Sketchbook Composition + Layout | Julia Bausenhardt | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

15 Lessons (1h 39m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:23
    • 2. Tools You Need

      2:32
    • 3. Tips for choosing a sketchbook

      3:55
    • 4. Single Elements pt1

      6:21
    • 5. Single Elements pt2

      7:11
    • 6. Using text pt1

      2:29
    • 7. Using text pt2

      4:04
    • 8. Adding color pt1

      3:18
    • 9. Adding color pt2

      11:21
    • 10. Arranging elements pt1

      11:34
    • 11. Arranging Elements pt2

      5:35
    • 12. Arranging Elements pt3 demo

      12:21
    • 13. Single Image Composition pt1

      10:50
    • 14. Single Image Composition pt2

      15:06
    • 15. Your Project + Final Thoughts

      0:54
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About This Class

This class will teach you how to create beautiful and interesting sketchbook pages. It will introduce you to basic layout and composition principles you can use on each page and in each sketch, so that your pages will look better immediately.

I will show my favorite tips and strategies that I use, and introduce the design principles behind each one. You will learn how to add different elements, where to put them on each page, different compositional approaches, and how to create variety in your sketchbook. We'll take a look at how composition can be applied to an entire page, or a single sketch, and we'll talk about materials and color, and how to use a sketchbook for your specific needs.

Although my work is mainly focused on drawing nature, you can adapt these design principles to any subject matter and for any drawing style. This class is suited for sketchers of all levels.

You'll be introduced to the design concepts step by step with lots of examples and sketching demos, that you can adapt to your own way of working. I'll also provide exercises that will help you build your visual language and allow you to make systematic progress.

I hope you will join me for this class to explore basic design concepts for how to make your sketchbook pages look more beautiful.

Meet Your Teacher

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Julia Bausenhardt

Nature Sketching & Illustration

Teacher

 

Hey, I'm Julia! I’m an illustrator & field sketcher from Germany.

Join my Newsletter to get regular inspiration about sketching, painting with gouache and watercolor, and how to explore nature through drawing and painting, plus news about classes and giveaways. Or connect with me on my Youtube channel.

