- Lesson details
We are pleased to share with you a 10-week long class brought to you by Art Mentors. In this class, renowned Disney Art Director and Instructor Bill Perkins will teach composition for artists. In this 8th lesson, Bill will discuss the various types of space found within an image, and the qualities of those different types of spaces. He will also analyze selected images and demonstrate how and why those images convey a particular type of space.
- Conté Charcoal Pencil
Discuss this video in the forums!Discuss
In this class, renowned Disney art director and instructor Bill Perkins will teach
composition for artists.
Welcome to week 8.
Today we’re going to be talking about space and the space of your format, and also the
illusionary space that you’re trying to create.
There is a range of different types of space.
We’re going to go through those, talk about the characteristics or the qualities of those
types of space and how you can play on those in your work.
Today we’re going to be talking about space and the surface, the space of your format
and also the illusionary space that you’re trying to create.
There is a range of different types of space.
We’re going to go through those, talk about the characteristics or the qualities of those
types of space and how you can play on those in your work.
Okay, so we can depict the illusion of space in infinite ways, but we can achieve greater
visual clarity and support the clarity of our image message by establishing your approach
to space through these basic aspects of space.
There is flat space.
There is limited space.
There is deep space, ambiguous space, and cubist space.
You’ll notice right off the top I didn’t include perspective because that is a characteristic
that will be apparent in deep space.
Deep space has a lot of different characteristics.
Perspective is only one of them.
That’s why a lot of people look at, well, it’s flat or it has perspective.
Without perspective or isometric, whatever.
Perspective is a wonderful development, but at the same time, flat space and a way to
manage flat space occurred long before perspective.
Cubist space, when that was created or understood, it’s a whole new way of looking at space.
That’s another way that we can create the illusion of things.
Now, we can combine these spatial characteristics within any composition.
It doesn’t mean that if we have a composition that it’s all deep space, all flat space,
We can combine these things, and that’s an important thing to remember as we move
Our first breakdown will be a 2D division of space.
We’re going to divide up our canvas.
When we first start creating our matrix, we’re going to design a pattern on our canvas or
a piece of paper.
That is going to be that 2D flat graphic of white and black that’s going to determine
light and shadow, or it’s going to determine light and dark.
That establishes your initial figure ground relationship.
But, those shapes, they’re either going to represent a light and shadow or they’re
going to represent light and dark.
That’s pretty much it.
That’s how we begin our compositions, with that 2D mapping out of the 2D surface.
Then we start building in to our Figure-Ground relationship.
I put some different things or different characteristics that affect us, or ways that we are affected
by these spatial relationships and stuff.
You can go through these on your own time, but proximity, things that are close to one
another may be perceived more related than things that are separate.
That’s pretty easy.
I can show you a couple of examples of that too.
I can go through all of these, but I can just show you something.
I think we’ve talked about it once before.
Let’s just say that I have a space like this.
I have a grouping of circles, and then I have another circle over here.
Things that are close to on another here will feel like they are together.
They’re just overlapping.
There are three circles here, and two of them are overlapping.
They will seem or feel more connected than this one.
It seems kind of obvious, but we tend to dismiss the idea.
Closure, for instance—when we’re looking for a complex arrangement of individual elements,
we have a tendency to look for a single recognizable pattern.
That means that if we have a situation where there is a number of things going on—let’s
just say it’s pretty busy in a situation like this, right?
We’re going to be looking for something that might just kind of stand out.
If we get some shapes in here, even in an abstract.
If we get shapes that stand out.
Say there is some really high contrast in here.
These things, these three little bits, whatever they are, I can even have high contrast in
some of these.
These little bits are going to stand out.
If you have things like this, we create what’s called closure.
Your eye will go and connect these dots.
That would be a case of closure.
Let’s move on here.
Oh my gosh.
Look what I just did.
I just drew what we had.
Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself here.
When we take a look at this—I just demonstrated that up here.
We can also look at it and see that the singular circle that we have up here still remains
If I draw that again and I have the circle, and we did it like a circle and a square.
We can do something like that.
If I draw something like that, and I put this other one over here.
You see, this one feels subordinate to these.
This one feels almost equal to these.
Do you sense that?
This is a larger mass, but this one seems equal to these.
Because it’s a little bit higher in the frame.
It has an area of importance.
It’s a little bit higher in the frame.
Being smaller—if I block these in you’ll really see it.
If I do the same with these.
This is even smaller.
It’s smaller than these.
This is smaller than these.
But being lower in the frame here, like this, it makes this subordinate to these.
So your position in the frame means a lot as well.
The size and the proportion mean different things.
This is what happens in here.
The scale of the object, we tend to associate space with the size, too.
If is said, okay, I’ve got a rectangle like this, and right next to it I have another
rectangle, this one might appear close, and this one might appear farther, and we get
the perception that they are in space.
We sense the spatial relationship.
That feels like it’s a deeper space.
Watch what happens if I take a small rectangle and I overlap it in front of the large rectangle.
There is space here because there is overlap.
The effect is that this feels like greater space.
This feels like there is deeper space here.
The reason being is large things—we tend to think that large things come forward and
small things go back, and so when we look at these two images…When we look at these
I’ll erase this little dotted line I put in here.
They both kind of exude a spatial relationship, but this one kind of feels like it’s shallow.
These are, the spatial depth is much shallower.
Does that make sense?
Do you guys see that?
That’s the appearance.
It really comes down to a couple little things.
Things that we see large, we tend to think are closer.
Things that are smaller, we tend to think they’re farther away.
That’s one quality that we can get out of this.
And so when you overlap, you get a contradiction of space.
It starts to feel—it gives you a different signal.
Okay, let’s do the little overlap.
The question is, what happens if you put the little overlap near the top?
The little overlap.
One, it feels a little more dominant because it’s higher.
Spatially, it gives you the same effect.
This becomes—the spatial quality is not changed.
The dominance of the little ones and the big one has changed.
It creates a little bit of a difference but it’s interpreted through the positioning
rather than changing the spatial depth.
Is there a way to give a wide depth feel?
When you do have overlap or you have longitudinal lines.
I will show you that one as well, too.
Okay, now, there is no—and you can read in here.
We have a tendency, there is the general thought that we have the tendency to emerge into an
image kind of from the lower left and then go up and around.
That’s a tendency.
There is nothing that says that’s an absolute reality.
There is a lot of indicators that suggest this.
This little diagram with these images also suggest that.
We tend to move in that way, but what I would say is that subject trumps this idea anytime.
What’ll happen is that it doesn’t matter how you think you’re going to move into
Let’s just say I’ve got this image of an interior.
I’m thinking that the viewer is going to move in from the lower left and curve around
just like this little arrow.
Instead, I have maybe an upper right or on the right side, I’ve got a cat.
Anybody that loves a cat is going to jump to the cat.
They’re going to enter the picture from the cat.
Subject will trump everything.
It’s got a lot to do with it.
They’re really isn’t any kind of a rule or concept that’s going to say it’s all
one or it’s all the other.
But, if we look at the three rectangles below, one has crosshairs that are centered.
That image is very stable.
It feels like the most stable out of the three, doesn’t it?
The next one, the second one, still stays pretty comfortable.
