Developing an Eye for Landscape Composition (Part 2 of 3) | Jill Poyerd | Skillshare

Developing an Eye for Landscape Composition (Part 2 of 3)

Jill Poyerd, Professional Fine Artist & Educator

Developing an Eye for Landscape Composition (Part 2 of 3)

Jill Poyerd, Professional Fine Artist & Educator

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12 Lessons (51m)
    • 1. Introduction to Landscape Composition

      2:38
    • 2. Design Tools: Rule of Thirds

      4:13
    • 3. Design Tools: Extreme Horizon Line

      2:50
    • 4. Design Tools: L-Shape

      3:42
    • 5. Design Tools: S or Z-Shape

      2:13
    • 6. Design Tools: Strong Diagonal

      2:32
    • 7. Design Tools: Large Center Object

      4:14
    • 8. Design Tools: Symmetrical Balance

      2:45
    • 9. Design Tools: Asymmetrical Balance

      6:35
    • 10. Design Tools: Trianglulation

      3:07
    • 11. Composition Design Tools - QUIZ

      14:07
    • 12. When to Use the Tools

      1:38
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About This Class

Learn to successfully see a landscape when painting in oil, watercolor, or acrylic or in photographic compositions.

"A MUST DO type of course. I learned sooo much about focal points and composition techniques that I am amazed. The teacher is VERY clear and make us progress in a steady and methodic way until everything is understood and practiced through exercises and quiz." - Norton A.

A landscape composition design can mean the success or failure of a piece of art whether you paint in oils, watercolor, or acrylics; draw; or work in photography. In this course, professional landscape painter, Jill Poyerd, goes beyond teaching the rules - she teaches students how to "see" a landscape and then translate what they see into a successful design. 

Using her approachable, easy-to-understand teaching method and an easy pace, students of any experience level learn by watching visually appealing video instruction and working through over 22 student activities and quizzes. Topics discussed include what makes landscapes unique, the planes theory, focal points, compositional lines, design tools of the Masters, choosing a subject, conducting a photoshoot, reconstructing images, and then using value and Notan sketches to check your designs.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jill Poyerd

Professional Fine Artist & Educator

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Jill Poyerd, NWS, is a contemporary realist known for her tranquil subject matter and unique painting style. Her award-winning work can be found in private collections both nationally and internationally. She has been featured in national publications, is the author of the portrait painting book Fearless Portraits, and is a signature member of several prestigious art societies, including the National Watercolor Society. Jill works in both watermedia and oil paints and has exhibited extensively throughout the Mid-Atlantic region as well as in national shows.