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hello, I'm Julie, an illustrator and nature sketcher. Thank you so much for joining me. This class will teach you how to create beautiful and interesting sketchbook pages. It will introduce you to basic layout and composition principles that you can use on each page and each sketch, so that your sketchbook will look better immediately. I will show my favorite tips and strategies that I use and introduce the design principles behind each one. You will learn how to add different elements, where to put them on each page, different compositional approaches, and how to create variety in your sketchbook. We'll take a look at how composition can be applied to an entire page or to a single sketch. We'll talk about materials, color, and how to use a sketchbook for your specific goals. Although my work is mainly focused on drawing nature, you can adapt these design principles to any subject matter and for any drawing. This class is suited for sketches of all levels. You'll be introduced to the design concepts step-by-step with lots of examples that you can adapt to your own way of working. I'll also provide exercises that will help you build your visual language and allow you to make systematic progress. I hope you will join me for this class to explore basic design concepts for how to make your sketchbook pages look more beautiful. Grab your sketchbook, and let's take a look. 2. Tools You Need: Let's take a look at the tools that you will need for this class. There are no definite rules to sketching kit, and what I use might be too much or not enough for some of you. One thing first, this class is more about the concepts behind sketching. Strictly speaking, you won't need more than a few tools to do the exercises that I present. But I'll show you what I use here on a daily basis, for my sketching, and you can definitely build a basic sketching kit with these materials. If you do this, I highly encourage you to start with a basic selection of drawing tools that you like and then branch out from there. Feel absolutely free to change and adapt your own kit according to what you like. For this class, the most important thing that we'll need is a good drawing tool. I use a pencil, HB, mostly, and optionally, an eraser that I don't seem to have put here. You'd also use a mechanical pencil, they often come with an integrated eraser. These are really great for making small sketches, trying things out. I also frequently use a fountain pen with waterproof ink, for taking my notes and for drawing. You could also use a fine liner, like this one here. Just make sure it's waterproof. This is what I usually prefer. Because then you can also paint over your line work later on. Then you will want something that you can add color with. I will be using this small watercolor kit, with just a few basic colors. You can use any technique you like. If you prefer maybe colored pencils, or markers, or whatever you like best, then you can also use these for this class. These are my brushes. I will mainly be using synthetic round brush. Many sketching artists prefer these water tank brushes. They are also fine. Then, of course, you'll need a sketchbook. We'll look at that in more detail in the next lesson. That's basically it. As I said, this class is more about the concepts behind the sketching. The tools don't matter that much. 3. Tips for choosing a sketchbook: Let's talk about sketchbooks for a minute. For this class, I'll be showing all my demonstration in this sketchbook, which is a nice size, slightly larger than A5. This would be A5 and this is, as you can hopefully see, a little bit larger. For this class, I prefer the slightly larger sketchbook that lets me do several small sketches on one page and also add notes so that I can show you different options for compositions. I would recommend for you to use a sketchbook that's not too small. I can show you different types of sketchbooks here. The sketchbook size also depends a lot on your drawing style. I find that really small sketchbooks can be difficult to work in and if you want to make drawings and take notes on the same page. For this class, this is why I will use a larger sketchbook because it will offer me a lot of space for trying out different layouts when I open it. It's also small enough to carry around with me and I still have a lot of place to draw when the sketchbook is open. You can try out if you like, portrait or landscape mode. This would be a portrait size sketchbook which opens to this almost square size. This would be a landscape mode sketchbook with opens to this really wide horizontal layout. It's definitely more difficult to add height to a landscape sketchbook and to do compositions like this a lot but you can create interesting wide compositions. Both are worth a look and yeah, you can definitely try out and make your own experiments with these different formats. One word about spiral-bound notebooks. I never use them and I really don't like them because the spiral tends to get in my way. If you take a look at composition like this, you will see that I frequently work with this crease and I draw over this crease and use it in my composition. I don't like to have these spirals in the middle. But some people like these sketchbooks and they like the fact that you can really just flip your page around and then hold it more steadily. If you want to use a sketchbook like this, then get one that's big enough so that you can use one page as opposed to a double page in a normal sketchbook. Then there's a difference between hardcover sketchbooks and softcover sketchbooks. A hardcover sketchbook like this has an inbuilt support system for drawing. This can be really practical if you draw a lot outside so if you just want to hold it like this and make your drawings. For softcover sketchbooks like this, you could also use a support board of some kind. Well, if you work at home, it really doesn't make a difference at all. Then one word about watercolors. I show some of my demonstrations here with watercolor and depending on what kind of medium you like to use, you should make sure that the paper in your sketchbook can handle it. Some ready-made sketchbooks come with very thin paper that will only work well for dry medium. Last not least, you can also make your own sketchbook if you'd like to. It's not really that difficult if you have a little bit of time. I usually make all of my sketchbooks myself because I prefer to have the full control over what the size will be like and what paper I can use. 4. Single Elements pt1: Let's start by looking at different layout elements. These elements define how you fill your page and how you do this depends on the subject, of course, and on the effect you want to achieve. We'll look at that in a little bit more detail later. In a typical sketchbook, there will be drawings and different shapes and sizes, large and small ones, sometimes a central big one like in this drawing of a leaf, and sometimes several small drawings like in this example. You can also vary the size of the different drawings on your page. This will add visual interests. You can add color or leave your drawings in black and white. Using differently colored inks can also be nice to get variety, and you'll see this from time to time in my sketchbooks. For example, on this page I used differently colored ink for the Latin names of the species. Then there's text. You can have a title like here, emphasized with color, you could also use different text styles on your page. I often do this for Latin names. Again, you can add notes and text blocks, or you could have elements like arrows or lines pointing to the text. This makes it look a bit more like a diagram. You can add frames or boxes around our text. This is a great way to work out and layout after you've drawn the elements on your page and need a way to structure them. Another great element in a nature sketchbook are questions. Like in this case, I wasn't sure about the correct fungi species, so I added a question mark along with my observation so that I could check what I found at home. You can also add a list of species that you saw or write down their interactions. What you write down is really up to you. Then there's one category that can be called metadata. There are additions like date, time, location, temperature, measurements, or Latin names. On this page, I added the date and time for each small weather sketch and a note about my observations, and sometimes I wrote down when the sun went up and down. This metadata can turn a sketchbook into scientific data. If you write down when the first winter guests come to your garden each year or what the weather looks like at a certain time of the day, then you'll collect valuable insights and these are measurable. You can also include elements to your page that can further deepen your observation. You can learn more about your subject through using tools like noting behavior, drawing diagrams, exploring details, or observing over time. These are techniques that you will sometimes see in ID books or scientific illustration or in exhibitions, so basically in places where you communicate science through words and pictures. In these examples on the left you can see that I took notes next to my drawings to keep track of the behavior of the bird and I also noted some of the features. Together, the notes and the drawings help me to memorize the bird better. On the right there are different diagrams of bird wings and other anatomical structures, some with color-coding and some just in black and white. These diagrams are helpful to learn about the anatomy of animals and it's good to study and to know these details when you're drawing. At least they're very helpful for me. On the left page here, I focused on the details of a flower head and literary took it apart with my smaller drawings. This is another type of anatomical study and it can help you understand the subject in all of the small drawings and note, again, the difference in size of the single drawings that I made. All of the small drawings describe what's going on in the big drawing. On the right, you can see what a timeline could look like, so if you observe animals it can be interesting to look at their behavior over time