It’s a little bit more relaxed and feels a little more dynamic than the first one.
Then the third one feels more extreme.
See the difference between the middle on and the right one?
That one feels a little more extreme because our focal point, the crosshairs, are way—we
have to travel into that space.
If we do come in from the lower left to the upper right, there is a farther road to go,
and our eyes are going to be moving in that direction.
It feels a little more extreme.
That’s one tendency or an argument for this idea that your eye will move in a particular
Your subject could trump it all so there isn’t really any one way or way would could start
looking at lot of this.
Look at the images down below, the scale and the difference in scale.
Let’s slide on down.
Okay, if we take a look at these images, the one on the upper left.
Okay, where we have a circle and a square, and they’re a little separated.
When they’re a little separated, what happens is we see a circle and a square, and we compare.
We look and those and we’re saying, okay, what’s the difference?
What’s the similarity?
What do they have in common?
We’re comparing circle to square, circle to square.
The next image where we put the circle and the square next to one another or close to
one another, where they become close to one another, that’s where we’re asking what
is their relationship?
At first, the first one on the left, we’re looking at comparing one to the other.
When you put them closer, we think of these things as more as a unit, and we say, okay,
what’s their relationship?
It’s about the relationship between the two.
The first one is about contrast.
The second is about the relationship.
The third one is flatness.
It goes completely flat.
The tangency there goes completely flat.
You see how it flattens out the image, just those two simple abstract elements.
They flatten out.
Then when you have the circle overlapping the square, the circle becomes the dominant
If you look at the far left you’re looking at and comparing the circle to the square.
The one on the far right, the circle is clearly dominant over the square,
just because it overlaps it.
Each one of these little diagrams gives us a certain characteristic or a certain direction
in how we read it.
This is how subtle these things can be.
When we look at scale or in size, we can say a small circle in a larger square.
Again, we’re comparing with the ones on the far left, we’re comparing.
As they get closer, we create a visual tension.
The tension increases.
Same as the one above, too.
There is tension that increases in the second images.
Then again, when it touches—the small circle on the square—when it touches we get this
tangent or flatness.
Then the next one, we have the small circle overlapping the large square.
We make the circle dominant over the square because it’s in front of.
We see greater spatial depth just like above.
There is still greater spatial depth.
There is another interesting thing that happens in this one.
Because the small circle is in front of the large square, we create a visual tension.
There is a certain tension.
Again, our understanding of things that are larger when they are close up and smaller
when they are farther back.
You invert that and you create a visual tension.
The image on the right where we have the square over the small circle, that appears to have
far greater spatial depth.
We’re reading a large object overlapping a small object.
And, we see the difference between the square and the circle.
We’re getting overlap, but we’re sensing a deeper space because of the scale.
Then in the bottom row here we have the square.
Then the position we showed in diagram 2, the position of the circle over the square,
as pointed out earlier, when it’s in front and higher, we get the sensation that it is
dominant. The circle is dominant.
This is the second image here.
We get the sense that the second image is dominant.
We also get the sense that there is greater spatial depth
with the circle.
This takes place farther away.
So we get the dominant, subordinate.
Then if you’ll take a look at the one on the right, these two, the circle and the square,
the third one in, the circle is low compared to the square.
You’re going to get a little bit of tension in that one, right?
It’s lower, it’s less dominant than the one on the left, but it is in front.
Then we get a very flat effect when you put the circle in the corner of the square.
The square works as the ground, and the circles, because they have some directional force in
here because they’re not full circles, they’re just arcs, basically.
They have a directional force, but it flattens the space.
It makes them feel—it makes them feel like figures in a flat ground.
Since they relate to the edge of the ground because we don’t see the full circle, and
the edge of the square completes their shape, it makes them feel like they take advantage
of part of the square so what they have in common becomes pretty dominant there.
Okay, here is just kind of a cleaner example of what we were just talking about.
When you have two different shapes we tend to look for the relationship or compare them.
We do get a deeper space on the left one then we do on the middle one.
The overlap seems very close.
They seem very close together.
All I did is slide it in.
I didn’t move it in any way, and there is no perspective in there or anything.
It’s just—we sense the sense of perspective because they are similar shapes.
One is smaller and we connect the corners and start to make it feel like there is a
deeper perspective there.
The one in the middle, we still sense a deeper space or the deepest space.
We’re still connecting almost like a perspective.
We kind of connect the corners.
When you have the smaller element in front it causes a little bit of tension and flatter space.
Tonal contrast as well.
Tonal contrast will make a difference too.
If there is more contrast in the foreground than the background, it’ll seem like a natural
When you have high-contrast in the background that throws off our perception, kind of like
It throws off our perception.
It kind of creates a contradiction.
This is just an idea of shapes.
I just included this on here.
This is just kind of creating a distinction, and a spatial distinction with shapes.
You can kind of sense it.
The top image is pretty much three types of shapes.
The distant clouds, closer puffy clouds, and ground.
The distant clouds are long curved lines.
The puffy clouds are short, condensed curved lines.
The ground is shorter, straighter lines that change direction.
The shorter quality is what they have in common with the puffy clouds.
So there is a relationship there.
It is a little distant, but the overall—if you take a look at the ground…
Let me draw on here.
I’ll just draw that here.
What happens is there is a rhythm to the ground.
The ground has small turns like this.
There is an overall rhythm to it.
The other overall rhythm is these sweeping clouds back here.
That general rhythm has something in common with this.
This is made up of these smaller bits that are turning in space.
Then our puffy clouds have shorter lines or shorter shapes in here that relate to the
shortness of this, but they also have some direction or force, and they’re curved like
these up here.
This is a case of harmonizing your components, making some sense of the harmony in there.
We can create another association with these or a little bit more distinction if we just
do something like this.
If I’m adding value to this, maybe these are, I make these dark.
I make this shape really dark.
I’m adding another relationship with light, medium, and dark.
I can get a sense of spatial depth going on in there.
If I want to add to it.
Again, I’m going to look in a couple of different ways.
I can say, do I want to expand my shapes in some way?
Do I want to expand my values?
How do I build the relationships of that?
Let’s just do the mountain here.
It’s going to have some breakup of these types of shapes.
I’ll add a medium value to that.
That shapes got a medium value.
Creating this area back there.
I’ve got my puffy shapes.
I have longer, wispy shapes in here too.
Maybe what I want to do is maybe I want to make this, some of these lighter.
Or, excuse me, make these puffy clouds feel a little bit lighter.
I’m going to darken this just a little bit to make the puffy clouds feel a little lighter.
Now I’m building a relationship of medium to light to white.
Then I can afford a darker shape.
If this straight, long straight—these are short straights—and I have a long straight,
I can give myself a long straight.
Here is the bridge.
I can even put the, a three-way here.
I’m going straight, and I’m going straight.
I have these straight, this straight across here.
Then maybe these are broken up trees.
These are bits of very short straights.
These might be small straights, but make them rounder, a little more puffy.
Then I’ll put another straighter one in there with it.
This illusion of depth—this is giving you a great illusion of depth.
This perspective that’s going on here.
That’s the only thing other than your tonal contrast.
If you build a relationship, let’s just say there is a shadow under this.
