Monday, December 29, 2008

Simple Ways to Improve Any Picture

Sorry about the lack of posts lately...things have been crazy and I'm pretty burned out in all areas, including blogging.

I recently gave a lecture at Disney for the trainees and these are parts of the handout I created. Many times I find that when I'm drawing all day and scrambling to meet my latest deadline, my drawings become "serviceable" - that is, they do the job but there's nothing all that original or inspired about them. I find that the first thing I let go of when I'm stressed out and under pressure to meet a deadline is the idea of creating an interesting visual. I always try to make sure that the characters and story points are being serviced as well as they can be - which is obviously the most important part - but a drawing always works better if there's some actual good design behind it as well.

So here are some simple concepts to help kickstart your artistic brain if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. They are all simple things we all know but I often find that the simple things are the easiest to forget and the ones I need to remind myself of from time to time.


Contrast, as I've often repeated, creates visual interest within a picture and will take you a long way towards obtaining a result that appeals to the eye.

Even the simplest of subject matters can become interesting with the use of contrast.

It can be helpful to organize your picture with a circular or triangular composition.

These are very literal examples - they each have an actual circle in the frame - but you get the idea.

Again, these examples of triangular compositions are very literal - they actually have a triangle in the frame.

Anytime you have a scene of three people you are dealing with a triangular composition. Look for ways to make it interesting. These examples are from the Orson Welles movie "The Lady from Shanghai".

Using a frame-within-the-frame can help breakup the space in an interesting way. Also it can help the viewer to focus on two separate events in the same frame.

These examples below are all from "Touch of Evil".

Lastly, here are five simple ideas that can help add interest to any picture.