In addition to her work as an artist, Jill is an active member of the arts community. She has curated many multi-medium group shows, and is the founder and current head of the Fine Art Professionals of Northern Virgi... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction to Landscape Composition: Welcome to my course, developing an eye for landscape composition. This course was designed around my popular YouTube video by the same name, expanded from 20 minutes to over three hours of material, including student activities. Now, this is not a painting class. This is how you learn how to see class. And what I mean by that is that it's not just going to teach you the rules and theory about composition. My goal is to teach you to see a landscape in a constructive way. This class applies to all kinds of fine artists, including photographers, regardless of experience level in those fields. In this course, we talk about how a landscape differs from other subject matter. How to see a landscape in terms of broad plains. How did determine a focal point in a scene? How the lines in a landscape lead the eye. Some do's and don'ts of composition design. And some common design tools used by painting masters. Throughout this part of the course, students are provided with helpful worksheets and practice videos where they're asked to identify the material learned and work through concepts with hands-on activities. Then, in the final section of the course, we take the knowledge learned and apply it to realize. Here we actually go out to gather reference material. You come along with me on three different photo shoots where I talk you through my thought process and application of the tools. Then we returned to the studio and cover subjects like the impact of image orientation and how to reconstruct your images. Students are guided through conducting a photo shoot of their own, and then they walk through the editing process as well. We complete the course by double-checking are chosen designs through a value sketch and even a no Tan design. By the end of the course, students should feel very comfortable with the whole subject of composition. Feeling that you can look at a scene and be able to dissect it to best use. And now we can move on to the course material. Enjoy the class, and know that I'm here if you have any questions. 2. Design Tools: Rule of Thirds: In this section of the course, we're going to discuss some of the tools that are commonly used in composition design. And we'll use works from some of the great masters as examples. Designed tools rely on the lines in a scene. These lines, the ones that guide your eye, can be lined up in predictable patterns known to successfully guide the viewer's eye. Masters throughout the ages have used some of these tools when developing their painting compositions. The first and perhaps most well-known of these tools is the rule of thirds. This is a very popular design format and it involves dividing up your image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. The theory is that if you place your primary objects or your focal point where the lines intersect or along the lines, you'll have a successful composition. So if we were designing a landscape, we could position the horizon line along one of the third markers and then place the highest point of a mountain at one of the intersections. We can then place a focal point element at the opposing intersection, or perhaps select a different intersecting spot. Being aware of these lines and points can help you in evaluating a landscape scene. Let's see how it works in real life. If I placed lines dividing the image into thirds, you can see that two of the lines intersect right where the setting sun is located. And noticed that one of the thirds ran along the horizon line itself. The value contrast of the sun and the end of the Pier happened to be our focal point. And it is made stronger by its placement along the intersecting lines. Here's another example. If we divide this image into thirds and then follow the dominant lines in the scene. You can see that they take you right through several of the intersections ending at the upper left intersection, which happens to be our focal point. Let's see how the master's applied this concept in this piece by Tanner. When we establish the third lines, you can see how his key elements line up. His primary element. The unusual tree, is centered on the left third vertical and passes through two intersections. It encompasses pretty much the entire left third unseen. Interestingly, Tanner placed the couple in the lower right section, not along the line, but rather centered in that spot. It's pretty close to the edge. But in doing this, he balances the weight of the tree. Elements close to the edge have more visual weight than those further in the scene. He placed the third key element, the Moon, close to the upper right intersection. Now whether he did all this consciously, I don't know, but it clearly lined up that way visually as he planned his painting. The Moon, by the way, also helps balance the weight of the tree. Here's another good example. In this painting you can see that Gifford placed his horizon line close to the bottom third line. He also placed his primary focal element along the right third line vertically with the base along the intersection. What a beautiful rendering and use of the rule of thirds. If you've heard of the golden ratio or the golden point, there are a number of names that's similar to the rule of thirds, but I find the rule of thirds much easier to understand. Before we move on to the next design tool, I wanted to let you know that I've created a worksheet for each of the tools to help you reinforce each concept. If you like, complete