Colour Theory to add

In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is – as it physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art.

Albers  Interaction of Color 1963 p1

Key colour issues in printmaking

  • Tone is perceived first, then colours (yellow first), and then the image. This means that the underlying tonal shape structure of an image is of primary importance. Using flat primary colours will detract attention from the image – making colour the subject.
  • Hue is inherently problematic. The effects of mixing different pigment hues will vary depending on issues like transparency, saturation, value. Artists may choose to focus on local or optical colour.
  • Optical mixing occurs as the brain interpretes colours, successive and simultaneous contrast. So perception of hue will depend on the relationship between elements in the composition. 
  • Colour responses in terms of perception, meaning and emotional response is a complex combination of hard-wiring of human perception, biological variation (eg colour-blindness) between different viewers and cultural associations.Or use completely arbitrary colours to impose their own feelings and interpretation onto the image.

Basic Colour Theory

Colour can only exist when three components are present: a viewer, an object, and light. Our perception of colour depends on both physical factors relating to the way the eye registers light and more psychological and cultural factors that affect the way the brain reacts to and interprets colours and their relationships to each other. Artists and designers have used and experimented with complexities and ambiguities in interactions between physical and psychological dimensions of colour to portray emotions and question the nature of perception.

Physical properties of light

Light consists of rays of different wavelengths. When light strikes a surface, certain wavelengths are absorbed and others are reflected by its pigments. Different combinations of reflected wavelengths form all the observed colours.  Although pure white light is perceived as colourless, it actually contains all colours in the visible spectrum. When white light hits an object, it selectively blocks some colours and reflects others; only the reflected colours contribute to the viewer’s perception of colour.

Prism: White Light and the Visible Spectrum

Virtually all our visible colours can be produced by utilizing some combination of the three primary colours, either by additive or subtractive processes. 

Additive Primary Colors
Additive Primary Colours: Additive digital processes as in computer monitors add light to a dark background based on RGB primaries. All three colours make white.
Subtractive Primary Colors
Subtractive Primary Colours: CMYK.  pigment colours. Subtractive processes use pigments or dyes to selectively block white light. All three colours make black.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Naturally occurring colours are not just light at one wavelength, but actually contain a whole range of wavelengths. A colour’s “hue” describes which wavelength appears to be most dominant. The object whose spectrum is shown below would likely be perceived as bluish, even though it contains wavelengths throughout the spectrum.

Color Hue
Visible Spectrum

Although this spectrum’s maximum happens to occur in the same region as the object’s hue, it is not a requirement. If this object instead had separate and pronounced peaks in just the the red and green regions, then its hue would instead be yellow (see the additive colour mixing table).

Human perception

Biology of the eye
The human eye senses this spectrum using a combination of rod and cone cells for vision. Rod cells are better for low-light vision, but can only sense the intensity of light, whereas while cone cells can also discern colour, they function best in bright light.
Three types of cone cells exist in your eye, with each being more sensitive to either short (S), medium (M), or long (L) wavelength light. The set of signals possible at all three cone cells describes the range of colours we can see with our eyes. The diagram below illustrates the relative sensitivity of each type of cell for the entire visible spectrum. These curves are often also referred to as the “tristimulus functions.”

Select View: Cone Cells Luminosity



Raw data courtesy of the Colour and Vision Research Laboratories (CVRL), UCL.

Cambridge in Colour:  Colour Perception

Note how each type of cell does not just sense one colour, but instead has varying degrees of sensitivity across a broad range of wavelengths. Move your mouse over “luminosity” to see which colours contribute the most towards our perception of brightness. Also note how human colour perception is most sensitive to light in the yellow-green region of the spectrum; this is utilized by the bayer array in modern digital cameras.

Eye to brain

As light passes into the eye it strikes the retina at the back of the eye which consists of layers of cells including:

  • rods – that perceive black and white and allow us to see dimly lit forms
  • cones – that help us perceive hues. The cones in the eye only recognise red (long wavelengths), blue-viiolet (short wavelengths) and green (middle wavelengths). They relay these colour messages to the cones of the fovea, an area at the centre of the retina, whose cones transmit to the brain.

