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

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

Jill Poyerd, Professional Fine Artist & Educator

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

Jill Poyerd, Professional Fine Artist & Educator

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15 Lessons (1h 40m)
    • 1. Introduction to Landscape Composition

    • 2. Quick Recap

    • 3. Choose a Subject

    • 4. Planning a Photoshoot

    • 5. Photoshoot I - Spring Meadow

    • 6. Photoshoot II - Water Scene

    • 7. Photoshoot III - Colorado Meadow

    • 8. Image Orientation

    • 9. Image Orientation - Masterpiece QUIZ

    • 10. Reconstruction I - Initial Image Review

    • 11. Reconstruction II - Narrowing Your Selection

    • 12. Reconstruction III - Final Review

    • 13. Checking Your Design - Value Sketch

    • 14. Checking Your Design - Notan

    • 15. Conclusion

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About This Class

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

"Opened my eyes to aspects of landscape composition I had never considered before." - William S.

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


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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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. Quick Recap: Up to this point in the course, we've learned about what values are and how to identify them. How to see a landscape in terms of broad plains. How to identify a focal point, as well as the lines that lead to it. Some do's and don'ts of composition. And finally, the design tools used by masters and professionals to develop successful compositions. All in all, we learned how to see a landscape and break it down into workable parts. Now, we're going to apply all this information. You'll come along with me as I go out looking for painting reference material. Then I'll download the images onto my photo editing program and show you how I go about evaluating and reconstructing the photos in order to make a strong composition. Will then walk through constructing a value sketch, as well as double-checking the value pattern with no TIM. In the next video, we'll begin our discussion by talking about how to choose a subject for landscape design. 3. Choose a Subject: Before you even go on a photo shoot, you need to know what you want to photograph. So the first thing we need to discuss is how to pick a subject for your landscape composition. And basically you do that by identifying what inspires you and what kind of landscape do you feel passionate about? Do you find yourself drawn to forest or a river scenes? Or perhaps coastal or beach scenes. Maybe it's mountains, pastures, or even deserts. Decide what you want to paint first, then figure out where you can go to get related images. Now sometimes you'll come up with images. I simply stumbling upon scenes that attract you. Whether it's when you're driving or maybe on a walk. I come across landscapes all the time when I'm driving around a rural road. So I just make note of it and go back another time with my camera. You may feel inspired while you're on vacation. New typography can be really interesting and exciting. However, when you're adding new location, you're only there at that specific time. And with that specific lighting, you have no way of knowing if those are the optimal conditions to see it under. For this reason, many artists end up painting or photographing landscapes that are near their homes. These are the scenes we pass every day. We live with them day in and day out. We see them through all the seasons, through each time of day, as well as through a variety of weather conditions. You begin to know your surrounding area and are therefore able to plan head are recognized when the time is just right. For example, all of these images are from a scene right near my home. I've observed it under every imaginable condition and now I know just when the lighting is right and when I can get that perfect shot. Once you've identified a location, you need to ask yourself, what is it about that particular spot that draws you? Is it a color that jumped out or maybe a color scheme that you loved? Was that the breadth of an expanse or perhaps an interesting element. It could even be the way the light hit a certain scene. By identifying what draws you to spot, it will help you figure out what you want to focus on. What do you want as your focal point and under what conditions. One of the great things about technology is the ability to use programs like Google Maps to scan an area and find possible photoshopped locations without even having to leave your home. If you know of a spot, but you don't really know what draws you to it will just go and take a whole bunch of photographs, see what catches your eye. So at this point, let's say you know what you want to paint and you even know where you can go to get images. There's one more thing you have to consider, and that is the conditions. Remember in the beginning of this course when we talked about what makes landscapes unique? Well, it's time to bring those topics back into the discussion. When planning for a photo shoot, you have to think about what lighting conditions, what, whether, and what atmosphere you may want to capture in order to influence the feeling and the mood of a piece, it can make a huge difference. For example, when you observe the landscape and the rain, it hasn't very slow, kind of a heavy feeling to it. Very different from a sunny one. Now, rain has two other impacts on the landscape. First, when trees and shrubs or when the bark appears darker, the values deepen and even the colors and the foliage appear brighter. The result, especially when the Sun appears after the rain, is a brilliant crisp appearance. And this leads to the second thing, after a rain, and in particular on a sunny morning, after a rain, particles in the air had been swept away by that rain, leaving the air or atmosphere cleaner and resulting in stronger, more brilliant sunlight. Fog or missed, on the other hand, creates a feeling of mystery or solids. Observe how each weather or atmospheric condition influences the landscape that's around you. And what about lighting? Well, remember, the time of day has a big influence. Morning light is crisp and cool, while afternoon is warm and thick. Plus, look at the dramatic effect that Morning Shadows versus afternoon shadows has on this landscape. It completely changes the way you see the scene. So you'll need to decide, do you want the long shadows of sunset or fewer shadows, but bright light of mid day. All of this influences mood and should be part of your Photoshop plan. Another consideration is the type of sky visually. And this relates directly to your choice of whether for your shoot. If this scene or the focal point is very complex, then I usually prefer a simple sky. No clouds shapes are complex color schemes. Otherwise it can be a little confusing for the viewer. If the scene is simple. For example, a large body of water it can handle in even benefit from a more complex sky. But you probably want to go with a simplified sky if your objective is to communicate the serenity of the scene. Let me give you a tumor examples. This landscape is majestic and broad, but I wouldn't consider it very complex. Therefore, it can handle a complicated sky. If the sky was simple, it could still work. But the scene loses something, doesn't it? And this rather simple seen benefits from a complex sky. The flat landscape needs the additional interest, in my opinion. Notice, by the way, have a cloud form leads the eye in the same direction as the road. So give some thought to how the weather can impact the sky, which can then impact the scene. In the next video, we're going to put all of this together and lay it out on a photo shoot worksheet. This is intended to prepare your mind for going out on your own photo shoot, which you'll be asked to do after a few more lectures. 4. Planning a Photoshoot: In this video, we're going to introduce the idea of conducting a photo shoot. Now, what is a photo shoot? A photo shoot is just a segment of time in which you use your camera while out in nature to capture potential reference photos. Photos you can use for future paintings. Using the information we just discussed in the prior video, I want you to develop a Photoshop plan. Attached to this lecture, you should find a photo shoot planning worksheet. This is a simple way to organize your thoughts when planning for a photo shoot. Now whether you choose to print near worksheet or work it from a digital device is up to you. The sheet is broken down into five sections. And the first part asks you what kind of landscape generally interests you. You may think of one I haven't listed. The second section asks you what kind of mood you'd like your piece to have. And then what season do you prefer? Going over to page two, you'll find the fourth section where you're asked what time of day you prefer and that relates to the lighting. And then finally, what, whether or atmospheric condition interests you. Now you certainly don't have to use this if you feel confident about what you're looking for. But it's a good exercise. And if you're if he about what to photograph, it will help you organize your thoughts. I've also included a handout with a list of the design tools. Because when you're on location, it may be handy to remind yourself. Now you're not going to conduct your photo shoot is yet. First, we're gonna go on three photo shoots together so we can discuss all that we've learned and how it applies when you're on location. After that, it'll be your turn. So at this point, go ahead and fill out your worksheet or you can wait and do it after R3 photo shoots. Either way. In the next video, we're