Sunday, 2 December 2012

Elements of Game Design Part 6: Visual Composition

Composition can be related to many arts and subjects such as photography, films, music and performances, but for this blog, I will talking about the visual arts of a painter within this post.
A painting without a good composition can often give the wrong feel or mood to the viewer. Without composition, the painting could become quite chaotic and disorderly, or perhaps to mundane, leaving the painting feeling empty. When considering what makes an interesting and good composition, there are a few general points to take note of:


With Line, this doesn’t literally mean a line surrounding an object, bringing it into focus just like in a line drawing but rather it can be many things. It could be other forms in the painting that can create a line within the composition; for example, it could be the curve of the mountains or line of people that can draw the viewer’s gaze towards the main focus of the image or to perhaps divert the eyes back to it when the eyes wander off to other places of the painting.
Nicely focused on that vase and the pattern on it!
Without the ‘lines’ an image can tend to become quite chaotic and disorderly which could lead to the viewer not quite getting the feel that the painter would have wanted.

Colour can also achieve line effects to draw the eye towards the main subject matter, etc. through the use of colour clashes and other various techniques. The use of complimentary colours can be much more pleasing for the eyes to look at, adding onto the composition of the painting. Colours can affect the painting in many other ways, such as the mood, temperature and how friendly/uncanny the subject matter can be.

Shapes can be that of an organic creature or geometric. To visual artists, there is an ‘alphabet’ to string together to create objects with meaning. These are our primitive shapes. Understanding the primitives can lead to us creating and object and understand how the object exists, such as the space it takes up and perhaps why it takes the shape it does.

The gates guiding our eyes to the distance.
Naturally following onto form, without form it can tend to leave the viewer hanging without any sense of depth within the object and even the painting. The form, just like every other element, can bring life to the painting and can lead onto many other techniques within  the image for example, casting shadows and bringing in the contrast to define and associate ourselves with certain objects for example.

Moving onto the values of the painting, it can give the painting a sense of depth within the painting, creating that space within. With correct use of value can show how dark an object is or how far away something is for example, the background tends to fade into a lighter hue in a landscape painting because the light slightly dissipates and desaturates the colours whereas something closer to the foreground the colours would be much stronger or darker.

Texture can utilised to create many natural illusions to the eye. For example the brush stroke used on certain canvases can change the feel and flow of a painting; some could be used to make foliage look more convincing or perhaps rusted metal. Adding the grit and ‘teeth’ can help bring life to the painting with that natural detail added in by the texture.

Spacing the composition is important so that the painting doesn’t get cluttered or becomes lacking with bad spacing choices. An example can be with still life or life drawing. Filling in the negative space sensibly can help frame your subject giving your eye an easier time to look at the image as it in a way puts your eyes on autopilot, directing your eyes comfortably.

The rule of thirds is also a technique that can help direct and capture the composition, maximising the impact of the subject within the composition. The rule of Thirds is where you divide your page into thirds (horizontally and vertically) and then set up the focus within the intersected lines. Though this sort of technique a little harder to balance on landscape paintings.

Not to say all of these elements have a single purpose, as they can all in their own right set moods and atmosphere, etc. within the composition and depends on the actual painting itself. But all of the elements complement each other and come together to achieve the outcome of the composition. They all (usually) coexist with each other, helping to create the bigger picture within their universe.

I've still got a lot to learn... but I'm getting there!
Here is my own digi painting I did recently. I had tried to create a sense of distance and space and chose a photo study of Bradgate Park. I tried to frame the image with the use of colour and light and tried to bring the focus onto the river. I still have much to learn and practice, but within this piece I was experimenting with the types of default brushes Photoshop had as I haven't really tried them before and wanted to see what kind of texture I could ge from them. I added a slight tint of red to the grass patches to complement the green and softened the colours at the back to further that sense of distance between the viewer and the painting.

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