Now what I’m going to do is I’m going to see, okay, the contrast here to here, that’s
pretty strong, that’s closer.
My next darker thing is the mountain.
The next darker thing is the sky and the clouds.
I’m building contrast and getting a little bit more, using the contrast and this to create
deeper spatial depth.
Now, passages, passes also work spatially.
We think of them as maybe flat, but they do work spatially.
If you look at the first apple in the upper left, it’s got its transition within the
You have this contour which remains rigid, and then you get the breakup or a passage
only within the apple.
The one on the right, there are no passages.
Passages being transitions, areas that allow your eye to move in and out of an object.
On the middle left, we have the apple, but it’s partly dark and partly light.
The background is partly dark and partly light.
But those lights and darks will pretty much define edges.
They’re left to define the edges in these shapes.
Then there is a passage where your eye moves from background into the apple down the right
side of that apple.
The one on the middle right, that one is a line drawing like we were doing with line,
mass, and form.
But, this is a line drawing, and then there is a passage because there is a middle value
that spans all the way across through the middle of the apple and out the other side.
It tends to allow our eye to move along that line a little bit more freely.
That’s what we consider a passage.
The lowest one the left—you can see there is an internal and an external, and only at
the bottom is there a passage.
So, where it connects to the ground is where things connect.
That’s where your eye is going to connect those things.
Okay, this may be how our eye moves through things.
When we overlap images like the squares, rectangles on the upper left, we get a force or a directional
movement, and you can see the upper right where we have overlap.
I’ve overlapped the squares with the organic shape, the organic shape itself because it’s
a different shape, and even though it’s pinched between the other two, it creates
a different directional pattern.
It’s quite a bit more complex.
The one on the lower left is just a linear movement our eye follows around, and then
the one on the right is more volumetric.
This is a case of more cubist type space.
That is a case of rather than going along longitudinal lines that go into deep space,
what happens is our eye is deflected off of surfaces that tilt to one another.
As those surfaces tilt towards one another, that’s where our eyes deflect off and bounce
around in this kind of faux space.
It’s very different than normal perspective and how we perceive it.
Yeah, the question is would it be like an arm in a figure drawing.
Would that be more of this type of cubist space?
The fact, this type of space is your eye deflecting off of shapes and surfaces.
What you’re talking about is space, but it’s more of a volumetric space.
We’re looking at surfaces.
The cylinder in the middle here has a volumetric quality to it.
Then our eye bounces off of those planes and it creates this spatial difference.
Let me draw something here.
Okay, let’s say you have a figure like this, and you have an arm coming this way and an
arm coming this way.
Maybe this is coming down like this.
Then this resting.
Maybe this goes over like this.
Maybe they’re holding their—they’re holding something out here.
Wait, they’re holding a cat.
Just because there are too many cat videos online.
People love cats evidently.
There you go.
Or the people that love cats seem to be more outspoken.
We create this volumetric situation where we’re actually going in and around.
I can kind of play that out.
If we take a look at a circle here.
I’m going to create a spatial relationship here.
Now, this looks like a circle in front of a wall in front of a panel.
Now, how do we increase the space?
The spatial quality here is just because of this longitudinal, more perspective type of
But, if I’m going to make more space out of this, I might do this.
I have the same—this is the same thing as this, right?
But, if I bend this, look at the spatial relationship between these two now.
I’ll put a circle around it or a square around it so that you see them in isolation
a little better.
I’ve just created more space in between these objects.
Dimensionally, it feels like there is more space going around that object.
Bending some of these things will actually create a little more space.
That’s what you’re getting with some of these shapes in here.
You’re creating this volumetric space.
Now, if you’re doing a still life—I’ll do this with a still life.
If you’re doing a still life, and you’re looking down on the still life.
This is a bowl, and you’ve got a ball or a piece of fruit, say you’ve got a little
lime in the bowl.
Well, you’ve created a lot of space around that little lime.
Now, if I limit that space a little bit like this, it doesn’t feel as spatially deep.
If I do something like that, I’m relying on the outside of this to give me the spatial
If I put more fruit in the bowl, at some point, the bowl is going to seem full.
I’m going to lose my spatial depth even more.
See the difference between those?
This becomes a whole volume, a big solid, and I don’t have the spatial quality that
I’ve gained out of this.
That’s what’s going to happen if you put something like that.
Then, if you’re bowl is something like this, and just say you’ve got a couple of pieces
of fruit here, you’ve got to rely on the overlap to give you any spatial depth whatsoever.
That’s all you get.
This is even flatter than this.
It’s the opening and what you can see and whether it’s one little piece of fruit and
a lot of space around it.
The more you fill the internal area, the less space you have.
Then if you obliterate it completely, the only overlap, or the only space you get is
through overlap of the fruit itself.
Looking at the top.
This is really important when you’re setting up a still life.
When you set up a still life it’s really important to play with your space.
Can you have multiple space in one image?
You can create multiple space in one image.
Let’s just say I’ll do that here.
If I do a still life maybe I’m going to take a table, I’m going to take a table
like this and a table cloth.
On my table, if I said, okay, there is a surface here going around the surface here, if I want
to flatten something, a cubit would tilt the bowl upright, and you’d look right in the
bowl, and it would contradict this plane.
There’d be these contradictions of planes when we’re looking at surfaces now that
But, if I want to have both flat and deeper space in here, then maybe what I would do
is, and if I want to stay more realistic to this or more true to a perspective, maybe
what I would do is maybe I would have a bowl here on this table that I’m seeing down
in—maybe I’ve got a couple other pieces of fruit that work in the same way, and I’m
going to lead your eye in some way through here.
But then, if on the table, let’s just say there is something that works in space like
this, maybe there is a bunch of books.
Let’s just make it a stack of books.
These are going to get flatter on the top, and whatever sits on the top here, let’s
just say you put another bowl here, it’s going to seem a little flatter here.
And then maybe you take a big bowl or big saucer and stand it up in the background.
Now, I’m doing a couple of things.
I’m moving your eye up and around and using this to go around.
I’m trying to create some kind of a composition that will move your eye around.
But, look what I’ve done spatially.
I’ve given you a good amount of space here.
This is very flat, and this is very flat, too.
But, if this is tilting back, let’s make it tilt back, and let’s just say over here
I put a bottle.
I give you a light source that’s coming in this direction.
The bottle is going to reflect a shadow up here like this, and it’s going to tilt back
at that angle.
I’m creating more space because I’m defining that this is going back at an angle.
I’m tilting it back because I used the shadow to tilt it back, register that tilt.
You know, anytime you’re creating a still life, I can start putting in shadows based
on this same light direction.
And I’m going to look for how they’re going to move my around the image and connect
these things a little bit.
Maybe it goes up onto this casted shadow up onto the books.
Maybe these go into shadow back over here.
Of course, this bowl is going to go into shadow here and then back.
Yeah, the question is, do I look for things that display a dominant and subordination.
Yes, I’ll look for things that create dominant and subordination.
In this, I looked at three different ways to create space.
My greatest space here, looking in here, this is one level of space, deeper space here.
This plate back here is more shallow, but it’s tilting back.
