Figure Drawing - Compostion

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Figure Drawing - Compostion

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What to put into the drawing 2. How to arrange the elements in the drawing These two major decisions are the foundation of composition. From an artistic standpoint, composition means the arrangement or design of a picture. It is the process of selecting what to draw and then deciding how to draw it. In the last chapter, we covered posing the figure, which is an element of composition but does not take into account the rest of the picture area.

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  1. C H A P T E R 6
  2. ✎ Composition T here are two basic decisions that an artist has to make with regard to figure drawing. 1. What to put into the drawing 2. How to arrange the elements in the drawing These two major decisions are the foundation of composition. From an artis- tic standpoint, composition means the arrangement or design of a picture. It is the process of selecting what to draw and then deciding how to draw it. In the last chapter, we covered posing the figure, which is an element of compo- sition but does not take into account the rest of the picture area. 99
  3. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models The Picture schedule, organizing a picture is understandable if you know a few mistakes in the work we turned in for our assignments in the class. Plane fundamental principles. He was more interested in whether we had anything to say. In other Whether you are drawing with a ✎ Purpose words, he wanted us to do what I pencil on a piece of paper or using ✎ Placement call meaningful writing: He wanted a digitizing pad and stylus on a our work to mean something. His computer to create your figure ✎ Balance feeling was that he would rather drawing, you are working in what ✎ Focal points see a meaningful paper with a few is called a two-dimensional medium. ✎ Pathways mechanical errors than a well- In other words, the drawing sits on crafted paper of meaningless prose. a flat surface. This flat surface is In many ways, organizing a picture called the picture plane. Another is similar to organizing your daily That day the professor opened up a way to think of it is that if you schedule. First you have to lay out new dimension in my thoughts were to frame your drawing, the the reason or purpose for the about writing. In many of my pre- area inside the frame and mat planned tasks. Next you have to vious English classes, I was so would be the picture plane. place the tasks within the available stressed over getting the spelling time. Each task has to be balanced right or trying to decipher the mys- To be good at composing your with all of the other tasks and obli- teries of English grammar that I drawings, you need to take full gations. You must focus on impor- never felt truly free to express responsibility for the picture plane. tant tasks in order to complete myself. It made me think about my In other words, every square inch them, and there must be clear art and how I would often get of the drawing should be con- avenues or pathways to go from caught up in the mechanics and sciously arranged under your one task to another. forget having a purpose for my pic- direction. I know that might seem tures. The result was that while I obvious because you are drawing did okay with proportions and the picture, but how many times have you started a drawing only to Purpose shading, my work lacked inspira- tion. find that it doesn’t fit on the paper? Years ago when I was attending school, I had an English professor Every drawing can and should Compositions can be good or bad. have a purpose. The purpose who taught me an important les- The goal of the artist in creating a might be as simple as seeing an son about art and life. At the good drawing is to make the com- interesting pose and drawing it. Or beginning of the term a student position good. For someone new to the purpose might be that the artist asked him about the importance of art, composition might seem like a has a specific agenda, message, or spelling and grammar. His reply mystery, but like organizing any- feeling that is expressed in the art. was that while he felt those things thing from your taxes to your daily were important, he didn’t really care if there were a few mechanical 100
