Art School Boot Camp I: Drawing Compelling Compositions | Christine Nishiyama | Skillshare

Art School Boot Camp I: Drawing Compelling Compositions

Christine Nishiyama, Artist at Might Could Studios

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12 Lessons (21m)
    • 1. Class Trailer

      2:22
    • 2. What is Composition?

      1:12
    • 3. Project Assignment

      1:05
    • 4. Elements of Design

      2:33
    • 5. Principles of Design

      4:17
    • 6. Rule of Thirds

      1:13
    • 7. Rule of Odds

      1:20
    • 8. Lines and Shapes

      2:27
    • 9. Rhythm and Repetition

      0:41
    • 10. Cropping and Overlapping

      1:52
    • 11. Viewpoint

      0:59
    • 12. Wrapping Up!

      0:50
59 students are watching this class

About This Class

Welcome the first session of Art School Boot Camp! I’m Christine Fleming, illustrator at Might Could Studios. Attending art school easily costs more than $50,000 in tuition alone. Most people can’t afford it. This Skillshare course series aims to target students who have the passion for art and want to learn the essential knowledge gleaned from art school. In this series, I’m going to take you through the fundamental concepts learned in art and design school, from composition to color to gestures.

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This first 30-minute session of boot camp focuses on composition. Composition is the arrangement of elements in a piece of artwork. Composition is possibly the most vital aspect of what makes an piece of work strong or weak, so we’re going to go over all the basics they teach in Art School!

First, I’ll introduce the basic design elements and the basic design principles. Then, I’ll  show you six different techniques to consider when building a composition, including examples from cinematography of how each technique can be applied to a composition.

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Your assignment for this class is to choose one composition technique from the videos, and redraw a piece of artwork you previously created with a focus on improving its composition.

By the end of the class, you’ll have a revised, stronger piece of artwork, and you’ll be well on your way to getting the Art School fundamentals committed to habit so they become second nature every time you pick up a pencil. This bootcamp is great for all artists, whether you make books, comics, illustrations, paintings, or you just like to draw!

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WANT MORE?

You can see more about Christine and her work at might-could.com

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Hope to see you in there! :D

