You and I have both spent days or weeks working on the perfect image. You stay up all night on a tight deadline creating realistic models. Your materials are realistic. You carefully place everything in your scene as if you are building a level for a video game and now everything is perfect! You are impatient to hit render and see the final result. So you set up your camera and try to get all those details you worked on in the shot. Something is not right and you don’t know what it is. Your client needs the image tomorrow so you send it over anyway.
Did you ever consider the composition of your image? What the focal point was? Was it balanced?
Here are five ways to save time in the design process by using composition:
1 - Have a focal point because a poorly composed image will not catch anyone’s attention
I rendered the image below for the purpose of this article to show you what bad composition looks like.
There are directional lines pointing off the canvas which is causing the viewers eyes to go off my image entirely. The plants in the foreground are fighting for attention which makes it impossible to know which one the viewer is supposed to look at. The plants are also blocking my focal point.
Without a focal point or point of interest people’s eyes will keep wandering around an image and wondering what the point of the image is. This will cause them to lose interest and move on to something new. In this image people may wonder, "what's the point", and then that's it, in a second I've lost their attention. When you only have a second to catch someone’s attention you better put something useful on the podium. You can spend as much time as you want adding those perfect details, like plants and working on materials until they are indistinguishable from reality but that won’t get anyone interested. Learn through observation from architectural photographers.
2 - Get acquainted with composition techniques so that people will take the time to enjoy your well composed image
Speaking of photographers. Do they chose an angle that tries to get everything in the shot? Nope, they choose one or two things that they wants their viewers to look at. By not overwhelming the viewer you allow him to rest and reflect on the message being portrayed. This is how you get someone’s attention. Choose one or two things and put them in the spotlight. This photograph that was taken by Alex Van is great. The stairwell is creating directional lines pointing straight to the focal point. The photograph is framed so that your eyes never wants to go off canvas. The photographer has made sure that wouldn't happen. Vertical lines or trees on the side of your image is a great way to stop a line that may be leading your viewer off canvas. Why spend time on all those details if only to lead your viewer away from your work?
3 - Spend less time spent on what isn't necessary in your scene
In the image I rendered above I circled a part in red which should have been the kitchen. Why didn't I model the kitchen? Well, I knew that it would confuse my viewer by making him wonder whether I want him to look at the living room or the kitchen. I would have risked creating two focal points that would render my image useless.
When I’m working on a deadline I rarely have the time to model, and texture everything. Why not take the time in the design process to figure out what the focal point will be? When a client gives me a job, I find out what is most important to them by asking questions. Then, I make that the point of interest. Once I compose the image, I model what can be seen by the camera and forget what’s behind it or what could do more harm than good. By knowing what elements are going to be in the shot early on, I narrow down the things I need to finish the image.
4 - Use your extra time to work on adding realistic details
In the image above I had enough time to add furniture in the living room and create an afternoon shot with exterior lighting. Do you think the furniture adds realism to my image? Maybe, but the main reason it's there is because it is the focal point of my image. All my directional lines point to the living room and that's why there is extra detail there. Working this way gives me a few extra hours allowing me to exceed my client’s expectations. This kept my client satisfied and it gave me time to create an image that I could show to future prospects.
5 - Create a stunning image without being an expert in 3D rendering
Now the question is can you make stunning images even if you haven’t mastered the skills to make things look realistic? Well, I believe that as long as you have a basic to intermediate understanding of modeling, lighting, and materials you can create a beautiful image. The image here is an image I made 3 years ago with only a year of experience. This is the first time I focused on composition, and the result was a stunning improvement. This shows that you don't need to be a master to create great architectural renderings.
Now get out there and get yourself acquainted with these techniques that will make you a composition guru. Learn about the rule of thirds to start with and then get familiar with the other aspects. Andrew Price, creator of blender guru has a great video that thoroughly explains the basics. Check it out here.
You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned anything about color composition which is equally important. For this article I only wanted to cover the structure of composition. But I will be writing an article about color next week or the week after.
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