  4. Composition In commercial art the purposes are painting exactly what they see and A deeper meaning for a picture of almost always well-defined. The never going beyond that to see your pet might be to somehow purpose is part of the assignment what they express in their work. It express your feelings about the pet. the artist is given. Sell this car. is like living a life without direc- Maybe you have a deep emotional Convey this thought. Draw this tion: You never really get any- attachment to your pet and you building. Express this feeling. where. The beauty of art is the want your picture to capture that Draw attention to this product. All exploration of forms, shapes, col- attachment. What could you draw of these things are challenges for ors, and values. that would express your feelings the commercial artist, and many of though your art? them are accomplished by the use So how do you develop purpose of figure drawing. The architect for a picture? The simple truth is Can you see how having a purpose uses people in his pictures to rep- that most pictures have a purpose, for a picture moves the drawing resent scale. The illustrator might even if the picture is just a doodle from a simple picture to a work of use people in her pictures to depict while waiting for the train. The art? Many of the most famous pic- a story or sell an idea. The designer purpose of the doodle might have tures in the grandest museums are might show a person using his only been to explore some there not because the artist was a product. The animator might have thoughts while relaxing. If, on the skilled painter, but rather because people as the characters in her other hand, the doodles were small the art had meaning. show. designs related to a product the artist was thinking about or they In fine art the need for a purpose is were pictures of a place the artist still there, but the artist generally wanted to visit, the purpose of the determines what that purpose is doodle could be more than simple rather than receiving it as an relaxation. assignment. The purpose might be to capture a feeling, such as seren- Take a minute and think about the ity or excitement. It might be to purpose of a picture of a favorite depict the lighting of a scene to pet. The purpose of the picture bring out the colors, or it might be might be to show others what your to express a personality in a por- pet looks like. However, there trait. could be more to that purpose. Maybe you not only want to show There really is no limit on the types what your pet looks like, but you of purposes for a drawing. One of also want to show your pet’s per- the intrinsic values of art is that sonality. Maybe your pet is playful Figure 6.1 The line drawing cap- almost anything can be expressed and active. Instead of drawing your tures the personality of the pet. through visual media. Often begin- pet resting, it might be more mean- ning artists will limit the scope of ingful to draw your pet at play, as their expression by drawing or in the drawing in Figure 6.1. 101
  5. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models Placement Points Lines The smallest mark an artist can When a point becomes longer in Placement is the arrangement of make and thus the smallest design any one direction, it is no longer a pictorial elements within the pic- element is the point. Some draw- point and becomes a line. The line ture frame. It is not merely the ings, such as stipple drawings, are is the most common and versatile placement of the figure; rather, it is made up of nothing but points. A drawing element. Lines can be the placement of all elements of stipple drawing is usually drawn in used to indicate areas, show depth, drawing. The elements of drawing ink on paper. The drawing consists lead the viewer, delineate edges, are what make up a picture; they of dots of ink that can vary in size define detail, and depict value. include points, lines, shapes, and and distance from each other to forms. Lines are more expressive than make up shades of light and dark. Figure 6.2 shows an example of a points because they have direction stipple drawing. and they can vary in weight. Look at the example in Figure 6.3. Notice that there are three drawing elements. The first is a point, the second is a line, and the third is a line that varies in weight. Can you see how the line is more expressive than the point, and the line with variation in weight is more expres- sive than just a simple line? Figure 6.3 Adding variation in weight can make a line more expressive. Figure 6.2 Stipple drawings are made up of many tiny dots. 102
  6. Composition Varying the weight of a line is often Beginning artists often ask the ✎ Movement. Variation in called using thick and thin lines in question of what lines should be the weight of a line art. The technique of drawing with thicker and what lines should be tends to cause the eye thick and thin lines is most often thinner. Although there is not hard to move from the nar- used in pen and ink drawings. The rule about thick and thin lines, rower area of the line basic idea of varying the weight of there are a few general rules that to the thicker area. By a line for compositional purposes might help. placing lines in a draw- is that a heavier line emphasizes ing that vary in thick- that part of the line and thus that ✎ Contrast. Thick lines ness over their length, part of the drawing. Figure 6.4 is a have more contrast the artist can orches- line drawing of a character using with the white of the trate the way a person thick and thin lines. Notice how paper than thin lines looks at the picture. the thick and thin lines add a more do. Thick lines around Think of it in terms of dramatic feel to the drawing. Also a specific area of your creating a racetrack in notice how the thicker areas of the drawing will draw which the lines are the lines in the drawing add weight to more attention to that track. In Figure 6.6, emphasize that area. area. I wanted the there is a sense of viewer to look first at movement in the char- the character’s head, so acter’s hat. I gave that area of the drawing more contrast, as shown in Figure 6.5. Figure 6.6 The viewer’s eye tends to follow the lines in a drawing. Figure 6.5 Use thicker lines in areas of emphasis. Figure 6.4 Adding variation in weight can give a line more emphasis. 103
