Trying to understand composition

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  07 July 2012
Trying to understand composition

I've always wanted to stay away from rules, but by not following composition rules (or rather guides) means that my composition is never very strong and it takes me HUGE amount of time to find something that works.
Now I decided to give those rules a shot and see if they can help me. I found Feng Zhu Design school videos from YouTube and those has been huge help.

Comments and critique is welcome.
Cheers, Petri J

  07 July 2012
It depends on what you are looking for in your piece, focus on the character? Usually you want to get the action back into your composition, I made a quick overpaint in the old spirit of sijun. Maybe not what you are looking for......
  07 July 2012
oops I mirrored it....
  07 July 2012
Ahh, the good ol' days of Sijun. Steven Stahlberg's been keeping that tradition alive in his dedicated paintover thread here at cgtalk.

I think whether to have the character closer to the camera depends on the intent of the artist. If he wants to keep it far away and next to that tree (for whatever reason), then I would maybe try extending the canvas a bit at the top so the tree isn't pushed right up against the top border. Also, maybe curve the path on the ground in a more obvious manner so it leads the eye to the robot.

In terms of values, the image lacks solidarity--you've got contrast dark and light values that looks quite busy, but the overall scene doesn't have a strong management of basic value hierarchy/arrangement of your main shapes. Simplify the entire image down to just the basic shapes that makes up your scene, and then make sure that even at that basic abstract level, you have an interesting arrangement of values and shapes, so that at the macro level, the entire image works, before even going into the micro details.
  09 September 2012
Thank you guys for your replies, sorry for not getting back sooner. Damn work gets on the way.
I actually tried to improve that painting but I didn't get anywhere with it.

Matthew, Thank you for the over paint! That made it loads better. I tried to continue from there, but as soon as I started adding values it got ruined. I spend one whole weekend at one point trying to improve this, but got nowhere.
Although I did learn something from all that. I've never thought of adding center of interest just next to the center line. It works so well, that I'm going to use that later. Cheers!

Lunatique, thanks for your reply. I actually tried to simplify things by leaving out values so that focusing on composition of shapes would be easier, but it seems like it actually made it harder. Also adding values later was very difficult for me for some reason.
You are absolutely right on all of your suggestions. I'll get back to this when I think I understand something about composition. This will be a good test of skills

For now, I went forward and tried central composition.
This time I added values, colors and an IDEA

This is a self assembling city.
  09 September 2012
Oh, and perhaps I should add some thinking process of that self-assembling city

This is still in concept stage so if you have any suggestions on how to improve this, now is a good time to critique.
I used central composition because I wanted the eye to focus on that building, but maybe I should have some more stuff flying around it?
I also left the sky kind of dark so that artificial light on the building will get more focus.
I think the picture might need some stuff on the background, but I would not want to add anything too dominating there so that focus would stay on the building. I tried some huge levitating spherical buildings, but they attracted too much attention.

I also had an idea of making the background even darker like the building would be build in some huge hall. I might add a version of that if it looks decent.

I'm not entirely happy with the result, I feel that it's missing something. As a thumbnail it looks good but it doesn't give me that Whow effect. I'm not sure if that is because it doesn't have details yet or if is because of something more fundamental. Any thoughts?
  09 September 2012
Not all images have the same set of requirements. Some images require a very dynamic and dramatic composition, while others can be more utilitarian--especially simple concept art that aren't meant to be full-blown illustrations. So if this building is just a piece of concept art meant to be used as pre-production planning, then you don't need to make its composition very clever. Also, there's no narrative here, or a greater sense of premise, so a simple, central composition is about all you need. If you want it to be a lot more clever, then you'll have to think about how to offset that central composition with other shapes in the scene, so that you're going for a more classical rule-of-thirds or golden ratio approach. The building doesn't have to dominate in the middle in order to be the focal point. You can pull back the camera and put the building away from the center and have counter-balancing elements like the surrounding terrain, and the building's contrast in value and its colors, as well as its artificial shape will automatically draw the viewer's eyes.
  09 September 2012
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