. They impart a resemblance to other stuff set out on the same system of proportion: whether that is good or bad, beautiful or ugly, depends on the observer. Beauty is not so much in the eye as in the soul of the beholder. It inheres not in the object but ultimately in the things we choose to stand for, the colours we nail to the mast.

    This is what makes the Eye important. It wouldn't have been necessary if Beauty could be got with a tape-measure and calculator. The Eye is needed to grasp what one wishes to honour in imitation or interpretation; to understand both what makes up the look in dry technical terms (from which one can indeed deduce some simple rules-of-thumb) and what the look is about in purpose, intent, meaning.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  11. ynottayblock
    Joined: Dec 23, 2005
    Posts: 1,954


    a few fellas with the "eye"

    Oz Welch, he has a great eye for proportion. Never overchops, takes away more than is added. He has a knack for knowing just the right amount of brightwork too:




    Also Cole Foster, whether it be 2 or 4 wheels...everything he builds just comes out right


    And Brian Bass...he can take parts from 3 different body styles and blend them into something that looks like it could have been made by the big 3
  12. ynottayblock
    Joined: Dec 23, 2005
    Posts: 1,954


    But to add to the topic. In order for something to look really right, it has to hit on the following:

    stance- can be too low or too high...this must be just right
    proportion- in chop, channel, section etc
    line/flow- the silhouette of the car, bodylines meeting, panel gaps, rounding corners where necessary etc
    colour- can make or break a vehicle
    harmony -in the parts used and the Era of build styles
  13. bgbdlinc
    Joined: Jan 11, 2002
    Posts: 522

    Member this thread...
  14. Keep
    Joined: May 10, 2008
    Posts: 662


    Some very interesting observations in this thread.

    Sometimes the simple things can help the eye see what may have been missed. I am not saying I have it, or not, but when I was building and laying mine out, I found this to be immeasurable in helping put things where they needed to be.

    Good ole green tape and hours of moving things here and there :)


  15. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,792

    Member Emeritus

    I'm so glad you posted that tape trick. Every time I see a hot rod with the grill shell higher than the firewall, I think, "He must have run out of tape." The lines from the firewall to the grill shell have made or ruined a LOT of otherwise great hot rods. I remember seeing the tape trick being done a long time ago and always thought it was the thing to do and easy. Yet, some guys try to guessimate it, and fail.

    I remember my art teacher telling the class about the human eye and how it can't be trusted. The columns of the Parthenon are wider in the middle, than they are at the top and bottom. It isn't a lot, but it's enough that the human eye is tricked into seeing them completely straight. And it wasn't until recently that it was discovered that the sides of The Great Pyramid are slightly concave.

    I think the experts have the ability to use perception to their advantage. To me, a prime example is the car with a chopped top, but it almost doesn't look chopped. It's done so well, that the car seems to have come from the factory that way. I love a nice custom, but I hate it when the builder does something just because he could. Same with hotrods.

    Even in these hi-tech days of Photoshop, some guys STILL hack the hell out of a car, without trying to see what the end result might be. Hell, a couple photos and a pair of scissors could save a lot of grief.
  16. GearheadsQCE
    Joined: Mar 23, 2011
    Posts: 2,801

    Alliance Vendor

    Cool stuff. I'm wondering about the use of color. I like some of the old lakes type cars with two tone. Red over white, front and back etc. What makes the car look fast or sinister or tough. Dark top light bottom better for a chopped car than visa versa.

    I know what I like when I see it but I can't always picture what will look best for a particular car.

    Who knows this stuff and can explain it?
  17. slammed
    Joined: Jun 10, 2004
    Posts: 8,151


    Customs/Kustoms should slope to the rear in stance and body lines. Smoothly. Hot Rods should have a forward rake. Chops (if any) should compliment the look of either style. Trends need to be held in check (BLACK wheels lately) as well as color. Keeping themes and eras tight to avoid the clumsy, garish results of trying too hard at being different. Expect to hear critique when posting pix and or questions. Study other builders, art renderings, old magazines to fully understand what you are looking for. Put one on the road, posting gibber only goes so far.
  18. caton462
    Joined: Jul 17, 2013
    Posts: 176


    I like that line about the human eye can't be trusted. My father had me draw a face to make an example, it did not look right no matter what I tried. He had me draw it again with the eyes in the middle top to bottom. Wow!! What a difference, he also explained fitting things into a triangle, seems to give good balance. I use the triangle trick a lot.
  19. hawleywood1
    Joined: Nov 7, 2010
    Posts: 87


    Some of the great cars that Brizio has done. Great post.

    Attached Files:

  20. there is a sign painters trick, that they actually make some letter bigger than others because of their shape they appear the same size.
    don't quote me but i think the round letters are bigger.
  21. BratRod
    Joined: Oct 10, 2007
    Posts: 51


    Something I always notice on the "right" cars is the ratio of chrome to painted area and also the way that they interact with one another. I think Norwell's truck shows what I mean well. There are chrome air cleaners and chrome valve covers that get separated out by the red intake. If the intake was polished neither the valve covers nor the air cleaners would have the same "pop". It's very rare that I see a car that I love that is all one finish. A simple band of chrome here and there or a simple painted stripe can make all the difference. Its the same with some of the other finishes. The same truck with a red fire wall would have a totally different feel. The white ties the tires, interior, and bed together perfectly. It makes the car seem unified with just the right balance. There is a substantial amount of white there but its in the right ratio to the red.
  22. fnqvmuch
    Joined: Nov 14, 2008
    Posts: 281


