CalArts: Funds. of Graphic Design-W4: 4.7 Composition in a Single Image

We’ve already looked at how composition works with abstract shapes and with objects, images, and with pieces of typography, and now, we’re gonna do something a little bit different.

We’re going to look at how some of those ideas about composition, how those work in a single image.

So, let’s take a look at composition and cropping.

So here’s a photograph of some of my students from CalArts on an exchange program in Seoul, Korea.

So if we were to look at this photograph and try and analyze how it’s composition works, I think one of the first things that we’d notice is that it has a very, very strong sense of perspective.

So the scale from the larger figures here, going through medium size to the smaller figures. 
And that’s really giving a very strong directional line.

But that’s not the only strong perspective line in this photograph.
It’s actually made up of a lot of perspective lines.

So if we look, we can also see the trees on the left form a line leading into the background.

The umbrellas form a line.

Even the actual sidewalk and the setting of the cement and the tiles form other lines that lead us in the same direction.

So you can see there’s a lot of things that are forcing our view all in the same direction.

So in that way, it’s actually looks like a complicated image but it’s quite simple.

As one little image there with a bridge at the end that sort of pulls you from right to left once you’ve entered into that vanishing point in the center of the photograph.

So you can see there are a lot of different directions happening in this photograph. 
But they’re all really forcing perspective, 
they’re really all working in the same way, 
they’re all heading towards the same vanishing point.

So if we get rid of these perspective arrows, let’s try looking at our image in a different way.

Another way to look at direction and composition in this image, would be to look at it in terms of color.

So if we’ve for instance, picked out some of the green elements here, that seem quite distinct,

you’d see we’d be able to see where the trees are falling and still falling within those perspective lines.

We could see where the grass is falling into the perspective lines.

Even these tiny little spots of color, they all seem to play into this idea of the forced perspective in this composition.

Another way we could look at it is we could also look at it as a repetition of form.

We could look at the rhythm of the human figure within this composition.

So if we start to highlight some of those figures, we’ll just fill them in with black rectangles here.

You can start to see that there’s a visual repetition and a visual rhythm here that’s a really important part of the composition.

And something that’s quite interesting to do here now that we’ve marked out the composition and an oral.

We certainly might had a way of looking at this composition.

We could actually take the image away.

And so what you’re left with now is something that is, feels much closer to our abstract compositions where we’re using geometric shapes, where now we’re obviously now we’re using color as well.

So let’s put the image back in there and get rid of those shapes. So let’s look at another way we might look at this image.

So another way we could look at this image is to look at something like people’s faces for instance.

So again, we’ll see some rhythm and some repetition in there.

But it’s also, when we look at a photographics, one of the things that we immediately try and engage with, is the gaze การจ้องดู or the face of another person.

So if we mark those faces out with these blue circles, and we do that at scale, you can see again we are getting a repetitive, rhythmic pattern. 
But one that’s also still reinforcing that idea of perspective.

We could do the same thing with the shapes of the umbrellas, perhaps. We could use those as, again, scaled, repetitive form that’s echoing through this image.

So if we then take all of the graphic elements that we’ve been using to describe this composition and overlay them on the photograph,

you can see that we’ve got quite a good graphic representation of that image and of the composition of that image.

Then again if we take the image away,

you can see how we’re starting to make a composition very similar to our abstract forms, maybe a little more pictorial, 
but definitely something that’s much more complex and representative of this photograph.

And if we wanted to keep pursuing this idea, we could perhaps fill in some of the other important elements that we can see interacting in the composition here.

So if we took all of those and added them together into our composition and took away the photo, we would end up with something like this.

A very complicated and almost an abstract rendering of our photograph.

And while this is a fun way to learn about composition, and for us to learn about how to deconstruct this photograph, it’s not always that useful as a designer.

What’s actually much more useful is

  • to understand hierarchy within an image.
  • And to understand where a view as eye goes an image 
    and when the view as eye goes to which part of the image.

So let’s take a look at that. Let’s go back to our original photograph and start again.