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By Stephen Chmilar
Have you ever looked at a picture you like and wondered why you like it? Have you ever wanted to make your art more dramatic and eye catching? Well this tutorial will help you! Ok let’s start off: Colour
Picture 1 As you can see, Picture 1 (blank canvas) is really boring to look at. Your eyes are lost and you don’t know what to look at or what you’re looking at. So let’s introduce our first Element of Design, its Colour. We all know colour. We see it everywhere. We use it from our clothes to knowing when to cross a street to knowing when our computer has crashed. Colour plays a huge part of design, not just for animation and web design, but in clothing, architecture design, to pottery and every other conceivable form of art work. Let’s see what the blank canvas would look like with a little colour:
Picture 2 There we go, you now see where the canvas is and now have a place to focus. As you might be aware, there are thousands of colours. Colour is produced by light bouncing off
Picture 3 of objects. Colour in itself could fill up pages and pages and pages of tutorials, but I’ll help you out and show you the colour wheel: 1 Yellow 2 Yellow Green 3 Green 4 Blue Green 5 Blue 6 Blue Violet 7 Violet (Purple) 8 Red Violet 9 Red 10 Red Orange 11 Orange 12 Yellow Orange
Wow, scary isn’t it? The theory is that you can make any colour with only 3 colours, and these 3 colours are: Red, Blue and Yellow. These colours are called the Primary Colours. See the line between Red and Green? These colours are on opposite sides of the Colour Wheel and when mixed together you get brown. Red and Green are Contrasting Colours. Think of how many times these opposites go together…..
Green, Blue Green and Blue, these 3 colours are an example of Complimentary Colours. They go together well and work together. A Monochromatic piece is a piece that only uses a certain colour. There’s an example of this in picture Now we’re going to move into Value/Tone/Light: Despite having 3 names, Value, Tone and Light practically means the same. We will be calling it Value from here on out. As you may know, the balance between light and dark has been fought over thousands of years. The darkness and the light are on opposite sides of the spectrums.
Picture 5 In picture 4 we see a Black to White value chart. In picture 5 we see a value chart with the colour Red.
Let’s see an example of Value in a photo:
Picture 6 Picture 6 has no colour yet you can clearly see the shapes of the wall and floor. This brings us to our next Element of Design: Line In picture 6 we can clearly see lines, or contours of the wall. Lines are strongly used everywhere. From 2D animation and comic books to photography. Edges of tables, buildings, windows, power lines and textures create lines. Anyone who has ever drawn on a surface has created a line drawing. There are several types of lines: (See next page)
Line 1 is a pretty normal hard edge line.
Line 2 is a soft edge line, from something like a paint brush.
Line 3 is a (somewhat) sharp or jagged line.
Line 4 is an example of horizontal line, it goes side to side. Very geometric.
Line 5 is a vertical line, it goes up and down. Another geometric line.
Line 6 is a Diagonal Line.
And Line 7 is a Curving Line, very natural and organic.
Now that you have an idea of Line, we shall now move onto: Shape Shape is much line, you’ve used shape everywhere. The building blocks you used when you were a baby are shapes. There are 2 types of shapes:
In Picture 8 we see some pretty familiar shapes, Square, Circle, Star and Triangle. These are called Geometric shapes. They’re pretty straight forward and predictable. Picture 9 contains some Organic shapes. Organic shapes are often relaxed, natural, and different. Think of the differences this way, you’d find Geometric shapes in a factory and Organic shapes in a forest. Make sense? Good.
(Next page, I should really learn to organize these things better.)
Moving on to Form and Mass. Like it or not, we have weight. Some of us weigh more then others and it becomes a very important part of art. Where Form is used in things like sculptures and pottery and other physical forms. Mass is important to animators of all sorts, because if a character who is suppose to be a big fat mean monster looks very light on his or her or it’s toes then something will look wrong. Some people will draw the lines on a character’s feet darker to give them more weight on the ground.
Picture 10 Here we can see that this teddy bear is sitting on a bed and has sunk in just a smidge and has weight. His scarf is resting on his arm and legs and you have a sense of just how heavy he is. And yes, he is very soft.
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Now on top Space We’re not talking about Stars and Galaxies here, but they do feature space. Space is the distance of objects from each other. For an example:
Picture 11 In picture11 you can tell exactly how tall the pillars are, as well as the shadows showing us distance. Space is often used to show the size relations of objects together or to create a focal point (more on these in Principles of Design). In 2D these Space is still used, for an example:
Picture 12 In Picture 12 we see that the big blue circle is bigger then the green and red sphere. We also see that the yellow circles have distance between them. The next Element of Design is Time or Motion: Time and Motion is a tough thing to pull off in a still piece. But Animators and Games often rely on the art of motion. There’s a lot of art in everyday things. Carefully watch water, it’s moving, splitting, falling apart and getting back together. Motion blur is an example of how time can be captured in still form. Example:
Picture 13 Picture 13 is still image but you can see that it was taken when moving. Remember, most things moves. The trees sway in the wind, wheels go in circles, mouths move up and down. We all don’t stand still. We often have a pose that implies motions. For Example:
This whale in picture 14 is in mid swim and is stretched. We automatically know that this whale is swimming and that it is frozen in time. Now on to our final Element of Design: Texture. Texture is very oblivious; we don’t live in a flat world. Our world is full of textures. Infact, around me is a badly painted wall, carpeted floor, a few Todd McFarlane action figures, a few crushed up pieces of paper, a pair of jeans, my watch, a fleece vest , several books and even more items. Each one of those listed has a clear texture. You can reach down and feel the carpet at your feel and you can see that it has textures. Textures work well with Value. Example:
Picture 15 In picture 15 we clearly see that the wind has created ridges and grooves in the snow and you could just reach out and touch it.
And there you have it, The Elements of Design: Colour Value Line Shape Form/Mass
Space Time Use them wisely and check out my tutorial on The Principles of Design as well. There’s a lot more about each of the elements to learn, let this tutorial be a starter guide.
Links: http://schmilar.blogspot.com - my blog http://www.digimill.net - host of this tutorial
All Images, except picture 11, by Stephen Chmilar Picture 11 by Peggy and Rob Chmilar