I had that problem once... In my early noob days I drew a lot of single figures floating in space, it took a while to stop thinking in terms of "drawing a person" and start thinking in terms of "making a picture"...
Some things that helped me:
1. Making thumbnails before doing anything else. Lots and lots of thumbnails, trying different compositions and points of view. Always starting with a tiny box to define the picture area, and then figuring out how the picture will fill the box (this is to make me think about composition right from the start.)
2. Dabbling with making comics. When you're forced to choreograph multiple figures interacting with each other and their environment across a span of hundreds of panels, you soon get the hang of composition. (Storyboarding or any other type of sequential art would work well, too.)
It's a matter of understanding how things work, and building something that COULD conceivably work. This is true for everything, from a still life to creature design to a lit environment study to social situation paintings.
Other than that, your question is extremely broad. It cannot be answered in brief. Or at length. Or at great length. People had written big books on the subject.
In your particular case, focus on thinking how things work more than what they look like. In your sketchbook I see that you are ad libbing a lot, but not constructing enough. What can work in a portrait sketch, though, won't support a big composition - you have to plan, plan and plan to do that.
queen specifically ,your comment about thumbnails and it must have stuck in the back of my mind somehow.i go to read more on a perspective book looking for something im missing and he also mentions the importance of thumbnails.
he then goes on about the difference between cameras and how they see and something hit me and i think its major.
what am i on to with this.
i feel like this is that moment where you realize all the books are just some guys personal way of trying to explain this to you.
i drew all this without a perspective line.. i just kind of started filling out the depth of the picture of the kid on the dragon. thats kind of how i saw it in my head, incomplete like this but if i zoom back to the dragon and frame it that is the picture plane that im drawing? i use the lines within the small thumbnail frame to figure out the vanishing points and depth of the rest?
i feel like im on to something but some part of it is slightly off.
edit, i added a second one. im really trying to wrap my head around this abstract idea im having. i didnt draw any perspective for any of these.. i just kind of visualized the whole area as if im standing there rather and almost tracing my imagination?
i feel like even if im just drawing a character on a white sheet of paper i can still make it feel like they are standing in a "space".
Last edited by battlebattle; May 7th, 2012 at 07:00 AM.
You know more than you think you know.
Close your eyes, so that you're not distracted by the overwhelming force of the real world around you.
Now think. Put yourself in the scene. Imagine everything there is to know about it. "See" where you are, what's going on around you. "Look" all around. Don't rush! Spend time in your head.
Now, this is hard. It takes practice. You need all that perspective/composition/research/thumbnail stuff too, it's really important. The more you know, the more you see, both in the real world and in your imagination. But your imagination needs training and exercise as well. Start out by trying to draw a memory, using these techniques. It's easier to recreate something than to create it, at least at first.
(My eternal thanks to Jerry Moriarty for crystallizing the above info)
Just a thought, but it almost feels like you're doing the thumbnails backwards in a way...
It looks like you're sketching the scene first, and then trying to frame parts of it? Not necessarily an invalid procedure, but it might be easier to come up with exciting compositions if you start with the frame and build the image inside it... Instead of trying to frame portions of a scene after the fact...
For what it's worth, the way I usually work things out is I start with very rough little thumbnails to figure out the overall composition, without worrying about exactly what things look like or whether the perspective makes sense. It may just be rough shapes of dark and light. Then when I have something that looks good as a thumbnail, I start sketching larger versions, and that's where I start figuring out details and perspective. But it's the original thumbnail that anchors the composition and keeps the details from killing the picture...
Another approach I sometimes do is to do a bunch of sketches and studies of various objects and structures and characters that will be in the picture, and then do a bunch of thumbnails to work out the composition as a whole after I have an idea what the various parts look like...
It looks like you're doing something similar to the second approach, actually. Maybe try doing the general sketch of the scene (as you're doing,) but then when you know what's what in the scene, do some separate thumbnails to try various points of view and different compositions? Or try taking the areas you've framed and do separate thumbnails of just the framed bits, tweaking the composition of each to make it work better inside the frame?
Also don't be afraid to kill details or shift elements around if it makes the composition better...