Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Composition Part 1

I realized that this'll never happen if I a) try to do a post that covers every compostion thing I can think of at once, or b) forces me to draw all sorts of pictures as examples.  So I'm going the easy route.  I'm going to break it up into parts, and I'm going to use art from my favorite artists as examples.

Today I'm going with Frank Frazetta because I want to talk about the best cover composition around.  Obviously you can't do this each and every time, and there are so many other very effective designs, but this one, for me, is the strongest.  It's the simple triangle composition.












I think these pictures really speak for themselves.  The triangle composition is the gift that just keeps on giving!  Frazetta used it for arguably most of his covers, and it never, ever gets old.  If you really look for it in all of these covers, it couldn't be more obvious, but it works every time. 

For it to work best, the triangle can't be broken by any major elements, but if it's too perfect it can become static.  Notice how Frazetta outlines a triangle in his compositions, but doesn't completely form the shape in an unbroken way.  Except for when he does, but then notice how he uses elements to play against the shape and add visual interest, like in the cover with the guy with the guns and girls.  The guns are small enough, and peripheral enough that they can break the composition, and he's angled them in such a way as to frame the main character's face, and slash some movement across the page.  That movement stops your eye from simply following the too obvious triange shape. 

As a bit of an aside, I can't help but mention Frazetta's use of light and detail in his compositions.  Notice how focused his lighting is, with the greatest contrast in his center of interest, and points of light hit on other elements in the picture, just enough to draw your eye across them.  He always knew what the focus of his picture was, and he knew how to draw you there, and then lead your eye around to other secondary elements, almost like a visual tour.  That's all accomplished through use of focused lighting.  No photo reference is going to teach you that one!  

The other element I mentioned is detail.  Because Frazetta was all about instant visual impact, he was very careful to not detail elements of his pictures that were secondary to that goal. That takes so much discipline....it's much easier to noodle everything in sight!  I could learn a thing or two from that...

Anyway, more later.   

9 comments:

Amit said...

Thanks for the tip. Will try to remember the next time i pick up the pencil. If its not much of a bother could you explain the use of diagonals in a composition to improve the dynamics of a picture, i dont know anything about that other than the term itself which i picked up a few days ago.

rumer said...

Any recommended books on composition?

Dave Finch said...

Sure, how to draw comics the marvel way. John Buscema. It's broken down in very simple terms, and gives you everything you need. If you want to get more designy, I don't know what books would help with that. Just get something by JH Williams and study hard!

And Amit, I'm getting there!

rumer said...

Thanks. Very helpful tutorial. Can't wait for part 2.

FBS Prod said...

JH Williams é inclivel seus desenhos!! Otima dica.

Morganza said...

Appreciate your time to pass these lessons down, I'm soaking it up.

Amit said...

^Thanks for replying to my dumb post.
I just figured that the sixth picture(The guy with the rifle and the revolver) that you posted represents the use of diagonals or so i think. The rifle represents one diagonal and the pistol the other which is perpendicular to one another and correct me if i am wrong i think that gives some dynamics to the image....

BIGGMIGGZ said...

Thanks for posting your art it's amazing! I love studying your pencils. GNOME dvd's are great! I hope that you add one more volume called D. Finch's secrets to rendering (lol). I have a question regarding your sketchbooks for sale. Do they contain any rendered pieces or are the sketches just basic layouts and concepts?

Michele K said...

Hi Dave, Thanks for your time today at the studio!! Josh and Natalie gleaned so much from you! We'll be checking out your blog.