gonna go in a photo shoot at a location near my home. 5. Photoshoot I - Spring Meadow: I've had my eye on this spot for years. I travelled by it several times each month and every time, I think to myself, I've got to stop and get a photo shoot. There's some time. So this section in our course is the perfect opportunity. I conducted two separate photo shoots in this location. One in early spring on a cloudy morning and one in late spring on a sunny morning. So you'll get to compare the two conditions and the two seasons. Now remember, when you go on a photo shoot, be prepared to take a lot of photographs. It's important because sometimes it's hard to accurately judge a scene until you're back at your computer. So here we are in late spring. I'm standing right where the overlook is that I've always I add up when looking for a spot, look for a place that really catches your eye. And then ask yourself, what drew you to it? For me, this had beautiful rolling hills, interesting tree forms from what I can tell from the road. And a variety of grasses, which I love. But this is how it looks in late spring. How does it compare to the early spring? Actually, there's many differences. For one thing, there's a change in color scheme. Each season presents different colors, especially in the green tones. The lines in the landscape change according to the season as well. In winter and early spring UC, every branch and bolder. In late spring and summer, things look softer, more rounded. And values can change quite a bit when you go from a cloudy morning to a sunny morning. Every change has an impact on the mood. And notice that those long shadows I mentioned can now be used as guiding lines in the landscape. But let's stop here for a minute and look at this scene in terms of planes. We'll change it to black and white so we can better judge the values. And now we can see that the sky is the lightest plane, followed by the grassy foreground, the flat plane. And the darkest plane is the row of perpendicular trees. There is no scientific plane in this scene. But the trees kind of function as slanted Plains since the sun is coming in at a strong angle. Now if you look closely, you'll notice a series of parallel lines in the landscape. They helped create a feeling of tranquility. Remember, symmetry conveys calm. Now our focal point in this particular scene, if we reuse it, would be this large tree, the largest element in the scene. And it happens to be located at the intersection of two lines. This composition has a lot of potential, but I think that that focal point Tree lacks interests. So I'd have to work on tweaking it somehow. As we continue to scan the scene, I still like the shadowed foreground and the sunny mid ground. It really gives it a nice feeling. The orange grasses or a nice addition there, a good compliment to the greens. But I'm still looking for something to rest my eyes on. The here you can see I raised the horizon a bit by moving my camera. And this puts the emphasis on the foreground grasses. Now what if we do the opposite? If we lower the horizon by moving the camera? Can you see how the emphasis changes? It now has an airy Rumi feeling and less focus on the grass. With this much sky to play with weak dough ease, manipulate the cloud formations to enhance our focal point. This same spot in the winter or early spring has a different focus. Now, this deciduous tree in the center is what really catches my eye. The lines of that tree and it's dark values. In addition to the beautiful soft golden grasses and the greens, together, they have their own potential for a successful composition. Still in early spring, I decided to take a walk and I follow this little vehicle path which I really didn't know where it was going. But that's part of the fun of the photo shoe. You just kind of walk and look at all of the elements around you. This very path, for example, creates an S-shape that leads my eye to the group of trees. Now notice that the closer we get to this area, the more intimate the feeling is with that end of the path. And of course, the end of the path is really our focal point. Now which group of trees we focus on really depends on how we line up the composition. So the question is, where do I want my focal point? Let's say we were going to use this shot. Let's take a minute and break down the scene. The path still leads to the focal area, but it's more of a C-shaped. Now, that same line also works with the line marking the top of the hill. Together they form a triangle that points to the center tree grouping. These trees are a secondary focal point, but they're very important because they keep your eye in the scene. Did you happen to notice that there's a mild diagonal as well? It's not a strong one, but it does add a little bit of interests. Unfortunately, the grass was a little bit too tall in the late spring for me to take the same route that we took in the early spring. But this covers the same area as I'm walking. You don't see anything yet that jumps out at me. I'm looking for interesting shaped or a nicely situated form. Here's a nice open space. It's actually the same meadow that we just saw, but from another angle. Remember, always consider other angles because you never know which one will be the one that catches your eye. I love this space here and the rolling foreground. But I still don't see a key element, perhaps that slightly isolated tree. But like I keep saying, it would have to be improvised to make it a more interesting shape. By the way, I didn't see the same view in the spring. Look at that, what it difference in feeling. Further down the path I come across this tree, which I believe I also saw in the spring time. Note that picture in the corner. Another big difference. I like the shape of the form and it has a nice cast shadow. Notice that when I find an element, I like, I moved my view finder all around in order to find the most pleasing composition. I can feature it in the center. But if I wanted to do that, I should get closer. Dc, how zooming in makes it the central focus. And now we can really see the shape a little of a trunk and that really nice shadow. But what if we don't centering? I'm gonna move my camera just to see if that would be pleasing. Since this shadow partially directs the eye, it's better to have that leave the eye into the scene rather than off the scene. So moving the tree left would work as well. When you want to feature a tree in the winter or early spring, you have more lines to work with. Since now you can see so many of the branches. And you may want to zoom in again in order to fully feature of the element. You're featuring the tree almost completely. So it needs to be interesting, which I feel this one is. If I wanted to set the tree back, it would be better to push it to one side, in this case to the right. So we can bring in that nice tree in the distance on the left. The focus at this point is on the large arching branch on the bottom left of the large tree. If we move the tree further to the right, now our focus is on the distant tree on the left. Did you notice that? And that big beautiful tree, the branches now point to that tree in the distance. You might even be able to suggest that there's an L-shaped created by the larger tree and the foreground that cradles the distant tree. Here's another spot from early spring. Look at those nice fresh greens. What draws me to this scene is the variation in shape, texture, and color. But with this much sky will lose the emphasis on that nice variety. So I'm going to position the horizon a little higher and to the left of it. And now let's break down the scene. I really like the bare trees that have the delegate lines on the left. And then you have the fresh texture and the greens in the shrubs, very spring-like, as well as the variation in size and shape that you get with this large semi leaf tree. As a grouping, you have an odd number of elements and they form a kind of triangle. Plus the focal point is reinforced by this gentle path that brings you into the scene. The additional element that's close to the edge would normally be strong. But because it's near the edge, it's not powerful and it keeps your eye in the scene. Now we could shift the whole thing to the left. That's good too. For now, I'll take photos of both positions. But let's scan to the right. What elements do we have over here? It's a little too messy, I think. So we'll scan to the left. If we pass by our textural seen, we will see, wow, here is a gorgeous branching tree with really nice undergrowth. The first thing that strikes me is the red tone in the bark, which is a nice contrast to all the green. I also noticed the beautiful lines in the tree, very balanced and graceful. Once the trees green up, you can still see some branches, but you do lose some of the color and some of work feels almost like a maze of lines. I really like this and I keep it as a close up. It's really about form and color. But let's circle around it a bit. So it's a good idea if you have a focal element like this, something you really want to feature like a portrait. Circle around the element to check the other perspectives. In this case, the other angles weren't nearly as good as that first shot. The lines and the lighting were perfect at that first angle. Very balanced. And here's the same tree from the base of the hill. It has a nice overall shape, but it's backlit. We lose the color. It's an element that might come in handy in a different photograph though. So I'll save it as a future reference image. Back to the late Spring. Here's an interesting scene that I came upon not far from that tree. I like that window through the foliage. When something's framed like that, it's automatically an eye catcher. But I still need to check the scene and ask myself, Do the elements lead the eye