Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Art Department Tutorial Review : Jason Manley on Composition

One of my ideas when I revamped my blog was to do reviews of some of the tutorial videos I've downloaded from The Art Department.  The origins of The Art Department are a little murky to me, but it's an extension of Massive Black and and can be interpreted as their educational arm.  They had a sale a month back  listing all of their video tutorials for $7.99, which depending on the video can be a %50 to %85 discount.
I was hoping to do more in-depth reviews but that's increasingly becoming a fantasy since I just don't have the time to write and draw at the same time.  Drawing being the activity that allows me to do such esoteric nonsense as reviewing art video tutorials, I figure I should focus on that more.

Still, since the sale that was supposed to end in August is still going strong deep into September, I thought I should do at least one or two quick reviews of the most important videos (in my opinion of course) to pick up if you only have a few bucks to spare.

Jason Manley on Composition

Personally this is the the must buy video of all the series, since it explains a very basic idea that was lost on me for most of my artistic career : composition.  Many artists, myself included, frequently fall into the trap of just drawing "whatever looks good" without paying attention to the reasons why things look good and why certain images work and certain images don't.  I was vaguely aware of principles like the golden mean and the rules of thirds but despite my 4 year art education I'd managed to completely forget about the rules of composition and design.

Jason takes the viewer through a crash course of these subjects, going through the rules one by one and then explaining how artists throughout history have used them to great effect.  He won't teach you how to draw or paint but he will teach you how to think about what you want to draw or paint.  Most importantly to me I now had a set of questions to ask myself when I look an an illustration I made other than "Does it look good?"  Questions like "Does it place the right emphasis on parts of the illustration" or "is there enough repetition to allow for unity in the piece?" can now be asked in order to focus myself on a specific task that can be done to improve the illustration.  If you've ever looked at a painting or drawing you made and got frustrated because something was "off" but you couldn't put your finger on it, these kinds questions will save you a lot of time and frustration.

His crash course through art history was also quite fascinating to me, as I'm also only recently coming to appreciate the work of the past masters of art.  I feel like it's increased my own understanding of how certain periods of art worked, and allows me to decipher them more than just saying "oh, that's nice."  There were a few times where I wondered if he was just bullshitting me about certain aspects of an artwork, but I'll give Mr.Manley the benefit of the doubt and chalk that up to my own meager education on the subject.

If you've never thought about composition or if the idea of composition has always been a bunch of muddled ideas in your head and a mishmash of free online tutorials and wiki pages, do yourself a favor and pick this video up. I guarantee it'll be worth your while.

No comments:

Post a Comment