  7. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models ✎ Curves. Lines going ✎ Tapered ends. Abrupt ✎ Corners. Sharp corners around an arc tend to endings cause harsh are abrupt changes of look better if the line is stops in a drawing. It is direction. They can thicker as it swings much easier for the eye happen in the course of around the curve. to begin and end at a a line or when two or Going back to our anal- tapered point. Figure more lines meet. ogy of the racetrack, 6.8 shows several lines Adding more weight to motion tends to slow in in the drawing that the lines at a corner a curve. By adding begin or end in tapered helps keep the viewer’s width to a line in a points. eyes on the drawing. curve, you give more The corner then acts as space for swinging a launch pad for the around the curve, mak- eyes to move in a dif- ing the curve easier to ferent direction. Figure follow with the eye. In 6.9 shows where the the curves on the char- corners of the charac- acter’s shoulder shown ter’s pants cause in Figure 6.7, the lines abrupt changes in are thicker, making the direction. curve easier to follow. Figure 6.8 A tapered end is easier for the eye to begin and end. Figure 6.7 Adding weight to curves makes them easier to follow. Figure 6.9 A heavy corner can make an abrupt change in direction more natural. 104
  8. Composition This list does not cover every Not all shapes have symbolic As you approach creating a figure aspect of using thick and thin meaning, but the fact that they can drawing, try to look beyond the lines, but hopefully it will give have meaning beyond a mark on a figure and look at the entire pic- you a start. One of the wonderful piece of paper shows an important ture as a set of shapes. Sometimes aspects of art is taking basic distinction between a shape and looking at the silhouette of shapes concepts and exploring new a line. in a picture helps define them. applications. Figure 6.11 shows the silhouette of a figure. Lines are the building blocks of most drawings. Using lines, the artist can define almost anything. When it comes to composition, one of the most important things that lines define is shape. Shapes A shape is a defined area in a draw- ing. For example, Figure 6.10 shows the familiar shape of a heart. The shape is composed of two lines, but the meaning of the shape goes way beyond just the two lines because the shape is also a symbol. Figure 6.11 The figure is a shape in the drawing. Figure 6.10 Some shapes have symbolic meaning. 105
  9. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models The figure is a shape because it is a defined area in the drawing. Understanding the shapes in your drawings will help you develop good compositions. For example, here there are three basic shapes— a square, a circle, and a heart. One or more lines define each shape. The quality and placement of the Figure 6.12 The picture contains three basic shapes. lines not only define the shapes, they also define the picture. The picture is somewhat static because all of the lines are similar in weight and spacing. The shapes also are of equal size and centered on the paper. By adjusting some of the drawing elements, you can see how the dynamics of the picture can change. In Figure 6.13, the shape of the circle was enlarged and the Figure 6.13 The circle is the dominant shape in the drawing. other two shapes were reduced. The circle is now the dominant shape. The dominant position of the circle is also enhanced by the fact that it is in the center of the picture. In Figure 6.14, the circle is moved to the side but the weight of the line is heavier, so even though it is not central, it is still dominant because of the heavier line. Figure 6.14 The circle is dominant in both size and line weight. 106
  10. Composition Another method of emphasizing a shape is to have it overlap other shapes, as shown in Figure 6.15. The overlapping helps to increase the importance of the top shape and diminish the importance of the other two shapes. One aspect of a shape is the fact that by defining a shape in a draw- ing, you also define others shapes. Notice that in the last picture there are three overlapping shapes, but Figure 6.15 Overlapping shapes can emphasize importance. there is also the shape of the sur- rounding area of the picture. The areas defined outside the pictorial shapes in a drawing are often referred to by artists as negative shapes. Figure 6.16 shows the neg- ative shape in white. Figure 6.16 The negative shape surrounds the other shapes in the picture. 107