successfully? Let's take a look. I like the positioning of the window a little down and to the right of center, just about at the intersection of 2 third lines. And unlike the variation in the dark shapes, as well as how the foreground grasses gently create a horizontal. Now importantly, notice how the lines in the scene draw your eye to the focal point. I really like this. But let's pan right and see what's over there. Now will be aiming the camera into the sun. So that will likely cause a problem. And you can see that we lose color and value depth. But the light beam is nice and the landforms are interesting. Notice the strong diagonal. I think this would be our focal point as it sits nicely along the diagonal and has a dark value that can emphasise the light beams. But it would need the enhanced somehow. I'd add a few extra beams of light, maybe do three. Because remember that odd numbers are usually pleasing to the viewer. Basically it would need touching up, but this composition has potential as well. And yet, I continue to go back to this one. Remember, passion is really important to go with this scene that draws you the most. Before I leave this spot, I'm going to try to more things. I'm going to lower my camera to get a different perspective. But the grass was there a little bit in the way now. And then I'm going to raise my camera. Here's the view when holding the camera over my head. Remember, look for any change in perspective that you can think of. It just gives you another angle, something else to consider. In the next video, we're going to go on a photo shoot that includes a water feature. 6. Photoshoot II - Water Scene: In this video, we're going to conduct a photo shoot that features a body of water. Water in a landscape often functions as a flat plane, except that the surface is reflective. So this'll be a good opportunity for observation. Now, my preference would be to gather images from a coastal scene. I just have a hankering to paint there, but I don't live near there. And so I'm going to have to improvise. I'm going to do is think about what's near me. There's a large river not far from my home, and there are a number of small streams and ponds. In fact, actually, there's a nice size pond that I had been to several years ago. It might be nice to go back. Now. I don't remember what lighting I had seen it in at that time. So I'm not really sure what time of day would be best, but I'll go for late afternoon since the photo shoot with the meadow was in the early morning. This'll give us some variation. And I think I'll aim for a partly sunny day so I can include reflections of cloud forms in the water if I want to. I arrived on location when the sun is setting, but still nice and bright. You can tell it's late by the long shadows. No, I think this is going to work well. I'm not sure what morning light would look like, but this is really pretty. The first thing I do is scope out the lay of Alam. I'm not thrilled with this initial view, too much foliage blocking water, but I do notice a path that seems to circle the pond on the left, so I'll start heading that way. There's still a lot of foliage. Let me go up a little further. This looks like a clearing. Oh, I like it. Reflections really nice. And the values and the trees on the other side are dramatic. Let me move up a little more. Now here's a nice element. Look at this tree bending over the water. Sometimes when you see elements that are a little off or a little unique, they can make good focal points in a standard landscape. And I think this is one of those features. So for me the question now is, how do I want to position it? Let me start by aiming my cameras so that the tree sits closer to center. And then I'll pan and take pictures along the way each time something hits me. Like this. Notice that the tree and its main branches bend inward. This pulls the viewer into the scene. Therefore, positioning the tree on the right will help keep the viewer in the composition. If the tree was on the left, it would lead the eye off the scene, or you would just focus on something else. Now in this landscape, i like the horizon close to the middle. A low horizon would emphasize the sky and a high one would emphasize the water. Centering it keeps the tree as one of the main elements. Now regarding the focal tree, the question becomes, how far right should I place it? Most of the time, I just eyeball where I think it should be and play around with it. You can always imagine where the third line would be and use it as a point of reference. Now, I'm not tied to the third line, but it does give you a little perspective. As I pan left, you can see that the emphasis changes. Just a little move. And you can see the open water becomes a little more important to the viewer. And notice where the tree falls according to the third line, the position changes every time we move our view finder. If we pan even more to the left, we expose even more of the water. There's more emphasis on the breadth of the landscape and a focus on the distant trees and their reflection. The clouds offer interest, but they're not overly complex. They work. In fact, the way they line up in the image, they help guide your eye to the tree. So generally, there's a very subtle triangulation. At this point. This design is my favorite. To me. It offers a nice emphasis on the tree while still offering some open water and a little of the cloud direction. I think it's a pleasing composition. But let me walk a little more and see what else I can find. I may also like the tree from another angle. Now this is pretty, but there isn't really a focal point. And once I make the trees in the back, right, the focus and maybe changed their shape a little bit. That might be nice. Notice the symmetry and how the clouds can add some interest. Although you have to be careful not to let the scene get too busy. And here's the bending tree from a different angle. It's not quite the same, is it? And the water now appears muddy. One thing I can try is to see how the scene would look, viewed down close to water. Novel. Let's take a look. I like it. The closeness to the water and the breath would be the key to this image. So if I were to use this, I would make sure that I have an extra wide orientation. Now, clean water might seem ideal, but algae can add visual interest. Let's go further down. Notice all the intense green at this point. The blue in the sky is critical in order to offer the viewer some color variation. This has potential as well. Do you see the distant bird houses? The water actually creates a triangular shape that leads the eye to that area. It could be emphasized. You have the nice reflections as well and the smooth surface of the algae on the water. It's interesting and it has a lot of textural variation. I could stop here and use the triangular shapes created by the sky trees in water to make the focal point where they all converge. It's just something else we could do. Now here's another angle where the grasses helped direct the eye to the bird houses, which if it didn't have that touch of red and the wood and the white value in the house itself, it would actually be a little too insignificant. It's a very small object. But because there's so much green and only a little bit of red, that bird house which stands out. Notice by the way, the light value of the algae. That's a part of the flat plane that does not reflect. It gives a really interesting look. Another idea is to capture kind of a micro landscape like this spot in the water where the grass is emerge. It's pretty Let's stop here for a minute and let me point something out. As I've mentioned in previous videos, the elements lose their color and detail when the Sun faces the camera. So it's best to avoid that angle. And here we are a little closer to bird houses. It turns out there is another bird house right along the path. It really makes for a ready-made focal element. And this is an interesting angle for those other houses along the water's edge. On the way back to my car, I see this pretty tree lit up by the sun. I'll grab a few of those images as well. It could be that I could use it in another image if I tweak it. And then I see the bending tree on the way back as the sun has set a little more. Notice how there's some additional interesting color variation at this time. I really like this. It's really the scene that has caught my eigenmodes. And that's about it. The path ended about halfway around the pond. But I feel like I got some good images that could result in a few workable paintings. So I pack up my camera and now I head home. We have one more brief photo shoot to do together. This one was taken during a recent trip to Colorado. 