Transcripts

1. Class Trailer: Hi, I'm Christine Fleming, illustrator at Might Cloud Studios, and welcome to the first session of Art School Boot Camp. Attending art school easily costs more than $50,000 in tuition alone. Most people can't afford it. This Skillshare class series aims to target students who have the passion for art and want to learn the essential knowledge gleaned from art school. In this series, I'm going to take you through the fundamental concepts taught in art and design schools, including composition, color, and gestures. Students in art schools practice these skills over and over until they've committed them so hard to their brains that they've become habit and subconscious thought. At that point, these concepts come so naturally, they don't even have to think about them. But before you can do that, you have to start at the beginning. The first 30-minute session of Boot Camp focuses on composition. Composition is the arrangement of elements in an artwork. Composition is possibly the most vital aspect of what makes a piece of artwork strong or weak, so we're going to go through all the basics they teach in art school. First, I'll introduce the basic design elements. Then, I'll go over the basic design principles. After that, I'll show you the six different techniques to consider when building a composition. Cinematography is a great way to study composition. So after I explain each technique, I'll provide examples from movies of how each technique can be applied to a composition. Your assignment for this class is to choose one composition technique from the videos, and redraw a piece of artwork that you've already created with the focus on improving its composition. You can choose any type of artwork, including a painting, a drawing, or even a project from another Skillshare class. By the end of this class, you'll have a revised, stronger piece of artwork, and you'll be well on your way to committing the art school fundamentals to memory. This Boot Camp is great for all artists, whether you like to make books, illustrations, paintings, or you just like to draw. So grab your red beret and let's go to art school. 2. What is Composition?: What is composition? To ask the obvious first question, what is composition and why is it so important? Composition is the arrangement of elements in a piece of artwork. It's purpose is to emphasize the most important elements, guiding the viewers eye through the piece, allowing them to understand the message of the artwork, while also creating aesthetically pleasing harmony. Sounds simple. Well, it is once you practice. Why should we think about composition? Composition is about eye movement, thinking about and guiding the viewer on where to look first and where to look next. You want to grab the viewer's attention, hold onto it and tell them where to look. You can either learn what makes a good composition and apply these lessons to your work from the beginning, or you can just wander your way through every drawing you make, hoping to stumble upon an interesting layout. Trust me, if you put in the effort and the beginning of your career and the beginning of each drawing, it really pays off in the long run and will help you improve your drawings immensely. 3. Project Assignment: The project assignment for this class is to redraw a piece of artwork that you've already created with a focus on improving its composition. You can choose any type of artwork from a painting, an illustration, or even a project from another Skillshare class. First, you'll need to watch the class videos to learn about the basics and composition and the specific techniques. Then you'll choose one composition technique from the videos and redraw your piece of art using that technique. This assignment will help you learn what makes a strong composition and gives you the opportunity to practice specific techniques so you can improve your composition design skills for all future artwork. You can upload your new piece of art to the Project Gallery, clicking on the "Start Your Project" button on the class project page. You can also check out your fellow students work and see how they tackled composition. I look at every project that's posted on all my classes and I'm always thrilled to see your work. The best way to learn is by doing, so take a crack at revising the piece of artwork. Now let's get started. 4. Elements of Design: Elements of design. To begin, let's go over the elements of design. There are seven major elements that make up an artist's visual vocabulary. These are the tools that everyone from a five-year-old to Leonardo da Vinci uses to communicate visually. Here they are, the seven elements of design. Line, shape, color, texture, tone, form, and space. Let's quickly go through each one to make sure we're all on the same page. First up is line. Lines can be horizontal, vertical, and diagonal. They can be straight, curved, broken, thick, and thin. Shape. A shape is a closed area of space separate from other areas. Shapes are two-dimensional, so they have width and length, but no depth. Here are some examples of shapes. Color. Color includes hues with all their values and intensities. Colors are a way of seeing wavelengths of light. There will be an entire boot camp class on color, so don't worry if this design element is a little confusing to you. Texture. Texture deals with tactile feeling and physical surface. Texture in art can be real, as in the roughness of watercolor paper or the thickness of oil paint, but texture can also be implied as in how pencil shading is used to show the rockiness of a mountain or how paint can be used to show the fluffiness of a cloud. Tone. Tone is the range of shade from white to black. Sometimes tone is also called value. Form. Form is a closed area of space that is three-dimensional, so unlike shapes, forms have width, length, and depth. Here are some examples of forms. Space. Space is the area around and between elements in an artwork. This is sometimes also called negative space or white space, so yes, the lack of an element is its own element and it's super important in making strong compositions. Now that we've covered the tools to create artwork, how do we use these tools to make art? That's where the design principles come in. 5. Principles of Design: Principles of design. As artists, we use the elements of design to create compositions, whether they are strong compositions or weak ones. So how do we use these tools to create strong compositions? By following the principles of design. These are rules that have been developed over centuries of making art and help explain why compositions work and don't work. Once you know these principles like the back of your hand, you won't have to think about them as you're drawing. The knowledge will be deep in your brain and they'll come out as subconscious habits, but for now, you'll have to practice. Please do keep in mind rules and principles are there for a reason because they've been proven to work but rules can always be broken, and sometimes breaking the rule is the best rule. You'll become more comfortable with testing the rules once you really understand them. Okay, so here's the six design principles. Unity, balance, emphasis, movement, rhythm, and proportion. Let's go through each one. Unity, unity is when all the parts of a composition work together in harmony, the composition feels complete and nothing seems out of place. Within each of these principles are more specific ideas. Within Unity, we have the idea of proximity, which is the distance between elements. Similarity, which is a sense of repetition and repeatability, and continuation, a sense of extension. Our next principle is balance. Balance is the distribution of the elements. Balance gives the composition a sense of stability. Within balance, we have symmetry, which are when elements are arranged equally on both sides of an axis. Also asymmetry, which is when elements are not arranged equally on both sides of the axis, but are still arranged. Then we also have radial symmetry where elements are arranged equally around a circle. Emphasis, emphasis is giving certain elements more importance through the use of contrast. Any element can be contrasted, size, color, texture, etc. Within emphasis we have highlight, breaking an already established visual rule to bring emphasis, color, breaking color continuation to bring emphasis, and size, contrasting size to bring emphasis. Movement, movement is how the viewer's eye travels through a composition. A strong composition will guide the eye clearly around the piece using the design principles. Focal point, the center of interests, but not necessarily the center of your page. Rhythm, rhythm is the repetition of elements in harmony. Repetition creates movement using either clear patterns or more ambiguous flows. Pattern, an organized predictable repetition. Flow, an unpredictable but still harmonious movement. Proportion, proportion is the harmonious relativity of all elements. A strong composition will have balanced proportions and element size, number and amount, as well as how they all relate. Size, differing size to balance and focus. Relationships, how elements relate to each other. In the next unit, we're going to go through six videos and the specific techniques of how to use these principles in compositions. 