and several sketches next to each other are centered around a static object like this tree in the sketch here can help with this. On the button right, there are more diagrams of a bird head. Then another great layout element are maps. They combine several of the other elements above like text and image, and of course, the map itself. All of this can give further insight and interest. Plus, maps are really, really fun to draw. You can add notes around them, small sketches or thoughts or diagrams, whatever you like. Your sketchbook can also be the place for more informal pages, like you could add what you think or what you felt, quotes or poems, or you can also add dialogue in texts or combined with pictures, like in this example. One of the most important elements in a sketchbook is white space. This is the area on the page that you leave free, so the space between the drawings and the text elements. White space is an integral part of any design and it is used to achieve visual balance on a page. It can give the page a strong focus and a rhythm or a flow. It creates sort breathing space on your page. White space can be described as the areas between different elements, but also the white areas between lines or text blocks. These are also important. If you have too little white space, your page will look very crowded, and if you have too much, it can look a bit empty. Here is another example for white space. All in all, there are many different elements you can make use of to add variety to your sketchbook pages and make them more interesting. You don't have to use every method I've shown here, but try out everything at least once to see what you like, and your sketchbook will come together in your rhythm and your own style over time. 5. Single Elements pt2: I want to show you a simple composition with one main layout element, drawing, and then a few notes around it. This will be a little bit like a diagram with the main elements centered on the page and the other elements around it. This is a great layout choice to fall back on in a lot of cases. I've drawn this European peacock butterfly, and now I want to add my observations. I'm using a different color of ink for the text part so that there's a little bit of variety on the page. I have drawn my peacock butterfly and just a little bit of background indicating the flower here. I think the first thing that I'm going to add is the title, because this is going to remind me what this species is called actually. I'm adding the German and the English name, and the Latin name as well. I'm using a slightly different text style here for the Latin name. One thing that I'm interested in is the size of this butterfly. These are pretty much easy to spot. They're very distinct looking with these large eye. I'm just going to add the things that are not in the drawing, so all of the color information and the textures. One thing you can do when you add these loose notes is for the placement. If you want to write the note first and then add the line to the corresponding body part of the animal. That's also fine, it's usually a little bit easier to do it that way. I'm also adding some information that can't be seen in the sketch. The ventral side, the outside of the butterfly, when it folds its wings, is dark gray. I believe this is for camouflage purposes, so I'm adding a note. At this stage, I'm not really worried about where my notes we'll go because I know I just want to arrange them around the central part of the image. I know I will add one note about the eyespots and then the other notes are not really attached to any body part, so I can move them around like I want and as I see them fitting into my layout. Let's add the part about the eyespots. These eyespots are the most striking feature of this butterfly. They are a mechanism against predators. They look like these large eyes and they will hopefully drive away birds and other predators. The rest of my notes can go in this area here below where there's still a little bit of place. I want to add a little bit of information about what this butterfly feeds on. The caterpillars can usually be found on nettles. I'm trying to keep my notes evenly distributed around the central drawing so that they will form a nice arrangement. I don't care too much about this background drawing of a flower here. It's just a pencil drawing, it's just indicated, so I don't mind writing on top of it. Another little note about the time when you can see these butterflies. Sometimes when they spend the winter in houses or in caves, then you can see them earlier in spring, so it's actually quite a common sight in spring, this type of butterfly here. That's basically it. To make the page a little bit more visually interesting, I will add just a tiny bit of color, so I don't need a lot of color on this. I think it looks fine the way it is, but I will just add little bit of water color on the line for my title. I like to do this to bring a little bit more interest and also to make it easier to spot what the page is about. This is one approach for really easy composition that you can't really fail with. You have one element in the middle and then the other elements spread evenly around it. One title, so this is sort easiest way to experiment with different layout elements. You could easily switch these text notes that are used here for more small sketches, maybe more detailed sketches of the scales or maybe of the ventral side of the butterfly or maybe even the caterpillar in one stage. There are lots of possibilities for this. What I want you to try out is to experiment with this composition and try out the different layout elements that we talked about in this lesson, and yeah, include them in this simple composition with one element in the middle and then the others arranged around it. 6. Using text pt1: We've already taken a look at the different ways you can include texts into your sketchbook pages, in the last lesson. A great way to structure texts is to use different types of handwriting or include hand lettering elements, and changing the size of your texts. In this first example, the text is a part of the illustration of the map. I took my time and used loose lettering for a few of the elements. Usually, I don't have as much time to do a nice detailed drawing like this. Most of the time my writing will look rather like this. Simple handwriting with a fountain pen, and a few changes in size and style here and there. This has proven the most practical method for me. One way to make different texts area stand apart is to switch the way the text looks similar to mockup in a text processor. Just changing your text's style and text size around four different elements like titles or descriptions, notes, and so on. You can change the color or size of your writing, making it bolder using block letters in combination with cursive, or you could add initials or colorful underlines. I typically don't have a lot of time for embellished lettering, but I will use slightly different letters for my standard nodes and for Latin names or for metadata. As you can see, I basically use my handwriting to take all of my notes. It can be very helpful to have two or three slightly different versions of your handwriting, like using uppercase block letters, or typewriter style. Overall, I like to make sure I can read what I wrote, and that I don't have to spend a lot of time on fancy lettering styles. You could also experiment with text blocks and make them flow around your drawings. I mostly right with my fountain pen since pencil will smear over time and it might become illegible. If I'm not sure about the text placement, then I sometimes add my writing in pencil first, or I allocate these empty text blocks. But I always try to make sure that I go over it again with something more legible and durable later. 7. Using text pt2: Let's take a look at how I use my handwriting and different writing styles for the text aspect in my sketchbook. As I said before, I usually just write in my handwriting this is the best way for me to take quick notes. For some areas, for some elements, I use this writing that I call typewriter handwriting. This does take a little bit more time so I only use it for shorter phrases or shorter words, or Latin names of species. Then for normal notes and text I use my handwriting. This is a more stylized with the sludge uppercase letters. Looks a little bit more calligraphic and can be nice in some places. You can also use block letters, uppercase letters for titles or for emphasis. Of course, you can add things like underlines or text decoration to bring out this part of the text even more. I'm showing some very simple, easy to do decoration styles here. As I said, I usually don't have a lot of time for fancy lettering. I'm happy with the basic styles that I can use when I don't have too much time. Of course you could also use cursive may be for questions or also for Latin names, or for descriptions. Just make sure that it's somehow readable. This is always the most important question for me. If you have a lot of time or want to spend your time with lettering then you could do these big initials. I'm usually too lazy to do this, but there are a lot of different and very cool looking lettering styles that you could try out. They will bring a lot of emphasis to your title. Of course adding color is always another great option to bring more variety to your handwriting and to your text areas. You can use any medium you like for adding color, of course. Because I know I've been getting questions about this, here is an alphabet written out with this typewriter handwriting style that I sometimes like to use. You could also just look up any typewriter or other font that you like and then see how you can translate it to a quick lettering or writing style. I try to keep the embellishments and the serifs of these little markings at the end of each letter to a minimum. I don't want to be kept too long with my lettering duties so I make sure I can write these rather quickly. I don't mind if the letters are a little bit wonky, for me that's just the appeal of hand lettering. What I'd like you to do after watching this is to experiment with your handwriting, and to see if you can get different styles out of your handwriting if it makes sense for you to incorporate something like this, what I'm demonstrating here and just have a little bit of fun with your handwriting and try out different styles. 