Understanding Composition
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Understanding Composition

August 23, 2019

Imagine purchasing a book, and opening it only to find that the pages were out of water, the text was in hard to read places, and the story rambled on no particular direction. Well, that’s exactly the same as a badly composed image. Composition! Everybody has heard of it. What is it? Composition is about arranging elements in a scene, in a pleasing and easy-to-read manner. When done correctly, it guides the viewer to what’s important, and is overall resulting in a pleasing and a static looking image. In fact, I go so far as to say that composition is one of the most important things you could learn as a CG artist. And yet surprisingly, almost nobody is talking about it. If you go online, you’ll find a hundred and one tutorials on how to model a car, but always none on how to actually PRESENT that car. Which is why I’m making this video. A CG artist’s guide to understanding composition once and for all. by the end of this video you have learned how to correctly position the elements of your scene to make an image that’s visually attractive and WOWS your audience. Composition can best be broken down into three stages which we’ll address throughout this video. First the focal element, the structure and las the balance so let’s start with the first one the focal element the focal element is something that the view is drawn to immediately abunsing the image now, i love this one because personally if i find an image which i consederd it badly composed generally the biggest co-operate is the laking of a focal element or there is too focal element

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  1. Excellent video!
    I've made a little chapter index to make it easier for people to review certain chapters:

    1. Focal Element  4:37

    2. Structure  12:20
    2a – Rule of Thirds  14:21
    2b – Golden Ratio  17:07
    2c – Pyramid Composition  20:14
    2d – Symmetry  20:51
    2e – Full Frame  21:46

    3. Balance  22:35

    Please thumbs up this comment so the index remains at the top, so people can use it 🙂

  2. i want to download your Image reference to make my ref too so how could i download it bro or where? thank in advance !

  3. I thought the chairs at 13:45 was a very good example of both structure and focal. While it's basic, the two groups act almost like a road leading you to the chairs in back. You could imagine those three are for the most important people. Great Video, one of your best contextually in my opinion.

  4. As a painter I still struggle with composition. I get lost and I miss perspective often. Thank you so much, can't wait to put this knowledge in action!

  5. the dragon's face is bigger and has more vibrant color on it (+ the contrast with the blue background) than the colors onto the viking which are darker and less vibrant due to values i guess (+the viking's face is way smaller) so the attention of most ppl is instantly drawn onto the dragon's face and not the viking's so i don't really know how we're theoretically supposed to focus onto the viking's face first (no matter the subliminal leading to his face)…

  6. I find 1.85:1 movies have notorious difficulty making the rule of thirds work. In many conversation scenes, they have to push characters to fill the edge of the frame, so points of intersection are between the two main faces, not on them. When they do put the faces at the intersection points, it feels cropped.

  7. I really appreciated how you explained by showing a bad example and then showed how it was fixed. I learn best that way. Thank you.

  8. It is so sophisticated but still I'm fascinated , it was reall helpful I understood the importance and the interest art has. Thank you!!

  9. Awesome video

    In the example of the chairs, 13:46, I prefer the chaos because it says more. It makes your mind wonder what did it happened there. Of course it is matter of the reasons behind the composition, the story behind it, for me it makes it more interesting

  10. @10:30 – I think it wasn't meant as a guiding line, that's too much thinking into the whole thing imo. It's simply that the sword on the belt is a must, or not, since he has an axe, having an axe over a shoulder simply works, because in real life axe is of course heavy, or any weapon has a weight, and those who feel great tend to put on sword like that on a shoulder too, or…if weapon is heavy, it's a common sense to carry it on a shoulder, since there is no other place to place it. You could say it's a victorious warrior stance, very basic, very simple, and shows a simple idea, not necessarily made as any sort of guiding lines. That is, imo, an overthinking. Personally, maybe I am just a special kind of person, that those things do not lead me to their face, since I tend to look at details, so I first looked at the belly, belt, the belt bucket is huge, so it drag the attention, then I had a need to look to the left, since next big object took my attention, and it was dragon's head, then horn, because horn, as you say in general, is dark on bright, next is the wing, and then axe, and then viking's face, then down the arm to the shield, and to the sword.

    @11:35 – like I said, maybe I am special kind of person, but the ship took my eyes most of the time, it's the biggest in the picture, right in your face basically, the lights etc, since I have seen Earth plenty.

  11. Good Composition looks natural. Perfect rectangles and perfect balance don't look natural. Rectangles look better than squares though. Reality is about variety. The more time you spend on composition the more time you have to ruin it. You really have to be good at composition to improve upon a scene that wasn't composed at all.

  12. There should be an art challenge where you take random guiding lines and vocal points, and the artist has to draw along with them

  13. Thank you so much for this video, I didn't even know composition was a thing until a few months ago and I graduated from high school already.

  14. look at the colors on this drawing with a girl and a green monster, you are absolutely right abt how it balances by various elements, but notice the use of complimentary color sets, such as pink-green and yellow-blue
    it brings even more contrast
    same as with the crystals on the cave- it works nicely because parts of the cave surrounding the entering and our focal guy are actually in dark red hue, which compliments bright blue crystals and surroundings

  15. because he's in the hood?? come on do say stupid racist shit man. I was diggin it up until that point. Still gonna watch tho smh

  16. 28:40 the boy is human, and the opposite to it is a machine… that is all the contrast it needs… Great video btw, thanks for this! 🙂

  17. Doesn't balancing go against the concept of focus or center of attention? Does it not confuse the viewer which object to focus?