I’m going to give a little bit of a tilt on that, and the shadow helps me register
that it’s a little bit of a tilt.
This one you can’t see inside at all, and it’s pretty flat.
That’s why I raised it up on some books here like this.
That’s really what I would—I’m playing with these three things just to give you a
sense of space, and moving your eye around the frame, I can use the shadows and stuff
to move your eyes around.
If I want to bring your eye back around, what I can also do is just make a shadow shape
or, you know, some kind of folds or something like this.
Let’s just say I want to bring your eye over here, I can do this too.
I can bring your eye back over this way.
Let’s just make the background a little darker back here so it stands apart like that.
Again, I’m just starting to move your eye around.
Everything I’m doing or positioning, I’m creating a pathway for your eye to move around.
That’s really where I’m going.
You can have multiple types of space in one image.
Okay, the image on the top is more of these deflecting surfaces like a cubist kind of quality.
It doesn’t register as much perspective, let’s say, in here.
But we do get some—oh, we need to look at the top one.
This is what I’m talking about.
You see, there is nothing kind of sitting on the ground.
We do sense that there is a spatial depth there.
We do see that their eyes are moving across these surfaces, and it’s deflecting off
Now, when we look at the other image down here, this has a bit more of a dynamic relationship
between these because we sense that there is a ground plane, and we sense that they
are all sitting on this ground plane.
Does that make sense?
The feeling that it is a ground plane does give us more of a sense that there is more
perspective in these because there is a relationship where these angles or these surfaces all kind
of come from one vanishing or horizon line.
They’re not tilted all over the place.
There is one in the distance there.
The long surface is flat to the picture plane.
That’s our contradiction.
That’s the one rectangle that’s different than all the others.
It becomes dominant just because it’s different.
It feels flatter.
It’s a sense that it feels like a little bit more flatter space because it’s flat
to the picture plane.
It is flatter.
It’s flatter to us.
That’s a variation within one image.
There is deep space in the upper image there.
Where you get longitudinal references.
These are things that show types of perspective.
There is deeper space.
You see a deeper room in that upper image.
The second image, where the back wall is flat to the picture plane, you’re shooting right
into the wall.
What ends up happening is we’re composing right into the wall.
It’s flat and we’re seeing that surface, and it’s flat to our picture plane.
In that case, this is flat space.
The third image down we have is a division of space.
In our division of space, the guy on the left is sitting there in front of the flat wall.
The guy on the right is sitting in front of a window where you see out the window, and
you see deep space down the street or something in that window.
You can register two different types of space in the same image.
You can create images like just anything else.
You can build a range.
It’s not all one thing or another.
You can build compositions that have elements of all of those.
The last one being ambiguous space.
Ambiguous space is basically a situation where your normal relationships are purposely up. mixed
You think of M.C. Escher in German expressionism.
Those were a literal, things that create visual tension.
So scale, distance, and angle is all interrupted and contrasting.
Those are all interrupted.
When you have that, it does make a more uneasy type of quality,
and that is why German expressionists like that quality you get out of that.
Here are a couple of images—I’m going to blow that up just a little bit—that offer
a different variety or a variety of relationships.
The one on the upper left, the Rousseau painting, there is flat space.
You’ll see there is very little depth.
Everything is overlapping and there is not much of a ground plane at all at the bottom
of the frame.
It just seems very, very flat.
The one on the right, the Gauguin, seems like there is a deeper element of space.
It’s bordering cubism, so some of the spatial relationships we don’t see quite as readily.
But they are real designed, organic shapes.
Tonal contrast is mixed up just like ambiguous space.
There are characteristics that flatten the image purposely and limit our ability to read.
This is a lot of spatial depth.
The question is why would you use flat space because the tendency is to look flat and a
There are a lot of reasons why in film you would do that.
If you want to convey and idea to the audience you can give them subtext, a visual subtext.
There are a lot of things that are played in a very limited to flat space like your
Trompe-l’oeil still life paintings that are managed in that way.
That’s one way that’s kind of worked out as a method.
You know, Rousseau would have wanted you to take a look at the shapes.
It’s really more about the shapes.
If you diminish the dynamic components in other areas, you’re focused on what they
want you to focus on.
If you’re doing an image, this is just one scenario.
If you’re doing an image where you want the viewer to pay more attention to your space.
If it’s a flatter space you’re not giving them more dynamic elements to conflict with
that story idea.
You know, when you’re making a painting you’re creating a story.
Deeper space, the lower left image, you have one point perspective.
You can see the guy riding into town.
This is all happening along this one-point perspective.
Everything relates to that as it all vanishes towards this one horizon.
Then the Escher in the lower right is a good representation of ambiguous space.
What up is down.
What’s, you know, the underside of stairs is the upper part of the stairs.
Now, it uses a tonal contrast to create confusion.
Then there are elements where one surface turns into another type of surface, and so
you get a confusion there.
That would be more of an ambiguous space.
Okay, this is more about ambiguous space.
Like I said, German expressionist images and stuff, they have a tendency to want to play
that up. You can see the Frankenstein image there.
If Boris Karloff actually walked back to the window back there, the room actually tapered.
It wasn’t constructed like a normal room.
It’s called forced perspective.
It tapers back to the point that it is very quirky.
Shadows could be painted on the walls and stuff.
If he were to walk back there, there would be a total conflict.
The fact that there is an appearance that it has a tendency to possibly work, but not
work normally, that creates this illusion of ambiguity or an ambiguous quality that
creates this tension and sets you off a little bit.
Okay, in this image, what I did was is I created a scenario where I didn’t want—it was
a city scene, and I did not want to make it deep space.
I wanted to limit the space in the city.
What I did is I made sure that I didn’t have any streets going in a longitudinal direction.
The only surfaces that I had going in a longitudinal direction are the rooftops and the windows
because the focus here in the image is the upper window on the right.
That being the case, what I did is I made sure that the spatial arrangements were either
flat or overlapping.
Then what I did was—and kind of faked the perspective by having the angled roof lines.
The only thing you get is scale and overlap except longitudinal space on the rooftops
You can see the image here.
The shape on the rooftop and stuff on the left will kind of close this side of the frame.
Also, the shadow part will close that side of the frame.
Then the angle curbing on the rooftop that aims down, that closes you off.
It also leads you into the low center, and then the angle of the rooftop going into space
on the upper right, and the windows going into perspective.
Those are the only areas of perspective.
This is a case where I used space to show dominant and subordination.
I wanted the windows on the right to be dominant, so I used color and contrast and space.
The difference here is just this.
I’ll show you.
Maybe I’ll just draw it next to this.
I’m going to go over here.
Oh wow, can’t look in two places at once and draw.
So I’m just going to do something like this.
Now, what I did was is I made sure that in the background everything was like this—stacked.
That’s what is was.
Maybe this was here.
Maybe I have something here and here.
I get this situation that’s it’s going back in space because I get a scale of going
back in space.
And there is overlap.
That’s one kind of managing space.
It’s kind of a flat and overlapping kind of a thing.
Then what I have is another overlapping thing where I have this kind of a shape.
Then this comes down like this.
I have a shape here, shape here.
This breaks off and goes pretty much down like this.
Now, outside of these shapes, I’ve got this.