8. Adding color pt1: Let's talk about using color in your composition. Color is a very powerful tool since it draws the eye immediately. You can add color in many different ways with colored pens, markers, ink, watercolor, color pencil, or whatever color medium you prefer. You can use color for its attention grabbing qualities and to add information on a piece. So in this example, I use the colored areas, the colored birds to lead the eyes through the page and I also edit information on the markings of the bird. By using color selectively and only adding it to some sketches or to a focal area on your page, you can shift the focus to these spots so people will always pay attention to these detailed or colored areas. Doing this in a sketchbook will not look unfinished. It will show the study character of a sketch and the brain will fill in the rest. Like for these leaves that are uncolored, we still know that they have the same color as the other leaves. You can leave a sketch partially colored when you have enough information or when you maybe run out of time. I often like to use color codes that are right next to my drawing, like up here and when I don't have watercolors with me so I can fill in the color later. Another version is to make a set of swatches when there's no opportunity to paint for a longer time. I record the colors and then I can fill in my drawings later. So you can also experiment with leaving parts of the image without color, of course. A page filled with pencil or black and white sketches doesn't need the full color treatment. Of course, you can still do it and color in every sketch on your page, but it still works this way and it gives a nice touch of color here and there, and it's really enough information. Here is an example for a colored background that connects different parts of the image. Of course, it brings out the white mushrooms a bit better. I sometimes like to use a combination of watercolor and ink, and you can also combine differently colored inks. This can be very effective. You can see I used a different ink color for the titles here, and then different ink and sometimes just pencil for the descriptions. Color can even be the subject itself. So you can collect color swatches and create a sense of a scene based on color alone. I find this really interesting because often you can tell the time of the day or the place or the season from these abstract color collections. Here is a page that draws attention to the main sketch through color. It still adds information and observation through the other drawings in the text. Here is another example for how color can lead your eyes around the page. 9. Adding color pt2: We've talked about color, and in this short demonstration, I want to show you how you can use color to bring attention to certain parts of your page and how you can lead the eye through color. I have a page of quick studies of a white wagtail here, and I want to add a bit of color information as well as structure the composition a bit. You can see it's really just a full page of study drawings, and I want the eye to be led around the picture a little bit. I'm thinking of having this circle that the eye can travel in led by the colored parts of the painting. For this purpose, for figuring this out and explaining my thought process a little bit better, I've done a thumbnail drawing of this page, and I thought about, this bird, I want to have him in color. For the white wagtail, it's really not much color, it's just this middle gray and the black and white. But still we're talking about color, about information that's something else than just this pencil drawing. I want this bird to stand out, and then judging from there, I thought, well, it would be nice to have the eye travel around the page in the circle, and then come back to this one and then slowly exploring all of the other drawings. I knew that going from here, I probably want this bird also to be in color. Incidentally, these are two of the largest and most detailed drawings of the wagtail that I have on this page. This is quite a small page and these are not really big drawings, but maybe I can add a little bit of color information also to this bird here. Let's just add it in very roughly with this colored pencils. What this will look like. The reason why I think that I can get away with adding a little bit more color information is because these birds are so sparsely colored. Their plumage is just in this very monochromatic pattern. I think I can get away with adding a bit more color information than I would usually do. On a page this size, I would usually color maybe one or two elements. Now, I think we have a nice flow, but there's something missing and the weight doesn't seem to be evenly distributed. I think I want to add this one as well. Maybe it will be enough to only have the head colors. For all of these, you have to imagine there's the build and the eye, so maybe I will stop here and not add in the full. Let's look at my sketch. I have almost all information about the bird that I need. I could color in the tail. I think I'll decide spontaneously what I will do. If I will add the dark tail feathers, but it sort balanced this way to me. The other sketches on the page will add more information. You can see I have even added a bit more than is here on the thumbnail. I will work with this, and I will switch from these colored pencils to water color, and I'll show you my palette. All I really need for this is one color and that's this black here, so this is Payne's gray, and then a little bit of a watered-down version of my Payne's gray. This is all I will really need for adding this color pop to these sketches. I have a very watery mix of my Payne's gray. I'm picking that up with my brush. Since I know I want to add color to these two birds at the very least, I can just add my gray to the back, and to the belly, and to the wing portion here. There's a little bit of a white crease here, and part of the wings are also white, so this's just supposed to be a very quick sketch, very loose. I don't want to fiddle around too much with this because it's more about the concept here than about the execution. I'm going to let this dry, and then I'll come back with the Payne's gray and add the rest of the color. While the gray on the back is drying, I'm going in with a slightly darker mix, slightly less watery mix, and I'm adding in the feed and the build of each one of the birds. Now that everything has dried, I can go in with my Payne's gray and add the darker part of the bird. I don't want to overwork this, so I want every brush stroke to count. Tail is dark and it has this white edge. Then we have the wings that also have a white edge. As you can see how just this little bit of contrast helps to pull the eye towards this drawing. When you sketch birds, don't just make everything round, really consider the shape of the head and of the rest of the body. It's not just two big oval shapes, they really have these edges that you have to pay attention to to render a really realistic bird sketch. One thing that's characteristic for wagtails is the really long tail proportion to the body. I've forgotten the tail of this one, so let me just add this. What I've done now on this page is, with the watercolor, I've added contrast to few of the sketches. These are the ones that will attract the viewer's eye. What I want the viewer to do is maybe start at this bird and then have him circle around the page and slowly take a look at all of the drawings and always come back to one of these, and then take a look at all of the others. This is what you can achieve with adding color selectively. You don't have to add color to all of these birds, you want variety on your page, you want a certain amount of detail, but not in every area. You want to have these focal areas where you have more detail or more color, and it doesn't matter what kind of technique you use. You could use colored pencils or ink or whatever you like. It's not about the technique. It's more about having a page with different stages of detail and different areas where you have maybe a very rough stage still with these pencil drawings and then something that has a bit more contrast and a bit more detail to it. That's what I want you to take away from this. You can see color, even if it isn't really color in a strict sense, because black is sometimes not considered a color, it's more like a value, but you can still see that this would work with any color. If this were a red bird, it would even work better. I want you to experiment with this. If you have a page of pencil sketches, then try adding color in a few selective spots or maybe take even just one sketch and bring it to a finished stage and add more color to it, add more detail to it. Create a focal area on your page. This can be achieved very well with color. 