  11. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models Negatives shapes are very impor- tant in a composition. If they are organized correctly, they can have a big impact on the success of your drawing. For example, Figure 6.17 shows a group of negative and pos- itive shapes. When the shapes are put together in the correct organization, the negative shapes carry the message of the drawing, as shown in Figure 6.18. The way you place pictorial ele- ments can have a big effect on the quality of your composition. When placing shapes in a drawing, there are a few things that you should avoid, such as monotony, tangents, Figure 6.17 The picture shows some unorganized shapes. and unwanted inclusion. Figure 6.18 When organized, the negative shapes spell the words nega- tive shapes. 108
  12. Composition Monotony Tangents that cause confusion in the place- Monotony is the repetition of Sometimes the placement of ment of the visual elements in shapes that closely match each objects can cause problems. For three-dimensional spaces. other in size and spacing. A good example, tangents can cause visual Tangents can also be painful. In example of monotony is back in confusion. In Figure 6.19, the seal Figure 6.20, the diamond shape is Figure 6.12, in which all of the is supposed to be in the fore- placed next to the edge of the pic- shapes are roughly the same size ground. However, the placement of ture. This causes two problems. and are spaced statically across the the seal’s nose on the line of the First, the placement is uncomfort- drawing. The best way to avoid barn gives the impression that the able because it is poking the side of monotony is to vary the size and seal is balancing the barn on his the picture frame. It is almost like spacing of the pictorial shapes in nose. the frame is getting hurt! Second, your drawings. When placing items in a picture, sharp corners can often act as you should always watch out for arrows, directing viewers’ attention potential problems with tangents away from the picture. Figure 6.20 Some tangents can be painful. Figure 6.19 The seal looks like he is balancing the barn on his nose. 109
  13. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models Unwanted Inclusion Sometimes a shape might be behind another shape, causing the two shapes to run together and blend. This is particularly true when the two shapes are of similar value. Figure 6.21 shows a simple example of this problem. The square shape is overlapping the cross shape, but they are so close in value that they seem to be one shape rather than two. Sometimes you might want the shapes of your drawing to run together, so this is only a problem when the blending is unwanted yet still present. It is always a good idea to create a value sketch of your drawing first to see whether Figure 6.21 The cross and square blend together because they are similar there is any potential for unwanted in value. inclusion. Form In nature there really aren’t any lines. Lines are what artists use to interpret nature. Lines are often used by artists to define edges or suggest contours, but there is another aspect of composition that brings pictorial elements into three-dimensional representations; it is called form. Form is the depic- tion of objects based on the effects of light on that object. It brings the element of shading into drawings. Figure 6.22 The circle on the right indicates the form of the circular In Figure 6.22 there are two cir- shape. cles. The one on the left shows only the shape of the circle, whereas the one on the right shows the form of the circle as a sphere. 110
  14. Composition Form is important in composition Lighting creates tonal differences Tonal qualities of a figure are visu- because it shows solidity and on figures. These tonal differences ally very powerful—sometimes dimension. In figure drawing, create patterns and shapes of their more powerful than the silhouette often the artist will want to repre- own. In Figure 6.23, you can see a of the figure itself, depending on sent the figure as a three-dimen- posed figure in tonal grays. There the harshness of the light. In sional element of the picture. are shapes that make up the light Figure 6.24, I increased the con- Compositionally, this means that side of the figure and others that trast to emphasize the dark and the drawing will take into account make up the dark side. light shapes of the figure. the effects of lighting on it. Figure 6.23 Light and shadow create shapes on the Figure 6.24 The contrast is increased in the figure to figure. show clearly the shapes of the light side and the dark side. 111
  15. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models As an artist, you have to see the shapes of the light and dark on your figures. Often shadows— particularly cast shadows—obscure the dimensional qualities of the fig- ure. For example, look at Figure 6.25. Notice how the lighting shows the form of the arm extended toward us very clearly, whereas the one pointing away is almost entirely in shadow, giving it almost no sense of form at all. In addition, the cast shadow on the figure’s knee destroys any sense of form in that area. Before you start to draw a figure, take a close look at the lighting to determine whether it enhances or obscures the form of the figure. Figure 6.25 Shadows can obscure the form of the figure. 112