7. Photoshoot III - Colorado Meadow: My husband and I took a trip out to Colorado recently and explored the Rocky Mountain National Park. In this one section, I was absolutely enthralled by the serenity of the scene. The softness and the variations and the Greens were just amazing. Plus the contrast of that beautiful red bark. It was like a little piece of Heaven to me. This strong internal response is what I'm looking for when I go out looking for painting reference material. In addition to the greens and the red bark. I love the variation in texture. And notice to the kind of purplish bare trees in the back and how they work with some of the grasses and the front. That's beautiful. And you could work on balancing them. Now again, look how striking that read in the tree trunk is surrounded by all the beautiful greens. If I stay in this spot, we could break the rule of splitting the canvas and half, couldn't we? Now that's not something I would paint, but it's not bad for teaching. Let's move on. There's a beautiful winding path here, which I could use as a feature element. Compositionally, I would probably nudge the path left a bit or maybe just crop the image. But one thing I do like is that tree that sits right next to the path. It kind of frames the end of that path, which is probably our focal point. Well, let's walk down this path a bit and see what else we can find. I'm still absolutely enamored by this area. And as I walk, my eye is scanning the scene. I'm taking tons of photos, knowing that I can always rework the images later, but I won't always have a chance to get more photographs. Again, look at all of the different greens complimented by the reds in the bark. Stunning. Now when I turned in the opposite direction, I see mountains where the influence of atmosphere can be seen. Remember we learned about that in this spot you can see the many layers of the landscape. A good example of the planes theory. Now notice the high horizon line. It's not extreme, but it is high. And also the subtle triangle that points to the highest part of the mountains, which I think is the focal point. I actually like it, shimmy it over a little bit too. So I'll take photos of each and decide which one's better when I'm back on my computer. I'm just personally drawn to the open spaces and the broad vistas. You have to find your passion. This is what will drive you forward in your art form. Now, I stopped it here and I wanna see if you can spot the exception to the plains theory. If you spotted the variation in the slanted plane, you're right. The lack of trees on the hill on the right, make it one of the lighter planes in the scene. As we continue panning to the right, you can see that there are some people. Now they're a good distance away. So really they become part of a landscape. It's a composition that could have some prospect. Because notice the isolated color, the blue shirt on the man. And notice that the way I've positioned, he's pleased. Right along the edge of a third line. That bold, isolated color does draw the eye and would automatically become our focal point. I don't see anything else in this direction that really catches my eye. So you've seen the photo shoot that most inspires me at this time. Let me end with this cute little visitor that happened to pop into the scene unexpectedly and was only a few feet away. What I'd like you to come away with from this video is the importance of inspiration. Choose locations that excite you. Well now it's your turn. Go ahead and conduct your own photo shoot. Use the photo shoot worksheet that you're given. Plan an outing. It can be right in your neighborhood if you need to. And then after that, move on to the next lecture, where will talk about image orientation and how that can influence the feeling in the piece. 8. Image Orientation: Before we go any further in the course, we need to touch on an important topic, image orientation. This is another visual tool that you can use that has a tremendous impact on the field of a piece. And what it is is how you set up the boundaries of your image. A typical landscape orientation is one that forms a rectangle where the longest side lays horizontally. In fact, this image design is called landscape. As opposed to portrait orientation, where the longest side leaves vertically. The landscape artist can use either orientation, but each variant will influence the scene in a unique way. Let me show you what I mean. Here's a nice image of a sunlit river. I brought this image into Photoshop to show you the different ways that you can crop it in order to change the overall orientation and how those changes can impact the mood of the piece. Now, you could use the image as it is, of course, or you can keep the same orientation. So the same ratio of height to width, but shrink it and recenter the piece until you find something that pleases you. I'd like to include that son, but I keep going back to this section with the atmospheric mountains. It just seems to work with the width of the orientation, perhaps because they themselves are wide. Another option is to use a square orientation. I'm not a big fan of using square compositions for landscapes, but it is done and was fairly common when artists first started painting landscapes. If I were to design this composition with the square orientation, I would probably pull it to the side here and emphasize the sun and the curve right here. I would probably delete that grouping of trees because I want the focus to be on the interplay of the shining sun and the water. I think the trees would interfere, but you just have to look at how your elements lineup within the boundaries of your new orientation, the division of space. Another thing you can do is thinning down your typical landscape orientation by shrinking the vertical space, basically making it long and skinny. It'll require a repositioning in again to find the optimal design. But look at the change in, feel. Suddenly it has a breadth to it, doesn't it? That's one of the reasons I like to thin my landscape orientations. I like that feeling of bread. So why did I position it higher in the scene? Well, if I lower it, and you can see that the focus is now on the water. But you don't really have a focal point. It feels awkward. I could place it at the very top. But that's not quite right either. I want the water to at least play a role in the scene. It's a key part of the story, lowering the rectangle just a bit so the waterline hits about where the third line is really helps the visual balance. Has a better feel. Now nudge it up a little bit more to include a touch more of the top of the tree. Nice. Another option is the portrait orientation. In this, the height is longer than the width, a vertical rectangle. And wow, I went right into a great looking composition. In this case, those trees we see on the left would stay because they help frame the curve of the river and the light of the mountain in the back. The son is again an important feature. And together with the path created by the mountain and the river, I see a kind of s-shape here. I really love this. And actually I'm a paint this sometime. Now if we make this portrait orientation extra fin, bringing in one of the sides, it changes the feeling kind of like when we narrowed the landscape orientation to increase the breadth. This change increases the feeling of height. And it, just by narrowing it, we lost some of the appeal in the same spot. The tree, for example, that framed the focal point. It's incredible how important that was. Now, I'm not liking the position here, so let's move it left. Scroll left until something hits me. I usually like to feature one element when it's oriented like this. For example, those trees. But in this case there are two high up in the scene. The base of the trees is almost in the center, dividing the canvas and half plus my eye doesn't really know where to look or where to settle. Oops, we lost our boundary. Let me recreate it. Okay, so I would move their narrow vertical orientation above the visual area so that there's more sky and less water. I can easily fill in the sky as needed. And this places the grouping of trees closer to this center, vertically, telling my eye that's what you should look at. And then I follow the water down and around to the foreground. Notice the feeling of height when it's cropped this way. Ok, there's one more orientation to discuss and that is circular or oval boundaries. It's not common for landscape work, but that doesn't mean it's never done. And basically you'd position it a lot like you would position a typical landscape orientation. But keep in mind that the loss of the hard corners, the sharp 90-degree corners, results in rounded space, and we'll give the image more of a soft field. I would probably positioning here where my eye travels from the mountains, into the valley and down the river. The trees act as a kind of frame with the focal point being the end of the watery here. So image orientation is definitely something to consider while you're on location or when reconstructing images back home. Think about what mood you're after and whether changing the orientation could result in a stronger composition. Will it help communicate the feeling you're after? Before we move on to reconstructing our images, let's look at how some of the masters used image orientation to influence the feeling in their paintings. This is what we'll discuss in the next video. 9. Image Orientation - Masterpiece QUIZ: Before we begin this lecture, if you'd like, go ahead and print the handout titled orientation designed tools worksheet. This is a kind of quiz to see if you can identify the different design tools in the masterpieces we're about to look at. If you choose to do this, I recommend you watch this video all the way through the first time to learn about image orientation. And then watch it a second time to identify the design tools. I don't want you to miss the important information and teachers. For teaching purposes, you'll see I've manipulated some of the paintings using Photoshop. The way you see them when they're introduced is the original true version. So now let's take a look at how image orientation was applied in paintings by some of the masters. If you were to visit a local art museum, you'd find that most of the masters used a traditional horizontal orientation. But there are many who also used one of the variants in order to impact the mood of the piece. Let me show you some examples. In this first painting, the artist uses basically a standard landscape orientation. And it works well because he has a lot of large elements. He needs both the width and the breadth of a traditional landscape orientation. In this piece, this artist was clearly trying to depict the vast broad landscape. So the natural choice would be to pick a wider orientation. By the way, take note of how you feel when you look at this as compared to if it was painted with a portrait