  18. It was very educational up until you brought up the golden ratio haha but jokes aside it was a very inspirational video indeed. Thank you. Have to agree with others thou, I couldn't take my eyes off of a dragon's face as the viking's one was too small and hairy haha. And a minor note that a little asymmetry could result in a nice composition. The way our mind works is that we reject everything that is difficult to comprehend but we also ignore that which is too simple, symmetrical and lacking the focal point and character.

  19. I feel like you didn't explain the golden ratio enough. You assumed we are familiar with it. The rest is REALLY great! Liked and subbed (although i shouldve already subbed from "understanding color" earlier)

  20. so people from the hood have their arms folded and wear hoods dang that something there, but yeah I pretty much imagined someone standing there in the hall myself which is what I'd been expecting

  21. I saw this video like 1.5 years ago? Then got out of arts, forgot, got back to art, and came back to here to remember

  22. Very good and comprehensive guide, but I noticed you talk more about lights and bright object as the catchy element when it comes to balance but not the level of details and sharpness, because detailed and sharp element can also bring the attention and catch the observer, the greatest example is Da Vinci's Jesus masterpiece and the way he detailed the hand to catch the eye. Otherwise very helpful guide

  23. I thought the lines and focus was in the torso of the blue picture of cartoon girl, lines from her legs to the circling lines all lead my eyes to her torso, nothing leads me to her face, infact the more you look at it the more you see almost all the lines lead to her torso and a bit of color to the back of her torso, just saying

  24. I read books about composition and colour theory decades ago. It was beautiful finding your videos about these subjects and get a refresher course. Very well done!

  25. I found only one satisfactory system of composition where such terms as depicted object and element of composition are not mixed up – in the book Composition of a Picture by Evgeniy Stasenko. It's available on Amazon https://www.amazon.es/dp/B07HP9L6XN

  26. Hope you can translate this: No te imaginas lo que me divierto aprendiendo con tus videos hermano, eres excelente maestro.

  27. Thank you very much for explaining the complex composition techniques. As an amateur photographer this video helped me much more than all the videos of those renown photogtaphers!

  28. Very good information. I was needing to recap on this very subject so thank you. And props for using your own work as bad examples.

  29. Side Note, the rule of third is actually a simplification of the golden ratio since 2/3 is roughly equal to 1/golden ratio (golden ratio being roughly 1.618). The spiral that we see illustrating the golden ratio is actually an illustration aimed at showing that the golden ratio can basically be recursive in order to create more complex shapes.

  30. God, that was awesome. That's how I like my lessons. Super clean, objective, precise, full of clear examples (and anti-examples). And, most of all, no "you have to try it out for youself and see what works, there are no rules (and I only say that because I want my secrets to a successful composition to be my own)."

  31. Sir Andrew, first let me say this is by far the overall best video on compisition I've found so far.

    A quick thought re 15:39, possibly there is something more complex going on here than just "not having to line up exactly" that is perhaps worth analysing (by someone smarter than me).
    Perhaps the primary subject is offset relative to the weight of other elements in the scene.
    No idea if this was a cognitive or intuitive choice by the artist in this example but I feel like there's something there looking into.

  32. 10:00 What actually drove my attention was the round bright golden medallion on the viking's belly…

  33. That photo of the animated Viking and dragon, I have to disagree with where my eyes went to first. The contrast of the yellow eye and pink skin caught my attention first. But very informative video 👏🏾👏🏾🙌🏾

  34. The only thing that I noticed in the image with the dwarf was the freaking dragon. Which I thought was a cow! So for me that image was a terrible example it had the opposite effect of what you said it should have.

  35. Now i know why vlogs and videos where the person is either on the side but not fully stretched to the top looks pleasing to my eye.

  36. this shit had me so confused before!!! like ppl are sharing how well the composition of some pics are and i click on it and there are LINES AND CIRCLES like wtf are these??? so i went to search it up and damn it i never knew about this before

    ps, im an artist. my art about to go on anotha level. thank u blender guru

  37. ps, i STILL dont understand the golden ratio. i may never be able to. im prolly composition blind. one like as prayer for my art career 🙁

  38. Really good video! funny, I learned this in design classes and not in animation or art. So thanks for the refreshing my knowledge. And again really good taught !! 🙂

  39. I noticed the Viking first, if nothing else because his gold beard stands out against the grey and pink around it. The dragon blends into the background.

  40. I'm pretty sure some people are wandering around YouTube and disliking random videos … Because I see no reason for this video to have dislikes !

  41. IMHO. balance theory seems contradicting with focal element because by balancing saturation for example, there wouldn't be focal object.

    In other word. If two objects have relatively equal saturation then our intention will be drawn to both object. Which is make them both focal.

    In conclusion. You can't have one focal object. there must be at least two focal objects. If not, there would be unbalanced composition.


  42. Good stuff, but I think you missed the mark with the dragon and viking image. The viking's face is obscured and has little contrast. The dragon eyes are a magnet with the horn acting as a hook to pull you toward it.

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