10. Arranging elements pt1: In this lesson, we'll look more closely at composition itself and at methods to arrange different elements on a page. There are different approaches to this. Some people like to plan ahead and draw a grid on the page to which they add single elements. You can also just start to add elements anywhere on your page and then try to pull them together in a layout afterwards. I usually like to do a hybrid of these two approaches, so I will typically start spontaneously and then add in more elements with some compositional rules in mind. So this doesn't always work perfectly, but I I it's practical approach and it serves me well in my sketchbook in most cases. Sometimes I also draw a thumbnail drawing before I add elements to my page. So you can see these two stages here. There's this quick thumbnail with some notes, and here on the right is the finished page. It can make a huge difference if you place an element on the left or on the right, if you draw it big or small. So it's worth thinking about how you arrange elements on your page before you start drawing. Combining both large and small elements on a page will make it visually interesting as well elements with or without color or with different level of detail. We've already talked about this. You want variety. You want rhythm. This is really important for an interesting composition. A sketchbook page works by having an inner balance and you decide where you place elements and every new element you place will change that balance. So composition is a really important factor in creating a good sketchbook page. If I take one element away, like this raven here at the top, then will the page still work, or would I have to remove something else to regain balance on my page like maybe this small plant here down at the bottom. So what I want you to take away from this lesson and we'll look at a lot of examples in a minute. But what I want you to take away from this is that you don't have to learn and memorize compositional rules that you simply apply to each new page because this will become boring after a while. You don't need to memorize grids if you don't want to. Instead, you should develop a feeling for good compositions and yes, the rule still play a role, but you don't have to play by them every time. Developing this feeling can be done by starting small with thumbnail sketches. These help you to explore your options. So illustrators start every piece they do like this. Before they take anything to a finish stage, they try out what works best, they work it through visually. Of course, in sketching, this rule doesn't have to be so strict. After all, sketchbooks are for experiments and you can do your layout experiments right there on the page. But sometimes, especially at the beginning, it's still helps to play everything through on a smaller stage before you take it to the finished version. So creating thumbnails will help you to develop a feel for the kind of solution that works best for your page and for the elements you have in mind. Making out and sketching is not a closed process, so you don't simply learn a few rules and apply them over and over, but it rather comes from creating and from doing, and you will more often than not only arrive at the best solution if you try things out, if you work them through. You can also learn a lot from looking at and maybe copying examples from other artists or from masters. Their solutions will show you how good compositions can be achieved. Let's take a look at the different methods that I like to use that can help you arranging elements in a composition. As I mentioned before, whitespace and focal areas are important to a good layout, so it's worth revisiting these concepts. You can create a focal point or a focal area on a sketch by adding more detail or color to it, so I will be drawn to these areas. Equally important, it's to think about whitespace when you're creating a page. So you want drawn elements and the space in between to be balanced out. I have a lot of elements on this page, but they are evenly distributed, so they feel balanced. I also have arranged the colored animals in a way that keeps the eyes moving in a circle. The language of design is interesting because it often borrows terms from other creative fields like music or dance, yet we instinctively understand what they're about. Your composition needs balance and rhythm, and these principles can be visualized and brought to paper, and they work in both mediums. So balance and rhythm go hand in hand with whitespace and focal point. You want to make sure that you place your elements in such a way on the page that they balance each other out. On this page, I have this large diagonal intersecting the page and two elements balancing it out on either side. So the dark dot on the top left is anchored by the larger sketch on the bottom right although the two elements are different. You can move around some of your elements so that the page will be balanced better and usually text areas are most flexible and great to use for this. You can also group elements by adding frames or borders to show they belong together and even create a sense of time through this and additional structure too. So this page looks like I planned it with clear layout and head, but I simply added these frames after drawing all of the single elements. You can also group smaller elements that would be less convincing as a sketch on its own. So for this placement, you could simply fill the page and a flexible grid. Texts often works as a flexible element to balance everything out. The line quality of your drawings can also shift the focus of a composition. So boat lines or fat strokes will draw the eye similarly to color, whereas a page of equally thin and fine lines will create a quiet, more evenly distributed page that will take time to look at. I didn't have a good example for line work only, so I chose an example that has line-work and color as well. Think about the border of the paper as a frame. So you can place objects very close to the edge and use the gutter area, the crease in the middle or even cut parts of your sketch away by placing them at the edge. This can create collage-like pages with overlapping elements. So I use the edge of the paper here as a natural border for my landscape sketch, and you can decide if you want to take this approach or if you want to center all your elements. Both methods are viable and both say different things about your sketch. So placing your drawings exactly in the middle on each page can make your sketchbook a bit boring, but it can also provide a calm and clear layout on each page. Often natural history illustrations, place one big specimen in the middle and then surrounded with smaller parts and details. So if you work with references or actual plants, you can plan ahead for these kind of compositions. I often like to place the plant itself in the middle and then arrange details or smaller parts around it to show more of the inner workings. The flowers here are placed quite far to the edge, but the title on the top left anchors everything. Then the format of your sketchbook also plays a role. You can create different compositions with a landscape-oriented sketchbook than you will in a square or portrait format. None of these is necessarily better than the other. It all depends on what you want, what you need and usually portrait formats are most flexible because you can use them in both ways, you can switch sides. I personally like these extreme landscape formats like here on the top, but I also love working with slightly larger portrait formats where you can design these large spreads. This crease in the middle doesn't really bother me because you can simply draw over it and sometimes you can place elements there too. So if it isn't the head or an eye of an animal that's exactly in the middle, it will usually work. When you're doing a lot of field sketching, then more often than not, you need to go with the flow. Whether you're just adding sketch after sketch or different subjects on your page, or if you're capturing animals and motion or over time, then often you need to decide very quickly how to start and where to add elements. I usually start on one side and most of the time on the left and then I simply add new elements in a way they seem to fit best. When I have gaps, these can be fixed later with text blocks or with additional notes or small sketches. I don't worry too much about planning ahead in these cases as the spontaneous capture of what is in front of me usually makes up for the less optimal layout decisions. So you can see in this spread, it's quite full and I've simply worked my way from left to right with this. When I applied color to the page, I decided to leave some sketches without color or unfinished to give this very full page, a little bit of whitespace, a little bit of breathing room back. When doing several sketches on a page of a moving subject like an animal over a longer period of time, I like to create what you can call small study sheets. So usually these should be much, much larger, but if I do them in my sketchbook, then I have to make the most of the space that's there. I usually start at one side and then try to sketch without stopping until I fill the entire page. You can go into detail or study different poses and the entirety of the page will give you an idea of that animal's character. Those loosely sketch pages don't need every drawing to be perfect. The approach works great with very loose gestural sketches and you will still learn a lot about your subject by working this way. Here are more examples for study sheets. This is a very loose timeline sketch, and here are some very detailed bird studies with selectively added color. 11. Arranging Elements pt2: Let's take a closer look at how I came up with this page, how I arranged the single elements on this sketchbook page. This does look pretty complex, but it's actually, I just made it up as I went, and I'm going to explain to you how I did it. I started my sketch with this Wild Aaron Plant. I wanted to show this triangular shape of the plant, and at the same time I knew I don't have to add color to every one of the leaves, so I decided to leave one of the leaves in pencil, and for me, this was a good way to place this pencil leaf over the crease. You can see that your right here in the middle you have the crease that marks the middle of the page and that it's sometimes a bit difficult to fill. I knew that by placing the leaf over this crease that I wouldn't have to worry about any watercolor running over and smearing or anything like that. After I had placed this leaf, I decided to add this silhouette of a red card, and I knew that I wanted to place another plant down here, and I thought I need something to fill this gap, and why not add a bird or an animal to this height of the page. The next thing I added is this small spring clamp, this dog's mercury as it's called. I wanted to add something that's characteristic for spring, and I also wanted to show these little blossoming parts here so this seemed like a really good combination. You can also see that the elements are all differently sized, they have different focal areas, so far, I felt quite happy with the stage that I was in and I felt that the left page was basically finished because I still had to add my notes and observations, so I added those and added a little bit more of a detailed sketch towards a very schematic detailed sketch, and then I knew