Thursday, August 26, 2010

Composition, Don't Be Like That

The sketch below is not about to win any pageants, but it's a starting point for page four in the Langkawi story - and more importantly - a visual aid. Because honestly, I would love some advice. Love it like crows love staring creepily from the top of stop signs.

Long story short, I've always been super clumsy at composing shots. I'm trying to improve the readability and general feel of the composition, as this page introduces a character that creates the story's main conflict. I need to hit the following story beats with the page:

a) The introduction of said new character.

b) Establishing the town and townspeople.

c) Creating a scenario in which Mahsuri would meet the new character, and find him a likeable kind of chap.

d) Keeping the setting as Malaysian as possible, while still keeping to the general (cartoonish) tone of the world.

So far this version of the page (as lo, there have been many) covers all the bases, but comes across without any real flow to it. The focus, Mahsuri and sidekick, are just sort of hanging out in the middle, and many of the elements lack real contrast when it comes to size. Also, the low-contrast foreground framing was done in page three, and doing the same thing twice in a row seems like a one-trick pony kind of deal., now that I think about it, I had a super similar shot in the Prince of Persia storybook from last year. Oof.

Some of the problems could be solved with colour, shadows and contrast, but others - are the children on the ground his? - need a different approach entirely. I think part of the answer lies with spokewheeling, as James Gurney puts it, but doing it without falling back on one point perspective again is really tricky for me.

All that said, if you've got a spare minute and any suggestions, I would love it to tiny bits.

The tiniest.


  1. I'm not entirely sure how much help this could really be, but as someone who's been following page-by-page, the sudden switch to inside town is a little jarring. Everything so far has been much more tropical and less urban...and I wonder if the scene you need to portray would be better angled from the viewpoint of entering the village, perhaps from that hill and path seen snaking down in your sketch?

  2. That's a good point, and one I hadn't considered. Thanks for the input! I'm going to mess around a little bit and see if there's a composition that can take that into consideration. Cheers!

  3. The one thing that jumps out at me is the cropping that occurs with the "vegetable cart" along the bottom. It would probably be best to angle it to force a little more perspective and not look like it is chopping off the bottom of the composition.

  4. Such a good point! The front on view isn't terribly helpful or dynamic. I should've started asking for creative input ages ago, oh my goodness.