This is coming down like this.
These are parallel.
They don’t perspect-, they don’t vanish up here.
They just go at the same angle.
Then I have that going down.
This is going back the same angle as this.
This is going back the same angle as this.
Now, over here, what I’m going to do is I’m going to go back to this perspective
line, and I’m going to draw perspective like this and this.
These perspect to our horizon out here.
Everything else is just overlapping and getting smaller.
Nothing else is perspecting to that line or that vanishing point except this and this.
Then my window…
I’m just going to put one window in here.
Again, like I said, I’m going to use a little bit of tonal contrast, color contrast.
I did orange to blue.
This is a strong shadow line.
Then just barely put a little bit of an angle down here.
That connects all these things and ends with this little angle down here.
It’s going to move my eye back up in here.
Hopefully, it’s going to get picked up by this.
The main thing that I’m going to get out of this is that I’m going to have this
surface be my deep space where everything else is flat.
In a situation like this what I’m doing is I’m particularly, I’m specifically
manipulating the space so that I’ve giving dominance to one area.
That’s managing the spatial relationships.
The question is, do the shadow shapes have to do with the spatial quality.
Oh yeah, the yellow pixie dust in there?
So, if you’re saying, okay, I’ve got a flat space background, all the buildings are
flat, and then the light trails seem to perspect to one point, yeah,
there is a contradiction here.
If there wasn’t a contradiction then the little light trails would be competing with
all the windows.
If they group in a different manner, then if you perceive them in different manners,
then they’ll group in that way, and you’ll perceive different types of space.
The question is, is the reason that the light trails are perceived as going deeper into
space because we see it against a flatter background, and that’s exactly right.
Yes, it’s all planned.
She flies into the window, yeah.
If you want to maintain focus even on a small element, you’ve got to figure out how you’re
going to manage the rest of the image so that you maintain focus on that small element.
Keeping that in your design is really want you need to do.
You need to kind of plan for it.
I’m going to slide this up here too.
This is more of a cubist image.
These were some things that I did a Tinkerbell sequel, kind of a Peter Pan sequel, but Tinkerbell
was the main character.
I wanted to have a difference between London and Neverland, and the idea or my job was
to depict what would the fairy world look like.
It needed to be something like Neverland, but it was a little girl version of Neverland.
I had to break down, okay, what would London look like spatially in contrast to Neverland,
and then Pixie Hollow?
What’s the difference between those three?
That’s the challenge I kind of laid in front of myself.
What I did is I looked at creating this grid that was like a faux curved screen.
Anything that might have semi-space might not perspect to the same angles, or perspect
to the same line at all.
Nothing would perspect to the same line so created these curved shapes because they kind
of defy perspective.
Then the plane of the surface in this little cave opening, it perspects at one point, and
the water surface perspects at a different angle completely.
That throws off these planes, and our eyes start looking at these as more cubist.
Neverland was more of a cubist situation anyway.
Okay, so it’s really setting up a different kind of space and more of a cubist-type space.
Here is an example of more cubist-type arrangement.
This was from a book on Cezanne’s Cubism.
The image up in the upper left, number one, and then number two is how you would see it
or diagram it in real space.
Number three was his painting, and then number four is kind of the analysis of what he did
to flatten that space and still give you a road that goes into space.
Make it even more flattened.
The bottom, number six, you can see the diagram that I showed you a little earlier, how your
eye will rotate around that volumetric cylinder at the bottom.
Then the other shapes having multiple surfaces, your eye kind of deflects off of those surfaces
and moves around.
Cezanne did another painting that represented, the compositional breakup is represented in
image five on the lower left there.
It creates kind of a viewing, but a viewing picture box.
Image seven on the right, all your valley and mountain exists within this little box.
It’s another manipulation of flattening the space.
This is an example of a flatter space.
You can see there is no perspective at all.
Everything is just a case of overlap.
Same with these.
They seem flatter.
Even though this one seems flatter, this one feels like it is deeper space, but it’s
It’s all very flat.
It seems like a deeper space because we have a clear recognition of total contrast in the
foreground from the dark silhouettes over the light to less contrast, small shapes in
Small shapes spatially drop us back.
That’s what appears as the deeper space, but it’s still very, very flat.
Staging, you know, when we have a situation like this.
Again, this is very, very flat.
We have a strong directional line or movement just because of the overlap of these characters.
They’re all aiming towards—their arms are reached out towards her.
His strong eyeline.
His right arm is curved around.
That closes us off the outside of the frame.
That keeps the space kind of contained between him and then her, and her arms up framing
her face as well.
All the other arms are aiming up towards her face.
Her arms are even aiming at her face.
His arms are down because they want to see the force of the pose of his eyeline.
His arms go down and his head becomes the dominant angle there.
This is from Metropolis.
This is kind of a limited space.
There is kind of a—I can show you the flat elements here.
We have her, let’s start with her because she is the focal point.
That’s her up here.
There is a real strong directional movement there.
I’m putting that there.
Her arms come like this around here.
They come down.
Then out here.
Do you see that.
That’s framing her face.
She is framing her face in there.
I’m going to bend this a little bit because like our diagram up there we get more spatial
depth out of this even though it’s flat to the picture plane.
Most of the images laid out kind of flat to the picture plane.
We have a limited amount of space because this all goes dark back here, and it all appears
flat to the picture plane.
We don’t have any longitudinal space going in.
It just feels flat.
Then we have the guy over here.
His eyeline is accentuated by the fact that he is pushed out this way and his arms go
His arms create this closure, right?
Then this one comes around like this.
His eyeline is really strong.
We have this implied line going flat to the picture plane.
Hers, same thing.
She is on this structure.
All the other lines, all these lines are going out toward her.
That’s the idea.
All the little heads are all looking up at her.
We have all these eyelines that are all matching these lines.
This gives a really strong force to see how flat this looks now, and all these lines are
going up here.
This area down in here has this deeper design because it’s creating this focal direction,
the strong direction within this image.
You really get a sense of how flat this could be.
Then we have a strong breakup here.
In between the lines are dark, and then most of the heads are dark hair.
Question is, the flattened space allows you to look at the woman, and yes.
All these directional forces around here all reinforce that.
Even she is reinforcing her framing on her face.
He is helping that by closing this off and giving you this kind of a shape.
It’s pretty interesting.
I’m going to jump down through some of these.
Here are a couple of film frames, too.
You can see there are spatial qualities and overlapping in the upper image, and the lower
image has a lot of deeper space.
This can be something you can carry out through a movie.
You can maintain the consistency.
You always see a character in deep space.
The other one you always see in flat space.
Not that that was the case here, but there are movies that have done that.
That work is one of those kinds of movies.
You can manage space in a certain way that the spatial depth becomes a subtext for that
character in some way.
This movie was really manipulated with warm and cool, warm and cool tones were really
pushed, and caricature in this design and can see in a lot of this.
You know, in the upper image here, we’ve got a situation where it’s, even within
this small shape there is an element of perspective as the mechanics on the left go into space,
we get the sense that there is a spatial depth.
The image below, there is depth created by the shadows, the way that it’s lit.
If they did a frontal lighting.
