Yo! I'm here to bring to you an art tutorial I don't see around on the internets much...and by much I mean at all. I don't even feel like I've mastered enough of the concept in order to teach others, but I actually think about it...which is more than what a lot of other people do
And since you're dying to know what it is, I'll tell you: Composition and workflow.Step 1! What is 'Composition'?
To us anime artists, (and some of us a bit beyond that, but let's admit it, most of us are no Vermeers or Monets and the rest haven't heard of them) composition isn't something we usually care about, since our most famous pictures are headshots, or waist-up if you're lucky. Backgrounds are a sacrilege, and thinking before drawing is unheard of.
And so is reading. So if you're bored already you might want to drop out, since I'm going to be talking a lot.
Anyway, a composition is basically how you form a picture
An artist is usually given a kinda rectangular canvas thing, and they're expected to fill it with something awesome. Sure, drawing a cute girl in the middle of it might be considered 'awesome' to some, but it's also very, very boring.
Here is where composition comes in. Can you make a picture that sucks the viewer in, takes them on a journey through the picture, and give them things to stare at and think about for a long time afterwards? Yes! With a good composition you can do exactly that!
A photographer can probably tell you a lot more about composition, after all, their job is to take reality, and shove it in a rectangle. They spend all of their art thinking about how to 'compose' a picture to tell a story, since they don't have must control over the other things in a photo. (Unless it's a studio shot, but you still need a good composition anyway)Step 2! How do I 'Composition'?
Good question! I'm glad you asked. Wait, I asked it myself? Either way, it's a good question!
In 'art', formally (and by formally, I mean whatever crap I learnt at art school) at least, there are a number of elements. These are:
Also known as: Confusing. Since we're not art students, let's ignore that list, and focus on the important things in composition - Line, Shape, Colour.Line:
I think we all know what this means, but in art...it's pretty much the exact same thing. But in more formal art, it's usually a lot less about lineart, and more about the outline of a shape.
Still, to me, lineart is also important. Smooth flowy lines give a much more different impression than jagged hard lines. Which one would you use to draw/line water? Lines are also super useful for pointing to things, we'll cover this later.Shape:
What it sounds like. Geometrical shapes are peaceful, irregular shapes are interesting. Smooth shapes feel calm, pointy shapes are creepy. Big shapes look important, small shapes don't. That wasn't hard, was it?Colour:
There is an area of art called 'colour theory'. This is where they spend forever trying to decipher why colour is so important and why it looks so awesome. I am not here to teach you colour theory. What I will tell you though, is that, after your composition is all said and done, the way you use colour can dramatically change it from it's black and white form despite you paying so much attention to the lines and shapes originally.
You can turn a good composition bad, or a bad composition good, with correct use of colours. I'll show you later.
Also if you actually went and researched on the other terms, or already knew them, and would like to point out how I'm overstepping here, then screw you, I don't care.
Anyway, now that you know what a composition is composed of, how do you compose a composition with these composable composites? (...compounds? Either way.)
Let us look at the cool things in a composition.Rule of thirds:
Aka 'The composition rule everyone else knows'.
Take a picture. Divide it into a rubix cube. See the crosses where the lines overlap? These are your composition sweet spots. For some reason, humans take notice a lot quicker when something important is in one of these areas, so if you want something to be the focus of a picture, stick it there. Shove the rest of the important stuffs on the lines.Round things:
Aka 'From now on, things will not have a proper name'.
The circle is something we see in nature a lot, hence we like them. I don't know where that assertion came from. Either way, circles are very nice, and they feel very happy and complete. A circle composition will likely keep the viewers eyes inside the circle, and the things in the middle of circles will likely get noticed.Triangle things:
Have you ever seen a pyramid? Don't they look strong and majestic? I bet if you pushed them really hard they wouldn't fall over, because you know, pyramids are B/A.
If you're still not convinced, try the 'make a bridge with straws' experiment, and just try to get a structure that's steadier than a triangle. Protip: You can't.