The brain then assimilates the red, blue-violet and green impulses and mixes them into a single message that informs us of the colour being viewed.
There are many factors affecting our perception of a colour, such as the surroundings of the object, its surface texture, and the lighting conditions under which it is seen. How much of a colour is used, whether it is bright, dull, light or dark, and where it is placed in relation to another colour are also crucial factors in our perception.
– local colour: the wavelengths that are reflected by a surface under consitions of white light
– optical colour: the combination of local colour with light striking it and other surrounding colours
 
Subtractive processes are more susceptible to changes in ambient light, because this light is what becomes selectively blocked to produce all their colours.

COLOR PROPERTIES: HUE & SATURATION

Color has two unique components that set it apart from achromatic light: hue and saturation. Visually describing a colour based on each of these terms can be highly subjective, however each can be more objectively illustrated by inspecting the light’s colour spectrum.
 
A color’s saturation is a measure of its purity. A highly saturated color will contain a very narrow set of wavelengths and appear much more pronounced than a similar, but less saturated color. The following example illustrates the spectrum for both a highly saturated and less saturated shade of blue.

Select Saturation Level: Low High

Spectral Curves for Low and High Saturation Color

 

Dimensions of colour

hue
A colour without any black, gray, white or complementary is called a pure hue and occurs in Newton’s light spectrum. Primary colours are those which cannot be mixed using other colours, secondaries the result of mixing two primaries and tertiary colours, the result of mixing secondaries with one of their adjacent secondaries. Broken hues are the result of mixing these pure hues with their complement to produce browns and greys.
However there is significant variation between colour theorists as to how they identify primary colours, and also between additive methods (RGB used where light is added and where white is the result of mixing all light wavelengths) and subtractive methods (CMYK and pigment mixing as in printmaking or paint where black is the result of mixing all colours).
Moreover pigments are rarely pure. The results from mixing also depend on the relative colour temperature of each of the colours being mixed.
value
Pure hues vary in value from yellow (lightest) to violet (darkest) This means that when mixing them it will also alter the value. If you squint when looking at two hues of similar value they will merge together. When pigments of equal value are mixed together this gives a darker value because more wavelengths are absorbed and fewer reflected.
Value changes convey texture, are used for shadows and form. Sharp contrasts in value produce the effect of precision, firmness, objectivity and alertness. Close values produce feelings of haziness, softness, quiet, rest, brooding etc. Dark compositions give feelings of night, darkness, mystery and fear. Light compositions of illumination, clarity and optimism. Middle values are relaxed and often go unnoticed.
Discords: when the value of a hue is altered by the addition of black, white or another colour opposite to its natural value order eg adding violet and white to make lavender.
intensity (also termed saturation or chroma) defines the degree of purity or brightness (as opposed to light) or how dull (as opposed to dark) a colour is. Pure hues are those where there is no black, white or complementary colour added.
When pure black or pure white are present they are notices before the other hues and colours present.
Pure hues differ in chroma strength – lighter hues have stronger chromatic strength.
Pure hues can be dulled to coloured greys through adding grey of the same value. Or mixing with complementaries to produce a shade.
Neutral greys can be obtained through mxing false pairs – orange and green, green and violet, violet and orange. But they tend to favour one of the parent hues and are less powerful than those made by combining complementary hues. They can also be produced through layering.
Intensity can create effects on objects in space.
– high intensities make an object seem large and pushes it forward in the visual field
– light pure values like yellow advance most on a dark background and least on a white background
– pure hues have a relative strength. if balance is required, they should be used in the right proportion.
temperature
Temperature refers to the warmness or coolness of colour.
– Warm hues are yellow, yellow-orange, orange, orange-red, red and red-violet.
– Cool hues are
Certain colours relax us, others stimulate us.