It looks like the boy is backlit, but the whole room is backlit, which is interesting
It’s impossible lighting, but it would never actually be this way.
IT was all contrived.
If you recognize that the image is contrived, you have to ask yourself, why did they put
those shadows where they put those shadows?
If you look, the shadows point toward the boy.
They help frame the boy.
Those are set up that way.
Even though you have, if it was all just flatly lit, it would be pretty flat.
The way it is, it’s set up to direct your eye toward the boy.
And this image is pretty flat.
We only get a suggestion of what’s back there.
We get a tonal contrast and the difference between contrasting background and the foreground
gives us our facial depth, besides hard and soft edges.
Tonal contrast and then the hard and soft edges give us the difference there.
Now, you can see the choices that the filmmaker made.
It’s warm against cool.
Two colors, pretty much.
That’s pretty much it, through the imagery you can see it’s pretty strong two colors,
almost like it’s tinted in.
You made choices and there are elements of saturation.
He’s using the warm/cool to really kind of play up elements in here.
We have the guard, you know, the policeman up at the top.
There are rim lights on the other characters that help frame him.
We have the woman in the midground, and she’s on the left there.
The dark on the right, and the doorway back there kind of help frame her in position.
Of course, the other guy’s eyeline, he’s looking from the distance back in.
But, otherwise, it’d be pretty flat.
The image of her would be pretty flat in space.
Now, if you take a look at the bottom one, this is much deeper space.
There is some perspective.
There is a three-point perspective.
We’re seeing a lot of depth because we’re looking down, and we’re seeing the columns
start to converge as they move down.
Even the people all perspect from top to bottom, and so they all move that way as well.
It’s hard to see in here, but you can look on your PDF.
There is a little guy that’s got mostly saturated outfit on, and that’s going to
be one of your focal points too.
Everything goes kind of warm, and then a little cool figure down in there.
Now, look at the difference between the image with the little boy and the girl.
Which one looks flatter and which one looks deeper?
The image of the boy, the one on the top; it’s flatter.
The background, the camera is positioned perpendicular to the background.
It’s flatter to the picture plane.
The other image—there is a longitudinal surface that goes down and frames her.
I think it’s really important.
Rather than just talking about, I think we need to get the idea.
I’ll draw with you, but you guys should draw this because it seems, you know, when
you think of something or I explain something, if you draw while I’m explaining it, it’s
going to sink in better.
You’ll kind of own it.
The first image of the boy is going to be, he’s up in here.
Here’s some books.
They’re going back into perspective a little bit.
Something else in the foreground here.
All this is going flat, all this back here is all flat to the picture plane.
There is a little bit of longitudinal element here.
That closes this off just a little bit, and then we have this flatness over here again.
All of this is pretty flat except for this one little bit back here.
That’s partially because they put the camera right where the horizon is flat to these areas
there, or the surfaces.
I’m going to draw the one below.
I’ve got a large foreground element.
Again, we’ve got a couple of books in here.
Then we get a kind of a progression of shape to a little bit of a perspective on a shape,
a light sticking out from the wall.
A frame, you know, a door frame that comes in here and then elements get smaller and
smaller in here.
Bones back here.
Our perception of the space is greater here.
This is the girl here.
It’s interesting how we use the head and eyeline to keep us in here.
In here we have flat things to the picture plane in here, just a little bit in the books,
but they’re all sitting at kind of this angle.
Whereas in here, we’re getting a little bit of perspective pushing back.
We’re not pushing it enough.
A little bit going back in space here like this.
We get it from the light sticking out from the wall, space back here.
And then this doorway like that.
The other darker little areas back in here makes it feel like we actually go back in
perspective along that wall this way, whereas behind the boy we’re looking at something
that’s like that.
Now, I just exaggerate and push these things like in these little diagrams, but
you can push these things.
You can go as far as you want with it, and I think that’s kind of the interesting thing
When you’re conscious about how you’re manipulating space choose the angle that you’re
If it’s an interior or an exterior or a landscape or whatever, you can look at—the
question came up earlier about Monet’s haystacks.
Those are pretty much flat space.
It really wasn’t about the depth.
It was about the reflection into that lineup of haybales.
It really wasn’t about the longitudinal space.
By eliminating the longitudinal space it keeps you focused on what he wants you to look at.
That’s part of this.
It’s to understand the tools and the characteristics of these tools or visual components.
And then you can be more particular about which ones you choose and how you describe
what you want, how you keep the viewer focused on what you want to look at or consider when
you’re working on your piece or when you’re designing your work.
This image is very flat.
It’s maintained very, very flat.
The interesting thing about this is it’s a complete notan image.
It’s really like line and mass.
The tonal contrast is really broad.
Each zone is handled a little differently.
It remains flat from that standpoint.
The statement is even though this is very flat space, both of her forearms are pushing
you and enhancing that depth.
Why is that?
Look at the pattern on her blouse as it comes down her shoulder, down to her elbow.
That’s a surface that’s—you can tell it’s cylindrical because of the way he designed
Now, when you take a look at her forearms, do you see how the design of the pattern is
That shows spatial depth.
It’s still within the silhouette, but the pattern itself is compressed as it goes back
From the foreground elbow to her wrist, it goes, the underneath wrist, if you take a
look at the pattern or the print it gets tighter and tighter and tighter as it goes back in
So we perceive spatial depth.
Same thing with her left arm and on the right side of our image.
We get the spatial depth in the pattern going from her wrist to her elbow.
It’s only the perspective of the pattern.
The design of the shape can be very flat.
If you design that shape, that shape could be very, very flat.
All of the perspective or the sense of depth really comes from the diminishing texture.
The texture on that pattern is really what gives you that spatial depth.
Just an idea of where you might look.
This was an internet image, and this is kind of the way that it was presented.
And then here is a case, if we compare these two, what I did is I painted over one to manipulate
it, but these are the same image.
What I did is I changed the focus from the wine glass to her just by changing the pattern
a little bit.
There is the appearance of this being very, very flat.
But the tonal contrast would give you a sense that there is some depth because you have
an element of high contrast, light and dark, and then a color contrast and tonal contrast
together being light and dark.
That’s what gives you the spatial depth.
It’s a contradiction that in this case it makes it kind of interesting.
Okay, there is a beast in this little girl or this woman or girl on the top of the beast.
If we take a look at this there is some tension going on in this image.
She is on top of this guy, and yet you’d think because of her height she would be kind
of in control or dominant in this, but she is pushed against the top frame.
If you give her more space at the top, you actually make her more dominant by giving
her a little space, a little room to move up there.
Now, here is an Andrew Loomis.
This is online.
If you take a look at this designs, he created these gesture lines.
These are merely gesture lines.
These are lines that maybe the flow of the force of direction might take.
Now, if you take a look at the illustrations created from these lines, they don’t necessarily
have a lot of spatial depth because the patterns that you see on the initial abstract designs,
They’re only dividing that 2-D surface.
They’re curved lines, but they only sit on the 2-D surface.
They don’t have the sensation of spatial depth at all.
These were some compositions that Edgar Payne was talking about forms and compositions.
In this case, we might have a fulcrum on the top where you have something large on one side.
It’s about dominant and subordination.
In the top row.
And then you might have something of balance in the middle.