I wanted to continue with one element that will cover the next part of this crease in the middle here. I added this great tit, and since I knew these birds very well and I don't have to draw them with a lot of detail so that I can ID them later, I just went in with a very loose sketch that I could place over this middle part of the page. Added a little bit of text to it, and then added the next bird silhouette which is a raven, and I felt this was a very nice contrast to the smallest silhouette here and to the other bird. Again, you can think about this and triangles. There are a great feature or a great help for arranging and trusting pages I find. A few notes for the raven, and then I knew I wanted to have an empty area here for a landscape sketch that I wanted to do, so I decided to add another flower on the bottom right with a few details here. I sketch the snowdrop, and then as a last step, I added this landscape sketch with elliptical vignette around. I first drew with pencil or with color pencil, this round shape, and then I fit in my watercolors. If you want to believe the sign that was placed next to this, then this is the middle of Germany, so whether that's geographical or in another sense, there you have the middle of Germany, quite a nice place actually. This is how I usually come up with my sketchbook pages, I don't really plan anything from the beginning but I don't go in all spontaneously, so I start with a loose plan in mind and then I go from there and I see how I can combine the elements in the best way or how I can progress in the best way to arrange all of these different elements and make them correspond with each other and still maintain enough whitespace so that they don't come too close to one another. One thing I forgot to show you is, of course, the title here. This is something that I usually add last and I like to do these underlines with watercolor it's always a good excuse to use more watercolor for me. Usually, I also add a date in one of the corners, and I don't seem to have done this before I scan this image. But this is how it works usually for me. I hope this is helpful as a process that can show you how you could arrange a page layout step-by-step. 12. Arranging Elements pt3 demo: In this demonstration, let's take a look at my sketching process, how I create variety on my page, and how I control the size of different objects spontaneously, and also different strategies like filling gaps with different elements, also on a spontaneous basis. This is the end result and now let's take a look at how I ended up here. I didn't plan this ahead. I just had this loosely in my head that I wanted to draw the first plant in a diagonal here. You can see, I'm already changing things, which I have just begun. I want the plant to overlap a little bit on the middle, and so I'm taking precautions. It's lying next to me on the left there. Why I've chosen this particular position for this element is, I wanted to lead it into the page from the top, there will probably be a title, and then I wanted with the diagonal to lead into the page to the other elements and I also don't want it to be too far in the middle because there need to be other elements. There's got to be place for other elements that I don't know yet and that I will figure out on the go so to speak. While I'm finishing this sketch in watercolor, let's talk about the gaps that I have around the plant. This is a great strategy for me because I can leave these gaps and then decide later where I want to put text and where I maybe need whitespace. This is a very flexible approach that works well with these spontaneous compositions, spontaneous layouts. Next, I'm thinking about what do I want to add to my page? I would like to have a little variety, so I'm thinking about a bird and I'm already sketching it in very loosely here in this light blue colored pencil. So this will help me to reserve the spot for the bird drawing and then I'm thinking about another motif, maybe like a smaller one, like an insect that can go on the left there, already reserving the spot and then I'm reserving a text block. You can see I'm making these lines to indicate that I want a text block there. The first thing that I'm indeed drawing are these two bugs that are mating, these two firebugs. I know I won't run out of space or overlap any plant or any future subject that I want to draw because I've allotted the space that I will use up. Even if I find out that I need more or less space, I could easily just fade out the sketch that I'm doing right now. Or I could even redraw it at this point in a smaller size. So don't be afraid to erase things and then try them again if you find that you really want this one position for the sketch, but it's too big. So either fade something out, don't add color, and don't add detail to everything. You can easily leave things unfinished in your sketchbook. Now, I'm in the stage where I'm adding all of these little dots and details for the firebugs. I'm on the safe side with this subject and I can already think about the additional elements that I want to place there. So maybe the Latin name, a little bit of description maybe or a little bit of behavior. I'm doing this in pencil for now because I don't know yet where all my other elements will go. So that's another possibility that you have. You can lock in things with pencil and then change them around later before you give them a more definite place. Now I've already started on my blackbird with my light-colored pencil. I'm fleshing the sketch out. I already knew where it would go, how much place it would roughly take. I was already sure about the size and now I can work on the basic shapes and the details and bring things to a more definite position with my pencil. Another method for planning ahead an entire composition, entire layout of a page, and this especially works well if you already have references that you simply want to draw and don't have to decide spontaneously, is to do thumbnails. I know I repeat myself when I say that, but it's really great to play through different scenarios and look at how you can use the page in different ways and achieve different layouts. So I've added a bit of text for the bird and for the firebugs. I see I still have a gap there that I could fill and I've decided to add another variety of head tilt for the blackbird. These spontaneous mini sketches can go everywhere where you still have a little bit of place to fill. You don't have to draw finished subjects all of the time. You can just fade out your motif if you notice that you're running out of place. I'm planning the right side of the page now and you can see I'm back to my colored pencil and I'm assigning spaces. So now I want to add this flower because I want another plant on my page and then maybe a landscape and then a smaller object in the middle left there. I'm just adding these really light ellipsis so that I know I have to stay within that space and so that elements don't overlap each other. One word about creating variety on your page. You could approach this by thinking about what you want to include on the page before you start. You can also do this while you're outside looking for subjects, looking actively for different subjects. You don't have to force this. Maybe if you have a plant, then look for an insect or four a bird. Or look if you can see an interesting landscape. So you can switch around the different subjects and then include maybe one or two per page and then just switch your focus. Another method could be to look for variety in one single subject. Like maybe for a plant, you could also add the underside or the parts of a plant. For this sketch of a bumblebee, I will add a side version as a variety of the same bumblebee. So there are lots of ways to draw different things or draw different aspects of things without resorting to the same view each time. Another live subject here that I can simply transfer to the page. You can see I'm starting quite far at the top and I'm erasing my wrong start again because I find if things are too close to the edge, then they always look a bit cramped. I didn't plan in enough room at the edges of the page. So it's always nice to have a little bit of whitespace around the edges. Again, at the start, I'm drawing really lightly before I commit to my lines so that I can figure out how I want this particular subject to look. In this case, it's easy because I can just put the flower over my paper and see that it will match the space that I have assigned it. So it's not really that difficult. But if you have a subject that you can only measure or that you can only see in a distance, then it's a good idea to start lightly and then later commit with stronger bolder lines. Then of course there's color. So you could also do an entire page layout in pencil, and then add color in the places where you think it will give a good place of interest and where the colors and the subjects won't stand too close together so that they don't look cramped. My last bigger element on the page here will be a landscape. I've already drawn the ellipse as a placeholder and I like this vignetted look that landscapes get when you put them into an ellipse. Again, I'm using a light-colored pencil first and then regular pencil. You could do all this with a regular pencil from the start, but I like how the color pencil disappears when I add watercolor on top of it. For this landscape sketch, I wanted to reflect the rest of the page, so I don't want the color of this particular sketch to be too overpowering. All of the other elements have quite soft colors and are really spring-like and soft like I said. I'm really using a lot of water here, so I don't want this sketch to stand out too much. Especially because I have another sketch on the page, the blackbird, that is in pencil only, so I want to keep certain balance on this entire page. But I also know I can change the entire look and feel of the page by adding text in ink in a minute and that's what I'm going to do. I'm taking a good look around. I know I want to add a title. I'm starting at the top and I'm adding my title and then the first thing that I fill in are the names of the species that I've sketched. I'm using two different fountain pens here, one with a dark blue and then another one with a sepia tone. This will also bring a little bit more variety to my text elements there. Another great thing that I can do now is because I've written down everything just in pencil, I can change around the position of the text if I think I need to. In fact, the text that I added to this blackbird head on the left side I want to move it around so that it will stand more in the middle. So I simply erase it and put it somewhere else and this is nice if you've planned ahead and just written your text down in pencil. This is the finished page. I hope this demonstration with commentary has given you a good insight at how I plan my pages without really planning ahead. How I achieve variety with different elements, different sizes. How I make sure that I don't run out of space, and how I can fill gaps by moving around elements that don't have to be fixed on the page. So for this lesson, and I know it was a really long lesson with a lot of individual concepts that I threw at you, I just want you to experiment with all of the things that we talked about and try out for yourself what makes sense to you, what you can use in your own sketchbook work, and what feels most natural to include into your own compositions. 