Cultural factors

Memory, experiences and cultural background all affect the way a colour’s impact can vary from individual to individual.
Factors such as linguistic distinctions can even affect perception of colour – in some languages there is no distinction between blue and green and so although people can distinguish when questioned they do not make an immediate distinction. Even where colours are perceived similarly, they may mean different things – in Asian cultures white is associated with death. Red is associated with happiness and luck. In Western cultures black is associated with death and white with purity. Red is associated with danger and blood.
colour associations
influenced bybthe types of pigments available and their value.
blue   lapis lazuli for the madonna
purple   mollusc in ancient greece so royalty
ochres and earth colour
red vermillion  marriage and luck in asian cutures
black  terry frost absorbs all other colours. means a kind of depth. malevich black square
white purity. turns away other colours.

Artistic interpretations

Artists may choose to focus on local or optical colour. Or use ciompletely arbitrary colours to impose their feelings and interpretation onto the image.

Colour harmony

In reverse order of contrast:

Monochromatic

a single hue with its tints and shades produced by mixing with white, black (or its complememtary?)

Analogous

three or more hues that are next to each other on the colour wheel. Analogous schemes are most emphatic when the common hue is primary. They are most harmonious when the middle hue is primary (eg red-orange, red, red-violet rather than orange, red-orange and red).

Double complementary

split complementary

Triad

equidistant on the colour wheel. These result in a dominance of warm or cool.

quadrad

where the hues are equidistant on the colour wheel.

Complementary

Colour interactions

Itten and Albers studied the interaction between hues and the ways in which our perception of hues and tones is altered radically by the other colours surrounding them.
Successive contrast
Simultaneous contrast
Vibration where certain hues meet.
Bounding with white or black.
Disappearing boundaries: where analogous hues meet
Dissolving boundaries: where broken hues meet
This can be used to create mysterious effects. Or combatted using sharp edges.
Discords play a supportring role – they are easily overshadowed by colours that are not discorded, but they stop the tendency of hues to spread visually. Large areas in discorded colours should be avoided as they weaken a composition. But small areas reduce monotony. Light discors also produce the best highlights (because they are unexpected and attract attention??) The discord chosen should be based on the primary colour closest to the object featured in the hightlight, or the next closest primary on the coliur wheel.
When colors or shades of grey are sequenced in a composition eading from ligt to dark or dark to light then the eye is comfortable. But when the esquence is broken eg gray background, followed by white then black then the effect is jarring eg dramatic skies. El Greco View of Toledo.

Rhythm, repetition and movement

Repeating colours can lead the eye through a composition and create a sense of movement.
Emphasis can be accomplished by using colour in a number of ways
– colour contrast: bright/dull, light/dark, warm/cool
– area size: large areas of a colour versus small
– texture: rough versus smooth
– use of arbitrary colour
– unusual detailing
– contrast with surroundings
Harmony can be achieved through:
– repetition
– similarity
– use of tonality
– surrounding a colour with a neutral colour

Inspiration

Impressionism
Pointillim
Fauvism
Expressionism
Alex Katz
Andy Warhol
Patrick Caulfield
In printmaking, particularly relief prints, there is clear colour separation on the printing plate. This can use either layering and mixing, or optical mixing through juxtaposition.

Useful links

Cambridge in colour – technical notes on colour perception, colour harmony and colour management for photographers.

Design Principles

Design elements may be explored in their own right, but are generally considered in terms of relationships between one or more element. The following are just some things to think about, taken from a range of sources and experience/thoughts on previous courses in art and photography.
Key Sources:

  • Michael Freeman:The Photographer’s Eye 
  • Alan Pipes: Foundations of Art and Design
  • de Sausmarez
  • Ian Roberts ‘Mastering Composition’
  • Theories of Paul Klee, Arthur Wesley Dow and Henry Rankin Poore

Principles of relationship

Unity/harmony:When all elements are in agreement, a design is considered unified. No individual part is viewed as more important than the whole design.

  • Symmetry
  • Asymmetrical produces an informal balance that is attention attracting and dynamic.
  • Balance: It is a state of equalized tension and equilibrium, which may not always be calm.
  • Radial balance is arranged around a central element. The elements placed in a radial balance seem to ‘radiate’ out from a central point in a circular fashion.
  • Mosaic form of balance which normally arises from many elements being put on a page. Due to the lack of hierarchy and contrast, this form of balance can look noisy but sometimes quiet.

