The new issue of ImagineFX magazine, coming to newsstands soon, has an article that I wrote about composition.
It begins by resisting the usual approaches to composition, which typically lay out systems of geometric grids, or talk about controlling the eye, or present a series of design prohibitions.
In fact, I begin by mythbusting the theories of the golden mean that are often taught in composition classes.
But wait! If you take away those elegant systems, what's left? I struggled a bit with this because, like my hero Howard Pyle, I'm suspicious of rules on this subject, and I believe composition is best taught on a case-by-case, picture-by-picture basis.
In the end, I decided to approach the topic from a completely different direction. I thought the best place to start is by identifying the core emotion or idea of the piece. Then I offer some basic aesthetic tools to help get that idea across to the viewer. My topics include:
• You've got to feel something first.
• Do lots of thumbnails.
• Choose the supreme moment.
• Think about the viewpoint and eye level.
• Simplify extraneous details.
• Downplay the secondary areas.
• Push extremes.
• Eliminate the inessential.
• Add photorealistic focus to the focal point.
• Make the color suit the emotion.
• Create contrasts.
• In a sequential work, vary the compositions.