Creating the illusion of depth
The idea of an accent plant is a little dated. There needs to be some sort of focal point, but it doesn't need to be a specimen plant of any sort. It can just as easily be an open space... Creating the illusion of size in a smaller tank, or any tank for that matter, can be acheived partly by using small plants.
To maximize this effect, you would use plants with larger leaves in the front and get smaller as you work towards the rear and toward the focal point. This is only one device that you could use.
John hit it on the spot on some ideas I use to create depth.
To start the topic on creating depth or fooling the eye.
off placement of rocks and driftwood is the beginning.
I position the driftwood in a slight angle from back to front to make it appear the left side disappears to the back left.
Also for a small tank a piece of driftwood or rock must have character and fine details to look the part. You need holes, cracks texture and colorations to help with the overall feel. I plain driftwood or rock will hurt the design.
A good piece of driftwood or rocks set the tone for the design to come together.
The position of your light also helps decide your placement. I will tie this in later on in the discussion.
Now I remove the driftwood to prepare it. First decide on what plants to attach onto the wood or rock. The main ones I use is moss, riccia, nana and ferns. Now I drill holes to tie on the fishing line. I use 6 lb fishing line, since I no longer do freshwater fishing.
The drill holes helps the line stay in position and not slip off later on.
Overlapping is another part of fooling the eye in believing there is more behind that. Take the moss hill for example, the right side looks like it is continuing down to the right side of the tank and the left is somewhere behind the ludwigia cross. I try to continue that effect by placing moss tie onto coconut shells on the right corner to show the hill wraps around the trunk of the fern. It's hard to see the moss on the right side since the java fern blocked out the light. I try using a spotlight, but it doesn't look nature.
The big picture is to combine the 3 basic layouts that tsunami discuss so nicely in his topic in overlapping form to create depth.
Space between plants help with that illusion of depth by creating shadows.
Now to the plants, again overlapping different color form the illusion of depth. All plants are planted in a triangle or round shape so it doesn't look flat. Not all plants selection is small growth. I just trim often to maintain the small leaves. So a lot of cutting and replanting.
It's very important to learn the growth rate of type of plant used to time the trimming period just right. I will get to that topic in the contest part of my new topic.
Background plays a big part in creating depth. A dark background like black or dark blue or even dark orange to black create depth.
Black works best for me when working with a narrow footprint so it's a safe bet.
Lighting is the last, but also one of the most important part in the final product. This is also a part of the contest topic. There are to positions to place a light source. One to grow your plants and the two to created shadows which create depth of feel. Foe the 10 gal moving the light to the front create overlapping shadow which create space and the illusion of a bigger tank.
I'm sure some of you don't care to entry in any contest, but check-out the spin off topic on preparing for a contest. There will be a few pointers that I will discuss in detail that will help in the overall design of your aquascape.
This topic will continue in a few days after follow up question that I will try to answer.
So start posting questions on what I cover so far.