Hierarchy: A good design contains elements that lead the reader through each element in order of its significance. The type and images should be expressed starting from most important to the least important.
Scale/proportion: Using the relative size of elements against each other can attract attention to a focal point. When elements are designed larger than life, scale is being used to show drama.A subject can be rendered more dramatic when it fills the frame. There exists a tendency to perceive things as larger than they actually are, and filling the frame full fills this psychological mechanism. This can be used to eliminate distractions from the background.

  • Cropping
  • distant cropping, close cropping
  • boundary  relationships

Dominance/emphasis: Dominance is created by contrasting size, positioning, colour, style, or shape. The focal point should dominate the design with scale and contrast without sacrificing the unity of the whole.
Similarity and contrast: Planning a consistent and similar design is an important aspect of a designer’s work to make their focal point visible. Too much similarity is boring but without similarity important elements will not exist and an image without contrast is uneventful so the key is to find the balance between similarity and contrast.
Similar environment: There are several ways to develop a similar environment:

  • Build a unique internal organization structure.
  • Manipulate shapes of images and text to correlate together.

Perspective: sense of distance between elements.
Similarity: ability to seem repeatable with other elements.
Continuation: the sense of having a line or pattern extend.
Repetition: elements being copied or mimicked numerous times.
Rhythm: is achieved when recurring position, size, color, and use of a graphic element has a focal point interruption.
Negative space: Give the eye somewhere to rest
Color: Contrast: the value, or degree of lightness and darkness, used within the picture.

Repetition

Repetition has a peculiar but generally very strong appeal, particularly when it is unfamiliar to the viewer:

  • rhythm or dynamic repetition: the movement across a picture (or more properly, the movement of the eye through a picture). Rhythm can be made more dynamic by encouraging a figure or point to break the rhythm. As the eye in Western culture naturally follows a rhythmical structure from right to left to right, it is often best to place a point on the right so that the eye has time to establish the rhythm before noticing it.
  • pattern or spatial repetition: essentially static and concerned with area. Ordered rows of large numbers of things produce regular patterns, but the slight variations in detail maintain interest. If the placing is irregular, the framing needs to be tight on the objects if they are to form a pattern.
    Perspective

Viewpoint (leading the eye): The position of the viewer can strongly influence the aesthetics of an image, even if the subject is entirely imaginary and viewed “within the mind’s eye”. Not only does it influence the elements within the picture, but it also influences the viewer’s interpretation of the subject.

Division of space

informal subdivision
high low horizons
Rule of thirds, golden mean, rebatement of the rectangle: The objective is to stop the subject(s) and areas of interest (such as the horizon) from bisecting the image, by placing them near one of the lines that would divide the image into three equal columns and rows, ideally near the intersection of those lines. The rule of thirds is thought to be a simplification of the golden mean. The golden mean is a ratio that has been used by visual artists for centuries as an aid to composition. When two things are in the proportion of 1:1.618 (approximately 3 to 5), they are said to be in the golden mean. Dividing the parts of an image according to this proportion helps to create a pleasing, balanced composition. The intersection points on a golden mean grid appear at 3/8 in and 3/8 down/up, rather than at 1/3 in and 1/3 down/up on the grid of thirds.
Rule of odds: The “rule of odds” states that by framing the object of interest with an even number of surrounding objects, it becomes more comforting to the eye, thus creates a feeling of ease and pleasure. The “rule of odds” suggests that an odd number of subjects in an image is more interesting than an even number. An even number of subjects produces symmetries in the image, which can appear less natural for a naturalistic, informal composition. Related to the rule of odds is the observation that triangles are an aesthetically pleasing implied shape within an image.
Baselines and ground contour: foreground, middle ground and background division.ensure that you indicate the contours of the land, even if it appears flat. Use variations such as differences in soil colour, texture, vegetation, wind in grass etc. Light and shadow on land.
Overlapping forms: overlapping forms give a feeling of depth to space. If forms do not overlap there is no depth.
Tie together: If you have a distinct division of space that extends from one side of the painting to the other, tie the two divisions together by crossing the division with something in the foreground.