the activity and then move on to the next design tool and extreme horizon line. 3. Design Tools: Extreme Horizon Line: Another tool at your disposal is where you place the horizon line. You can follow the rule of thirds and place it at the third markers horizontally. Or you can go a little extreme with your horizon line, placing it very high up in the scene, which gives you a small sky region and a very large foreground. On the opposite extreme, you can place the horizon line very low below the third marker. And this gives you a lot of sky, but not too much foreground. It depends on what you want to focus on. Let's look at a real example. Here is the third marker in this image. Notice that the horizon lays below that line, resulting in an expensive sky and creating an airy mood, which is a nice contrast to the rock formation, which is our focal point. In a sense, the hairiness of so much sky emphasizes the sturdiness of Iraq. In a painting, it could look something like this piece by Albert Coit. Notice that if we locate the centre line and then the quarter mark, you can see that he put his horizon even below that, giving the peace of very low horizon line and a lot of sky. It's interesting to note that the artist has the cows looking right, and that the lines and the clouds guide the eye right as well, leading the viewer to the small boat in the corner, the focal point. Now, how about a very high horizon line? Let's take a look at this image and we'll mark a third from the top. So we can see that the horizon lays a little bit above that. And by having such a high horizon line, the focus is naturally on the foreground. The waterfall, and the vast space that it's been given helps the viewer feel the power of the element. In a painting. A high horizon line could look something like what we see in Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth. It's actually a very high horizon line. Life places his horizon above even the quarter mark. So much so that the top of the house touches the top of the image. The huge foreground gives him the space he needs to communicate his message. And notice how he lines up her body posture in such a way that it directs you to the house, much like the road in the upper right corner, does, the girls posture and the house almost create a strong diagonal line, which we discuss in a later lecture. In the next video, we'll look at L-shaped compositions. 4. Design Tools: L-Shape: An interesting and possibly unexpected design tool is the L-shaped. This layout involves large forms, the cover entire vertical and horizontal sections of the composition. When you place your focal point along the open horizontal, the L-shaped kind of cradles the focal element, drawing the I2. Now, the focal element can be placed anywhere along the line. I just wouldn't recommend placing it right next to the edge where it throws off the balance and could lead the viewer off the scene. Let's look at a real life example of an L-shaped composition. In this same, Notice that the cliff and the water are the elements creating machine. In this case, your eyes led down the cliff and off to the left, following along the base of the cliff where we have the focal point, which is the value contrast of the very dark rock formation. Here's another beach scenes are conducive to this design because the water can easily be used as the bottom of the L. You can see that the rock formation on the right and the sand and the water together form the L shape. And so your eye searches the horizon for the focal point, which in this case is the very distant rock formation. I personally would have moved it to the left just a little bit. Now you can use other kinds of landscapes to create the l. For example, you can use trees. In this image. Look at the trees on the right. Their height, in combination with the ground, creates a subtle L, and it forces your eyes to focus on the sunlit ground deeper into the path. As is often the case, the values in combination with the shape of the forms, create DL and direct the eyes. Another example is this tree that's situated on the far left of the scene, which together with the foreground grasses, create a very nice L shape that leads your eye to the distant treeline. You could keep this open and just communicates space. Or you could add a focal element in the back there. But notice that your eyes not on the tree. It sees it, but it rests in the background. As you can see in this painting by William trust Richards, the formula works very well. The L was created by the rocks and the water, leaving the eye to the tiny ship on the horizon. They kind of frame it. The size of the element variation is also rather appealing. The focal point wouldn't normally be that small. But when it's placed around three huge elements, the sky being the third, the size difference works to help draw the eye. Here is another example. In this landscape, the artist lined up the foreground trees and the ground to frame the focal area. Notice how your eye doesn't pay too much attention to those trees, but instead focuses on the distant background. Even the cloud formations are used to lead your eye to the distant land where you just kind of rest and you sense a feeling of expanse. In the next video, we'll see how an S or a Z shape can influence the eye. 5. Design Tools: S or Z-Shape: One of the more frequently used design tools is the S or Z. She. Basically it's a visual path within the scene that leads to the focal point. This path or line isn't straight because a curved path is generally more interesting to look at. Unless of course, your road or path forms of v-shaped or triangle, which we'll discuss later. It tends to form a version of the letter S or Z. And it can lead from the left or the right