13. Single Image Composition pt1: Let's take a look at how you can use compositional rules within a single picture. Sometimes you will want to sketch a single, bigger element and need to decide how to compose it. This can be a sketch among other elements like the small landscape sketch on the left, or it could be several landscapes sketches that are in itself organized and balanced out. For composing a single picture, you can use the same concepts that we already learned about in the last lesson. However, there are more specific considerations for organizing, let's say a landscape sketch. I'm using landscapes sketches here as an example because they fit in very well with the topic of the rest of the sketches that I've shown you. You can of course use the same concepts for urban sketching or for portraits or for any theme and topic that you like. You can also use these concepts to add balance and structure to the rest of your sketches on the page. Composing a scene might not seem easy, but with some of these tools at hand you will hopefully get a good grasp of how to approach it. A good method can be to use a viewfinder and see what elements you want to include in your composition. You could use your fingers or your phone camera or an empty frame of some kind that's made of paper, or of cardboard. You can also use an empty film slide, if people still know what a film slide is, yeah, whatever works best for you. All of this is just a technique to translate a 3D environment into a 2D surface, this is supposed to help you do this transition. Again, there are thumbnails. Quick thumbnail sketches can be helpful to make compositional decisions. Often our sketches are better if we find an underlying structure, or not often but all of the time. If you find the structure and can group the scene then we have a framework and the best way to find this framework is to think it through in a thumbnail. Essentially you want to simplify the scene so that you won't be overwhelmed by the insane amount of detail that nature offers us in each square centimeter. Reality is just too detailed to be depicted in a sketch. There's no way you can translate this to the page so you need to translate it to big shapes and to a simple statement, the essence of a scene. Our brain is wired to notice details so getting rid of the details will take a while to get used to. For this, squinting your eyes can help, or looking at the scene through a color filter like I have in this film slide here. Or through your phone in black and white mode, this also very effective to see various scales. Think of the layout elements we talked about in the last lesson, balance, whites-pace, grouping, variety. All of the same concepts apply here. When you're starting to sketch a scene or in the thumbnail phase, it's helpful to eliminate most of the details. You should notice the relationships, the big shapes, and see how the different values so the different tones of gray can fit into your sketch. If you work this out clearly at the start, then you will get a better composition. I work with very small sketches and very few values for my thumbnails here. If you practice seeing values and big shapes instead of the details first, this will really show in your compositions. Here are more quick sketches to work out compositions and this time they're in color. These are not great sketches by any means but they help me work through the visual problems in a scene, and they tell me what I have to pay attention to if I want to transport this scene to a bigger sketch. Let's look at some landscapes scenes now. For landscapes it's often helpful to place things a bit off center, vertically and horizontally, so this makes your composition more dynamic. I don't have the horizon lines straight in the center, I place it a little bit above the center. I also have these points of interests, these are the power lines and the bush there, not in the center there, off to the right. When you're doing this then consider the visual balance, so every element in your painting is balanced against gravity and balanced against all of the other elements. The power lines and the bush are balanced against these trees here on the left. Here's another example for visual balance. We have a group of trees and if I look at these larger trees here, then I have one that's slightly off center to the left and another one that's to the left, so these can be grouped together. Then we have one tree offsetting the two others, balancing them out on the right. This is not symmetrical, this is asymmetric and this means my composition can still be dynamic. You can see I also tried to sketch the trees in different directions and in different sizes so that they don't look too much like the same tree. They don't align in the same places and they have different directions. The best thing is to avoid uniformity wherever possible. Another method is to invite the viewer into the composition. Often roads or S curved shapes can lead the eye into the picture plane and this can be highly effective. This could be a road or a trail or a cloud or a river, like this small stream here on the right. Overall for landscapes sketches, it's a good idea to use these curved dynamic lines instead of straight lines. Curved lines are often more pleasing in a composition. You can see this road here on the right is almost a little bit too straight but it still works, it still has this slight curve here. But look at how pleasing this stream leads your eye through the picture. You can also sketch in arrow shaped elements like clumps of grass, like here on the left, or rocks or other elements that point into the picture plane. On the right you can see these fence posts that lead your eyes straight into the picture plane and then you can explore the rest of the image there. Here we have another S curve that leads from the fence to the group of houses. Of course, this principle with the S curve won't fit every subject and it's best to stay true to the nature of what you're sketching. But if you can locate such an S curve and use it to your advantage, then give it a try. Then there are times when it can be really effective to put your subject into the center, like for botanical drawings but also for landscapes. Sometimes, you just want to be slightly off-center, even far off to one side. I've shown two examples for this here. You could also think about this when you're depicting animals. When an animal is crossing through a landscape, this can work particularly well as it shows movement. Then there are cases when you've placed all of your main elements near the sides. The sketch will simply fall apart if you place everything at the left and the right edge, then you don't have anything to pull the scene together. You will definitely need something to fill in the middle width. I've chosen this example on the right to show you how I would modify the scene afterwards. I've painted this fence here in the foreground and looking back at this, I really wish I had taken this fence post on the right and put it on the left. Because then I would have a nice balanced anchor on the left for these trees in the background. Now it looks like the interesting elements are all on the right and there's nothing on the left to balance that out. The houses for another time. Another concept is to pick a focal area and make your sketch about that. So if you add less detail and contrast to the other parts of the sketch, you can really emphasize one area. Even in this very rough sketch I have left the trees in the background in low contrast and with little detail, because I want the sketch to be about these houses. If you give emphasis to one idea, then don't fill in your sketch everywhere with detail. If you emphasize everything you will basically emphasize nothing. When you want to include several small landscapes on your page, you can take aspects of each scene and sketch a detail. This works particularly well for reference images or for views that don't work on their own that well. So by arranging the sketches in relation to each other you get a composition in a composition. You should make sure that the single composition, the single sketch is composed well and you also want to make sure that all of the sketches play nice together. Of course, there are many more aspects to landscape sketching that we've only touched very briefly here, like having a clear value structure and working with contrast and with color. But with these starting points you can get quite far. 14. Single Image Composition pt2: Let's talk about the aspects of composing a single picture with several elements in it. I will use landscape sketching as an example, but you can of course, adapt this to any other kind of sketch, whether it's urban sketching or portraiture or whatever you like to do. I've briefly talked about these thumbnails before and why I find them so useful to work out my composition and decide on where to place the single elements because as you might not know, it's okay to change things in your sketch, you don't