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  1. #1
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    Digital Painting Process: "Rayks Forrest Explorer" Covers Composition and Design

    I wrote this in response to a thread posted here by raykart. There's a lot of information in this section about technique - rendering, anatomy, lighting, colour theory, etc. - and less concerning some of the more basic elements involved in crafting an image. This was put together very quickly, but a couple of people have mentioned that the information was useful, so I thought I'd repost it here.

    Raykart's image -

    Name:  forest_explorer_280606.jpg
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    My reply -

    Composition. It's hard to create an interesting, dynamic image with your subject so central. Look at the attatched image. The pic to the right of the original shows your basic arrangement - a central subject with a symmetrical frame on either side. Not very exciting. But your composition doesn't have to be complicated to be interesting - in the pic to the right of that, I've simply shifted your subject away from the centre, and added some foreground to balance it out. If you have trouble establishing your composition early on, or struggle to break away from symmetrical arrangements, try laying out your image on an oversized canvas then cropping down once all the elements are in place; that'll give you the chance to try different things to see what works.

    Design. Your bot looks awkward. That's partly because of his stance, but the design is inconsistent - you're mixing circles and oblongs and large and small masses, as I've tried to indicate with the purple outlines. An easy way to avoid this is simply to base your designs around a single shape which repeat throughout the design. It's a pretty crude approach, but it's a good starting point. Notice that even though my bot ( in the middle ) is very simple and is made of different sized bits, he looks consistent because of the repeated curves. The next pic shows that bot dropped into the altered composition.

    Narrative. Your pic has a nice mood to it, but it really isn't telling us anything. There's lots of simple things you could do to add interest here. On the bottom row, I've put in a few examples. First, I've dropped the camera to really show off the size of your bot - you can exaggerate this further with some atmospheric fade, pushing the bits that are furthest away from the viewer towards the background colour. Next, I've dropped in some birds, a cheap trick to push his scale even further, and added some little critters to the foreground blob, which has now become a branch. Why are they there, what are they doing? It doesn't matter as long as it prompts the viewer to ask some questions and get involved with the story surrounding your image. Finally, I've re-introduced the backlight from your original - that will help set up an evocative mood and be a useful way to add definition to such a simple composition.

    Name:  ForestExplorerBits.jpg
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    In my opinion, this stuff really is the most important part of our craft. The bones of your image. Get this right, and the rest of the process will be much easier - your painting should 'work' even if, as above, you only spend five minutes scribbling it out.

    Last edited by Sepulverture; November 24th, 2009 at 09:40 AM. Reason: Cleanup and re-organizing - Sepulverture


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  4. #2
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    Thanks again for helping me out Matt! It really helped me in how I should approach my ideas and bring them to life. Definitely some great advice there, hope others will benefit from it! I'm not sure how I forgot about the main point of my image - the narrative. The image you came up with is very inspiring - it gets my imagination working and thinking of a story.

    (p.s. i got davi to change my username to rayk )

    Last edited by paberu; July 7th, 2006 at 08:15 AM.

  5. #3
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    ah, thanks for this!
    Question though: after you plotted this out..do you directly paint on top of this greyscale painting using an overlay or hardlight layer?


  6. #4
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    Great insight offered here, this will be useful!

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  7. #5
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    I definitely found this helpful. Thanks!


  8. #6
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    I'm amazed how Matt found the weak areas in the picture and demonstrated them so well. I usually start to draw without thinking much about the composition of the picture. I know that some compositions please my eye more than others, but it's hard to get the right and dynamic composition on an empty paper. That's why i should sketch, sketch and sketch. Also i find the way to sketch the picture in grayscale colors pretty interesting. I should give it a try.


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    I love it, amazing. Thank you!


  10. #8
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    Although I learned all this stuff from school, Matt you have no idea how cool it is to see someone break down another's art piece by piece with explanations and tips. Thanks to both of you!


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    Such an awesome breakdown tuorial, as someone who doesn't go to art school and is learning the process by trial and error it's an amazing relief when some takes time to unravel just one of the infinite threads of graphics art cosmic quilt.


  12. #10
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    I'm very pleased to see that people are still finding this thread useful.

    Perhaps I can make it a little more useful by drawing attention to the original artist's portfolio site - http://www.artbypavel.com/

    To progress from 'Forest Explorer' to his current standard in just two years is a terrific accomplishment, and a vivid demonstration of what hard work and dedication can acheive. I hope Pavel's journey will be an encouragement and inspiration to any beginners who read this thread.


  13. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Dixon View Post
    To progress from 'Forest Explorer' to his current standard in just two years is a terrific accomplishment, and a vivid demonstration of what hard work and dedication can acheive. I hope Pavel's journey will be an encouragement and inspiration to any beginners who read this thread.
    Amen to that, after clicking that link my eyes burst open and my jaw dropped to the floor, that's an incredible amount of improvement!

    Thank you very much for submitting this composition enhancement thread too.


  14. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Dixon View Post
    I hope Pavel's journey will be an encouragement and inspiration to any beginners who read this thread.
    It most certainly is! Seeing the way other people work and watching such grandeur improvement take place right in front of my eyes (kind of) is endlessly inspiring. Thanks for the thread!


  15. #13
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    Thank you so much for this, it was really helpful.


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