Composition: How can it be improved?


Ok, this is the image:

I am trying to figure out what the best viewpoint and composition should be. The idea behind the picture is that the rider is losing her comrade in battle, her carrier ( its an antilope ). But she is not ready to give up yet, the scene must be in the thick of battle and the rider is still trying to take someone down, before she goes down with her antilope.

So i chopped the characters in pieces, rigging is to slow on my pc, so i chopped it up, that works a lot faster. I have chosen a low viewport, this gives the idea of the girl still being able to win, she is looking down on us, she still has faith and she still thinks she has a chance. I think i should place her and the antilope to the left of the image, because that gives some sence of speed, the antilope is being hit while it was running and is hit hard, therefor the backward motion of the body and head.

What i want to know is, where should i improve the way the animal and girl are placed in the image and how i place their bodies. What would be the best way for the image, portrait, or landscape? How can i better invoke the emotion of her losing someone and knowing that without it, her chances of survival are so slim, but still the will to go on is in her.

What would be the best expression on her face. What would be the best environment for the image, savanna, forest, desert? Should i place a lot of action like arrows and more antilopes in the background, giving the feel of a large battle, i want a feeling of her being overwelmed, so maybe i should place the opposing force around her?

Anyway, i know the image doesn’t have a lot going yet, but its still about the right composition, after this, i will detail the environment, the antilope and all that. Thanks.


Okay, first off, I apologize for the crude drawing, but its late and I am tired. You have a cool idea going here so here is my thoughts.

First, I moved the position of the animal and rider. I was trying to suggest a direction change. as if they were riding through the battle and suddenly the animal gets shot. And in one motion rears up and turns to face the attacker. at the same time the rider is turning to face that attacker and has sword ready to rain blows down on him. Try to get more twist into both animal and rider than i did.

Second I placed the attacker in the shot. I pictured him being close to the camera and dark without much detail or focus, basically enough to suggest where the attack coming from. this also serves to balance out the image.

The red lines that i put in show the lines of movement with both the animals and the riders eyes focused on the attacker. Make sure that his head is pointed toward the two, and same with his firing arm. This will help keep the viewers eyes on the page and helps build the tension in the scene.

on the rider, give her the sense that she is falling/loosing her balance but still swinging with all her might with her sward hand. Her eyes should be opened wide and very intense and her mouth yelling. Give her the feeling of every ounce of her being is forced into that final swing of the sword. Feel free to change her attacking arm. having her swinging from across her body with her Left hand may also have a good look.

the horse’s eyes should also be wide open, put with more of a sense of pain and fear. It should have the look of realizing that this will be his last breath. What is really going to sell the animal though is the muscles bulging throughout its body.


Thank you very much for taking so much time to give a good reply.

I really like your idea and the composition is more balanced and interesting then i had in mind. I like the whole setup of the attack, the only difference, is that i will use spears and javelins instead of arrows and swords, it fits better with the style i have in mind. It will also give more of a thrust to the blow the animal is getting. I have the feeling an arrow will not have enough power to kill the animal in one blow.

I think i will place the warrior on the right in a falling aside position, as if he has just hit the animal a fraction before the snapshot and he had to jump aside to not get crushed by the animal. Well, i hope i can post an update later today, see how it all works out in practice.


i suggest adding a little tension to the scene … cropping needs to be addressed and the staticness of the characters looked at also … here is a sketch i made to show what i mean


I would think a widescreen proportion (be it 1:1.85 or 1:2.2) would help this shot.

Secondly, the rider should be centered and the animal rearing or appearing as if it’s going down (think of how a horse falls at high speed)

I would reccomend if you are adding an archer or the person who threw this that they are in the bottom and are low to the ground.

I think a good landscape and (while it will take some time) a surrounding scene will make this evocative.



Thanks for the replies. Different ideas help a lot on the composition. Kraal, thanks you for the drawing, i looked at it and i like the flow of the body, something i am still working on on the girl. I like the way i have the animal now a lot better than the old one, like the idea kwshipman had.

I have used one of my old character as a temporary setup for the person in front of the ‘camera’ . Don’t get to distracted by the way he looks, its temporary, and in the endshot i will even give him a head!

So i have the girl clinging on to the neck of the antilope and have her throwing her javelin with the other arm. I have tried to get the antilopes facial expression in the composition, but haven’t succeeded yet.

I have put the man in front in a scared and defensive pose, crawling backward, i thought he would still feel threatened by the rider and the antilope, because he didn’t take them down with one throw. Do you have suggestions on how to improve his position, should he be lower in the image, taking less space, different arm of body positions? I could have him crawl away with his face to the camera ( giving him an expression of deep fear perhaps? ), like he is being hunted by her?

Oh, i will use widescreen proportions boboroshi, i think that will look best. I am thinking of an environment with a lot of snow and bloodstains and smoke and small campfires in it, maybe with some fog and trees in the background? I am also thinking about giving the image a sence of speed by having a small motionblur in the background, like the camera was tracking the antilope in its path.

I hope i will have the poses and composition the right way later this week, so i can start on detailing the image, which will take a lot of time.


Close in the shot. The camera angle in this iteration is good but you do not need to see everything. If you are looking for dramatic impact it is the characters facial expressions that are most effective. Bring the rider and animal closer You have established the mortal wounds in the animal with the spears and contorted shape. Bring it in close enough to still keep the overall feel yet make the rider larger in the scene, Bearing down on the attacker. I would also move the guy in closer almost a over the shoulder from behind. This will make the viewer thing that they are right in the thick of it.

Of course up close encounters rely much on the ability of the artist to get great facial expressions.


Thanks for the reply :slight_smile:

So the camera angle is good this way, thats good to hear. Moving the characters a little closer or away are small things to do, so i will leave those to the tweaking in the end. I think you do have a point there. Its sort of a trade off, between how much detail i want in the background, to give sort of an epic feeling, and maybe a feeling of a goal for the battle, like a small vilage in the background. And how much detail i need in the facial expressions to get the message across and the emotion that is central in the piece. I want the close over the shoulder shot, and the girl can be a little closer to the camera, so i will work on it.

I know facial expressions are hard, another problem is that the realism of the face will have to be higher when the face comes closer, more detail in the textures and geometry, but, the emotions are central in the piece and the facial expressions and the hands of the characters will be my main way to communicate.


Started putting back together the body, so now i am detailing this model, i should probably start a new thread in the 3d modeling area for specific comment on that department. :slight_smile:

Any suggestions on what type of cloths would fit the animal and the girl?


If you’re looking for a more sympathetic camera angle, raise your camera a bit. right now, you’re in an empowering position… not a “loss and sadness” position at all. I like the angle from the x and z standpoint (assuming a y-up world), but your y angle is too low.
Clothing? I’d go minimal on the both. Anyone who would ride what appears to be a wild animal (antelope, maybe?) probably wouldn’t be that intricately dressed. Animal skins, maybe? Definitely priimitive clothing here.

Very nice concept. Modeling is definitely coming along. I look forward to seeing the finished work.


This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.