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Composition critique
1mo
Rich McGhie
Hey, I’ve been needing a website like this for some time. I live on an island and have no one to get feedback. I struggle with composition. I’ve just finished this painting but am curious to see what people think and how they would’ve laid it out differently. it’s of a small battle between a plantation owner and a french pirate that happened in the late 18th century. I struggled with the perspective too but I think it’s there. Anyway, please let me know.
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MJB
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This is really cool! I LOVE it!
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hunt4animation
Thanks for sharing, Rich! One thing I noticed and someone touched upon was developing the left side of the painting. I live in a western civilization and read left to right so my eye tends to view an image from top left to bottom right. Currently the ship is anchored on the bottom corner. I think the image could be flipped and my eye sees the ship more as pushing forward more.
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Rich McGhie
Hey, thanks so much for the input! I honestly wouldn't have thought that would make any difference but now that you've done it it already feels better. It's funny how our minds work.. It does feel like it has a bit more momentum.
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squeen
Rich, I am just learning this stuff as well...so take this with a grain of salt. Parallel lines should meet on the horizon, so if you project the side of the boat the meet inside the red circle. You either need to move your horizon up, or adjust you boat-sides. Also, recall the horizon is at your eye-level so it would affect the boat and it's crew, i.e. you'd be "looking down" more. Furthermore, a basic composition "rule of thirds" suggests you place the interesting elements at the red-line intersections. That would imply you should move you lead boat into the upper-left red square, and maybe adjust the chaser ship a little, but it's probably fine. Lastly, I'm not sure were the highlight of the fella with the rifle is coming from. Your light seems to be to up and to the right. Hope that helps. (Nice clouds and water!)
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Rich McGhie
Hey Squeen, Thanks so much for the help. I really need to learn more about perspective. I get what you mean about the parallel lines meeting on the horizon. And moving the ship to the right so it's using the rule of thirds probably would help on makingit more pleasing to the eye. Do you mean the highlight on the guys back (the one with the rifle) ? Thanks again!! I was pretty happy with the water.
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Zoungy Kligge
Hi Rich. I did a fast (and sloppy!) draw-over, that I won't say I "like" but it incorporates/illustrates some suggestions that might be useful to you, and which you can interpret in your own way more thoughtfully than I have. First I wanted to say your perspective is believable to me, and it feels like sunlight and a real space. When I did the draw-over I was looking at Howard Pyle and NC Wyeth approaches to these ship scenes. I wanted to make it more dynamic and dramatic, although it might not fit with historical accuracy. For example maybe the sea would have been calm. I've shown how the masts in the original version seem to "agree" with each other by being parallels, and that the horizon is relatively calm and level. The men are in mostly vertical poses. I want to change these things. So my suggestions are to throw off the balance. If you look at Pyle and Wyeth you'll see the horizon line is always broken, uneven, tilted. Like the viewer is on a ship themselves. The masts could clash by leaning into one another, and what if the threat of the distant boat was closer, the moment of crisis depicted? I tried to use contrast and shape to heighten the effect. I didn't take much time to redraw the sailors but I would suggest posing for photos or get friends to do so. Get up high and photograph from above, the way the painting is. Throw together some costumes with what you have and get the lighting as you want, and then get the models to stand in unbalanced, energetic, kinetic, dynamic poses. Try to orient their weapons, arms, and other items in the composition to draw attention toward the target. Maybe take video instead so they can actually move around with high energy, and then use selective screen grabs. So again, some quick, rough suggestions from me not meant to be taken as a whole solution, just some ideas for adding dynamics and drama to your story. Looking forward to more work on this or other things! -Zoungy
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Rich McGhie
Zoungy, I can't thank you enough. This is exactly what I was hoping for when I posted. I considered the painting finished but I haven't varnished it yet and after looking at this I think it might be worthwhile putting it back up on the easel. I thought putting the masts parallel was probably the right thing to do but your paint-over is so much more dramatic and exciting and immediate. I'm honestly genuinely grateful for you taking the time to explain it and even do a paint-over. I'll check out Howard Pyle and Wyeth. I'm definitely coming back here for any and all future paintings Rich
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kimby
I really like the essence and technical execution of your painting - the time period are obvious to me. I so want to go swimming in that ocean right now! Compositionally, I would have included more visual appeal to the left side of the painting. Currently, I feel the work it is very right-side heavy and that my eye travels to the right of the image and stays there. I think there are storytelling issues that could be made clearer. The white stuff in the bow/stern of the French ship which I assume is the boat's wake and a splash of the cannonball? Or maybe smoke of a cannon? Visually, I don't think it is obvious what is happening. In addition, the foreground boat does not have a wake and thus, the more I look at the details of the image, the more I question whether or not the boats are traveling towards the viewer or out to sea. Another issue upon reflection is the scale of the French boat. It is odd logically. I mean, if the characters in the foreground are close enough to ready their pistols of the 18th century, then are they shooting at a toy boat ?
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Rich McGhie
Thanks so much kimby. I could have done with you at the start of this painting. Sometimes, when you’ve been looking at something for so long you can’t see the obvious problems. I think you’re right about scale, although the french boat wasn’t very big I think that yes, now you’ve said it, it does look too small. I also thought that maybe you wouldn’t see any wake from the boat in the foreground but as a storytelling tool it would have helped for sure. i’m definitely coming back here with my next painting for help. I really appreciate the time you took.
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