side of the scene. Really, you could even just have part of the S, a seizure. It's the idea of using a natural visual path to lead the eye. Here's an example. In this landscape, the way the features along the edge of the water line up, the eye is guided in a z formation, taking you right to the focal point. Water very often follows a winding path, making it an ideal element for guiding the viewer's eye. And roads often function the same way. Here we also have the benefit of the value contrast between the snow and the dark pavement. Beneficial path doesn't have to be from a river or a road. It can simply be the way that key elements line up within the CME. Let's look at a painting example. In this piece by cloud lowering, the artist guides the eye from the line of boats along the river and into the mountains. Focusing your eye on the distant background. And then you come back into the foreground to look at the details. Here's another painting example, without a river or a road this time, notice how the artist lined up the major lines to create a Z shape leading your eye into the distant landscape. In fact, if you look closely, he really kind of zigzags as lines throughout the entire scene. Those are really dominant lines. The next design tool we'll talk about is a strong diagonal. 6. Design Tools: Strong Diagonal: Another tool for lining up a composition is the use of a strong diagonal. This is a line that cuts across the entire scene and is created by the various elements. The diagonal can run in either direction and your focal point can lie anywhere along that line. The center is a little bit risky. You'd have to make sure that the supporting elements line up properly to make that work. You can also visually break up the line into thirds and place the focal point at 1 third markers. You can move your focal point away from the line. And the line doesn't have to be right in the middle of image. It can be off-center a bit, or even a little shorter than the full length. But it shouldn't be too short, or it just becomes a regular line in the scene. A strong diagonal could possibly line up as close as a third of the way from the edge, but not much closer to close and no longer dominates as it should. Let's take a look at a real life example. In this scene, you can see that as we pan to the left, the rocks begin to line up in such a way as to form a strong diagonal from the lower left corner to the upper right. Notice how your eye is automatically drawn to the center point along the horizon. And that makes it an ideal spot for a point of interest. Here's another example. In this landscape, the sunlit hillside creates the strong diagonal. And notice that the boldness of the line doesn't reach to the corner, but it's certainly dominant and spreads almost across the whole scene. Leading your eye to the house with the base of the hill. This painting by Sarah is a great example of a strong diagonal. The foreground cliffs create the diagonal, setting up the composition to focus on the small ship and the distance. Strong diagonals can be fairly subtle though as well, such as what we see in this piece by Andrew Wyeth. The diagonal cuts through the entire scene, but in a very subtle way. In the next video, we'll talk about a design tool that places the focal point in the center of the composition. 7. Design Tools: Large Center Object: In the do's and don'ts lecture, we learned that you shouldn't place your focal point right in the center of your image. I did mention, however, that you can get away with it if you line up your elements properly or if your focal object is a decent size, now it shouldn't be too big. But if it is a good size and it has visual interests, then it qualifies for our next design tool, a large center object. And this can take many forms. It can be a simple form that plays up value contrast. For example, you could have a large dark center object surrounded by light values. Or you could have a light object surrounded by dark values. Your shape could be simple or complex. If it's complex, it's complexity alone could command the attention. Let me show you what I mean. In this image. We have a uniquely shaped object right in the middle of the scene. Its values are much darker than the values directly surrounding it. And we haven't L-shaped framing the object which acts as a support. We can also see that the major lines in the scene direct to the eye, to the object, and in this way, further support its position in the center. This composition could work, but here's what it would look like with the object placed off to the side. It creates a very different feeling, doesn't it? Either composition could work. So really it becomes more about what you want to say as an artist. Here's another example of a large center object, this time a distant mountain. Notice that it sits almost directly in the middle. And that the lines in the scene, the water's edge, the trees and the mountains on the side all lead the eye to that focal point in the center. Even the trees directly below the mountain kind of point to it. And in a way they actually interplay with that visually don't thing. Now, as an independent object, the mountain itself has visual interest. Notice it's dominant lines. Subtle but interesting. If it was a simple shape, such as a square or a circle, it wouldn't work as well. Notice how the shape becomes a distraction. If it's too simple, your focus changes. Now, as mentioned, you can have a strong value contrast that functions as your center object. In this scene, the ultra bright sun is your center object and everything around it x as supporting elements. Here we can see that translated into a painting in this piece by William trust Richards. The light of the sun and its reflection