He’s giving you elements on the left, elements on the right, and some kind of intermediate
thing that might have a connection with it, too.
Then he’s framing things around the surface, and then there is an S, and it’s framing
things along an S-shape.
Then the lower one looks like, the lower three, three there is a fulcrum on the left, a circle
in the center, and an S on the right.
In most all these cases, even these are very flat.
The circle might be giving you a little bit more spatial depth, or maybe the S can give
you a little bit more spatial depth in these images.
That’s a difficult thing.
The question is, this was from a book on composition by Edgar Payne, and the upper one was Andrew
Loomis, and both of them take the standpoint of creating a composition from an arbitrary
line or arbitrary shape.
My dilemma is when would you ever do that?
And why would you ever what do that?
Yes, you can do that, and they show, yes, they can make a composition out of that.
But why would you ever want to do it?
Shouldn’t it really come from the story?
Shouldn’t it really come from what you want to say about what you’re doing.
If you’re dealing with spatial depth you want to illustrate some sense of depth in
there if you’re doing to use your spatial depth.
If you want in some of these cases to create the tension between the flat surface and spatial
depth, yeah, you might go about designing one aspect on a flat level and then lay in
some spatial depth in certain areas and so on.
That’s really what it comes down to, is what’s the design orientation of space,
flat or deep, and if you’re going to choose a way to do it, choose a way to do it.
It should be along the line of what you want to say in your piece.
Here are things to avoid, a canvas that’s in half, equal spacing of the masses.
Too many parallel lines.
Trees in a line, equal spacing, centered objects, scattered objects, centered horizon.
Three equal divisions, equal masses, and a crowded design.
Again, these are helpful hits, but the thing that I find difficult with this is if you
take these things very literally and never do these things, you know, that’s what we
When we pick up a book we go, don’t ever put anything in the middle.
Don’t ever have too many parallel lines, and don’t ever do this.
That will completely throw you off.
Really, what you need to do is you really need to look and say, okay,
what do I want to say?
What do we need to do to make this work?
And let’s just say that you’re looking at—say you want to have, you’re doing
a painting of supreme court judges, and they’re
all supreme court judges, and they’re all equal.
Well, maybe you would have equal spaces and equal masses, wouldn’t you?
It depends on what Justice you talk to.
I’m just saying if you’re going to do something like that or if you’re lining
up—let’s just say you stack some dominoes and you line them up, and it’s only the backs.
They’re all equal.
Flip them around and now you’re going to be looking at—even if they’re equal size,
equal spaces, the dots are going to tell you what’s more dominant and what’s subordinate.
You can create flatness; show the backs.
If you want to create some kind of a direction or movement against that, turn around and
show the equal spaces, equal shapes, but then the dots on those surfaces.
They’re going to create the movement around.
You’ll reorient how you’ll move through the image.
It’s all up to your design and how you plan.
In any of these given situations, there are places where you want to avoid doing these
things, or there are some places you might want to create a pattern or flatten something
on purpose to create a counter to that, whatever that might be.
Okay, here is a real limited space image.
You can see the couple on the ground are a little bit, the guy is angled, the guy on
the ground is angled.
You see a little bit of the ground surface, but everybody else is flat to the picture
plane, either flat or side, and it just closes everything off.
The whole frame is closed off because they’re sitting frontal or side.
The one guy, again, the guy crouched on the ground is the only one that’s contrary to
all the other orientation of all the characters.
For that standpoint, he stand out.
Not only that, but because of the tonal contrast.
His red is different than any other red in the image as well.
Here is the great example of the use of space in designing space a certain way.
In this image, I’m going to blow up the top image.
Let me take a look at this first.
Now, in this painting you’ve got an area on the left.
The dark area on the left is the area of rest, and the area in the right third, from the
right half over, there is a section in there that is really high contrast.
It’s backlit, it’s the front of the women.
There is closure with all of them because they’re looking back and forth and side to side.
But if we pay attention to the, if we look at this way, you can see the area on the left
has the least amount of tonal contrast and breakup, so it becomes your area of rest.
The middle section has a high frequency of small shapes that are breaking up.
The one on the right, the smallest area on the right, we have a different level of breakup
and tonal contrast.
This looks like a little bit more abstract way of dividing up your canvas, but you can
certainly design your canvas by creating more passive and more active areas.
In this case, the center, the more active has a lot more spatial cues.
I believe this is “Miliavan”.
We’ll double-check that.
Oh, it’s Arkhipov.
It’s in the notes here.
Image by Arkhipov, art by Arkhipov.
Now, the graphics on this image.
They’re super-high contrast, and that has a tendency to flatten things out a little bit.
There is very low contrast in the background.
The high-contrast in this midground area that’s in light or in higher contrast in the midground.
It was just grouped that way.
The things that are in the distance have less contrast than the things in the light or kind
Here are some flatter images.
Spatially, these are very flat.
There is no background.
They are just line and mass, pretty much.
I want to point another thing out to you here.
Take a look at the way the shapes work.
In the top one, the book is parallel to the top of the frame.
The whole book itself is a mirror, a rectangle of the overall frame.
Things that align with the sides, top, and bottom tend to flatten an image out too.
If you have any shapes that are in your image that are parallel, they tend to flatten the
That’s what’s going on with our arms, with the table, with the legs of the table.
The girl down below, her upper thighs, that’s working along that line.
Her lower legs work horizontally.
The book works horizontally.
So, from this standpoint, there are a number of things that mirror the edges of the frame.
In this image, this feels a little bit more dimensional, but it’s still without any
It still sits very, very flat in its space because it feels flat to the picture plane.
I’m not sure who that was.
Okay, this is painted by John Asaro.
If you take a look at it, it’s a fairly flat space image, but when you take a look
at the laundry and the windows, he’s curved all of these.
The poles that hold up the clothesline, he’s created these curves and marks.
There are no plumb lines.
There are no straight lines in the whole image.
Now, because it’s kind of a flatter space—it’s looking at a wall—the clothesline comes
towards us a little bit, so there is a little dimensional difference there.
But, when you take a look at the shapes, what he’s done with the shapes, the shapes move
you along the surface, around the surface.
It’s kind of highlighting the flatness of the image.
When you are working, when you’re creating your images, you just want to make sure that
you are considering the foreground, midground, background, and what you’re doing with your
shapes as well.
Okay then, let’s take a look at this.
This is Phil Hale.
Let’s take a look at this.
You know, let’s draw this.
I want you to draw this.
I’m going to point out some things as we go in this image, but I want you to draw this one.
What I’m going to do is I’m going to look and I’m going to register to the frame.
I’m going to look at the outside frame and see his hand is here.
It’s lower than center.
It’s over this side.
The other hand, his finger about starts in the middle, but it’s at angle, something
I’m finding these points.
Very close to the edge is his shoulder and arm.
Very close and parallel.
His head is over on this side.
It’s above his hand in here.
His chin is about a quarter of the way down.
I’m kind of triangulating these areas here, right?
The white here aims off this way, off towards his hand.
Then, above his hand, in line with these, you see his cuff here and his cuff here?
There is a little bit that’s in line with this right here.
Do you see that?
What does this and this and this do?
What do they create?