orientation. Now it becomes more about depth, doesn't it? As opposed to the width that you feel in the original image. This marine landscape has a wonderful openness and also conveys vast space. This time the sea and the sky. Again, an extra wide orientation helps the viewer grasp the feeling. This becomes even more apparent if we change it to a square orientation. Look how the feeling and the focus changes. Its incredible. This is another marine painting with this same broad open feeling, which is also emphasized by the length of the mountains in the background, which you can only really get them in there if you widen your orientation enough. This painting is even wider. In fact, the painting is all about the width and the powerful sky, widening MY orientation. And then having that conflict of dark and bright night really emphasizes the power and the breadth of the sky. But to reinforce this, let's look at what it would look like if we made it a typical landscape size. Look at the difference. It already feels a little more congested. And the focus is a little bit more on that distant town skyline. Now if we made this a square, you focus even more on the skyline. Look at the change of emphasis here. Simply because of the orientation. And this piece is even wider. This is really extreme, but it works. You really take it on as the viewer, you feel the full expanse as if you're on a mountain or in the air. The width helps that with this, have the same feeling if it was cropped? No, it could still be a good painting. And your eye goes right to the city in the distance. But you've lost that wonderful panoramic view. Now this orientation is nearly square. It's still a little wider than it is tall, but not. Because of the orientation. The artist has room for both a busy, complicated foreground and a large vast sky. And because of this, it creates its own unique feeling. Being both tall and wide kind of makes the people feel small in the scene. And a lot of that has to do with the orientation. This painting by Sargent, which I happen to love is nearly square as well. Why do you think he chose their orientation? I think it allows the emphasis to be on the rocky land and the squareness of the canvas fits with the bulky feeling of the boulders. This can perhaps be better understood if we extend to the canvas and take another look. Well now it has a feeling of expanse, doesn't it? But the boulders don't feel quite as dramatic and dynamic. Now here's a true square. Because it's square, it can have both depth and a little breath. And say You feel that distance where the river comes around the bend. You also have a feeling of the panorama. There's kind of a balance. I wouldn't have thought of using a square for this composition, but it works, doesn't it? I feel like this square emphasizes the BOC, kind of like the Sargent painting. And it also emphasizes the heaviness of the mountain and the trees. I loved this piece. In a way, this square format makes you feel like you're looking out a window, doesn't it? Now, a square is symmetrical on all sides. So it's really an ideal orientation for symmetrical elements. It basically reinforces the symmetry in the scene as money has portrayed it here. What about this piece? The artist uses a portrait orientation and notice how it adds to the feeling of height. The height emphasizes the tall lanky trees along milling, which pull you to the figure in the center. The towel orientation also gives the artist room to manipulate the sky so it leads to the focal point as well. Here's a similar seeing by the same artist, but this orientation is even taller. How does that change the feeling? It's almost an ominous feeling. He gets nearly the full height of the trees in here, making the words feel very large compared to the figures. So what if we crop this and looked at it as a square or nearly a square. Well, now the emphasis is not on the height or the ominous feeling of the woods. Instead, you go right to the writer. The story becomes about them as opposed to the story being about their adventure into the top Woods. Now, as you can see, I'm using a lot of paintings by the same artist. He was quite adept at using his painting orientation to work with his compositions. In this case, I would guess that he won in both the height of the tree plus the lonely, open feeling of a large sky, which is more effectively conveyed with a tough in Canvas. His use of the orientation, as well as a certain design tool, leaves you feeling kind of a loneliness or emptiness. When you look at the figure in the painting, look how narrow this composition is. Wow, not an easy one. This was actually a study, but it's a good example of how an artist can make such an extreme orientation work. But why do you think he made it so narrow? He may simply have been trying to communicate a very dramatic sense of distance. Because if you look, there's a little rowboat and the distance, he leads your eye in a very creative way. Now, here's an oval orientation. And I feel like the artist worked the composition to reinforce that. That foreground is shaped kind of like an arc, which of course is half of a novel. So what would it look like if it wasn't oval? It loses some of the softness just by gaining those harsh 90 degree angles. And so it impacts the overall feeling. And finally, a completely round orientation, which is even softer than the oval, isn't it? I think it's kind of interesting that he reinforces the circular nature of the image by making that center point circular as well. So it's a very soft composition. Now if you decided to take me up on the worksheet and Euro guessing at the various design tools. Go ahead and go back into the course and look at the answer sheet. See how you did it. When you're done. You can move on to the next video, where we'll talk about downloading and reconstructing our images. 10. Reconstruction I - Initial Image Review: Once I got home from my trip to Colorado, I downloaded all my images onto my computer. You can see them here in my Finder directory. This isn't all of them, but they're the images from a specific meadow that I really loved in wanting to paint. Anyway, this is how it looks in my directory after I've loaded them. And what I like to do is I go through the images initially very quickly in order to identify those that really hit me. This would be the first time I've seen them. So if one or two jumps out at me, at a glance, then those are usually the images with very good potential. But we'll see if there's an image that strikes me, I'm market somehow. You can either copy the imaging, place it in a different folder. You could write the filename down on a piece of paper. Or perhaps add an asterisk to the end of the file name. That last option is what I'm gonna do here. So let's go through these real quick. I'm just going to breeze through the images and I don't want them fullscreen. I actually think I can make a better quick judgment when I see them from a distance, when they're smaller, it helps me judge overall composition and I really like that. So I'll put a little asterisk right there. I'm looking for something that really jumps out at me, an emotional response. Well, there is something about this one. I think it's the breadth. I'm not sure that the composition really works, but something about it jumps out at me. But that one maybe. And I'll continue going down the list. I'm not over analyzing. Something about that one draws me. And I kinda like that one to home, not assure food, make a good painting. Now, this one is a little bit too dark and depressing for me. And this one, No. So going through the meta quick glance, I found several. I found this one. And then I like this one, which is just interesting. I like the people there. But at this point, the one that jumps out at me most is this one. Now I've gone through it quickly. I've got 25 images. So my goal at this point is to narrow it down to a handful, Let's say the top five to eight images. And then what I'll do is bring those final choices into Photoshop where I can edit and see what I can make of them. So in the next video, we'll go through each image a little more carefully. This tone. 11. Reconstruction II - Narrowing Your Selection: In this video, we're going to take another look at the images in my directory. We're gonna go a little slower this time and examine which ones have the best potential. As far as composition, the goal is to come up with five to eight pieces that we can move over to Photoshop and reconstruct as needed. In this first image, I liked the grouping of trees in the middle, but the elements themselves are not very interesting. They feel a little too centered. I think that's because of the size of the grouping plus the wood at the bottom is really awkward. The picture, it just doesn't seem to work. This is very nice. It kind of has a strong diagonal, but frankly, I just don't feel like painting them and I have to listen to that inner voice. Sometimes I want to paint an object like that and feature it, but not this time. Here is the same piece of dead word. It's back further. And one thing I really like is a really interesting shapes that it offers. But I don't care for the positioning. It's a little too centered and too small to be positioned there. It's one of those. Don't put your object at dead center kind of images. Plus, i don't like how it looks like. It's a little upside down. That creates an awkward feeling as well. If I were to paint it, I would flip it horizontally. This one doesn't have a focal point really. It has some nice lines, but the lines really don't lead to anything. And I don't like the colors. There isn't much variety. Now, number five, I loved that tree. I love the red in the trunk. The sky would probably need improving. And I'm not sure about the lineup of the other trees. Let's see what else we