  16. Composition Closer always have to be completely Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci in drawn. The concept of blending Figure 6.26. Obscuring the form of a figure some parts of the form with other might not always be a bad thing. forms in the picture is an old prac- In this famous painting, da Vinci The shapes in the picture do not tice. For example, look at the Mona purposefully arranges the values around the figure so that they blend into each other. Rather than putting a hard line around the fig- ure, da Vinci leaves it up to us to fill in the gaps. This concept in art of blending edges is called closer. Visually, this gives the viewer’s eyes pathways to and from the figure. Looking at the picture in black and white, the blending of the values becomes more evident, as shown in Figure 6.27. Figure 6.26 Leonardo da Vinci blends the values of the figure with Figure 6.27 Leonardo da Vinci the background in the Mona Lisa. Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art uses closer in the Mona Lisa. Resource, NY. Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY. 113
  17. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models Balance Basic to composition is balance. If a picture is out of balance, it will feel uncomfortable to the viewer, just like the out-of-balance figure discussed in Chapter 5. In Figure 6.28, the character is way off to the right and facing away from the center of the picture. It creates a large, uncomfortable, empty area in the middle and left side of the picture. It is off balance. Figure 6.28 The picture seems off balance. A good way to think of picture bal- ance is to imagine that the picture is perched on a triangle, as shown in Figure 6.29. If the picture feels like it would be heavier on one side than on another, the picture will seem off balance. Granted, this illustration is exag- gerated for purposes of this lesson. But even pictures that are just a lit- tle off balance can be uncomfort- able. If a person is uncomfortable with a picture, he or she will tend to not enjoy looking at it and will probably move on to other pic- tures. Figure 6.29 The right side of the picture is visually heavier than the left. 114
  18. Composition Formal Balance One of the reasons that we think of person is considered disfigured if this pattern as being pleasant to one side does not match up with One way to solve the balance prob- look at is the symmetry of shape the other. Leonardo da Vinci gives lem is to use formal balance. and design. us a good example of the symme- Formal balance is a system of bal- try of the human form in his ancing a picture by subdividing it Symmetry in the human form is sketch The Vitruvian Man, shown into equal portions so that one side considered beautiful. In fact, a in Figure 6.31. mirrors the other. Formal balance feels comfortable to us because many things in life have symmetry. Most animals are symmetrical, as is the human body. Symmetry is pleasing to view because it represents order and integrity. Take a look a Figure 6.30. Figure 6.30 Symmetrical designs are pleasing to the eye. Figure 6.31 The Vitruvian Man shows the symmetry of the human form. Cameraphoto/Art Resource, NY. 115
  19. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models For compositions in which the equality in the masses from one Giovanna Cenami (The Arnolfini artist wants to have a feeling of side to the other for a picture to Marriage) by Jan van Eyck is a dignity or majesty, formal balance have formal balance. great example of formal balance, or symmetry is a great approach. shown here in Figures 6.32 and Not everything needs to be mir- Many of the great masters used for- 6.33. rored from one side to the other, mal balance in their paintings. but there should be a sense of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife Figure 6.33 Dividing the picture helps to show the formal balance. Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY. Figure 6.32 Jan van Eyck used formal balance to organize the elements of his painting. Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY. 116
  20. Composition The Madonna with Canon van der have a formal, almost majestic lack dynamics. Formal balance is Paele, also by Jan van Eyck and presence. not very good for creating pictures shown in Figure 6.34, is another that give the feeling of motion or great example of formal balance. Formal balance is great for formal action. The artist needs to have Notice how both these paintings pictures, but because it is so bal- other ways to balance a picture. anced, the picture can sometimes Figure 6.34 Jan van Eyck used formal balance in many of his paintings. Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY. 117
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