6. Rule of Thirds: Rule of thirds. Now let's dive into the specific techniques you can use to create strong compositions. First up on the docket is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a technique about how to place elements in your artwork based on dividing up the composition into thirds. You first divide your space into nine equal parts and then you place the most important elements of your piece on the intersections of those lines. The idea is that placing your focal points at these intersections creates tension and balances the composition more dynamically than either centering your focal point or just placing it haphazardly. This technique saves you from placing your focal points too close to any of the edges of the artwork, and from dividing your composition in half, which feels unnatural and a little weird. Now let's look at some examples of the rule of thirds from cinematography. You can see that the focal points in all of these shots were placed on the intersections of the lines in the composition. 7. Rule of Odds: Rule of odds. The rule of odds is another technique to create harmony and movement in a composition. This theory is a bit more complicated and theoretical than the rule of thirds. It's based on the theory that humans like things that are even, easy, comforting, and predictable. But you know other feelings that those things bring out, boredom and complacency. That's not what we want in our artwork. The rule of odds aims to disrupt that comfort and predictability. If you have an odd number of elements in your artwork, it adds tension, interest, and a more natural feeling to the composition. It doesn't feel quite so contrived, even though it is. Another thing to consider is that you can force the rule of odds even when you have an even number of subjects. In this example from cinematography, the movie Stand By Me had four main characters, so four subjects in this shot. To make it more interesting in this shot, the two middle subjects have kind of been conjoined together, so that when you really look at it, there's three focal points in this composition not four. This makes the composition a little bit more interesting and add some tension. 8. Lines and Shapes: Lines and shapes. Lines are a huge element in every composition, whether you create line drawings or oil paintings. Let's go over some of the ways we can use lines to pump up our compositions. Lines, just like color, can be perceived as emotional and you can use the lines in your composition to communicate emotions with your artwork. Here are some common ways lines can be interpreted. Horizontal lines can feel calming and peaceful, vertical lines feel strong and powerful, diagonal lines feel unstable and tense, and curved lines feel graceful and comforting. Another way to use lines in your composition is to angle the lines in your composition so that they all point towards your focal point, this will help lead the viewer's eye exactly where you want them to look. Also, consider invisible shapes in your composition. Does your composition create shapes that lead the eye around? These shapes can create pathways that the eye will follow. Triangles and circles are common compositional pathways. Here's some examples of leading lines from cinematography. In this shot from American Psycho, you can see that almost all the lines in the composition are pointing directly towards the main subject, this guides your eye to directly where he wants you to look. In this shot from Memories of a Murder, the lines from the train tracks are also leading you directly to the action happening and the subjects. This example is a little more complicated, it's a shot from Reservoir Dogs and if you look really closely, almost every line from shadows, to tables, to arms, to legs, they're all pointing you directly towards the action happening in the scene and the main focal point. Now, let's look at a couple of examples of invisible shapes. In this shot from Melancholia, you can see that the circular shape of the moon and the triangular shape of the TP that the subjects are sitting in are both framing the focal points and guiding your eye to the subjects. Here's another example of invisible shapes from the movie True Grit. You can see here that the three subjects, which are the three focal points, create a triangular invisible shape that leads your eye around the scene. 9. Rhythm and Repetition: Rhythm and repetition. You can add rhythm in your composition by repeating elements, either in a pattern or just a couple of times. You can repeat shapes, colors, or specific elements. Repeating the same general shapes or lines will create a rhythm which you can choose to then break to bring attention to your focal point. Here are some examples of rhythm and repetition from cinematography. 10. Cropping and Overlapping: Cropping and overlapping. If every element in your composition nicely fits within the artwork walls and each element is just floating around, it feels a bit like a flat piece of art. We want our compositions to feel more real and more dynamic, and cropping and overlapping are great ways to achieve that. Cropping is like how your artwork is framed, like looking through a viewfinder. You can extend elements past the edge of your artwork bounds out of sight to lead the viewer in and out of the piece and create a sense of space and interest. Overlapping elements in your composition creates relationships and depth, and also moves the viewer around the piece. When overlapping, look out for tangents, also called kissing. You don't want your elements to just barely touch, which feels awkward and uncomfortable, like the artwork is unfinished. It can also change the readability of the image. Either space the elements out or overlap them, don't just touch them. Here are some examples of cropping from cinematography. You can see here that the planet has been cropped out of the frame. The entire planet does not fit within this one composition. Cropping it makes it actually appear bigger than if you had included the entire planet in the one composition. Here's another example from Minority Report, where the two subjects have been closely cropped so that the faces are the most important thing that you see. Here's an example of overlapping in the Road to Perdition. They could have easily had all these elements separate with each body lying on the ground not touching, but instead they chose to overlap a few of them, which adds depth to the scene. 11. Viewpoint: Viewpoint. Our last technique is about viewpoints. The viewpoint you draw your artwork in becomes the point of view for the viewer. So it has a lot to do with how the viewer relates and identifies with the artwork. If your subject is viewed from a low angle, the subject appears strong, competent, and authoritative. If viewed from a high angle, the subject appears diminutive, innocent, and vulnerable. If your subject is a person, the viewer will most likely relate to the person who is most visible in the artwork. Here's some examples of high camera angles from cinematography. 12. Wrapping Up!: Thanks so much for taking this class and I hope you learn some helpful techniques for drawing compelling compositions. If you'd like to practice more with compositions, I suggest checking out movies that have won cinematography awards. These are great inspiration on how to frame actions and scenes. I really hope you decide to complete the class project, and I'd love to see what you come up with. Whether you want to upload your final artwork or process work, you can do so in the project gallery by clicking on the start year project button on the class project page. You can also check out your fellow students work and see how they tackle compositions. I look at every project that's posted in all my classes and I'm always thrilled to see your work. Have fun drawing compelling compositions and I can't wait to see what you come up with. See you in the next Art School Boot Camp.