We connect the dots.
They create a line.
They create an imaginary line or implied line, and this creates a closure.
This stops us from falling out of the image.
This is Tony Blair.
Okay, so we’ve got this situation.
I’m just going to put in a strong shape in here.
Now, what kind of a statement do you Bill hale is talking about Tony Blair?
Does he like him?
Would you say this is a positive image of him?
His shirt is coming out of here.
It falls into shadow back here.
He’s making it really dark back there.
That’s why it looks like it’s not there.
That’s kind of what’s going on with that.
If we take a look at this setup and what he’s doing with this, the statement was we’re
dominating him because we’re looking down on him, and that’s absolutely right.
Now, the thing is, I’ll give him a square jaw, but it tapers, the fact of the matter
is, we’ve got these lines back here that show us the perspective.
Do you see?
We’re looking down on him, and that’s part of the reason that we get this feeling
that he’s subordinate.
Now, a lot of this goes into shadow down here, so I’m going to, and if we look at it from
that standpoint, you know, almost all of this goes into shadow.
This is kind of a half-tone and stuff.
This goes into a darkness back here.
This is kind of a shadow, it’s soft back here.
It goes on to this.
This disappears right into that.
This is hard.
The best way to learn this is to draw these or copy them and understand
why they work and what’s going on in the image.
Sometimes when you draw it you kind of play with it and digest it.
I don’t know the story of this painting.
The little focal point here.
That helps with this closure here.
If I’m dividing this up, let’s take a look at this.
He’s completely on the right side of the picture plane, completely on the right, and
his eyeline is coming off this way.
Now, normally what you might do is you might have—I’ll just draw on this little margin
What you might do is if you had a sitter, and they’re going to be looking this way,
you might get their head on this side of the picture plane.
Their eyes actually look across the larger area.
The eyeline is really strong, and our eyes will follow that really fast.
And, when it’s on the shorter side of the frame, when it’s way over here like this,
and you have much more space over here, it’s even faster.
Not only that, but the fact that we’re looking down on him like this, and we have the strong
line here, it feels like, and it’s a little bit of a deeper space as it goes back in here.
It feels like it’s falling down, falling out of the image.
He’s leaning down and kind of pulling in this way.
We have this going down and kind of a rhythm coming up this way.
It’s kind of cocked this way and kind of pulled down.
The other thing is, this is so close and so parallel to the picture plane we get a tension
along the edge.
There is a flattening effect right on there because it’s flat to the picture plane.
We have the camera angle looking down on him, which makes him subordinate.
His eyeline, or his head completely on the right side and the eyeline going off to the
right, that creates more tension on the right side.
Add to the tension of the parallel from his shoulder to the picture plane here.
The only thing we’re left with is picking up these, the connect of these and bringing
your eye back in here.
Compositionally, he does move your eye around the frame nicely.
But, he has also created so much tension with these things.
It’s, you know, you can look at it—Sargent would do a lot of these things as a statement.
This is the subtext.
What he’s saying about the sitter.
He’s not just drawing a picture of them.
He’s making a comment about them.
The way that he sets it up.
The way that he creates his shape.
The way that they create the spatial depth all have to do with what he wants to say,
what you want to say about the sitter.
Here is another Phil Hale image.
Again, you have this girl, she’s off on the right side of the frame, but she’s looking
off to the left.
So that satisfies the eyeline.
It makes her more dynamic, particularly because her head is facing out, forward to the right,
and her eyeline is going to the left.
That creates a more dynamic situation.
If she was looking off to the right, it wouldn’t be as dynamic.
Alright, in a situation like this, of course, you have this guy smashed up against the side.
That’s going to create tension.
Because anything that’s connected to the frame flattens out.
It’s flattening out because it’s going against this frame.
Now, he’s looking straight out here.
We’re getting this eye, kind of focal point in here.
We have this, this, and then we have her with her head orientation this way.
This might be the orientation of her head, but her eyes are looking up this way.
If I have your eyeline like this or a face like this, but your eyes are all here, it’s
If I have a face like this, and your eyes are going this way, it’s less dynamic.
Do you see?
Do you see how this feels?
This one feels far more passive than this one.
That’s because the frontal plane is like this with the surface that’s like this,
and yet the eyeline is going in a different direction.
It’s going off here so your nose is here, and your eyes are looking the other direction.
What’s going to happen is it’s going to make that more dynamic.
That’s what’s going on with her.
She is pretty much on the right side of this.
He’s creating this strong tension going on in here.
My drawing isn’t totally accurate with this.
In this case, this is the center here.
She’s looking across here.
This is a larger area so this gives a little bit more, a little less tension than the Tony
Blair image, but the one thing that does create the tension is this guy back here.
He’s the big source of tension.
He’s just making this a little more dynamic by having her look off in this direction.
He’s giving it these lines that’ll move you up and around like this, kind of pushing
up and around here.
A strong edge, a little shadow shape that helps move you up into there, and then these
others that come down in here.
Again, it frames you like this and gives you something else to stop you before you go out
of the frame, and then a couple of folds come in here.
A lot of this is aimed to keep moving your eye around.
In fact, even some of these things you see, and, oh look, there is another one coming
in this direction.
What do you think that would do for you?
Well, it pushes you back up into the picture here, followed by a couple that are like this too.
They are hardly accidents.
Some of the people that are really focused on their compositions, they don’t put anything
in that’s really an accident.
They’re really thinking about all these things way up front, managing these things.
Go through—what I want you to do is go through these, yeah, I want you to go through these.
Look through the designs and see how the tension is created in these images.
He does purposely put a lot of tension in these images, but I want you to take a look
at how he does that and how he moves your eye around and then creates tension.
You want to look at how things are harmonized, simplified, but then how you actually create
some tension as well.
I want you to go through those.
This is another strong image where he’s giving a big, big story, you know, scary clown
writing emails that have daggers in them.
There is a tension in the pose.
His hands are clenched and stuff, but then he’s giving you the subtext of the story in here.
What I want you guys to do is go through the notes, and I want you to draw some images
that are distinctly different spatial depths.
Design some compositions and play with the spatial depth.
Do something flat.
Do something deep.
Do something ambiguous if you want.
But, take a look at the examples, and then find your own images.
Find your own images that reflect the same thing.
Because they are around.
They’re all around.
The main thing is, like I say, particularly for what I try to make important in this class
is find ways to identify these elements in other images.
That is growing your assessment skills.
Assessment skills are critical.
Initially, it’s your observations skills that are very, very important.
Initially what you want to do is you want to observe clearly and put down clearly.
Once you can do that, then your assessment skills need to kick in.
What I mean by your assessment skills is when you look at an image, break down the image.
Not just observe and draw the elements in the image.
Assess what’s going on in that image.
Is it flat space?
Is it deep space?
Is the artist saying something about it?
Or, if it’s a photograph, how is it exposed, and how is that being manipulated in any way
that you could enhance your storytelling?
Okay, so that’s what I want you to do for homework, look for some of those.
If you want to bring in a bunch of images, great, but sketch them as well.
See them, sketch them.
Don’t just look at them.
Sketch them because when you sketch them then you own them.
You’ll learn better.
It’ll stay with you longer.