Decorate the house with anamorphosis

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Perspective artifices with which the images (very distorted) can be recognized by just one point of view, and which offer excellent applications in interior decoration.

Decorate the house with anamorphosis
Arch. Elena Matteuzzi
Arch. Elena Matteuzzi

What is anamorphosis

Anamorphosis is a particular type of visual effect according to which an image is distorted such as to make it virtually unrecognizable, from a precise point of view (generally placed at a certain distance and strongly foreshortened), or with the help of special tools, such as mirrors, conical, cylindrical or spherical.

This technique has been well known and practiced for centuries: in fact, already in the notes of Leonardo da Vinci are visible some small sketches with deformations of this type, while a very famous example (and such so that we fully understand how the anamorphosis works) consists in the paint by Holbein titled The Ambasciatori, in which at the feet of the two protagonists appear a figure corresponding to an oblong skull, recognizable as such only placing itself on the far right of the painting.

A second example is instead made by the fence of the corporate headquarters of Carpigiani, famous ice cream factory: in this case the various letters of the inscription, each five or six feet long, have a defomazione so pronounced as to be almost unrecognizable when viewed from the front, as you note in this picture.

Un esempio di anaformosi lineare dell'azienda produttrice di gelati Carpigiani.

Types of anamorphosis

Tazze con anaformosi catrottica, progetto del designer americano Ross McBride. There are two types of anamorphosis: the optical anamorphosis or linear (that I have already mentioned talking about the painting by Holbein), in which the image is warped according to the normal rules of perspective, but deliberately placing the vanishing point far away from the observer, so as to make it unrecognizable when viewed frontally, the catoptrics anamorphosis, in which the image appears normal only when reflected by a mirror of suitable shape, a generally cylindrical or even (more rarely) conical or spherical, in this case, both the deformation of the image and the overall effect are perfectly understandable by examining carefully these cups with saucers, designed by the American designer Ross McBride.

Decorate the house with anamorphosis

You can then take advantage of the extraordinary features of anamorphosis for visual communication and of course for the decoration of domestic interiors, especially in the following ways:

- With the linear anamorphosis, it is possible to decorate a space long and narrow, such as a corridor or hall: the deformed image can in fact be traced on the walls or the floor.

- Breaking up the anamorphic image among the various walls and pillars, such as in this embodiment by the Swiss artist Felice Varini titled Up-Down in which the image (a simple zig-zag line) has been broken and then projected on walls and pillars in the basic principles of the linear anamorphosis. This solution is particularly suitable for open-space (such as the living area of a large flat): in this case the image may be studied for example to be recognizable only from the front door, in order to intrigue a customer just arrived.

- Alternatively, you can take advantage of the retro-anamorphosis, drawing the deformed image on the floor or a wall, and using a simple column as a mirror of polished metal or a reflective sphere: this solution is very suitable for the living room, for example, for an open view staircase, perhaps spiral (where the column reflective would also have a bearing function) or even for a space of passage such as an entrance or a hallway.

How to apply the anamorphosis

Scema per creare immagini con anaformosi: griglia di partenza (destra), schema per anaformosi lineare (centro), schema per retro-anaformosi (sinistra).
Get an anamorphic image (ie deformed according to the rules of anamorphosis) is easier than it seems.

For one thing, we must build two gratings of different shape, but with the same number of squares horizontally or vertically: the first grid, taken as a reference and boxes with square or rectangular, the image will be drawn from the start, while the second pattern, shape varies according to the type of anamorphosis (trapezoidal anamorphosis for linear and circular or semi-circular retro-that, as seen in the illustration on the left), will return the image box to box by following the deformation, obtaining the desired effect.

At this point, to complete the work it will be sufficient to bring the deformed image in the desired point, enlarging it appropriately if necessary.

In the transition between the gridded and the lattice deformed (ie, in the operations of projection true) it is also possible - and indeed strongly recommended - the use of certain software, such as:
- Photoshop, a photo editing software and image processing particularly suitable for linear anamorphosis, because applying the many commands to lengthen or shorten, distort in various ways, rotate, and warp any image prospectively is practically possible to automate the process of projection.
- Rhinoceros (or another program for three-dimensional modeling and execution of rendering), very useful for retro-anamorphosis. In this case, you can do the following:
1) draw an area of similar size as the image you want (Area A);
2) draw on the Surface A reference grid, with square or rectangular boxes;
3) import the work of the software to the desired image, and apply it as a texture to the surface area A;
c) model the volume of the reflecting mirror with its actual size;
d) draw on the mirror reflecting a second lattice, corresponding to the one already drawn on the surface A;
e) drawing the reference plane of the modeling (coinciding with the floor or the wall that will contain the image that has been proceeded with anamorphosis) the deformed grid, circular or semicircular;
f) create a surface with the same shape and dimension of the deformed grid (Surface B);
g) apply the desired image as a texture on the surface of the mirror, to preview the overall effect of anamorphosis;
h) project the desired image on the surface B, for example by using the commands of projection and distortion of surfaces according to the uv patterns.

Or, finally, it is even possible to use a software specifically designed just for creating catoptrics anamorphosis, as for example Anamorph Me! freely downloadable at this link and with which it is possible to directly obtain deformed images.

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