tirsdag 4. desember 2012

Visual composition

For visual artists, there are loads of tricks we can employ to manipulate the emotional response a viewer has to an image. We can use colour, point of view, lightning, repetition, framing, flow… composition, in short.

To me, colour has always been one of the most interesting tools in the arsenal, but I’ve been doing some comic work recently, which has made me much more aware of the flow of images. For a comic artist it is important to lead the eye of the reader trough the path they want them to, so that the reader reads images in the correct order and doesn’t skip out on inportant information. So I’m gonna talk about flow a little.

During the lecture on composition, Mike mentioned he prefers images of a right hand turn to a left hand turn, without entirely being able to explain why. The reason is very simple, though. This is some knowledge I picked up from books on creating comics.

In western languages, text is read from left to right. We are accustomed to this, so it’s natural for us to also read an image from left to right. So when the subject matter depicted, (in this case I’ve chosen to illustrate this with an image of a super cute pony with tiny stubby feet), prances across the field from left to right, it feels like a faster subject matter than when the image is flipped.



However, for a person from a culture where they read text from right to left, the opposite holds true.

This probably has a bigger impact in comics, where the image is often accompanied by text, so when the reading direction of the image collides with the flow of the reading direction provided by the text, the above effect becomes much more noticeable. This is probably something that is very subconscious and is perhaps not very useful, but I think it's nice to be aware of it.


I took some photos this summer. Most were shit but I thought some, at least, came out decent. I thought I'd collect some of the ones I thought came out interesting and write about them a little.

This one I think might have been one of my favourites. It has a very clear focal pint in the flower; all the lines lead toward it and it is placed roughly in one of the spots where the third-lines cross each other. The wooden structure provide a repeating element, and I like the contrast where the organic flower meets with the geometric shapes of the wood.

This next one is a photo of Nidarosdomen, the dome church of Norway. I think the low angle makes it look very majestic, and the cold, bright colours give it a divine, pure look. It doesn't feel imposing, but if it was darker, perhaps it would have.

This next photo feels spooky to me. The strongest effect here is probably the weird angle the horizon line is placed at. I thought it made the photo look a bit disturbing and unsettling, as if something was out of place. The looming dark cloud really adds to that. I also like the colour contrasts between the red roof and the blue sky.

This photo was just really lucky, that the sheep lined up like that. The strongest compositional element here is repetition in that the sheep heads lining up create a natural pattern of sorts.

This is a photo of some weird preacher's chair in a cathedral in Belgium. What I like about this photo is the very strong contrast in values, with the bright background and dark foreground.  

There is something about derelict stuff that is very visually interesting to me. The reflections in the water and stuff is cool. The composition is very centered, which I think worked well because it feels more like actually standing on the broken down quay than, say, if the quay was on the side of the image.

This photo, I think, is cool because it does have a natural divide at the golden ratio, but it is the little stick things in the water and not in the horizon line, as is more usual. I also like the very strong darks of the foreground and background, while the sky is very bright in comparison. 

This picture is very busy! I think it catches a lot of the atmosphere of this street, while still remaining serene. The restaurants are just opening up and getting ready for diners. It has loads of vertically repeating lines, and the lamp hanging against the overcast sky is really nice for breaking up that empty space. 

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