How To Create Amazing Compositions Using Basic Design Principles | ROBERT JOYNER LLC | Skillshare

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How To Create Amazing Compositions Using Basic Design Principles

teacher avatar ROBERT JOYNER LLC, Make Art Fun

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

6 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. How To Use The Platform

    • 3. Design, Enhance & Focal Point

    • 4. In The Shadows

    • 5. Crop And Go

    • 6. Perspective & Cropping

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About This Class


Turn your photo archive into a goldmine of masterpieces. In this class I will share how to paint awesome artwork using them by simply employing some basic composition and design principles. Why not take advantage of these tips that will have you digging through your photos in search of your next masterpiece.

Who is this class for?

Anyone that would like to learn some basic design and composition principles and turn their photo library into a goldmine. 

What do you need?

Notepad and an hour of time to check out the vids.

How should I use these lessons?

It's recommended that you watch the videos the first time uninterrupted. Then watch them the second time and take notes. This way you get the full scope of the lessons and have time to digest what's important. 


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Make Art Fun


Hi there, I'm Robert Joyner and thanks for visiting my profile. As of February 2023 I no longer spend time on Skillshare. My focus is building my own website by offering Live Monthly Workshops which includes challenges and student critiques.

I've been asked many times if my courses will remain here on Skillshare and if I will post new classes moving forward. And the answer is I will slowly remove all classes over the next 10 months and have no plans for posting new classes.

I wish you the best and hope to connect with you elsewhere.

Thanks for all the support throughout the years, I truly appreciate it.