have to stick to what you see exactly. It will always be helpful to have a reference or to have a landscape in front of you. But you can change a lot of things that can make your composition better. Let's say I have a hypothetical landscape here. I'm just going to demonstrate this with these small thumbnails. Let's say I have a hypothetical landscape and what you see, or what you start with is this. You have a hill in the background and then maybe a road coming to the front and in the front, maybe a bush or a tree. I've talked about how having S curves is great for the picture. But somehow this doesn't look so great at all, there are several things that don't work in this thumbnail, in this composition. First off, the horizon line is too close to the center, it's almost cutting the picture in half. What you want to have is either something like this or like this. You always want to think in thirds. There are of course exceptions. All of these rules that I present will have exceptions and it's totally fine to break the rules once you've worked out ways how you can do this and get away with it. One thing that I will do for my next thumbnail of the same scene is I will place the horizon line just slightly off-center, so it looks a little bit more dynamic. Then what I will also do because we have this hill here, these mountains that's placed right at the center. I don't want that, so I will try and make the hills look more like this, off to the right. Then we have our S curve here, our road and also this tree, it's also almost in the center, and let's just place it here for now. That's much better. It looks a little bit more dynamic. One thing though, that's not that great is how these two lines here meet. These are tangents that I don't want. They create tension and they create places where the eye will focus on and they read as a single element and I don't want that. I want the tree to stand alone, and I want the background to stand alone. Also these two elements are aligned. I have the highest point of the hill here, and then I have the tree in exactly the same place and I don't think that's a good solution. Again, we'll draw our hills and you can already use a slightly softer value here for the hills because they're in the background. Then we have our curve here coming in. Now let me think, maybe I'll move the tree to the foreground here and make it a little bit smaller. Maybe I'll even move it here because we want to have a balance in this picture. We want this area where the hills are tallest and where the curve is coming around to be balanced out by this tree and so this is a nice dynamic that I like. You come into the picture with the tree, maybe have a little bit of grass pointing into the right area. This is much, much better, this is a much better composition. Then you can of course start and add more details to it as you see fit. Maybe have a little bit of bushes here to accentuate the curve and a few pieces of grass in the foreground. This is a much better composition than this. I hope that you can see this from this hypothetical landscape that I just made up. Now that I've talked about these more standard classical compositional rules, it's time to show you how you can bend them a little bit if you feel comfortable. I would definitely suggest that you practice seeing these well composed scenes first and try to sketch them and when you think you need something a little bit new or something a little bit unusual, then you can try out these different compositions. Let's see. I'm always interested in unusual ways to see a scene or to see a composition. Let's imagine we have something like this. This is based on a photograph that I took in the forest. Maybe we have a road coming down here and it's not really an S curve, it's more like coming towards the viewer. Then we have a lot of grass on this side and then some trees in the back here have more grass and the trees, of course, receding in the back so they're not all the same size. They're getting smaller and lighter. Then we have these shadows here that are falling on the road. I should have aligned them. Well, in a thumbnail, sometimes things don't work out like they should in reality. What we have here is a very unusual composition. It's not really classical by any means. You don't have this S curve, you don't have these well proportioned. This rule of thirds doesn't really apply here. Although I would say you have the horizon line and it's not in the center, its slightly above the center, and we have this road that's not really curve, but it's still coming at an angle and also the shadows. If I would have to say what this painting or what this sketch, is to be about, then I would say, well, it's probably about the light falling through the trees and onto the road. So it's really about these shadows here, not about any of this other stuff. This will just help to keep the eye busy and lead the eye into the picture, and then take a good look around. I would imagine that a viewer comes into the picture like this, sees the shadows and the road first, and maybe there are more shadows back here, and then comes around to the dark trees because the trees, they really have to stand out from the background, and so this will keep the viewer in motion, and in a circle, and we've talked about forming these circles before. Let's figure out another scene that's not as easy from a compositional view. This is a field with a few houses and some forest in the background. We have the forest and the sky here, and then here here where the forest ends, and we have some more trees in the foreground, and this is the area where the field plays a role, and then we have little houses here, and another house here. This really looks a little bit too static. It has these bands going through the composition, and this is typically something that's not too desirable. What I really need to do here is emphasize the foreground and the background. I have a hill in the foreground, and then something that's farther away, and I can do this by having this a little bit darker, so this has a darker value and it shows that it's in the foreground. Then what I want to add in is another layer of trees here, that shows that there are these distances, and that there are these different layers of objects. You can see that there's something receding into the distance, even though it looks rather flat in the first attempt that I did. Then I have these fields here in the foreground, and right now they look like this, just like a big blob of nothingness, and so I want to structure this a little bit. I want to give it a little bit of a direction, and you will see there's another S curve here, and then maybe have a little bit of grassy structure in the foreground. This can be another thing that leads the eye into the picture, and that keeps the eye interested in what there's to see. This is much better than what we started with, I think. Then let's do one more of this. It's also based on a painting that I already did earlier. What we have here is a hill that's going up slightly like this, and there are few trees in the foreground, and then we have these large trees with these interesting tree trunks that are placed all around the scene. We have something like this, and then varying parts of foliage that you can see, and sometimes the foliage is lighter and sometimes it's darker, so there are these holes in the leaf canopy. What I found interesting or what I found most interesting about the scene, was how the trees were arranged. I really want them to stand out. In reality, they were really light, so I painted them light on top of the rest, but in this quick sketch, I will just leave them dark. So we have these trees, then we have the background, and a few bushes in the foreground. With this kind of arrangement, you could easily get a very monotone picture. So you have to really pay attention where you place the trees, where you clump them together, so that they have an interesting dynamic. You don't want to end up with something like this. Because this is just not an interesting composition, it might be what you see, but it's just not that interesting. You want variety, you want things grouped together so that they can anchor each other in the scene. I have these large bushes here in the foreground, on the bottom right, and I also have this area where a sky shines through where there's a large white or gray spot, and so this sort of balancing things off. Then I have the tree trunks here in the groups, and they form these groups and sort balance things out. This is what you want to think about when you make your thumbnails. Sometimes you can switch around things and change reality to fit into your picture a little bit better. What I want you to try is experiment with this thumbnail technique. If you have seen that you like them, do a few thumbnails with a few different compositional angles like you saw me doing here in the beginning. Just try cranking out these thumbnails. They are really helpful, I find, and overtime you will get a grasp of what works in a scene and what doesn't. Keep in mind all of the rules that we talked about: variety, change of the size, change of the values of things. Keep it dynamic, but keep it also balanced. This would be my suggestion. Do these small thumbnails first to see what works and then take the result into a bigger sketch. 15. Your Project + Final Thoughts: I love to see your sketchbook compositions and layout sketches. Please create a project with one of the techniques or ideas that I've shown in the class or several, if you like. Then upload your work to the project gallery to share your results with the other students and with me. Please let me encourage you to also post your experiments or your thumbnail sketches because we can learn a lot from these. I hope you've enjoyed this class about sketchbook composition. I hope you can include some of what you've learned into your layouts, into your compositions to create better sketchbook pages. If you want to be notified about more classes like this, then follow me here on Skillshare. I'd also be happy if you left a positive review for the class because your feedback means really a lot to me. Thank you very much. I hope this was a useful class for you. I'll see you very soon. Bye.