What I'm trying to say is that triangles are very strong and may also possibly house 3000 year old B/A dead pharoahs who are good at card games.Right angles:
Aka 'Rectangles'. Or squares. Or corners. Basically the shape with 1 more corner than a triangle.
These things are very peaceful and approachable, but most importantly, they make very good frames. Things inside that right angle will be easily noticed. If you put in all four sides of the rectangle into the picture though, you're just making another 'canvas', which makes it not really a part of the composition. So yes, just one right angle makes the composition.Zoom lines:
Have you ever drawn that basic perspective picture where you're taking a road to the horizon? This is it.
Basically, if you draw a lot of lines pointing to a part of the picture, people will look at it. That's simple enough, right?Conflicting lines:
When two lines overlap at a right-angle or something similar, we have the beginnings of a fight. Men 'cross swords', not 'hold swords parallel to each other'. So now you know, if you want a fight, have men cross swords! ...or something like that.
Okay, so now you know what to make with your colours, lines, and shapes, but does this magically make you able to compose a good image?
I don't think so, so let's get started on a less than quality walkthrough that will hopefully get your brain thinking: Composition.Step 4! Wait, where is step 3?
Now, if you're done wondering where Step 3 went, let's get started on my personal quest for 't3h epickz composition'.
Firstly, I needed an idea. My idea was this:Zero has to go against some giant-ass Omega. He's probably gonna get his ass whooped.
Now that I know what I'm doing, it's time to experiment! I take out my Photoshop, make tiny tiny canvases the same ratio as the canvas size I want (US letter paper size), and start scribbling out some 'composition ideas'.
They turn out like this:
Hmm well the first one is awkward as hell, the second one is a good fight, but vanilla as hell, and the third one...hm, who else thinks it's' a bit too rounded to be taken seriously?
Despite all that, I thought the third picture had a lot of potential. I mean, we're all used to running to to the baddie from the left and whacking him to death, so having him on the left gives a nice shock to the system. I also apparently forgot which arm Omega used his buster with. I'm about to fix that.
At this stage, I began colouring.
If anyone is curious as to how a failed colour scheme looks like, check this out:
Since I didn't have any control over the actual colours that Omega and zero are, I tried to change the colour of the background to give focus to the front of the image. It didn't work.
As you all can see, I ended up with the last colour scheme, since it's the most interesting. I figured that since this is Mega Man, and the robot is freakin' Red and Blue, I might as well exaggerate this fact and go overboard with the bright happiness. It worked.
At this moment in time, I was beginning to realise that the sword position was a major weakpoint in the composition. So was Omega's attitude, he's giving off a 'hello little man, can I show you my sword?' kind of feel. We do not want Omega to be giving off that feel. So, let us revise.
Hm, like this
perhaps? No no, he's asking for a fist bump. Ugh!
It ain't perfect, but it's what I ended up with.
Note the giant fat pyramid shaped thing about to smash into the little man. Oh ho ho ho ho, eat that, Zero! Pulled off correctly, the sword's perspective should act like zoom lines that bring us into the picture. Spoiler: I didn't pull it off.
Also note how Omega is hunched over, as to prevent the top right corner from being framed. We don't like that corner, so we don't want to frame it.
If anyone is curious, the main focal point of this image is the shiny thing
that's going to smash into our little man.
Anyway, I am now happy with my composition, and so I'm going to colour it for the last time!
Tada! Pretty cool, if I might say so myself. Now if you've paused for a moment and actually took the time to take in the image, you'll notice that Zero is posed like a ballerina.
I didn't really care about him at this point, since he didn't mean too much to the overall image, as he was just a little man. But the bright green of his sword sure is distracting huh?
Ignoring Zero, let us get to the fun part of the image: sketching!
As you can see, I changed Zero's pose so that his sword crosses with Omega's. That's a conflict going on right there, yup! In case anyone wants to know, I sketched directly on top of the thumbnail, but I made some small changes along the way for correctness sake.