Simplification

Images with clutter can distract from the main elements within the picture and make it difficult to identify the subject. By decreasing the extraneous content, the viewer is more likely to focus on the primary objects. Clutter can also be reduced through the use of lighting, as the brighter areas of the image tend to draw the eye, as do lines, squares and colour. In painting, the artist may use less detailed and defined brushwork towards the edges of the picture. Removing the elements to the focus of the object, taking only the needed components.Merge shapes that have similar values into larger shapes of one value.

Creating movement

Movement is the path the viewer’s eye takes through the artwork, often to focal areas. Such movement can be directed along lines edges, shape and colour within the artwork.
Shape

  • turbulent shape arrangements.
  • variety in division of space.
  • repetition with variety: pattern, rhythm
  • active, passive mix. Need place for the eye to rest. But depends on overall aim of picture.
  • odd number groups – maybe we like to see things in pairs, so we look for completion? Variety in threes.

Rule of space: The rule of space aims to give the illusion of movement, or which is supposed to create a contextual bubble in the viewer’s mind. This can be achieved, for instance, by leaving white space in the direction the eyes of a portrayed person are looking, or, when picturing a runner, adding white space in front of them rather than behind them to indicate movement.
Other techniques that can act together:

  • There should be a centre of interest or focus in the work, to prevent it becoming a pattern in itself;
  • The direction followed by the viewer’s eye should lead the viewer’s gaze around all elements in the work before leading out of the picture;
  • The subject should not be facing out of the image;
  • Exact bisections of the picture space should be avoided;
  • Small, high contrast, elements have as much impact as larger, duller elements;
  • The prominent subject should be off-centre, unless a symmetrical or formal composition is desired, and can be balanced by smaller satellite elements
    the horizon line should not divide the art work in two equal parts but be positioned to emphasize either the sky or ground; showing more sky if painting is of clouds, sun rise/set, and more ground if a landscape
  • Variety: no spaces between the objects should be the same. They should vary in shape and size. That creates a much more interesting image.

Focal point:

  • staccato focal point: a small point or line that the viewer’s eye gravitates to
  • focal area: a specific area of colour or value

focus may be achieved by:

  • directing lines,/intersection of lines or implied lines,
  • contrast in colour, saturation, temperature,
  • texture, moves to areas of high density and detail.
  • shape or relation of shape to boundary, value. Isolation. rule of thirds.

A composition may have primary and secondary focus of interest. Not all images have to have a focal point or focal area. Or focal area may be large. Or there can be more than one and the interest is in the relationship between the two.
Eye movement
the aim is to keep the interest of the viewer and keep their attention in the frame.

  • types of path: C forms, S forms, I forms.
  • entry point, often in bottom left . Avoid splitting painting in two.
  • avoid leading eye into a corner, take it back in and around.
  • avoid trapping the eye in one part of the frame.
  • repeat colour spots. Linking lights, guiding darks and lights
  • let the brain fill the gaps.

 

 

Design Elements

Design elements can be explored in their own right as part of markmaking and media experiments. The following are just some dimensions for exploration, taken from a range of sources and experience/thoughts on previous courses in art and photography.
Key Sources:

  • Michael Freeman:The Photographer’s Eye 
  • Alan Pipes: Foundations of Art and Design
  • de Sausmarez
  • Paul Klee

Basic Elements of Design

  • Point: the simplest unit
  • Line: the visual path that enables the eye to move within the piece
  • Shape: areas defined by edges within the piece, whether geometric or organic
  • Form: 3-D length, width, or depth
  • Colour: hues with their various values (brightness) and intensities (saturation)
  • Tone: shading used to emphasize form
  • Texture: surface qualities which translate into tactile illusions
  • Space: the space taken up by (positive) or in between (negative) objects
  • Depth: perceived distance from the observer, separated in foreground, background, and optionally middle ground

