Week 2 - Horizon Line or Subject Matter?


Hey Lovely People!

So I had a quick question / debate - when it comes to creating content, do you focus on Horizon Line or Subject Matter?
In David Harrington’s thumbnails, a strong majority of them are entirely dominated by his subject matter.

I personally have always taken an approach that (I thought) complemented my subject matter with what I perceived as an equal or realistic amount of both. But not knowing much about environmental design, I’m wondering if that’s the case still.

So I guess my watered down question is; Is it better to fill an image (for environmental design) with as much subject matter/structure as possible? (Like David’s Mayan Temple) Or should I shoot for an environment that has the subject matter in it and an equal amount a everything else?

Is there some magic ratio I don’t know about?!

Thanks :blush:


Hey Bre! ^.^

Not sure if I got your question right, but here is how I’m going about it with my work: I’m painting the interior of a temple in which some sort of ritual is taking place. The people performing it would be considered subject matter and the actual temple with the pillars and other structures in the background and foreground would be the environment. I’m not having any ratio of environment/subject (as in the actual surface of the painting) in mind when designing, but I’m trying not to make the subject the only focus point in the piece.

The subject matter is the main focus point of course, but then through strategically placed elements (like on the intersection of diagonals in my composition grid) or through small areas of increased contrast in value, saturation, or sharpness of edge you move the viewer’s eyes around the piece to see the environment in all its glory.

I didn’t have any clear distinction between subject matter and the rest in mind when I looked at David’s demo, the pyramid, the sky, the trees, and the man were seen as a whole, a pleasing arrangement of lines that will later be a pleasing pattern of light and dark. This is the first time I’m doing an actual environment, I’m just following basic composition and design principles.

Hope it helped :slightly_smiling_face:


I’m so obsessed with clouds and atmosphere, that I naturally gravitate towards the horizon. I at least start there and then finally, when my “gears” really start moving together, I eventually then start doing more subject matter.


Way back when I was in school, one of my drawing instructors would not even accept work if it wasn’t composed using the Golden Section. As you can image, at 18-19 years old this dimmed my opinion because I always though art came from the heart! Now, many years later, I find that using the golden ration does actually come in handy in composing some of my work. I guess basically for me, nothing is off limits. It’s about what looks good. Horizon or subject matter doesn’t matter as long as it looks good! Anyway for what it’s worth, that’s my opinion!