View Full Version : Luna's Mini-Lesson 2: Unfortunate Accidents!

07 July 2005, 07:10 AM
Welcome to Luna's Mini-Lesson 2: Unfortunate Accidents!

Sometimes in badly composed pictures, unintentional leading of the eye occurs. This usually results in weird tangents in undesirable places. Here are a series of unfortunate accidents that are very common, and should be avoided at all cost. In this example, I've added an unfortunate placement of a tree branch that grows into the lovely elven blademaster's left arm. Avoid strange growths like this at all cost.

In this unfortunate example, a fallen column's contour is lined up with the blademaster's weapon. Parking something's contour tight against another thing's contour is also something that should be avoided at all cost.

In this next example, our elven blademaster is starting to get annoyed. A bothersome vine has fallen in the unfortunate position of being right behind her weapon. Accidental overlapping is bad. Move it out of the way before she hacks it to shreds.

I don't dare to test the bladmaster's patience, so we move on to other victims.

This poor girl's got a brass pole growing out of her side. Not a good thing.

This girl's got an antenna sticking out of the left side of her head. Not a good thing either.

Looks like she's got a wooden stick going through her forehead. Not good.

The mirror reflection makes it look like the girl on the right is kising the left eye of the girl on the left. Totally unintentional and ruins the composition.

So there you have it. Not only do you have to be creative and construct great composition each time you start a piece, you need to also be on alert for series of unfortunate accidents that are just waiting to happen.

Hope you enjoyed this mini lesson!

07 July 2005, 09:47 AM
ah yes, we touch on this theory in fine art..

you've done a great job of demonstrating it :thumbsup:

07 July 2005, 10:00 AM
argh , i didn't even see it that way in the last pics until u said that!
especially the last pic, now it's an antler lady forever! :cry:

yea good points tho , the branch, fallen statue n stuff, especially

the 3 latest weren't that bad for me, i guess my brain just knew them
apart easier.

the brass pole does jump into the eye, but i still was ignoring it at first,
lookin just at her curves :)

and in the last pic her soft cheek n stuff like totally stole my attention
so even if she'd actually have antlers growing out of her head , I still might
not have noticed them :D


07 July 2005, 10:20 PM
Great reminder Lunatique, always good to keep that in mind and it never hurts to poke others in that direction to point it out.

Mal de Ojo
07 July 2005, 11:23 PM
nice composition tips

07 July 2005, 02:20 AM
Hmm...gotta say I wouldn't have seen some either, second and third of the warrior lady for instance, the images are complex anyway, it could be easier if they were simpler. But I get the point. :thumbsup:

If I might be so bold as to pose a little question here. :D I read in a M & S entry about image diagonals, I'd ask the person in question but I'd risk the short and ugly version and I'm rather quick on believeing things so...

WHat are image diagonals? I think it matters in this lesson because certain areas of an image have a certain weight. So putting things in the wrong place could mess things up as bad as these examples. Well...:surprised That's what I think...

07 July 2005, 03:00 AM
jmBoekestein - I don't know the context of your question when you originally asked it (can you point me to the thread?), so I can only give you a generalized answer.

In composition, a very common way to create visual dynamics is to use diagonals. All you have to do is to look at a bunch of artworks to see it at play. Limbs of characters form diagonals, the weapons they hold form diagonals, the background elements form diagonals..etc. The theory behind that is diagonals have a tilt to them, thus creating visual movement. With horizontals and verticals, since there's no tilt, there is less movement.

07 July 2005, 03:08 AM
For some great examples of these diagonals at work in fine art, turn to the Impressionists: Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet (his early works of beach scenes, mostly), Alfred Sisley, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, and Camille Pissarro were all masters of using diagonals to lead the eye in a painting. These are great examples because the compositions are mostly simple, so it's quite easy to see how they work.

07 July 2005, 03:42 AM
Great post. Also like the humor in it. :D

07 July 2005, 04:24 AM
Thanks. I think that explains it real easily, it's Kirt Stanke's entry, makes sense because I believe he was working to get a lot of motion into his painting.

Makes perfect sense when you read it...:)...I bet these diagonals also create a sort of anticipated space, that's why I ask.

Thanks heythatreally hurts...funny nick...:D lol

07 July 2005, 01:24 AM
If I may, since the subject of my use of diagonals was mentioned ... :D

I try to incorporate diagonal compositions in images to show dynamic motion (as mentioned), depth (basically dealing with perspective) and compositional direction of the viewer's eye.