Points

“The simplest unit, a spot, not only indicates location  but is felt to have within itself potential energies of expansion and contraction which activate the surrounding area. When two spots occur there is a statement of measurement and implied direction and the ‘inner’ energies create a specific tension between them which directly affects the intervening space. Freely used spots, in clusters or spread out, create a variety of energies and tensions activating the entire area over which they occur. All sensations are increased if difference in the size of the spots is allowed to enter” de Sausmarez ‘Basic Design’  p25
Positioning one point
Commonly a point can also be a small part of the image which contrasts in some way with its setting. There is no clear cut-off point between points and larger subjects which are in some ways isolated from their backgrounds. But the larger subjects become in the frame, the less point-like their qualities gradually become.
The main consideration is placement – to give it whatever balance or interest is wanted according to the aim of the picture. This could be for example harmony, contradiction, irony etc.
Placement options for one point:

  • Central: this tends to be very static and dull, and needs clear justification.
  • Slightly off-centre eg on the thirds lines is moderately dynamic, without being extreme and can feel balanced. The choice being in what direction. This is affected by the type of movement in relation to the aim of the image.
  • Close to the edge: markedly eccentric and needs justification.

There are two important relations:

  • movement – created by drawing attention towards the point from the sides. The strength of this sense of movement is in proportion to the distance from each side.
  • division – a point implies a division. This is easier to see if you draw horizontal and vertical lines through the point.

Relationship between two or more points
With two points the basic simplicity of the situation is lost. It is the relationship between the two that dominates the composition. The eye is drawn from one to the other and back, so there is always an implied line connecting them. Being a line it has a relationship with horizontals and verticals of the frame, and also has direction. , and also creates a vaguely defined space just around the two points.
Commonly one point attracts more attention than the other because it’s bigger, appears nearer, is close to the centre, or for other reasons. The direction of the implied line tends to be from stronger to weaker, and towards the point which is closest to the edge. In some special cases both points attract attention equally e.g. extreme close-up portaits just including the eyes. When this happens the viewer’s eye does not resolve the composition. This unresolved tension often damages a composition, but it can also be a useful device and activating an image.
With several points relationships and also predictable. A group of objects implies a network of lines, and can also create a shape – again by implication.

Lines

“A line can be thought of as a chain of spots joined together. It indicates position and direction and has within itself a certain energy; the energy appears to travel along its length and to be intensified at the other end, speed is implied and the space around it is activated. In a limited way it is capable of expression emotions.”
de Sausmarez ‘Basic Design’  p25
 
Lines as edges
Literal lines do not exist in nature, but are the optical phenomena created when objects curve away from the viewer. Straight lines add affection and can make it look more detailed and challenging. It is the quality of lines that makes them stand out. This may be because of: the type of line itself eg delicate, ragged, torn etc. and what this says about the object of the image. It may be because of contrast eg the edge of something bright against a dark background or vice versa. Or contrast of colour, textures, between shapes etc.
Lines in relation to the frame
Particularly when the frame of an image is itself constructed of lines, these invite a natural comparison of angle and length. Lines can also direct attention towards the main subject of picture, or contribute to organization by dividing it into compartments. Horizontal, vertical, and angled lines often contribute to creating different moods of a picture. The angle and the relationship to the size of the frame both work to determine the influence the line has on the image. They are also strongly influenced by tone, color, and repetition in relation to the rest of the image.
Horizontal lines are the baseline in composition – explicit or as an implicit reference. This is partly because of associations with the horizon/gravity. Our frame of vision is horizontal and our eyes see more easily from side to side. Horizontal lines tend to give a sense of stability, weight, calm, restfulness and space.
Vertical lines are the second primary component of the frame. A vertical line is naturally seen in terms of alignment with the frame. Without horizontal lines to give a supporting base, a vertical line usually has more of a sense of speed and movement, either up or down. Several vertical lines may have the sense of a barrier. They can express strength, power, height and grandeur. A single vertical line sits more comfortably in a vertical format. A series of verticals may require a horizontal format which allows more to be made of the series.
Perpendicular lines: energies are perpendicular and each one acts as a stop to the other. Can create a primary sense of balance because of the underlying association with standing upright supported by a level surface. If used strongly this can produce a solid, satisfying feeling. Alignment to the reference point of the frame is important.
Diagonals and zigzags  give a sense of motion and tension. Of all lines they introduce the most dynamism into a picture and are highly active, with greater expression of direction and speed than verticals. Represent unresolved tension and lead the eye along most easily. They have associations of depth and distance which can be manipulated to increase depth. By changing the perspective only by some degrees or some centimetres lines in images can change tremendously and a totally different feeling can be transported. Tightly angled convergent lines give a dynamic, lively, and active effect to the image whereas strongly angled, almost diagonal lines generally produce tension in the image.
Tangents force the eye to look at the point of contact.
Curved lines are generally used to create a sense of flow within an image. Compared to straight lines, curves provide a greater dynamic influence in a picture. Curves are inherently attractive to most people, particularly when they undulate. They carry the eye along. Curves make a more substantial contrast with straight lines than do the different types of straight lines amongst themselves. Useful contrasts can be made.
Curves have associations with smoothness, grace and elegance.
Lines by implication : Lines are often by implication, our imagination making connections between points. The brain often unconsciously reads near continuous lines between different elements and subjects at varying distances. Even irregular groupings of things can become resolved into lines when seen at a distance.
Counterpoint: don’t have lines leading out of the frame that are not led back, if all lines are in the same direction a composition can look dull. Futurist movement versus balance.