create the focal point. These elements act together and are placed right in the center. Perhaps a more obvious example of grouping objects to create one center form is this piece by ma. The bulk of the sheep are what create the large center object. And just to make it more interesting and natural, sheep that veer off on the sides. Sometimes you may want to feature a specific object such as a tree. And in this case, you could arrange in a composition so that the object takes up a fair amount of the visual space. By doing this, you're using your object almost as a portrait artist uses a figure. It's front and center in the scene. And we can see an example in this piece by Van Gogh. It's also something that I often use in my work as well. As long as you line up the supporting objects properly and you give the viewer elements of interest, it can really work. In the next video, we're gonna talk about using symmetry as a design tool. 8. Design Tools: Symmetrical Balance: One design tool that's often seen in works of the Masters is the use of symmetrical balance. This tool provides a sense of tranquility and peace to a scene and can be used as the primary design tool or as a complement to another tool. Using our focal point object, a symmetrical element is a mirror image, either vertically or horizontally. When you hear the word symmetry, think of the word similar. Symmetrical elements can differ in color and even slightly in shape. But at first glance, the two elements appear identical. So what is symmetry look like in real life? In this landscape, the mountains and trees are directly reflected in the water, creating symmetrical balance. Nature itself uses symmetry. Birds are mirror images on each side. The ripples created by the wind in sand are another example of symmetry. Sand dunes themselves can show a degree of symmetrical balance. And you'll notice that many flowers are mirror images if you were to visually split them down the middle. Even sunsets have symmetrical balance. As the sun sets, the color variation stretches across the horizon with each side mirroring the other. And consider a tree. If you were to split a tree in half, each side has different values and branch placement. But on a whole, it comes across as symmetrical, even though it could fall into the category of asymmetry, which we'll discuss later. But for now, the point is very symmetrical balance. The elements can be actual mirror images, or they can have some differentiation, as we see in these two distant mountains. But overall they're shape and how they initially conveyed to the I appear symmetrical. Now when we apply symmetry to a painting, it could look something like this piece by Caspar David Friedrich. Even though they're not exactly the same, the two trees on the sides are nearly so. And so they present a feeling of stability and support the center tree. Symmetry can be used when conveying the paintings focal point, or in the supporting features. And notice these two elements. Those are an example of a symmetrical balance, which we'll discuss next. 9. Design Tools: Asymmetrical Balance: In the prior video, we discussed symmetrical balance. Now will discuss asymmetrical balance, which involves uneven elements that when seamed together, create a balanced appearance. For example, a large pale tree can be asymmetrically balanced with a small dark tree. The dark of the small object makes it feel visually equal to the larger element. We can take the same pale tree and place an object with a different shape, but the same value next to it. And if they're about the same size, they too will feel balanced. If the tree was small, you'd lose that balance. You see how this square feels heavier unless you multiplied the object, in which case the grouping would restore balance to the scene. So in general, a symmetrically balanced scene can still convey a sense of balance when the objects are not mirror images. If they're grouped according to their visual wheat. Visual weight is how heavy element or an object appears in a scene. It's not actually about the physical weight, but rather about how it feels when you look at it. The more an element attracts the eye, the more visual weight it's supposed to have. But how do we know what elements have more weight? Well, there are some rules of thumb. To begin with. A dark or more saturated object is considered heavier than a light or adult colored one. An opaque object appears heavier than a transparent one. A warm tone is said to be heavier than a cool term. Complex shapes are typically heavier and appearance than simple ones. And elements with thick lines are heavier than those with thin lines. Textured elements look heavier than smooth. And elements along the edges appear heavier than those that are situated in the middle. Vertical elements appear heavier than horizontal elements. Objects or elements surrounded by whitespace seem heavier than those surrounded by color or other elements. And finally, some colors, such as red, naturally appear of heavier than others, such as yellow. This can all come in handy when you're trying to arrange an asymmetrical design in your composition. In a landscape, you can use asymmetrical balance like you would symmetry. For example, in this image, the two opposing tree forms kind of mirror each other, but they're actually asymmetrical. One form consists of a single tree and the other two trees, at a glance, they appear symmetrical, setting off the center tree for the viewer. Here's another example of asymmetry. Overall, it feels balanced, doesn't it? But the elements are quite different. So how can this be? Well, first, notice that the thin pine tree is the intended focal point. It's where we find the greatest value contrast in the scene. Now if we