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  1. #1
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    'The Secret to Composition' tutorial

    Exasperated by composition tutorials that go on about the rule of thirds but don't explain why it works (or even that much detail how to use it), I decided to make my own.

    This should be applicable to both painters and photographers, with occasional tips for one or the other in particular.


    I'd love to get some criticism on this tutorial! Feel free to nit-pick.


    Split in two due to CA's file size limit. Slightly better quality version here on deviantART.

    Attachment 1373250
    Attachment 1373251


    LINKS

    Feng Zhu's FZDSchool tutorials on YouTube

    "In this place..." ConceptArt thread

    Bill Tiller's How to Draw Monkeys the Lucas Arts Way

    Feng Zhu videos
    - Make subject bigger
    - Atmospheric perspective

    Great tutorials on composition:
    - Matt Laskowski's Perspective & Composition
    - Johannes Vloothuis's Landscape Composition Rules
    Last edited by Lulie; December 11th, 2011 at 05:24 AM.
    Sketchbook | Composition tutorial
    @LulieArt - Twitter, where I post useful links, tips, and neat art-related things I stumble across.


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  4. #2
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    Very very nice. I learned something today. Good job, doctor.
    I felt like a bulldozer
    Trying to catch a butterfly

    [. My Deviantart... ]

  5. #3
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    This is great. Thanks!

    ---
    Oh and the username of the guy above me compared to mine o.O haha

  6. #4
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    Very informative and well made tutorial for a composition beginner like myself! *thumbs up*

  7. #5
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    Love this! Added to my subscribed.

  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by redpandafire View Post
    Love this! Added to my subscribed.
    Ditto your sketchbook! Wow.

    Thanks to everyone else who's commented.
    Sketchbook | Composition tutorial
    @LulieArt - Twitter, where I post useful links, tips, and neat art-related things I stumble across.

  9. #7
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    I have been taking many classes and thought I pretty much knew what there was to learn about composition. This was still really useful, especially because it brings together all these maxims in a coherent way with a common goal. We all know that "S compositions are great" and "use rule of third", but I have never heard the reasons so efficiently and well articulated before.

  10. #8
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    This is a good primer on the basics of information design.
    At least Icarus tried!


    My Process: Dead Rider Graphic Novel (Dark Horse Comics) plus oil paintings, pencils and other goodies:
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=101106

    My "Smilechild" Music. Plus a medley of Commercial Music Cues and a Folksy Jingle!:
    http://www.myspace.com/kevferrara

  11. #9
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    Thanks heaps for this, learned a lot!

  12. #10
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    God knows I needed this. Thanks!

  13. #11
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    you might be interested in Paul Felix and Jim Schlenke's notes from a layout/composition class the held a couple of years ago. (I didn't attend, but the notes are still informative)

    http://www.onanimation.com/2011/08/3...osition-notes/

  14. #12
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    THANK YOU!

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    Priceless!Thanks!

  16. #14
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    After discovering James Gurney, and specifically this post, it's come to my attention that some of the stuff in the tutorial is misleading/wrong.

    At its heart, composition is about information flow and digestion. What is going on, what you notice first, where you go next.

    Good composition makes obvious which stuff is significant. It's about helping the viewer to understand what they're looking at. It paces the information so the viewer gets the main idea (e.g. setting, subject, mood) quite quickly, and then there's (usually) other stuff that they notice if they keep looking -- details, or mini-stories, or new interpretations, or whatever.

    I say 'usually' because occasionally a simple composition can be effective even if it only has one main obvious idea. (In that case, I'd guess it causes the viewer to consider that one idea in more detail, perhaps using the picture as something for the eyes to rest on during contemplation. But now we're in Lulie's-wild-speculation territory.)

    So when I said "you can control the way the eye moves", that's not strictly true. However, you can influence it. Specifically, you can make stuff more or less obvious/emphasised, using composition techniques (described in the tutorial) as hints to the viewer.


    From Gurney's post (also see the other points there):

    "1. The eye does not flow in smooth curves or circles, nor does it follow contours. It leaps from one point of interest to another. Curving lines or other devices may be "felt" in some way peripherally, but the eye doesn't move along them."

    "Eye movement" itself doesn't necessarily work in the way I imply. Curving lines and so on are just indicators of what to look at. In practice the eye will be darting around, using these as clues about what's important in the picture.

    It might be helpful to think of composition in terms of eye movement rather than information flow, because it can be easier to work out what will affect eye movement. (Both might be better, but eye movement is a good rule of thumb.)


    Note also that this means everything is relevant to composition. If you have anatomy that's unusual, that will draw attention. If you have certain types of lighting, that will draw attention. If you have a meaningful interaction between two characters, that will draw more attention than characters with a boring or meaningless interaction. Composition can't be divorced from the subject matter -- every picture has composition, whether it's intentional or not.
    Sketchbook | Composition tutorial
    @LulieArt - Twitter, where I post useful links, tips, and neat art-related things I stumble across.

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  18. #15
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    Also, thanks everyone.

    rabbit run - Thanks, I'll be sure to check that out.
    Sketchbook | Composition tutorial
    @LulieArt - Twitter, where I post useful links, tips, and neat art-related things I stumble across.

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