have. I know I took a bunch of that tree. Ok, well, here it is alone, but it's a bit small with nothing around it. So it just kind of sits there. Even though it's not dead center, it stands alone as if it was. It's just too small to be all by itself. In this one is bigger and it's off center, just slightly to the right. Actually, I I like that on let's mark it. It would probably work just fine as it is. But to be honest, I just don't feel like painting an object-oriented painting or a portrait kind of orientation. This is again where you have to listen to your inner voice. I'll save it for another time. So I'm gonna go ahead and mark it as later. I'm really looking for something more relational. Like here. We have two trees kind of relating to each other. But in this case there are two balanced, it's too much of a set. Although I do like how much space they take up in the image. Now this one would work because you have the large tree. Well now look, it's the one I had marked When I looked through the medical ants. So we know it has potential. I'd probably want to widen the orientation a bit just because I like communicating that broad open feeling. Look at it again later. And here's a similar image. It has the same three main elements. But to me there are two evenly spaced. And remember, unless you're going for symmetry, you don't usually want such even spacing of your primary elements. But I do like that foreground texture and color better. Now number 11 is just like ten, except it's a little brighter and just a touch further back. But the trees are still evenly spaced. I like this on a little more. I like that the orientation is further back, so it allows for a wider orientation and an open field. We still have two trees, but this time they look less like a pair. The smaller one blends into the background a little more. I like the coloring as well. We'll put an asterisk on it and see what we can do with it. Number 13 is even further back and approaches the tree from a different angle. I prefer the angle in number 12, as well as the lay of the mountains. 14 I had liked that's already marked. I liked how wide it is and the feeling it has. But the elements definitely need work. It feels kinda disjointed. Here's number 15. I really like that foreground texture, but I think it needs too much work. The two main elements are too close to the edge and the distant hills are very flat, plus the distant mountains are strangely shaped. It's another one that needs a little too much fixing. Now this one did catch my eye. I do like that path on the right. But if I were to use this picture, I would need to extend the right side of it. I feel like it's too close to the edge as it is. I'll market so I can show you what I'm talking about. It's not bad. Here's another one that had caught my eye. It certainly wouldn't need much work. You have the path and it leads to the people. I could paint it as it is. So we'll look at that 12. And this is another version of it. This composition could work as well, but it doesn't inspire me as much. It's really more about the people and less about the landscape. I kinda like that. But again, I think the path is too close to the edge and it's a little too straight to hold my interests really. I prefer the other path image. Now this path slants to the left and it has that interesting shape. Plus it leads to a dominant tree and is situated closer to the center. It's a better composition. In this one, I like the slanted planes in the mid ground, and I like the distant mountains here. It's just that the foreground really doesn't have anything to focus on. This image. Number 22, it just simply doesn't interest me. But I love the texture in this one. I'm not sure if it would make a very good painting, but perhaps with some tweaking, we could make this one work. Let's see what else we have. I don't care for this one to match. The colors are kind of depressing. I could tweak the colors if I wanted to. But even if I did, I'd have to develop a focal point. Because the place my eye goes to is the dark series of trees in the middle and then the mountain. But it's all a bit dark and the foreground is a little too lumpy. And then we have this, and that doesn't do much for me. So I think I'll go back here and see what we can do with this one. There's just an aspect of it that foreground grass that I think is really cool. It really caught my eye. So we ended up with seven images, which is good. It's right within my five to eight amount. What I'm gonna do now is I'm going to highlight each of them. And you can do this anywhere you want. But I'm going to highlight them and then I'm going to open them in Photoshop. Now there are a lot of photo editing tools out there. You certainly don't have to use Photoshop. I've just been using it for decades and it's what I'm comfortable with. I'm bringing all of the selected images. And then in the next video, we'll look at them one by one and reconstruct them in order to get the most effective composition. 12. Reconstruction III - Final Review: Here we are in my photo editing program. And as you can see, I've loaded the seven images we saw acted in the prior video. Let's get right to it and start analyzing our first image. This is one of the first scenes I saw when our location and one that I really felt drawn to. What drew me initially was that tree farm and the beautiful red trunk. There's a lot of green here. But the good thing is, there's a lot of variation in the greens. But because there's so much green and so there are red, that makes the tree trunk are really nice focal point. I also like how the tree is placed off to the side a bit. And the form of the tree. Here's another thing I really like, and that is the foreground texture. I like the little spots of yellow flowers. And I like that the clumps are varied and interesting. Remember that is one of our Do's and Don'ts, isn't it? Here's something else. And we talked about this earlier in the course. We have three objects and they're not evenly spaced. Some interest as well. If they were evenly spaced, it would almost look to planned. This makes it look a little more natural. Also, notice how each tree has its own shape and size. Additional variation in interest. The sky is, okay, it's a little dull. I'd have to think about what I'd want to do with that. I probably wouldn't keep the grey. I might make it either are very pale or I'd throw in some additional blue to make it look like it's mostly cloudy with peaks of boom. Just because it would match the pleasant feeling. The thing is with distant mountain back here. I find it a little distracting the way it's shaped. In one way. I like the forum never asked. But if I make it a full mountain, kinda like this, it's less of a distraction and near focus is back on the main tree. Our second image is farther back. As you can see, it's pretty much the same scene just at a distance. Again, I like that the tree trunk is my focal point. That gives me something to really focus on. But we lost our third treating Lee. I think if we could shimmy the tree in the back a little to the left, just a little bit. I think that would be more pleasing to the eye by moving that tree and changing the mountain shape. The scene feels a little more balanced against the weight of that large main tree. Now, another thing I would do is crop a little off of the sky. Why? Well, it puts a little more emphasis on the foreground, which I love. You could crop the bottom instead, which would make it feel more closed in and keep the focus almost exclusively on the large tree. But I like the top crop best and you have to listen to your gut in the end. My, I still goes to the tree, but now I feel that foreground texture a little more. Okay, let's look at image number 14. This is the same view, but back even further and standing to the right model. Now one thing I really liked about it was the bread. I liked the open space and it has a good feeling about it. However, we need to lose the sign. It looks really awkward. Let's just get rid of that. And I think this tree is awkwardly spaced. If you look, these three main elements are almost evenly spaced. It looks almost planned. It's usually better to have variation. You also have the mountains which I really like. However, I might move them this way, just a touch. But first what I'll do is just move some of these trees. I'm going to move this one a little to the right. So let's go ahead and do that. And I actually may simply get rid of the pine tree and the left, or maybe I'll just make it recede. Let's stop and see how the scene guides the i at this point. Now my eye travels through the meadow to the group of pines, up to the mountains, and then back to this set of trees on the right. But those two trees are bothering me. There are two paired. To me, it throws off the balance. So I'll move the left tree a little bit more towards center. That's better. Now they don't carry so much weight as a grouping. I even have a little bit of triangulation going on, don't I? I think this works better. Now there is one more thing. I think I'm going to extend the mountain to the left instead of actually moving it left. It'll kind of aid that feeling of breadth. I really like, I like this. But let's look at the next one. This one has the path that I felt was awfully close to the edge. What we could do is try to extend this side in order to push the path a little bit more towards the center. And I'll do a quick version of it. We just extend the canvas and quickly duplicate the part of the picture to the right of the path. You get the idea. Let's get rid of these orange things. I just find them distracting. I couldn't spend time perfecting this, but it's really not necessary. All we need is to get an idea of whether widening the scene would help with the overall balance and placement of the path. That's