split the scene in half, you'll see that it has a counterpart on the other side. Subtle, but it's there. What makes this work is that the pine tree is surrounded by mostly empty space. It's airy and light. While the element on the right is surrounded by dense forms, there are medium to dark values surrounding it, and overall it has a heavy feeling. Believe it or not. These two opposite values and use of space provide that feeling of balance. The weight of the hill on the right is balanced out by the weight of the isolated dark tree asymmetrical balance. Now here's a scene that's even more asymmetrical in its balance. If we split this image in half, the two primary elements, the boat and the setting sun, balance each other out how the two objects are at the opposite ends of the value scale. The sun is the brightest element and the boat the darkest. There are also positioned at opposite reflective locations in the scene. So what would this look like in a painting? Well, in this piece by Paul Henry, who used symmetry a lot in its work, we can see that the general shape of the mountain mirrors the shape created by the grouping of cottages in the foreground. A symmetrical balance. While we're at it, notice the two cloud farms, they're nearly symmetrical, but not quake. Here's another painting that contains a symmetrical balance. Can you spot it? If you were to split the canvas directly in half, you'd see that the overall size and weight of the distant mountains is about the same. But the forms, the crags and the shadow lines are very different. We can also see asymmetry in the foreground. Notice the formation in the lower right corner. It's a large landmass. The land form on the left side isn't as large and is shaped very differently. But the artist placed a set of dark trees as well as some very dark shadows to balance the composition and therefore please the eye. Seen on a whole, the landscape has a symmetrical feeling to it, giving an especial tranquility. So what exactly is the difference between symmetrical and asymmetrical balance? In symmetry, the elements are visually balanced. In asymmetry, the elements have the same visual weight, but are not visually the same, its balance without the symmetry. In the next video, we'll discuss triangulation. The last of our design tools. 10. Design Tools: Trianglulation: The last and perhaps most used of the design tools is triangulation. This is one of my favorite tools and I think one of the most effective tool. So we have arranging your elements so they form a triangle that directs the viewer to the focal point is very effective by its very nature. It almost acts like an arrow saying to the viewer, look over here. The triangle can take many forums and can be placed in many different sections of your scene. You can also use multiple triangular shapes in the same landscape. They can all point to the focal point, or they can layer together to create depth. They can even be reflective where there's water. So how do you line up the elements to create triangulation? There are three ways you can do it. You can use a large triangular shaped object to create your farm. Or you can place key elements at each of the triangle points, therefore directing the eye from object to object. Another approach is to set up the lines in your scene to create the triangle. Let's look at some real life examples. Remember this landscape where we traced the lines in the scene. Now we can go back and see that the lines of the elements actually form triangles leading your eye, as we had said, to the focal point at the end of the beach. Here's another example. Notice again how the lines and forms result in triangulation. In fact, in this scene, we have two triangles. Do you see the one on the bottom? It's subtle, but it works with the primary triangle to point to the focal point at the end of the rock formation. And so far we've looked at two water scenes. But triangulation can be found in any type of landscape. You can see here that this triangle guides your eye to the tree just off-center. You're, I know right where to go. In a painting, it looks the same. Let's look at two pieces by William trust Richards, who uses this tool quite a bit. In this first piece, the artist triangulate three key elements with dominant lines connecting them, creating a triangle that crosses the canvas. I would almost suggest that there's no single focal point in this piece that the eye was meant to travel between the three spots, perhaps resting longest the house. In this watercolor by the same artist, he uses three different triangles, all of which point to the focal point at the end of the painting, which also happens to be almost in the center. Now that we've discussed all the design tools, we'll take a brief quiz in the next video. 11. Composition Design Tools - QUIZ: In this video, we're going to take a look at a number of masterpieces. See if you can identify the focal points as well as the design tools used in each landscape. Now some illnesses up to interpretation, but I'll tell you what I feel the artist may have intended. Let's take a look. The first painting we'll look at is this piece by Gainsborough. Where does your eye go? And what tool does he use? Pause the video if you need more time. And the first thing you may notice is that your eye follows this S-shaped path, small cottage in the distance. From there, my eye moves over to the cottage in the right foreground, and then to the woman on the side of the road. This all make sense until I tell you that the painting was actually painted like this. The woman's coat is actually a brighter red. And that changes things, doesn't it? Because now your eye is drawn first to this isolated bold color. In a neutral tone painting, this bright color