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1. Introduction: Did you know your photo archive is a gold mine of potential masterpieces in this class Always share some secrets on how I turn my amateur photography and toe awesome artwork. To do this, I'll employ some simple design principles with a twist of good ole imagination. Included are four examples on how I use the rule of thirds focal points and color to create top positions that worked these informative and concise lessons. Get right to the point so you two can revisit your archive and start turning old for gotten photos into winners. If you're Raby, brush up on some basic design and composition skills. I'm ready to share them with you. Let's get started. 2. How To Use The Platform: In this video, I just wanted to go over the Skillshare platform. I know some of you know how to use it, but I know there are many others that simply don't understand how to create a project. How to add more photos, text, and things like that. What I will do now is pull up one of my classes on Skillshare. This may not be the class you are learning, but it does have everything we need to cover what I wanted to share with you in this video. This is my watercolor workout basics and beyond class. And you've got the main video here. Obviously. If you wanted to make that video bigger, you can click that and the top right hand corner, and that will enlarge the video if you want to reduce that size again, come up here to the top right-hand corner, click it. And that's going to bring up your navigation menu on the right-hand side. Now if I hover over the video with my mouse down here on the lower left, you have play speed. For some reason you wanted to slow things down or speed things up. You can always change the speed. Keep in mind if you do change, it just makes sure you go back and set it to normal if you want to, in fact, see at a normal speed, you can also rewind things 15 seconds. If you're watching something you wanted to see what happened within 15 seconds together, you can click that and then I'll take you back. And now 1515 second increments. You can click it three or four times and go back 45 seconds a minute, whatever you want to do. If you want to make a note of the video, you can click this little pen That's going to bring up your note. And that's a good way to remind yourself if something interesting happen there. And you just wanted to sort of jot something down that sort of clicked in your mind. This is your volume. So if it's CBC, this slash like I have now lets you need to unmute it so you're not going to be able to see the sound. If I click that now, I can now hear the video if it were playing, this would be subtitles. So if you wanted to have a subtitle and the various languages here, you can do that. You may not like having subtitles. You can put subtitles off on the top of that. So if you don't want to see them, That's how you get rid of them. Again, we can go full screen with that feature in the lower right-hand corner. So if you wanted to see this and this largest possible resolution, that is going to be the option to do it. Okay, So again, that's that one. So that tells you a little bit about how to navigate some of the options on the video. Over here on the right. So long as you're in this mode, we can scroll down and see the different videos. All videos that you have watched all the way through should have a checkmark. If you want to again, get rid of that, you use this button in the top right-hand corner, you can get rid of it. And then here we see it. Now down here, we have some tabs. We have the About tab. So that's going to be the class description that I added. I will often add other classes that you may be interested in. So throughout the course, I may say if you want to learn more about how to plan watercolor art, be shorter, checkout the link in the class description, and that's gonna be right here in the About tab. So if we scroll down, we can see all of these are links to different classes I have. So that's a little bit about the about page. Reviews are where you can see how awesome reviews that the students left on the class. Here, our discussions, discussions are very important because that's how I'm going to notify you about each new lesson of when they're available. You will see, if you scroll down, you'll see discussions, you'll see where there's some different things going on. This is important too. So if you have questions about the class or a lesson you watched, then you can use this discussions to get in touch with me and I'll try to respond to you as soon as possible. You can also share links and the discussions too. So if you have something you want to show me, you can always link it up and I'll be able to see it. Here. You see I can start a conversation, I can ask a question up and share project and so on. Speaking up projects, if I go right here, this tells you a little bit about the project. So here you'll see each lesson has a project well almost, but the point is to get involved and started doing the demos and projects shared in this class. And here you can scroll down and see all the students that are posting projects that there's one do you want to explore? You can click on that and just see what an awesome job the students are doing, getting these different projects and things done. Of course, you can comment on these two. So over here on the right-hand side, you can click on that. You can share a little feedbacks and encouragement, whatever you want to do. If you look at my project right here, you're going to see that I've got a detailed breakdown of all my lessons here. So each time I post new lessons in a class or a demo, I always break it down and give you a really good description of what's going on. Now you may want to create a project. Now, since I already have one, are you going to see that I don't have the option to make another one. But here is a class that I don't have a project. You will see this green button on the right-hand side. To create a project, all you have to do is click on that. And that's going to bring up your project option. Now the first thing you'll see is a cover image. If you want to add a cover image, just click on that and then navigate to your image. So I'll just select one here. So I'll select this one. And then that's going to upload the image. Once it's uploaded. I have the option here on this slider right there to enlarge it and then sort of move it around, however I want that to be seen. And once it's done, click Submit. Again, this is just the cover image. You can go ahead and add a title and I'll say, awesome class by Robert. If I can spell that right, that would certainly help. Description. Hey, took a three-week class and here's what I did. Now if I hit Enter, That's going to bring the cursor down here below. And then I can add an image. You see down here, you can see, you can have three options to add more content. So if I click on image, I can add another image, so I can click on that and then you have to give it a