a little better, isn't it? Let's see how it lines up with the rule of thirds. The path is pretty close to the third line. Now I'm not glued to that rule. I just tend to use it as kind of a checking tool. It definitely feels better with that path moved inward. Now, if you wanted more of a landscape orientation, you could take a little off the top, which is actually really nice. You could also take some off the bottom and see what you think of that. I think I prefer a little off the top. And leaving some nice foreground. But this could work too. So now we have the path moved to the left of it and our eye now feels comfortable going down that path. The grouping of pine trees on the right helps balance the open space on the left, so it gives us better visual balance. We took a little offset top and a little off the bottom so that our orientation is wider and I find that more pleasing. I do think I do anything else. I like the line here and it leads me into this line. This line kind of takes you into the same spot that the path takes you. I like that the lines meet up there. And you could also say that this line takes you there as well. And then this tree helps keep you in the scene. It frames the focal point, this one as well. In fact, look at the tops, they point to the end of the path. So I really think that this image could work. Let's take a look at image 17 now. In this one, of course, our focal point is the set of figures. If you remember, in the other image that figures were more of the central focus. In this case, I feel like they're part of the general landscape and the path it takes you right to them. However, I don't like the tall orientation too much. My personal preference is for landscapes to be a little bit wider. Now, you'll notice that even cropping the figures are almost directly in the middle. But remember, sometimes that works when you have a creative path that guides your eye to it. And in this case, I think that's true. The figures are also very small, too small normally. But because one of the figures has that dominant blue collar, it has more visual weight. Now just for teaching purposes, I'm going to show you how we could turn this into a portrait orientation. By doing so, you change the path and you change the lines in the mountains. So you have a very different image. Here. I positioned the figures along the third line. Centering the figures didn't work because as you can see, we lost a critical part of the path. So to me, this image just doesn't work as well with a portrait orientation. Ultimately, I think my preference would be to take a little off the top by leaving the foreground as it is, it pushes the figures deeper into the distance visually. You know, now that I look at this, I actually prefer the other path picture since we've edited it. I think this one is a little too monochromatic. Now, I could improvise, especially if I'm painting it. I'd take a little bit off the bottom here. Now the good thing is that you have a variety of shapes. And I do like how the path travels. It's interesting, but I do find that all these trees are the same color and almost the same value. You could make this work, but I just don't feel particularly inspired by it right now. And here's the last one. What really drew me to this was that interesting texture. The question is, is the texture the focal point, or will it act in a supporting role? We'll see. The first thing I wanna do is enhance the colors a little bit. It looks a little bit dull. That's better. Now one thing I could do is capture the texture in the image and paste it into another scene. One that's similar but doesn't have a good foreground. Like this one. If I were to try to make this work, the first thing I do is fix the mountain and get rid of the little mountain. On the left. I would lightened the darks and the medium tones. And then I'd put it in the texture. It could work. My eye goes through the texture to the grouping of Pines and then to the mountains. The texture is pretty intense. So whatever picture I would choose to put it in has to be fairly simple. So this is a workable option. But I still think we can make the original work if we crop it a little on the bottom and a tiny bit on the top? I think it does help. One thing it does is help you focus more on this spot in the upper horizontal area. Now the thing about all this texture is that even if it ends up not being the focal point, it helps create a feeling in the scene. That said, I don't like this. And that is sort of where my eye seems to go. To me. It looks just kind of like a mess. So if I were to try to make this work, I would simply remove that. Now the i goes to this group of trees, doesn't it? It kind of comes through here. You kind of look at this interesting thing right here, and then you go over here. And after that, I take in the overall feeling of the piece. So this is an interesting possibility. There isn't a definitive focal point, but I could always put an additional focal element right about here. This is one I would definitely check with a value sketch and no TAM to make sure the composition works. So let's step back now and examine our edited pieces. I want to select one image to use throughout the rest of this course, I have to think about which one do I feel most inspired to paint? Which one jumps out at me? Or perhaps which one has the strongest composition. Notice that the images are fairly small. If it can stand out to me when small, that's a good sign. And sometimes it's easy to judge the composition when they're small. I know which two I like best. Number 12 and number 16. Bit number 12 looks like it would benefit from a little bit of widening. So I'm going to load it under Photoshop. Why didn't the edge a little bit? And then open both images on the desktop for a final decision. Okay, here they are. I love both of them actually, and I'll probably paint both. But for now, the image on the left, the one with the tree, is the one that drew me from the very beginning. When I see that one, I have the strongest feeling to paint it. So I listened to them. This has the image will use for our value sketch and no Tan design. And now it's your turn. I'd like you to download your images from your photo shoot, sort through them, either using my process or your own. Narrow the selection down to your top five to seven images, opened them up in a photo editing program. Or you can work them out in sketches. Then work on rearranging your elements in order to strengthen your compositions. And finally, select one image, the one you think is best. I've included a helpful handout as well to help guide you through this process. And when you're done, once you've chosen what you feel is the strongest image, you can move on to the next lecture where we talk about creating a value sketch. 13. Checking Your Design - Value Sketch: Another composition tool at your disposal is the value sketch. A value sketch for the purpose of this video, is a free hand drawing that focuses on placement of the light, medium and dark values in an image in order to gauge Object placement. So it's really just a quick sketch that helps you confirm where you put your elements. If you remember in the very beginning of this course, we talked about what values were and how to identify them within an image. Well, we're gonna do that again, except this time we're going to actually catch those values. So let's get started. Do you remember this image from the prior video? It's the final one we selected. Now because I'm going to be evaluating it for values. The first thing I'm gonna do is convert it to black and white. This helps me focus solely on the value in the form. What we wanna do is break down what you see into solid groups of values, kind of like the planes theory. And then when we develop the sketch, will be looking for the value patterns. How do those values lead the eye through the scene? It's a way of checking your composition design. Now back to our Colorado image. The first thing I like to do after I've turned it to black and white is print out a copy. I usually have a black and white image that I paint from, which is a lot larger than the one that I would use for my value sketch. As you can see here. You can do your value sketch on a sketchpad or even just a piece of scrap paper. I actually just use plain printer paper very often because I can do it over and over again. Now I placed my small image on the side and then put my scrap paper close enough so I can use the main image as a reference. I like to tape down my piece of paper so it doesn't wiggle around when I'm sketching. And I begin by drawing the boundary of the sketch. Now you can probably tell that these are small sketches. There only about three inches by two inches in size. There's freedom in this though. You can go bigger or even a little smaller, but I wouldn't go to much smaller. Two inches is a decent width. And of course, your overall orientation should coordinate with your image. So portrait or landscape. And to get the size ratio as close as you can. Well now I'm just gonna go ahead and start developing revalue sketch for our chosen image. Typically, I'll start with the horizon line and then block in some of the major elements. But after that, I move all around. Gradually dark in the values as I go, sometimes throwing in a dark to help me gauge areas. You may have a different process. This is just how I do it. And remember it doesn't have to be perfect. This is just a quick sketch. You're just looking at shapes and values. Now, obviously, you want to get the shapes and the sizes fairly close. It doesn't have to be perfect or detailed. If you look at what I'm doing close up, you'll see that it's almost like calculated scribbles. Instead of aiming for a perfect rendition in the form. I'm actually just using my pencil in any which way to lay