commands attention. So the woman, I believe, is the focal point. And she's been placed right near the intersection of two of the third lines. And the S shape. It's now more of a support line. And the clouds actually lead to the foreground cottage, where your eye then goes back to the woman. Notice too that several of the lines lead to the woman as well. It's a very complex but interesting composition. Here's another painting where you have a path. In fact, there are several paths, but what's the intended focal point? It's interesting because the main path leads far into the distance. But that, I don't believe is the focal point. It's the woman in black. And that's partly because it's an isolated dark value. Now, I think the bird houses intended to work with the woman, kind of a tension between two elements. The two objects, when viewed as a grouping, are right about there. And that's the intersection of two the third lines. The main road is a supporting line, but it also kind of points to the woman. Notice how the slight hill breaks up the road and stops the eye where the woman is standing. That road also provides a sense of depth and character, which becomes obvious if we were to remove it. The painting just doesn't have the same feeling. The far left path acts as a supporting line as well. But this thin path leads right to the figure. So it's a more important line. And finally, you have the horizon line, which acts as a support as well. Where do you see in this piece by Whistler? And the first thing you may notice is the high horizon line. Here's the third marker, and you can see that it sits above that. I believe the focal point is this a boat, perhaps. It's a single object surrounded by a huge area of space. Remember what we learned about when we spoke about visual weight. The isolated object commands attention. Notice also that it's off-center. These elements, although much darker, are so close to the edge, they lose their strength. They're not very powerful. Now these lights up here are important, but they're really more of a secondary focal point. Here's a beautiful painting. What tools do you see and what is the focal point here? The first thing you may notice is that it has what I would consider a large center object, the fairly isolated group of trees with a sub focal point. The figures in the center. Notice the path. It leads down the center to the people and then has a little S shaped. The focal point is truly the people. But at first glance, it's the mass of trees with the strong value contrast that catches your eye. The piece also has asymmetry. Notice the two sides of the trees. If feels very balanced when you first look at it. But if you split it in half, you can see that you have this compa, trees over here. And then you have this competencies, which includes the dark one. And that dark one helps weight the right side so that it bounces with the left. So there are a lot of tools used. And in the end, you know right where to look in this painting. Look at this interesting piece. Take a minute and try to decide what tool do you think the artist uses? I feel that it shows asymmetrical balance. As far as a focal point, where does your eye go? My eye goes to this red boat and if you notice, it's strong red crosses the canvas horizontally. It's very dominant. But we have these other horizontals, don't we? The main arsenal that competes with the red boat, I would say is this one. Do you see how the shapes and sizes are about the same? So to me that is asymmetrical, not identical, but the fact that the green is a complementary color to the red gives the additional weight and helps the shape balance out the shape of the red. The red ultimately commands the attention, but the green provides balance and calm. Now here's a very moody piece by Friedrich. What is the focal point and what tools did you use? The focal point is the cathedral spire located in the dead center of the painting. You would think this breaks the rule we learned about. But remember, we learned that there are ways to make it work. And Friedrich was really good at it. In fact, here's another example where he puts his focal point almost directly in the center. But what he does to make it work is he includes elements with symmetry and asymmetry. For example, back to the first scene, he's placed a sailboat on the left, and then balances that out by placing some objects of similar weight at the same location on the right. Even the way he divides the canvas as far as horizontal tone, we can see a balance between light and dark. He even has this boat in the middle. So he does a lot with centered objects and symmetry. How about this one? Can you guess who painted it? It's by Winslow Homer. Now, what tool do you think he uses and what's his intended focal point? If you said a strong diagonal, you're right. It's a very strong diagonal. And the focal point, I'd say is the crashing waves near the top. Did you notice these tiny figures? Look closely? They actually help tell a story. Homer includes areas of visual interest, spots of color, as well as the small area of broken wave in the bottom left. Now if it wasn't there, the painting would have a very different feeling. Kind of heavier, wouldn't that splash doesn't have much power because it's located so close to the edge. Here's an interesting painting. The focal point is clearly this one tree, but this is actually the widest spot, the lightest value followed by this. But they don't command as much attention in this case because of the length of the white line here, which I believe is the focal point. And where do you think it's positioned? Well, if we place our vertical third markers, you can see that it's just about right on the third line. So this falls in line with