Visual composition is a term that refers to an overall structure, placement or arrangement of visual elements in art. It is a key skill for an artist. Knowing it and using it are two different things. People may have a basic understanding of it but if they don't apply it to their work it can bring the whole art piece down. As for myself I have an basic understanding of it but sometimes when I get sunk into a painting or a 3d scene I forget about it and it is visible for a person that has a wider understanding of those principles. It is a habbit I am not particularly proud of but for sure it is a thing that I could work on improving. In this blog I will write about my rescent research about Visual composition and share some thoughts about the difference between 2D and 3D.
Within visual composition there are a couple of basic rules to remember when doing art. Here I would like to pinpoint some of them:
LINE and LAYOUT
It is the path that our eyes will follow when looking at an image. Those lines can be curved, straight, vertical, horizontal and any other shape tha will be pretty much easy to follow with an eye. Those line don't have to be very visible but can be sugested by different key points on the picture and the human mind will automaticly connect all the points and follow the path. I think that this key feature is one of the hardest to master in a painting. It requires alot of planning and scene composing . The simplest example of it would be the Fibonacci spiral that is the most common.
Objects have to be placed in a specific order. A common mistake by art students is that they put stuff in a chaotical order on their image. It is always better that those objects form a simple geometric figure.
It is the most important to attract the viewer to the picture. Putting light objects on dark background and vice versa can really push and attract the eye in certain places of an image.
THE GOLDEN RATIO AND RULE OF THIRDS
Some people call it also the golden mean. It was known already in ancient Egypt. The simple explanation of it would be that the best poibnt to place an object is one third form the horizontal or vertical border of the frame. Why ? All these points seem natural and can attract the eye much more.
It is a very simple rule. If the scene has a lot of vertical objects it is the best to use a vertical format of the frame. The same rule applies for horizontal objects and frames.
Proper use of colour could be winner in your picture. They key to it is to use coulours either that corespond near each other in the coulour wheel or complementary colours which are opposite to each other on the color wheel. There are also features like hue, saturation (intensity) and other very important stuff to remember when picking the pallete.
One very important rule that I found out through my research is the Colour spot. If we have a color spot in one part of the frame then we need to have something which will attract the viewer’s attention on the other side too. There is way much to write and understand about colour that could be written here. I think I might evaluate that in a later blog post a bit further since colour study and understanding it Is one of my this year's goal
I could write here alot more about those principles but lets get back on track. So how it is applied in 2D then? Well it's very simple. I could refer to one of my previous blogs about planning and concepting becouse at the end it all comes down to it. Alot of preliminary composition sketches, working out different layouts and compositions is the key. I know now that I need to push that more further.
How deos visual composition transfer to 3D then ? What about the 4th dimention, those interactive and dynamic elements inside an environment? My latest researched has shown that bringing environments to life with proper lightning setup, use of colour and adding those little effects that could be done with UDK could bring an environment into a next level. Recently I have been watching and reading alot about environments. One artist and his whole development of his FMP project focused my attention. Jason Lavoie's Demon throne. He has created an outstanding but relatively small environment and brought it to life using simple composition rules. On his channel on Vimeo we can see the whole proces behind it with his thoughts and comments on it. Some of the environments I have seen on pictures or demo reels feel a little bit empty and deserted and transfering those 2D art principles into 3D helps them stand out.
To sum it up I think the statement that developers are looking for artists not technicians is very much true. As Jolyon said "We can teach someone to use Zbrush in a week or two but we can't teach him how to be an artist...". I think that my time for learning how to model eficiently and good is over now. Now is the time when the Art side should kick in and I will definetively spend more on drawing, painting and texturing couse those are the key skills I still need to properly devolop so they won't bring my work down in the future.
Composition and Design