Shape

A shape is defined as a two or more dimensional area that stands out from the space next to or around it due to a defined or implied boundary, or because of differences of value, colour, or texture. A shape is therefore both an outline and an enclosure, although the extent to which it appears as one or the other depends very much on the subject and the lighting. Contrast either of tone or colour, also helps to decide whether shape will be important in that picture. Definable shapes organise part of the picture and provide structure to an image. It helps groups of things to cohere. All objects are composed of shapes and all other ‘Elements of Design’ are shapes in some way.
Regular, mechanical or geometric shapes are the shapes that can be drawn using a ruler or compass. Mechanical shapes, whether simple or complex, produce a feeling of control or order.
Triangles occur more frequently than other any other shape because they are the simplest shape of all. Because they always have at least two diagonals, they tend to create a sensation of activity and dynamism. Even two sides will give the impression of a triangle, provided they penetrate far enough into the picture. The natural tendency of linear perspective is for lines to converge on the vanishing point and form two sides of a triangle. Distinction between:

  • real triangles – actual triangular objects all triangles created by perspective.
  • implied triangles where planes encourage the eye to imagine a line to connect them. Emphasising the triangular structure is principally a matter of removing from view other distracting points, lines and the sidelines.

Irregular or organic shapes are freehand drawn shapes that are complex and normally found in nature. Organic shapes produce a natural feel.
Turbulent shape arrangements.
Repetition with variety: pattern, rhythm
Active, passive mix giving a place for the eye to rest. Notan
Odd number groups – maybe we like to see things in pairs, so we look for completion? Variety in threes.

Space

In design, space is concerned with the area deep within the moment of designated design, the design will take place on. For a two-dimensional design, space concerns creating the illusion of a third dimension on a flat surface:

  • Overlap is the effect where objects appear to be on top of each other. This illusion makes the top element look closer to the observer. There is no way to determine the depth of the space, only the order of closeness.
  • Shading adds gradation marks to make an object of a two-dimensional surface seem three-dimensional.
  • Highlight, Transitional Light, Core of the Shadow, Reflected Light, and Cast Shadow give an object a three-dimensional look.
  • Linear Perspective is the concept relating to how an object seems smaller the farther away it gets.
  • Atmospheric Perspective is based on how air acts as a filter to change the appearance of distance objects.

Form

Form may be described as any three-dimensional object. Form can be measured, from top to bottom (height), side to side (width), and from back to front (depth). Form is also defined by light and dark. It can be defined by the presence of shadows on surfaces or faces of an object. There are two types of form, geometric (man-made) and natural (organic form). Form may be created by the combining of two or more shapes. It may be enhanced by tone, texture and color. It can be illustrated or constructed.

Texture

Meaning the way a surface feels or is perceived to feel. Texture can be added to attract or repel interest to an element, depending on the pleasantness of the texture. Types of texture:

  • Tactile texture is the actual three-dimension feel of a surface that can be touched. Painter can use impasto to build peaks and create texture.
  • Visual texture is the illusion of the surfaces peaks and valleys, like the tree pictured. Any texture shown in a photo is a visual texture, meaning the paper is smooth no matter how rough the image perceives it to be.

