Principles of Design SeriesExplore the hidden art of composition. To tell interesting stories and entertain yourviewers, you’ll need to be very intentional with the layout of your images. The “Principlesof Design” are guidelines to help improve your composition skills, and examine your ownwork. No matter how fantastic your painting technique, the foundation of every greatpainting is a strong composition.Once you’ve watched these videos I recommend learning about giving and receivingcritique. It’s a subject often ignored by beginners, though it’s necessary for artists of allskill levels. See the Ctrl+Paint video on the subject here.Principles of Design: BalanceThis entry in the Principles of Design series explores the idea of a visually balancedimage. Though hard to quantify, most people are able to tell when an image isunbalanced. Generally they don’t know how to explain it, but the image seems ‘wrong’somehow. As an artist, it’s important to create balanced images!If you want to try out the techniques in the video with some orcs, make sure to downloadthem here! I will warn you — the file is a relatively large .PSD, so don’t be surprised ifthe download takes a few seconds.Also, it’s important to know that I did not invent these principles! They are extremely oldand well documented, so make sure to find other resources to explain with moredepth. Photography books seem to be especially good at some of these concepts, aswell as “Framed Ink” (my current favorite book on composition). And make sure to checkout the rest of the “Principles of Design” series!
Principles of Design: EmphasisAs an illustrator one of your jobs is directing the viewer’s attention. If you don’t give themclear instructions on where to look, they’ll manage to do it wrong. The principleof emphasis involves using contrast to make your focal point pop off the canvas. If donecorrectly, your viewer won’t know their being lead around your image.If you want to practice yourself, here are the orcs to download. And make sure to checkout the other entries in the “Principles of Design” seriesPrinciples of Design: Scale andProportionThis video introduces the concepts of scale and proportion: two spatial relationships thatwill help organize your composition. Scale deals with the measurable size of anobject. Proportion, on the other hand, deals with the size of an object relative to thosethings around it. Proportion can also be used to compare parts of a whole, for example:my thumb is wider than my middle finger. As you’ll see in the video, scale and proportioncan help anchor the image in reality and express a sense of depth to the viewer.
Principles of Design: MovementThis episode of the Principles of Design is all about dynamic compositions. The path yourviewers’ eyes follow though a painting is no accident, so make sure you’re using it to youradvantage! In truth, each Principle of Design is intended to help guide the viewer’s eye,but “motion” is especially effective at this goal. Additionally, if you’ve been following theseries I’m sad to report that the orcs are sitting this one out.Principles of Design: Rhythm andRepetitionThis video explains two principles which are often inter-related. Rhythm, and repetition,when used intentionally can help guide your viewer through your image. Like the otherprinciples, this can be added into your set of compositional tools to help tell visualstories!Principles of Design: UnityThis final entry in the Principles of Design series is all about “Unity”, which is the state ofbalance in your image. Think of your illustration as a sauce — you don’t want anyindividual ingredient to stand out too strongly. Likewise, no single principle of designshould stand out above another, they should all combine into a plesant mixture. This is
called “unity”. If you missed any of the previous entries in this series, make sure to checkout the Principles of Design Series!