down the graphite in the approximate shape and with more importantly the desired value. Now there's another benefit from doing a value sketch. By creating the sketch, you familiarize your brain with the scene. You begin to know that landscape inside and out. Whether you realize it or not, your brain is sorting through the details while you're doing this, deciding what's important and what can be left out. Again, watch that you don't get too detailed. It's an opportunity. And this is why it's normally done in pencil to erase things. So let's say you're doing a value sketch and you see something that you don't like. Somehow it's not flowing re well, you can just erase part of it. Move things around as desired, and work out the scene, play with the design and refine it. Now this is also the time to remember the design tools. Did you incorporate learning the scene? Can you see it in your sketch? Or perhaps you didn't. But when you look at this sketch, you can see a spot where it would enhance the focal point or improve the visual flow. Can you see the triangulation? It's right there. It's very subtle and if I were to include it in a painting, I would make it's subtle, but it would help point the viewer's eye to the tuning. You don't have to use a pencil. You can use a pen, a gray tone marker, or even great ONE paint. You can even do it in charcoal. I personally prefer pencils because it's easy to erase. Do you need a special pencil? Not really. Although the harder the pencil. So if you had like a two age, the age referring to hard, you'll have trouble getting the very darkest values. It won't put down as much graphite. So I recommend a number two pencil or softer. Soft being labeled B, for example, like a 4B pencil. This way you can get a nice range of values. The softer the graphite, the more it'll leave on the surface, and the darker the mark. And keep in mind that your whites or your lightest lights will be the white of your paper. You avoid sketching wherever you want your whites. In this way, it's a lot like painting with watercolor paints, where you typically save the weights. So let's stop here and evaluate this sketch in comparison to the original image. You'll notice that I've put a lot of the darks in the main tree in order to draw attention to it. Technically in the image. All of this would be dark as well. But when I drew the sketch, I wanted to bring out the trees a little bit more. So I mightn't the background slanted plane and increased the value depth here in the trees. I initially had the boundary cutoff rate here, which if you look at the original orientation, the ratio would be more in line with the photo. But as I was working on the sketch, I felt that it just needed that space. It's a quick sketch. So some of your changes may not line up exactly like the original image. But it's okay. You're just trying to get a general idea. Now looking at it again, there's one thing I didn't quite do, and that is darken the value enough right here. And I think that spot is pretty important. So I'll darken it up a little bit real quick. You can see I created a bit of a pathway right here to make that triangular shape, which you don't see in the original image. So in my painting, I might darken some of the grasses right there. Otherwise, I actually prefer it without the path, with the texture, setting the mood and creating a stage, if you will. I did this really to show you how you could incorporate a design tool in your sketch. Now the sky, I left white. I didn't include the value change that we see there. I kind of like it being late. If I were to add value, if I were to shade it in, it would complicate the scene more. So I think it's better either as a light, cloudy day or a pale blue sky. Now, I couldn't do this sketch again and change a few things if I wanted to, just to play around with the design. But I think I'll stay with this sketch as I had it before I added the path. In the next video will transform our main image into a note and design just to kind of triple check ourselves. But first, I'd like you to go ahead and create a value sketch for your chosen image. 14. Checking Your Design - Notan: Up to this point in the course, we've talked about identifying a good composition and even reconstructing the seam in order to build a good composition. We then checked our designs with a value sketch, focusing on the placement of our lights, mediums, and darks. In this lecture, we're going to triple check are selected image using a design tool called no Tan. With no tan, we break down the values even further, dealing only with black and white. Your strongest values. No Tan, originated with the Japanese and involves the balance of light and dark elements in a composition. We're talking about the relationship between positive and negative space, between the shape and its background. You can't have an object without a background. And according to the theory, it's the balance of these two elements that creates visual harmony. So let's apply this to a landscape composition. Do you remember this scene? We worked on it earlier in the course. Now we'll use it to demonstrate no tan in a landscape. First, we'll change the image to black and way. And then I'll eliminate all of the gray tone, leaving us only with black and white value extremes. You can see how the white of the sky, that very light value is balanced with its reflection on the bottom. And this large area where we have the darkest values is balanced by almost a reflective version of it. You can see that the visual weight is pretty well balanced in this scene. So now let's look at our selected landscape image, that one from Colorado. This is the same image we used for the value sketch. And note that I'm not using the composition that includes the path in the foreground in the value sketch when we changed it to Bach and why we were able to evaluate all of the different values. Now what we're gonna do, as you can see on the right side of the screen, is drive the value adjuster. So we lose all the gray tones, leaving us with just black and white. With one exception. The slanted plane on the right needs to be more of a gray term, otherwise we wouldn't be able to see the large tree form. So here is our notation version. Now you can see that the main tree even converted to black and white, is the primary element. It's the focal 0.2 tree. The smaller one is a secondary focal point. And that's because it's centered and a little bit more isolating. And then lastly, for me at least I see this dark area in the foreground. And together they create some triangulation. So that for me just confirms that I'm on the right track with this composition. In this note hand version, I can see the line created by the top of the slanted plane on the left. It's something I hadn't noticed before. And it pulls you into the area of triangulation. That center area with all the trees is very visually heavy, but it feels balanced in the image because of the large areas of white, both in the sky and in the foreground. Now you don't have to use a computer program to create a note and design with your image. You can use a plain black marker and the white of a piece of paper. Let me show you what I mean. In my workspace. I've placed a piece of cardboard down to protect the desktop from any marker ink. And then I lay down a piece of paper for this sketch. And I have my reference image over on the side. I began much like I did with the value sketch. Just a small two by three rectangle to coordinate with the size of the reference image. It's an approximate. And again, like the value sketch, I'd like to add my horizon line first and then begin building my elements. This time, all I have is this black marker, so it requires some different thinking. It really makes you focus in on the darkest value patterns. It's very helpful. And this is about as far as I'd take it. It doesn't have to be super detailed. And in fact, it really shouldn't be like P-value sketch. Even doing this exercise helps familiarize your brain with the composition. This time from a different perspective. And a confirmed for me that I like this and I think it's really going to work. So I'm ready to move on and use it for a painting. Whether or not you choose to use no tan in your daily practice is up to you. But as part of this course, I think it would be good for you to just run through it at least once. So go ahead and either use your computer program or grab a piece of paper and a black marker and try your hand at creating one from your chosen image. 15. Conclusion: At this point, you very likely have a single image that not only draws you emotionally, but one in which you worked out the composition for visual flow to successfully guide the viewer to your focal point. If you're a photographer, you're next step would likely be to manipulate or just the colors. If you're a painter, you might begin the process of sketching the image onto your painting surface. Or perhaps you'll go straight to color planning and then right into painting. Whatever your process for whatever art form you're engaged in, you should hopefully feel confident about the finished composition. As we close out this course, my hope is that you feel your eyes have been opened in incense to the breakdown of what you see before you in a landscape. That you can see the various planes can more easily identify a workable focal point, can spot critical lines in a seam and how they guide your eye. And maybe even identified popular design tools. You hopefully you feel comfortable with conducting a photo shoot and then reviewing and reconstructing any resulting images that stand out to you. Plus, you know how to check your final design with a value and no tan skin. If you wanna check out some skill, share classes where we learn about topics such as watercolor, fundamental foundational brush.