Anyone with an eye for art will notice that it ain't all that correct, but it's getting there.
After touching up the things I hated, and redrawing Zero so his pose was even less wimpy, I zoomed up right close and drew the rest of the image in fine lines. Yes, I drew, I didn't 'lineart' the image. I hate doing 'lineart', it stifles my creativity.
It ended up like this:
Very smooth and neat. It feels empty though, without the swords. Not to mention the arm is starting to blend into the picture. But I wasn't' worried, I still had to colour it.
I'd like to take some time out here to point out how Omega's right arm and shoulder have much thicker lines than his left. This is how you can create 'perspective' with line texture.
Same with the rocks.
Anyway, slap on the base colours by eyedropper picking from the original thumbnail:
Looks bloody brilliant. Too bad I didn't realise it also looked flatter than a pancake.
Slap on some cell shading on a multiply layer until it looks all 3D and right, don't forget to follow the light source:
I question my concept of looking good. The lighting here was definitely destined for failure, somehow I didn't realise this.
Now go back to the base colours and tidy them up:
Notice how every colour is found everywhere, this is a good way to tie a picture together. Unfortunately, I was doing it wrong. Also notice how the image feels like it has depth, the 'blend what you see' technique has this as a side effect. It's useful.
Slap the shading back on, tidy that up too.
It looks exactly like the image 2 paragraphs up, just neater! And this, my kids, is why you need to have a good shading layer.
Compared to the last image, this one does a lot more 'pop'. What I did here was add detail, increased contrast on metal, smoothed out shading, add 'reflections' (which I didn't do properly) and glow, and generally tried to make the picture awesome.
I honestly should've done a lot more at this stage, but I was running out of time, and I had also screwed up the initial cell shading. I mean, for one thing, it's cell shading.
Once again, Krystal teaches kids to be good and remember deadlines.
Now, add SFX and finish up:
Yay! Done! And you barely made the deadline. Too bad you didn't get in. Maybe next time!
Here I allowed myself liberal amounts of lava, rock, smoke, and glowing sword aftertrail. Omega's eyes and shoulderlights got a glowy layer and now they're all glowy and cool. This turned his face into the first thing we see in the image. From there, we follow the curve of his body down to his hand, which is holding a motion blurred translucent canon, and from there we look to the tiny thing the giant thing is trying to hit: Zero.
The staring point is little man verses giant green blob. It works pretty well, if I might say so myself.
But what doesn't work? Let me go over the picture.Green sword vs green sword:
It's way overbalanced towards Omega's giant green thing. Although green stands out very well on red, and is perfect for a conflict in lava, the counter-acting element of Zero's sword is too light to make that cross impact I was looking forZoom lines:
Somewhere along the plains of motion blur, I forgot what shape Omega's sword was meant to be like, and it doesn't seem to draw in the audience as much as it should have.Broken Black line:
Zoom out. See how the side of Omega's body makes a thick black line that goes down to his sword? If that continued under
his sword, it would've made the 'slicing' motion of the sword a lot more obvious and scary. Instead, it ends early, and the bottom left corner of the picture is isolated. Bad Krystal, bad!Giant Black hand:
See Omega's hand in its huge black glove? It stands out way too much and looks way too close for comfort. The fact that it's so dark takes away a lot of attention from the sword and Zero, which is what we want to be looking at. The fact that it's so close to the rule of thirds doesn't help it either.
And there you have it, a comprehensive composition tutorial complete with a walkthrough on how to make your own composition.
As you can see, I didn't start off drawing a 3 by 3 grid and planning the picture from the rules up. Composition is something you develop a feel for, and you get better at it as you go along.
Definitely always make thumbnails. Play around with line and space, you can even make compositions you don't plan to ever use! See how much emotion you can convey with the image elements along. No character emotions. You'd be surprised!
Hopefully you learned something from this that you may take into consideration later in your artistic life.
If not, I hope you at least had fun reading about my compositional struggles.
Krystal out o/