The image above is where I tried to show how I was using diagonals to direct the viewer towards the gunner character perched on top of the big brutish guy. I had some initial problems with the drawing when the angle of the gun and the angle of the big guy weren't working out well. Basically either one of the elements became a horizontal or vertical line when I rotated the image to a desired position.

I repositioned the gun at one point to fix this, because the horizontal and vertical lines were not giving a sense of action or creating an optimal pose for the characters.

But if you look at later WIP images of my M&S entry you'll see where I encorporated additional diagonal lines to draw your attention towards the caracters and top right portion of the image. The trees lean in that direction, the lower bug angles in that direction, the edges of the swamp water lead in that direction and most of the equiptment hanging on the big guy also point in that direction.

Of course it's also important to keep in mind where to put a stop to this directional movement in your composition. An opposing diagonal will break the flow of the image and in effect cause the viewer to halt on a specific element to comprehend what is happening.

Since the strong upward diagonals are there to draw your attention to the gunner, and important opposing diagonal was needed to break that movement. Hence, the diagonal created by the gun and it's blast. Even though it directs the eye to the right, it's main purpose is to stop the upward movement at the level where the gunner is perched.

Am I rambling yet? :D

I hope this helps explain the use of diagonals a little better. I could probably find some other really good examples if anyone is in the least bit interested.

07 July 2005, 03:06 AM
I am! :) This is very powerful stuff... it doesn't even seem odd that just about anything points your eye towards something. Definitely worth noting that it actually works while it's illogical for it to happen in real life as obviously ( the amount of times I bumped my head in my life, phew).

Great Explanation Kirt! :thumbsup: I get it I think. :D

07 July 2005, 03:03 PM
Nice topic, Lunatique. Tangents are always an issue that can weaken or confuse the composition and reading of an image. It's less an issue I think in photos since they tend to be (sometimes) less staged, so the artist might get by with a few unfortunate alignments, but still it's something to be cautious about. The artist can usually bypass these sort of mistakes by roughly blocking out all the emphasized lines in their composition before getting too far into the details, and carefully and objectively analysing the image at that point.

Have you also noticed in the female elf painting there's a rather dramatic "X" with her spear and the fallen column. It tends to focus my eye to her hand and away from her face, so I think these angles have more impact than the lighting effects. Perhaps it's just me or the way this example image is cropped.


07 July 2005, 02:57 AM
I think a lot of beginners like myself tend to make this kind of mistake in painting/ photography. Thanks for pointing out the danger of unwanted subjects ruining the focus point of the composition.

& I assume thats your lovely wife posing as your model? :)

07 July 2005, 03:46 AM

this is a great idea for a thread! sometimes the best way to teach something is to show its opposite, or what not to do. it would be great to see more examples from you, or other artists.

07 July 2005, 10:00 AM
Glad that you guys can get something out of these mini-lessons. I chose to do more theory-type stuff than step-by-step painting tutorials because I think painting tutorials don't really help you become a better artist--it just shows you how someone else paints in a style that he's comfortable with--and it may or may not suit you (but they really do help the beginners because beginners have no idea how to paint at all, and it gives them a guide). Theory on the other hand is something you can't ignore because the success of your work depends on your knowledge of theories.

dbclemons - Yeah, the girl is cropped from a painting that contains 5 characters total. You can see the painting at my website.

serinth - She's only in two of the pictures, the other pictures are of friends of mine.

daspetey - I'll be doing these mini-lessons as time allows.

07 July 2005, 03:58 PM
Hi Lunatique! Just wanted to say thanks for the tutorial. A teacher I once had would go mental when I put some tangents in my drawings, no matter what! But I think some tangents are pretty harmless if there is a noticeable hierarchy between elements, or good even, if there is a reason behind it (like emphasizing a relationship between elements and a particular direction).
Off the topic, the bluish "brass pole" picture is just beautiful!!! :love:The pole doesn't bother me at all, strangely! Is it painting or photo?

Example of tangents and parallelism, especially the line between the bodies. From the cover of a Placebo album, Sleeping With Ghosts.

07 July 2005, 03:26 AM
DrFx - The brasspole one is a photo. To do a painting looking like that would be kind of pointless--a painting should look like a painting--IMO. I used to like that photo, but now a lot of time has passed and I've improved a lot as a photographer, it's really a pretty weak photo technically--although creatively it's not bad. Actually, all the photos I posted in this thread are really old ones, and pretty mediocre as far as photography technique goes.

07 July 2005, 10:03 AM
Well, nonetheless I really like it. It kind of looks Helnwein-style-painterly because of the focus, so I wondered. The other photos, I agree, could be well improved upon :psorry for the honesty! I'm equally harsh on my own photos, and some I like, I consider fortunate accidents!

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