Thursday, 29 December 2011

Elements of game design, part six: visual composition

To be extremely simple and straight to the point about this, visual composition is the arrangement of elements you see set out in a certain frame, photograph, painting, or perhaps even a 3D made object like a sculpture. I think without the average person  even realising it, they would be able to tell out of two pictures displaying the exact same amount of elements but placed differently, which one would be most visually pleasing according to compositional rules. However I do also think a test like that would leave you with mixed results as personal preference can change the way somebody sees and understands something. Not every artist or critic is the same and one person may even notice an element or shape you have created that you might have never even thought about. That is just the way life is and what makes it exciting.

I still think composition is important nonetheless and it is quite easy to tell if something is slightly off or if a picture could have been taken in a more appropriate position. Creating an image, constantly working on compositional technicality, is key to mastering it and this mastering process is done still during the planning and concepting stage of a game, bashing out those thumbnails and finding a pleasing end result.

So what rules do we try to follow when looking at or creating a picture? Instantly, the rule of thirds and amount of elements come to mind. I see it for everybody’s sake as two stages; the way somebody uses their eyes to scan the whole image then once focus in on a picture, observing the elements more closely. The rule itself tells you where yours elements lie within the images frame because you would visualise splitting the image into two thirds, both horizontally and vertically so that you have 9 squares. The 4 intersecting points in the middle tell you these are even points of interest. Think, if you had elements crammed to the left of an image you would think, what is the point of the rest of the space, or if you see one element slap bang in the middle, your attention Is obviously directed to it, ignoring whatever else might have meant to be interesting around it. This is not a good decision if you want to make your scene dynamic. If placed correctly, you want to be able to scan the whole scene and believe there is a good reason this is there, and that is further back there. To make a scene even more dynamic however, I have learnt that an odd number of elements may stop you from pairing objects together as we tend do this in general frequently.

Of course placing an object or objects directly on the mid sections of a 3 by 3 grid could be equally boring so it is good to consider depth and distance between objects closer up or away in the mountains. An even set negative spaces around the whole scene would indirectly attract somebody more to an image because you took thought and care into every single area you left empty around main elements. Lighting placement and shadows enhance an image greatly and give character to a scene or even be a main element to define a good arrangement and colours rules are another big point to take into account. It takes practise, practise, practise and a high quantity of studies to get the right outcome because, as I have been told on this course, working on one image for such a long time may well be a waste of your time because you got the composition all wrong in the beginning. Find your points of interest, lay out many variations of your scene, show them to others to see if they agree or what they prefer, then you can spend your time making it special. You need to make it appealing to others working in the games industry so following and mastering these rules will get you a on the right track to success hopefully.

This picture visually pleases me as the person is placed left to the centre of the image with space for his hair to flow to the right and i love the dull colour palette with specs of green to add almost an eerie aura to match his eyes. I like the background how it is lighter on the left compared to the darker space on the right where glittery specs intensify more. (did i mention i like manga? :P)

With my link below, I like a point the writer made here saying that rules are meant to be broken and following this rule doesn’t mean you have failed at making the image interesting. "a wise person once told me that if you intend to break a rule you should always learn it first to make sure your breaking of it is all the more effective!" Love It! :)


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