The Form-Link Vignette
In this approach, the figures are shown in full, but they’re linked to each other using props or background elements, thus making a larger shape.
Saul Tepper establishes the domestic setting and unites the family members using the chair, the doorway, and the cast shadow. The man’s head is cleverly silhouetted against the refrigerator, the selling point of the ad.
Howard Pyle uses the thin forms of the smoke and the horizon as a linear scaffolding to hang the separate parts together.
The Real White VignetteIf you stage a scene so that part of it consists of a white material, the vignette looks natural and unforced. The white element might be a snowy field, a sandy beach—or in the case of this John Gannam, a white bedsheet. The two dark shapes at the top of the composition are crucial to defining the shape of the bed.
The white of the tablecloth becomes the white of the paper.
The Spillover VignetteFor this one, think of the white background not as white paper, but as a field of illumination, flooding the subject and pouring over the edges of the form. This spillover effect was pioneered by paperback cover artist James Bama. The edge of the form can be lost altogether as in this case....
....or the edge of the form can be held. Either way, the figure should be lit from both sides, with the core of the shadow in the front of the form.
I did this painting of an asteroid miner inspired by Bama's innovation. The image appeared on a paperback called Out of the Sun by Ben Bova. I posed the model contre-jour in a doorway, with all the light from outdoors spilling over into the side planes of his face and shoulders. Then in the painting I actually lost all the edges of the forms and let them blend into the background.
Read the whole series:
Vignetting, Part 1
Vignetting, Part 2
Vignetting, Part 3
More on vignetting in my book: Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist
Thanks to the following this week:
John Flesk, link.
Roger Reed of Illustration House, link.
Leif Peng’s Flickr sets, link.
Jim Vadeboncoeur’s illustrated books, link.
100 Years of Illustration, link.
Armando Cabrera, link.
Illustration Art, link.