Creating Dynamic Compositions with Line Intersections by Jean Pierre Targete
When I decided to write a tutorial for Epilogue I thought "Cool, no problem. I'll take it from thumbnail to finished painting!" But then it dawned on me, wow, I have a lot to write about: composition, concept and realism, rendering technique, reference material… Okay, you get the idea. It was way too much and probably worthy of a book someday. So I decided to start at the beginning, the birth stage of an image so to speak.
Composing an image, whether it is traditional, digital or photography, is probably the first step to making a visually interesting picture. It took me many years to figure that out (though it was constantly emphasized by my teachers), but it's something that many aspiring artist overlook. When I first started out I certainly did. Using what I call dynamic intersections you can create images that lead the viewer to pinpoint areas in your image or keep their eyes moving through it as well. This is very powerful for published work because you want your image to stand out and grab a viewer's interest. Yes, there are many rules to composition. The golden spiral, the 1/3 rule, and the "s" rule all are useful in most circumstances, but I'll show you how I do it.
Stage 1: Rough it up
Before you start your masterpiece you must build its raw foundation, creating a composition that is both simple yet complex enough to capture the eye. I use intersecting lines (crossed) and positive and negative space (basically B/W) to make my images visually interesting and readable. Even when it is reduced it still needs to retain its clarity compositionally. All this may seem elementary but when you are doing work that will print small it's a key point to keep in mind.
Stage 2: The break down
Below I have broken down the images, first in simple lines to show you the dynamic intersections and then in their equivalent positive and negative abstract shapes. This procedure works well for me and helps me work in raw abstracts before I deal with color, realism and atmosphere, etc., all of which can be complex steps on their own. The closer the intersections are from one another (usually) the more dynamic your composition can be. It's quite simple actually.
Stage 3: The chosen one
After showing the Art Director all four roughs, he decided to go with this one, which, in my opinion, was the least dynamic of all the roughs. I finessed the composition in the final sketch.
Stage 4: Finesse your composition
After getting my reference material together, I came up with this final sketch where I developed my composition a bit more. I enhanced the anatomy of the Ape and human, using their limbs to accentuate the already present abstract intersections. I added background shapes to compliment my foreground but still keeping it predominant.
Stage 5: Tweak your contrast
Using Photoshop I quickly colored my sketch and tweaked the contrast, bringing out the positive and negative shapes already established. This gives me a choice in contrast and palette, which is another topic I will cover some day.
Stage 6: Finalize it
After being only few lines and abstract shapes, the painting "Planet of the Apes" is born. As you see, I have maintained my initial composition more or less. Dynamic intersection works in conjunction with positive and negative shapes. Some of these intersections are visible and some are not. Always remember that you don't need to actually see the intersection, only hints of it. I hope this is helpful for those who, like myself, have problems with composing. I say 'have' because I'm actually still learning about the important visual element that is
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