Sunday, March 11, 2012

Visual composition

Visual composition is a very basic key to making an image seem right. So basic, in fact, that most of the time we don’t realize it – when we look at it or we are creating an image. It’s a deep thought that pops out on the surface when we struggle with some composition.

Teaching ourselves how to draw creates that element in us. Without realizing it, we make something look good, and make all the objects in an image fit together. Then there are factors which make our drawing look bad when we add it, we know it doesn’t belong or fit with the remainder of the image. For an example, some colors don’t compliment each other and therefore they won’t fit in an image.

Composition in an image is basically putting all the components in an image and making them look good together. Let’s make a 1920’s era street scene from scratch. We can draw a nice old coffee house, and why not 2 old Fords in front of it. Then have several people dressed in long jackets, holding batons, of course wearing hats, and behaving suspiciously. Perhaps they are bodyguards of the mobsters that are sitting inside the coffee house. On the other street, a truck stopped by next to an open vegetable and fruit store, with nice oranges on the stands. You might also get the idea that my image was being inspired by the Godfather.

But even with words a person makes this image compositionally correct in his head. When I say it’s the 1920s with men in long coats, you think of faded dark colors, and why not snow? And the oranges, and perhaps the mobsters’ car interior, or their faces or gloves are really bright that lead our eyes right at them knowing, sensing that something might happen involving those colors. Perhaps one of the bodyguards has a blue tie, and the interior of the car is deep red. Suddenly, shots are fired form the coffee house as a guy flees, and the two men in front of the car grab him and protect him, and he jumps into the car. It drives off but another car hurries to catch them, it hits the orange stand because the truck is in the way. The big chase begins, rugged faced men lean out from the windows holding Thompson machine guns, there’s the deafening sound as bullets fly around streets, houses, and people, and impact furiously on the car that’s being chased.

The yellow shirted mobster hides for his life in the getaway vehicle, but it’s no use and they get him right through the head. Saying that, the bodyguard had a blue tie, he is a savior for him, had saved his life at the coffee house and tried to rescue him, but the red interior of the car is foreboding to death, and the yellow shirt of the mobster brings that to his sad end.

That’s why you can’t put stupid elements in that scene, like a romantic couple or a kitty…or something. If you want to make a chase scene, focus on that. Talk is not needed. This reminds me of one of the best chase scenes I’ve seen in a movie. It was Quentin Tarantino’s Death proof. Kurt Russell was a mad killer in an awesome Mustang, and he was chasing these chicks in an even more awesome Dodge Challenger. I just loved it, as it had my favorite cars, and the chase itself was so long and packed, and the camera work was brilliant as well. So many aspects of it fit well together and complimented the final product.

In all, any elements that are to be used in an image, or a game, movie, or even a book for that matter, must be composed correctly so that they fit well together. A lot of thought is put into achieving this, but a great deal of it comes naturally. When everything fits well together, and feels realistic, it will grab the viewer’s attention and hold their interest.