    O's etc. are bigger, so as to seem to sit on the same line, yes.
    Similarly the French flag's three colours would not look equal if they were, and
    the verticals on a Rolls Royce radiator are not equidistant - or parallel - as the
    columns of the Parthenon, where guys without computers even curved it's horizontals to look straight.
  23. 57tailgater
    Joined: Nov 22, 2008
    Posts: 732

    from Georgia

    To me there has to be a total sense of proportion that combines harmoniously with a theme for the vehicle. All of the vehicles posted on this thread follow this. This comes with a vision the creator had and followed thru with. This is why, IMHO, there are certain vehicles that really get and hold our attention. Yes, there are ones we all ask "why" and pass on by but the ones we are talking about here we will look at over and over to fully soak up the total statement the vehicles makes. I am constantly amazed by what people can create and love when they will share it with us. But one thing also to take into account is beauty is in the "eye" of the beholder and one must respect that. There are ones a lot of people may like but for some reason just not do it for me. This is what makes the hot rod world great. Yet there will always be vehicles that will engage more people than others because of its total look and theme. :cool:

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  24. partsdawg
    Joined: Feb 12, 2006
    Posts: 3,018

    from Minnesota

    The builders with a great eye build stuff that are so "right" that they make the hardest details look easy. They can build the vision in their mind down to the last detail. Not many can Do that. It isn't that other builders can't do it but some have the Inate ability to transfer thought to form and keep to a concise all over plan. That is the artistry of design,the skill to bring the minds eye to a rendering in metal

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    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
  25. fishnuts.
    Joined: Mar 9, 2013
    Posts: 41

    from wisconsin

    I have always loved the k.I.s.s. method. Simplicity yet functionally classy will always win.

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  26. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 4,274

    Ned Ludd

    There's no academic consensus about the purpose of entasis in columns etc., by the way, and much speculation. Certainly the usual explanation, that it is an optical corrective, isn't quite satisfactory. One would think that it would have the opposite effect, and it probably does.

    On top of that it is necessary to consider if the effect differs depending on one's viewpoint. We're inclined to suppose the trick is supposed to work best for someone standing on the stylobate or plinth, between the columns, and so seeing the greatest convexity something between waist-height and chest-height. I submit that at that distance one's perspective is so distorted that no convexity is going to make the columns look straight. Besides, it doesn't really square with ancient Pagan temple liturgy, as that was oriented to people standing on the ground outside the temple, for whom the greatest convexity would be somewhat higher than eye height.

    My theory? It's banal enough: it makes the building look bigger than it actually is. If one looks up at a tall object of constant section it appears to bulge; hence one learns to judge height by the apparent bulge compared to what one knows to be straight. Add a physical bit of bulge to something, and one is induced to judge the thing a bit taller than it actually is. The far end is smaller than it's "supposed" to be; therefore one thinks it's further away than it actually is.

    The bit of camber in the friezes will have the same effect, as will the slight concavity in the long sides. And, of course, all this has to be subtle enough that one doesn't pick it up when looking at the building from a long way off.

    Interestingly, the opposite of the principle of entasis was applied in the Middle Ages, to the buttressing of Gothic buildings. Successive pier copings up the sides of buttresses became steeper towards the top, so that the difference in angle at which the observer on the ground sees them is less than they would have been had the copings all been at the same angle. The result is that the buttress looks smaller than it actually is. (But that is the Middle Ages all over. I hold that high Modernism is in fact a sort of Classicism, because both are about making things big, few, and uniform; while the Gothic wants things small, many, and varied. The import of the respective religious approaches in that should be fairly obvious.)

    Point? First, that all this stuff is simpler than we might think. Second, that it still doesn't guarantee "Beauty" but depends on what one is trying to achieve. Using entasis to make a column look taller might be very clever but it makes for a beautiful building only if tallness in that situation supports one's chosen conception of beauty.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  27. Gary Palmer's.....Owner at Past Time Hot Rods and Customs
    Lives in Garland, Texas

    Attached Files:

  28. ......Excellent observations. How many times have you been to a show and seen a car or truck (often a late model p/u) that has EVERYTHING possible chromed. It just doesn't work, although it seems that the "judges" at little local events love it.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  29. luke13
    Joined: Oct 25, 2013
    Posts: 381


    why do gassers look so damn cool then? there propertions to the eye are all over the place and freakish, but some how a large percentage of them work.
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 8,279


    You can find some of the tricky dimension shifting spoken of in the rear qtr panels of classic 30s roadsters and convertible coupes. As the line climbs up and bends toward the door it doesn't run straight in the last dozen or so inches. It has an arc that actually runs down as it meets the door. From the side of the car you can't pick it up. Even when you know it's there it does the job that was intended, creating a smooth transition to the door reveals and then off to the hood where it's finished.

    On this example, the arc I described starts up just behind the top. By the time it's at the center of the top it starts back down and ends right at the door. The eye says it's straight, even the pinstripe says it is, but it's not.

    The body is wider at that point than it is at the rear or the front. The arc in the quarter panel reveal helps the eye maintain a straight relationship with the door reveal. If you were of a mind to do so you could calculate in mathematical terms the distances and requirements. The arc is highest where the body is widest, so if you were to tip the flat panel out without the arc it would appear lower or sagged. Can anyone see it?

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