Most textures have a natural touch but still seem to repeat a motif in some way. Regularly repeating a motif will result in a texture appearing as a pattern.
 

Shaun Tan

Inspiration for:

Image and text

Sources

Shaun Tan website

Wikipedia

Shaun Tan is a graphic illustrator of very poignant short allegorical graphic novels whose work I very much admire. The strength is in the combination of very strong visual dynamics and simplification, coupled with a high level of artistic skill. His recent work uses maquettes and puppets.

Key works

http://www.shauntan.net/books.html

Shaun Tan is an Australian artist, writer and film maker. He won an Academy Award for The Lost Thing, a 2011 animated film adaptation of a 2000 picture book he wrote and illustrated. Beside The Lost Thing, The Red Tree and The Arrival are books he has written and illustrated. These have different but distinctive approaches to layout and combining image and text. Some of these have been animated – either straight animation of the illustrations with types text, or CGI.

His artistic process

Initially, Tan works in black and white because the final reproductions would be printed that way. Some black and white mediums he uses include pens, inks, acrylics, charcoal, scraperboard, photocopies, and linocuts.

Tan’s current colour works still begin in black and white. He uses a graphite pencil to make sketches on ordinary copy paper. The sketches are then reproduced numerous times with different versions varying with parts added or removed. Sometimes scissors are used for this purpose. The cut and paste collage idea in these early stages is often extend to the finished production with many of his illustrations using such materials as “glass, metal, cuttings from other books and dead insects”.

Tan describes himself as a slow worker who revises his work many times along the way. He is interested in loss and alienation, and believes that children in particular react well to issues of natural justice.

Wyndham Lewis

Wikipedia

WikiArt

Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882 – 1957) was an English writer, painter and critic.  He was a co-founder of the Vorticist movement in art, and edited the literary magazine of the Vorticists, BLAST.

He painted distorted portraits and violent angular abstracts influenced by cubism and futurism. He was fascinated by the lights, speed and towering geometry of city life. He dreamed of a mechanical paradise and new society. But his robotic figures look trapped in a nightmare.

Fashion Illustration Techniques: Zoe Hong

A very thorough set of courses on Fashion Illustration

Using Croquis figures

Drawing figures: shapes and proportions

Drawing figures: fleshing it out

Different approaches: men and women

Female figures female

Male figures

Side figures: male

Front view faces

Different angles

Multiple media

Hair

Hair: colour pencils

Different styles

Media

Paints

Fabric

Clothes

Wrap arounds

Drapes and Folds

Gary Hume

Gary Hume paints large abstract paintings of people and everyday life in high gloss enamel paint and impasto. His highly simplified and often very poignant as well as sensual shapes with expressive use of colour (seen first at the joint exhibition with Philip Caulfield at the Tate Modern in 2013) have influenced my work in:

2.4 A Rose by another name: Phlomis

4.1: Caricature and Character: Bob Geldof

It is also a style to which I aspire in some of my flat digital illustrations in Sketchclub.

Speaking about his work at an exhibition titled ‘Indifferent Owl’ in 2012 he says:

‘Where I live in New York, there’s a wood. I heard an owl in the night. Next day I found one of those “Happy Birthday” balloons caught in the trees. It had almost deflated. I imagined the owl, utterly indifferent, watching the balloon float by as it slowly collapsed. That’s how I see life. I’m the owl, totally disengaged as the balloon bobs by…

Sources

STOUT, K. (ed.) 2013. Gary Hume, London: Tate Publishing.

Wikipedia

Tate images

 

 

 

 

 

Semiotics (to be developed)

Wikipedia

Semiotics is branch of linguistics that studies how we read signs. It is useful to illustrators to have some grounding in semiotics as it provides a technical language to describe how images are coded and decoded. Amongst other concepts semiotics uses connotation and denotation
as a way of describing actual and intended meanings:

  • Denotation describes the obvious, literal things in an image.
  • Connotation describes the associations we have with that image. These associations are determined by our social, economic and personal perspectives.
 This post needs much more development