Aquascape by Martial Hervey from France, “Mystic River” IAPLC Ranking #27, 2015.
What goes into a great layout? What determines the difference between a contest-winner and an average piece of work? When evaluating layouts, they fall into a few different categories: “Landscape” inspired, where the layout mimics a scene someone would see above water in person, “Classic Nature Aquarium,” originally inspired by Takashi Amano, where the layout mimics an ideal form of under water nature, and “Biotope Aquarium” which focuses on replicating a layout that specifically replicates the actual nature found in a geographic area in the world – down to the flora and fauna.
Martial Hervey’s layout trends into the “Classic Nature Aquarium” category, where he uses a combination of iwagumi (or stone layout) and ryuboku (driftwood layouts) to create a kind of hybrid type layout.
Pay close attention to the transition from foreground, where it’s almost muted with low-growing plants, that transitions into the clearly defined mid ground (where classic plants like bolbitus and anubias are used) and then how that contrasts with the background of stem plants.
Classic layout rules of following the golden ratio (2/3 for focal point) and a classic foreground, mid-ground and background composition is vital in classic nature aquarium design. Technical expertise and technical awards work best here for higher ranking and a more appealing design, while also breaking the rules ever so slightly (in this case, the use of fauna, the rams with the schooling fish) brings a unique flavor to the layout, in addition to a focal point being centered around the dramatic stone face.
That drama in the stone work creates something different – it takes the classic layout and reforms it to being something creative, because typically in a layout that is heavy in stem plants and heavy with driftwood avoids the use of stone because they clash. However used here it blends with the flow and cutting of the stem plants before it and gives a bigger “pop” to the right side of the layout where it appears to be taller, more imposing and the driftwood stands out.
Stay tuned for more aquascaping as we go over the next 26 in IAPLC 2015!