second. And then that's going to upload the image. Now I can click Enter and you see I can write more content. I'm like, This is my cool fish painting. Now, if I wanted to add a video or link and maybe you're like, Hey, did you happen to see this picture, whatever. You can double-click on a word and then you have a link option here, and you can paste the link in there. Just make sure you hit the Check button to make it active. And now I can hit enter again and then add more images. That's how you can make your project. If you don't want anyone to see your project, you can click this button here to make it private. But once you're done, very, very important, scroll back to the top and hit Publish. And as soon as you publish your project, that's going to be visible for everyone to see. So that's publishing right now. I'm just going to give it a moment, alright, and then there it is, right there. So I just added my projects. So let's say you want to edit your project, you click on that again. And now you come up here to the top right-hand corner. You can click Edit, and now you can scroll down. Make sure you put the cursor where you want it. So if I want the next image or the next video or whatever to be below the fish. I can come down here and click on the end of the sentence, hit Enter. And now again, pull in my images or wherever it is that I want to do. Again, make sure you hit published when you're done. And then that's going to save it. You just have to be patient and let Skill Share save it. Another thing you may want to do is share your project on social media. So you have this Copy Project link. You can copy that and share that wherever you wish. Over here on the right-hand side, you can hard thing. So if someone did a project that you really like, you can give it a heart. You can share a comment and say, those fish are amazing, and then hit posts and that's going to share your comments with whoever it is you're talking about. So again, just good stuff to know. And I think if you learn how to use the projects is very useful. And teachers can often see them and hopefully they do and they can give you some feedback on what you're doing. The last thing I want to share with you is right here under the again, we've got about reviews, discussions, and then project and resources. These resources are downloadable. If the class has images, resource images, whatever the case may be, you can click on the link and that's going to download it to your device. So I hope this video helps you out and that you understand a little bit more about how to navigate the Skillshare platform. And then of course, the courses that are taught there. 3. Design, Enhance & Focal Point: okay, in this example, I have a pretty decent image to work with. It's got lighten shadows, got some interesting buildings. But if you just look at the basic structure, So if you just looked at the rule of thirds, let's say, you know, and this area right here will be a nice little place to put a focal point. So I mean, decent structure there to work with. And I like the way the the ability has come down. It's got some good perspective and they got nice tree line. Of course, this whole side Nissan work and I'll show you that kind of the composition I came up with. Based on that image, I didn't change much with the buildings. You can see it just came down in here. We had the two vehicles right here. Added a little awning there just for interest. Now, on the right hand side, I felt like I needed some help. I have a couple of vehicles here, one going on, then one. Sorry about that one coming at us, and then right there around the scent that that third quadrant right there put some figures walking and enhance this tree right here and that will kill. Keep the I in the image. So I get back to the photography here, and they turned that layer off you'll see again. But I had to work with, um So if you notice the shadow creeping across the street right here, I took another shadow in the foreground and worked off with that and then added the the vehicle. So again, this look at that composition one more time. And we're not bad that I can definitely work with that. And so now, just basically tweaking a decent image. It wasn't horrible and adding those few elements I want to now show you the painting that I was able to do from that image. So again the buildings, everything stayed about the same. These are the two cars, one going and then this one is really important because it's staged and situated further back. So this one's a little closer to you, which takes you in. But this one kind of pulls you back in because it was coming the opposite way and it's staggered a little bit. And they had this feeling of a tree right here, which pushes your eye back into of the image again. You get the little figures right here, situated about in that third quadrant so that as a little bit of a center of interest, What other thing I wanted to show you is in the image. These trees are very dark. Me have some darks here in the left hand corner with the awning. But I mean, these the trees back here are really too dark. If I would have made my background that dark in value, then it would have come forward. So I turned that back home. When you notice how I use this, uh, violets to basically indicate some sort of background back there and now uses dark tree to kind of give it mawr depth. It's that little bit of color back there with the violet. Gives it a sense of background. It makes the foreground this area really pop. So again, we'll look at the photograph and then we'll come back to this and hopefully you can see how that works. But I don't know. This is a good example of how you can take my decent image, adjust the composition at a few elements. You can see the shadow in the foreground, the cars, the trees. Little figure couple figures there to add some interest, and that's about it. But you can create decent art from those those images. You just have to use a little bit of imagination, a little bit of your composition skills, and then you put all the pieces together and a lot you get yourself a decent little painting. 