Composition-A-Day sketchbook
#1
Got this idea from the book "Mastering composition" by Roberts, Ian. He suggested to do a small thumb sketch a day focusing on studying composition of objects arranged in space (from life). He promised it will improve composition skills. We shall see... The topic of composition came up between Lyraina and I one day, and since we both have a new MoleSkine book, we decided to make it a composition-a-day sketchbook. 

Anyone else feel like joining? The more the merrier! I'd suggest pick a physical sketchbook, or staple A4 printing paper together to make a sketchbook so you have a finite beginning and ending for this. Or set a number before you start digitally. 

The goal is to do 1 page per day, and either 1 or 2 boxed-in sketch of real life objects, cropped to look like nice composition to ourselves. We don't use the back of the page because the paper's too thin. Also, this makes the book finish faster, and in turn, we'll feel better :P The sketch does not need details or complicated shading. 

Use viewfinder if need, or the all-purpose fingers for cropping view if needed!

The notes I took from that composition book - including the suggested exercise - can be found here if anyone wants to look at them: http://crimsondaggers.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=4975

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And here are the first 2 days from me:

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#2
Day 1 + 2!

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Notes:
- I hate ellipses
- I have trouble imagining/finding compositions from life, even with my fingers as a viewfinder. I am always very tempted to just get my camera to look for compositions/crop - done that before for still lifes...
- It takes some conscious effort to not just see objects and their shapes, but also light and dark relationships, including background and shadows. Paying more attention to these until it becomes second nature does feel like a useful thing to practice though.

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#3
Ooooh this looks amazing!
Let me try and make schedule for me to join!

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#4
Hmmm, I must say that I like this idea. Mind if I join you guys?

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#5
Awesome awesome! Everyone's welcome to join! :D

Day 3.



Notes:
- I built a small paper rectangle to help me find compositions - and suddenly I feel a lot less lost, because it feels like using a camera (which I have been doing since I can lift one). Not sure if I am depriving myself of useful exercise using this cheat.
- I think I am going too detailed for simple composition practice (but not sure how to simplify all that foliage further). Maybe I should not use a pen at all, but only shapes - or do the exercise smaller, 4 on one page instead of 2. Especially since I tend to think in shapes, not lines.
- Flesh color for lighter value 'cos I have no light gray = fail.

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#6
Come join, my friends! As a confession, I tend to do mine hurriedly before sleep to make sure I get them done - not a whole lot of scheduling T_T.

As always, Lyra's going more hardcore on this than I am... probably why she improves so much, lol! I eye-balled them..... For sketching in shapes, either use a marker, or get a waterbrush and fill with diluted black watercolor, which will give you a refillable grey "marker" to sketch in big shapes. Then just shade in darker shape by cross-hatching with a pen.


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#7
Still learning the principles of composition, but let the game begins. Gonna be doing this for the next 21 days, so to see what kind of progression I make, and of course set up a new drawing habit.

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Day 1
[Image: untitled_by_zearthus-d8y8bdb.jpg]
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#8
Day 4


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#9
Day 3, a bit late, and only 1 composition. The guy's my co-worker at cafe. I tried to do the 2nd composition at work during the 30 min lunch, but thought it's more interesting to interact with co-worker a bit. 




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#10
Awwww snap, this looks like fun... and a challenge!

Count me in! (Just gotta find me a sketchbook for this... there's always one lyin' 'round somewhere lol)

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#11
Day 2

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[Image: img_by_zearthus-d8yd88n.jpg]
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#12
Day 4 : Tried a minimalist composition.




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#13
meat, just draw a border around your coworker and that's a composition too!

Day 5: Bad value structure leads to hard-to-read compositions.


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#14
Day 3
[Image: 6_23_2015_by_zearthus-d8yhtbs.jpg]
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#15
I kinda broke the rules and did a bunch of comps from reference. The one on the bottom left is from imagination and the bottom right 3 small ones are from life. Im working through the composition class from Watts and doing design studies of Walter Crane's illustrations from The Faerie Queene. I think I'll do a page a day for 3 days. Then maybe set a new goal next week.


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#16
Zearthus: Your compositions are center-heavy and front view only. Have you thought about placing them further apart, or using the space in between them as a composition element as well? Check out some other composition ideas to test out in the first post, where I put a link to notes taken from that composition book.
 
Adam: There’s a composition class? Where is it? Now I’m questioning the very meaning of what a composition is! 

Lyra: Do you find using recognizable shapes in your composition add or takes away from the studying of composition itself? For example using a skull, or a plastic dinosaur or a toy car etc.? I'm wondering if I should avoid those complex shape and try and to do composition studies using basic shapes like sphere, box, or some kind of pyramid shapes. 

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This is a rather pale drawing. I was trying to capture the shadow and light shapes in the first one but the pencil I had didn't go all that dark. The second one was done while leaning against an elevated bridge railing in an aviary while trying to be quick about it.... I'm not sure what the first one is, but the second was an attempt at S or creating an entrance composition!


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#17
meat: Yeah I do feel like recognizable shapes make it harder to concentrate on composition - maybe not while arranging (I just focus on shapes then), but while drawing - I tend to get too detailed.

Day 6


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#18
@meat
I try to understand something before I move on with the next step. Hence why it may seems I'm repeating things, but I give myself a time span of 3 to 5 days, before adding new things to whatever trying to learn.

That's usually the time it takes to something to kick in my brain, where I start understanding.

If anything though, right now I'm using the book called "How pictures work" by Molly Bang,
and the videos from ctrlpaint.

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Day 4
[Image: untitled_by_zearthus-d8ymxfu.jpg]

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One thing I do with these composition studies so far is, lay them down and see where it leads my eye, and note it down.
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#19
meat, its from the Watts Atelier online classes. I forgot to do something from life. Mostly notes from the watts class today and a 3 small comps from Walter Crane.


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#20
Joining in!


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