Thursday, 18 November 2010

Visual Composition

Visual Composition really leads on from concept art and how things we perceive as cool or interesting come from this very important element of painting and drawing. Composition is in everything we see in our lives through graphics in magazines, DVD and games menus and even on T.V guide pages. Composition is there to please the eye and draw us into the image or piece of graphics. It's also there as a way of forcing you to look at something in particular or creating a main focal point in the image.

The classic masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo or Rembrandt all used composition as key point of making their paintings better, more attention grabbing and aesthetically pleasing. They would produce hundreds of drawings and sketches when studying an object or person or pose as a way of building the composition up and finding the one they really felt worked.
The most simple way of looking at composition is following the basic rule of thirds and how an image can be divided up to make a clearer and more focussed piece.

Take this painting by Henning Ludvigsen for example, it can be broken down very simply by placing a grid over the top and breaking it down geometrically on the page. I painted a simplistic grid over the image to show the compositional layout.
There is a nice balance and weight across her body on the page that fits into the "golden sections" of the compositional grid. Without getting too mathematical as I don't do numbers, it basically works on the fibonacci sequence that occurs in nature through the structure of shells to the structure of leaves and fruit and has been shown to be one of the most pleasing forms to the eye. What I mean by "golden sections" is the separate boxes in which the form is equally balanced in where her arms meet along the vertical and horizontal planes.

Composition really makes a difference in the way images and concepts are perceived. Even in a 3D environment when the camera angles for cinematics and general movement aren't pleasing or confusing for the player, it becomes frustrating and annoying and can ultimately ruin a possibly great game. Composition is there to make the money shot that really sells the painting or game imagery and make it awesome to look at and with a simple oversight can ruin what has the potential to be great.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Planning and Concepting

Concepting and planning should be the physical starting blocks an idea going into productuion should take. Though too often we see online art that is labeled as concept art but no sense of process is visible and a random un-processed thought is often the outcome and labeled as the final piece.

A concept artists job role is presenting and generating the visual style of the game or film under the direction of the art or creative director. Being a concept artist holds a lot of responsibility in createing the starting blocks for the visual style and overall feel for the game which gives them a lot creative freedom. However, a large part built into the role of being a concpet artist is being able to take constructive criticism and using it to push the ideas that are on paper and you may really like and developing them further for the needs of the project.

Weta workshop who created the props and concepts for the great sci-fi film District 9 are a great example of a good art direction team and group of concept artists. A main feature in the film is the alien exo suit though it didn't always look like the final image here. In their new art book there are tons of images and thumbnails for the design process of the exo suit and a different suit was originally made physically from the concept but was never used as the art direction wanted something less organic and humanoid looking.

Concepting is really the fleshing out of ideas not creating a piece of art that gets a thousand hearts and wow your awesome on deviant art. It's often seen as just making cool digital paints or illustrations that show an interesting idea and not something that you could really get a physical end product from. It seems a lot of people aspire to be a concept artist without knowing what the job really entitles.

I feel that i am a victim of not working through ideas in the aim of making something that people go wow at sometimes, though the vehicle project i have been working on recently has really shown me the fun and need for working through ideas and developing them further to make sure that the same old clich├ęd ideas don't get footprinted in the designs and allows the rubbish to be put on paper and removed from your brain and clear the way for something original.