4. In The Shadows: Okay, This is an image from Richmond, Virginia, and carry town. It's a terrible photograph is not really much there in terms of quality, but as I was looking at this, I really like the awning. I like the stripes, but this right here with car and maybe the tree, there are some potential there. My first, a notion was to crop it. So I'll just do a quick crop here to show you what I have in mind. Kind of roughly in there somewhere, maybe a little bit bigger. And I thought, Well, if you look at the lines when this is divided, the building is roughly 2/3. So the building comes over bumps close to this line. They had the awnings situated and kind of breaks there on that line. Get the car in the lower left hand quadrant. We had this tree over here that kind of keeps the I in the in the picture, but not much of a focal point. But sometimes we can do things, and artists take some liberties to create a focal point and want to talk about that in this next little face. So there's my crop. That's what I went with. And now let's look at the next section here again. We're looking at the cropped image on the things I wanted to do was lead add something a little more interesting in this foreground area. Across walk is good. A simple white lines that kind of pull your in, get the car, the awning and then over here I still need to figure out something to do. But in terms of just a basic composition, that's kind of where I was at. And really the only thing I tweet was adding that crosswalk. Now getting back to the image, I want to point out that there is some good light and shadow, but there are also a lot of potential problems where amateur artists will kind of blow it. And basically we look at the light on the right hand side then, because it's Ah, square or cube shaped Here, you have a lot of shadow over here, but in the shadow you had this white area, so you have the white trim on the windows, the sash and all the stuff, the trim on the building here and a lot of artists will try to accentuate and put too many details and shadow. So in terms of design, I think that's a bad choice because the focus should be here in the lights. You want to create this light area and whatever is in shadow. You want to keep the contrast and the change in values very, very subtle. So we kind of keep them a little on the darker side because it is in shadow and whatever features like the white here of the windows and things like that, you want to tone it down. So now let's just go ahead. Look at the painting I did off of this and you'll see exactly what I mean. So I pushed all this to the blues and violets a little bit of tan there, but it's not intense, like over here in the light, but the windows air stated. I mean, they're loose, but that's just my style. But this area here is part of it, has interest in the painting, but because the contrast and there's not a lot of white here doesn't stick out, and it really pulls your eye into what's going on over here. All right, so here is a look at how that would appear had I put intense values in that shadow area. You see how distracting it is and it competes with where the light is coming in to the focal point area. It just doesn't work. And now getting back to my focal point and really the the crosswalk. So you're This kind of pulls you in, got a little bit of interest over here, but sometimes you can use color as a focal point. That's kind of what I did here. I could have put figures walking across the street because they've been perfectly plays. The painting is so loose, and it's so much fun at this point, just having a color. The yellow with the Reds here is all the focal point you need now. Abstract artists do this all the time, so they use color and the head of color as kind of the focal point. And even though this is a representational painting, I could still do the same thing. So instead of putting a strong center of interest or something interesting happened happening, I just use color that the blue, the yellow and these breads, I mean, all of this makes a really nice little juicy pop of color. And that's all you need. So it kind of puts the focus right here. Notice here to you with car. I made that white so I could accentuate the brake lights. So if we get back to the image here, you see, that's kind of a dark car. But I wanted just add a little pop here, kind of. I don't want too much contrast in there. And then I put some of the darkest darks right here on the tree. Would I guess it would be in shadow? You know, everything else falls in place, get the sun on the building, and that's pretty much it. And the inning is there. And that's what called my I really was that red awning, the white lines on it, stripes. And of course, I have a lot of fun with it, so my style really came out. My personality came out in the piece, but that's how you can take an image. And let's get back to that, you know, is very ordinary. It's not really much happening there. It's typical amateur photography. It's pretty much all the kind of photography I take, but when I have images like this? No. And I want you to know that you can't take him back in your studio cropping down, find something, toyed with the composition a little bit. You add some elements and features that you think would enhance it, and you'll end up with paintings that are good. They have good composition and good design elements. So again, avoid heavy contrast and shadow areas. Keep those somewhat subdued. You do not want this and know that you can use color as a focal point and that pretty much covers it. So hope you enjoy this tutorial. 5. Crop And Go: all right. Another example here of an image that I like, What caught my eye was this car right here with the red brake lights kind of a retro looking car, and I wanted to do something with it. The problem is, this thing pretty much is dead center from left to right, which I don't like. Kam present a problem when viewing. I do like the leading lines of the road coming in and coming out here, so that could make for an interesting painting like all the figures. But I felt they were balanced evenly on both sides. So if I were to paint this, I knew I would want to put the focus on one side or the other. The rest of the stuff with the buildings, the steeple, the tree, that's all supporting information as long it's as it's there. But it's not trying to get too much attention from what I felt I wanted to focus on, which again, was the car. Then I was just going to state it, but the key was to understated. So my first task was to crop this image because he could see I use exactly what was there I mean that this always find so that pushed the car to the bottom left third, and that's all I needed. So here is my sketch. I did, and you can see bumping the car over. Got it at the center. I emphasized the figures over here, kind loosely did one over there just to balance it out and the rest of the stuff I wasn't worried about. So the buildings, I didn't want to put the little chapel there, and I added a feeling of a second car there. I felt like that was pretty much all I needed to make that composition work. I did connect him. I use the vehicles to kind of pull your eye into it. And what you see down here, that's all shadows that does a good role to a kind of connecting everything that kind of pulls your i n. This car right here connects these to connect rather than this car connects to the figures . And that kind of makes all of these elements work in harmony. And they have a nice shape to him and that pushes the buildings and everything else to the middle ground. And then, of course, the sky and everything will be background. And then here is the actual painting I did, but you can see that the car here we're supposed to be retro looking at and quite capture that feeling. But you nevertheless, the idea is we work from the images and we make some changes, and then we make some decent art out of it. And then we have another loosely painted