our rule of thirds. And how about this painting would tool and what focal point, D.C.. Can you see the dark shapes that seem to create an L shape? There's incredible value contrast in this piece, both here and here. At the focal point, I believe this little balloon in the distance, a solid shape placed in the middle of a vast single value. I personally think it's almost too small to function as a focal point. This is a very serene piece by Gifford. Take him in it and figure out the focal point as well as the tools used. The focal point is the set of figures in the lower right. And as an element, they sit just off the edge of a strong diagonal DCF. Now normally I would wonder if this line was prominent enough to qualify as a strong diagonal. But in this case it is. And do you know why? Because of the power of the color of the gold, it's very strong. You can also see that the artist added in arching tree, it breaks up the diagonal a bit and frames the figures. And then all of this background is really just supportive material. Plus it gives a feeling of expanse. Notice intense atmospheric conditions that helps set the mood for the piece. Take a look at this piece. What is the focal point and what tools does the artists use? Pause the video if you need more time. In my opinion, you have an L shape and the l would include all of the area below and behind the L. Now your eye tends to go to the building that's cradled in the L shape. But then there's almost a secondary L shape isn't there. And that cradles the figures and what's going on over here. So in my opinion, you actually have a double L shape and almost competing focal points. Although this one to me is the primary focal point. Here's another piece. This one is a little more complicated model. I goes to this house initially. That's the first thing I see. And then I kind of noticed this dark area with the violet turns. And then I go over to the children. So I'm seeing a triangulation at the focal point. The house dominates, but it interplays with the children and the dark values. Now notice a couple of things. The lines are very strong. This one goes off to the side, but it also kind of zig zags leading your eye to the cottage. You may also see this a triangulation that points to the children and even another line that leads you to the house. These big beautiful trees in the back are very supportive and help balance out the weight of your three focal points. Now here's a painting by Albert quip. Can you see what till he used and what he intended the focal point to be? Well, quite often used a low horizon line in his paintings, which we can see here. Here's the third marker horizontally. And you can see that his horizons sits below that. This gives a huge sky for him to work with. The first thing I notice is this ship, and in particular this flag with the bold red. Notice that everything is pointing inward. The mast is pointing inward. This is pointing inward. Even this triangles pointing inward. Now imagine if things are pointing out that would send the viewer off the scene. But this way it points you to what I believe is the intended focal point. Now you also have the people here where the dominant figure is facing, right? All elements seem to direct the eye to the figure in red on this boat. And I think that's where quake wanted us to rest. Even the line here points to that vote. And if you look closely the clouds due as well. How about this landscape? Personally, I believe the focal point is the comp of trees. And the tool most clearly used is triangulation. In this case, a triangle that points to the focal point. You have your supporting lines in the back. And if you look closely, you almost have another triangle right here. And lastly, here is a piece by Manet. Where does your eye go and what tools does he use? Well, it's funny because could almost be two interpretations. I see a large triangular shape that leads my eye to this ship as the focal point. But my husband's, I went to this vote, which is pretty much dead center. You could say that some of the lines lead to the center boat as well. So the point being here that the artist may have had an intended focal point. But sometimes it can really be left up to the viewer's interpretation, which is an interesting phenomenon. In the next video, we'll briefly discuss when to use these tools. 12. When to Use the Tools: Now that we've covered some of the major design tools, let's talk about when and how to use them. The first use is simply a matter of taking the knowledge you gained with you when looking for painting or photographing material. These designs will help you think through lining up your elements and even problem-solving. So perhaps keep a list of the tool's handy just in case you want to refer to it. You can also use these composition tools when you're evaluating your potential images. For example, when I come back from a photo shoot and look over my images, sometimes I see the perfect shot and I know that the composition will work. But other times I see an image that has potential, but it's not quite right. That's the image I load onto a photo imaging program, or of course you can work it out in a sketch. And then I worked through the image using some of the design tools and rules, arranging and rearranging things until it's just right. Or I just move on to another image. But rather than just tell you this, we're going to walk through the process. And this is part of what we cover in the rest of the course. In the next video, we'll talk about choosing your subject when you want to paint or photograph a landscape. Basically, what's your inspiration? But first, let's have a quick summary of what we've already learned and what we're going to learn in the rest of the course.