vehicle. Here you can see the figures arm or emphasised on the right hand side, the building's air just there loosely enough to say, OK, what? These people are in a commercial district or perhaps a neighborhood probably commercial, because there's a lot of people here, a loose chapel there, and then you have some details, like the telephone pole, some wires. I kind of felt like the sky in the background were very blue, so I put in the top right hand corner here. I added this kind of reddish orange chimney and basically the same hue as I used for the faces and the tail lights. I kind of warmed it up and added a little more of ah, harmony and kind of connection there. But for the most part. Um, when you're just to repeat the shadows, this darker area kind of pulls you in. That dark area connects with the car. This car connects to this kind of loosely painted car here on that pulls your I end and you get figures down here. If you really look at the colors, the intense colors and more vivid colors here are in my focal points, and the rest of this stuff is somewhat subdued a little bit. And that's all part of design and making the painting have an impact in one area or the other. If I went in there and did everything really intense blue, intense colors and too much color on the buildings and everything, it would detract from what I felt was interesting and what I wanted to paint that day. Okay, so that's another example for you on how you can take a very amateurish, boring photograph and then create a nice painting out of it. 6. Perspective & Cropping: okay, in this Seascape type of painting, I liked a lot about it. I love the subject, but I didn't like the layout, so I wanted to make this more of a standard layout. And so to do that, I would have to basically decrease the width of it. So my first inclination here is just to take this center section. Really? And I'll just quickly do this. You can see what I'm talking about and get rid of everything here that's highlighted. And then that would take the boats on the left hand side and then push them a little bit closer. And then I would get a result, which is more of a five by seven type ratio or standard layout. So I'll show you what that would look like. So after I cropped it, this is what I was looking at. As you could see, I bumped the boats over. And so that brought the painting and the overall image it to a place where I thought I'm interested in painting it. Now I can feel it. The last thing, though that want to do is create mawr. Wait on the right hand sides over here with This main boat is in the kind of the foreground area. I thought it'd be nice to get rid this vertical right here, this kind of cream and put more of a building there. And that would make it right side heavy and just kind of create a little more asymmetrical type of balance to the composition and all the boats on the left hand side here, like these little fingers pointing over to the focal point over here. So with that said, I want to show you what I came up with for my composition, and that's pretty much it. So if you were to look at everything I did in terms of the the image and changing it, I reduced it to or change it to a standard composition. I wanted some background or mid ground interest here with these boats on the left hand side . I've got my kind of main focal point here towards the lower right hand sign of the painting . Added this building on the right hand side. So if I just fade that out just a little bit here, we can see how that would fit in there. The other element of design that I wanted to point out was really perspective and this is a very subtle thing. But I think if you can start to look at your images and see if you can thes things are present. I think it will help you in terms of capturing mawr depth and your landscapes and cityscapes. But things like when we look at these outriggers notice how this lying comes down. So if you look at the want, the boats their closest to us, these outriggers air taller than the you know, say this one in the distance and again a very subtle thing. But if we draw a line from this corner all the way down, I mean, that takes us back into the painting and really leads us right ever to our focal point, which is our right hand side over here and the same thing with the reflections right here in the water that they start lower and they worked their way up into the mid area of the painting. So there is really good perspective there, and I think if you were to leave that out or miss it, then you're painting would look a little bit flat so I just pay attention to stuff like that. Also, this little sidewalk here is a really nice leading line. So that would suck you right on into the painting. There. You can see how that has perspective is well, coming down and then back into the distance. Okay, so let's look now at the composition and again notice how this perspective here it basically comes down this way. And then these reflections go up this way, all taking you right here to this This boat, the center of interest. Okay, um and then if we look at the sidewalk here, same idea, you've got this. And then this little bit of perspective of the sidewalk getting narrow as we move away. Then, of course, as against wider as it comes towards us, Who's you? Right in. So here is my final painting, and I just want to kind of recap broke. Quick. What happened here? Basically getting rid of the center area and then pushing the boats on the left closer to the one on the right gave it more of a traditional or standard layout. Then I added the building here on the right hand side. What's give it more of a focus on the right and have added more weight to the right hand side. And plus, we have a lot of dark shadows here in this corner of the help, really capturing this loose feeling of a sidewalk or docker bulkhead that leads you win and there's a little bit of perspective there. So and then the other things were capturing this feeling of perspective here, using it there, that all takes us right to our boat on our boat. You know, I didn't do a lot with it. Add a little more color to it than what was there. And we had this really heavy shadow kind of pulling us in the perspective, the size of the sidewalk, taking us into the images. Well, by just spending a little bit of time working with that composition, it's all take us right back to where we started moving that over to the center, getting rid of that center area, working just a little bit here on composition. And then, you know, here's the final painting. Those changes enabled me to create a painting that was personal, had more connection to it. Once I've worked with it as loose and as abstract as it is. It's the perspective and things like that. The focal points are all still there. And so that just goes to show you, no matter what style you paint in those elements of design and composition are still important. And if you take time to notice the subtle things, then your art will improve dramatically. So I hope you enjoy this tutorial. Thanks for watching.