Artistic Fundamentals Guide Series: Introduction
Hey there! Before we begin with the introduction to art fundamentals (as they apply to /gpose), let’s get personal introductions out of the way. Some of you might recognise me from my Twitter dedicated to /gpose (@holy_papaya), and some of you might even remember that a while back I wanted to put together a course guiding fellow FFXIV players through photography and art fundamentals. I’m excited to reveal that the erstwhile Lhalheva School of Photography will now be published through the goodly FFXIV Snaps name!
With that done, let’s get into the meat and popotoes. This guide series will be broken down into seven parts:
- The introduction to the concepts covered (you’re here!)
- Three articles on composition (jump link this to the bottom of the article)
- Two articles on colour theory (jump link this to the bottom of the article)
- One start-to-finish demo of my workflow and thoughts (jump link this to the bottom of the article)
A quick caveat: I’m not the best /gposer out there, and the vocabulary I’ll be equipping you with isn’t necessarily universal. These are just introductory guides to get you thinking about artistic and photography fundamentals, or to refresh your memory if it was getting hazy. I also won’t be venturing too far into intermediary or post-processing tech (ie ReShade or Photoshop), as I consider these things outside the scope of the fundamentals. Some portions of colour fundamentals may touch on colour grading in post, but that just comes with the territory. Also note that this will not necessarily be a technical guide on how to use /gpose itself; we’ll only be touching on tools native to /gpose as they relate to the topics at hand.
The first set of fundamentals we’ll be covering will pertain to composition, or the arrangement of objects and foci within your photo. Why composition first? Without robust composition, your image will fall apart before your audience’s eyes. Their attention won’t be directed properly, and you won’t be able to “point” towards what you want your audience to see. In the worst cases, the elements of your image may actually subtly lead your viewers’ eyes right off the canvas and into nowhere. If you don’t have good composition working for you, all the colour theory, fancy particles, and impressive glams in the world won’t save your photo. To that end, we’ll be covering three major concepts of composition: read order, framing, and value (which will tie into colour theory).
“Read order” refers to the order in which the focal points of your image catch the eyes of your viewers. Generally, most pieces have 2-3 important reads, and everything else is pushed into the background. In the guide for read order, we’ll be going over how to pop out that first read so that it just cannot be ignored. Then, we’ll look at how to gently pull our second and third reads out from the background noise. We’ll also cover techniques and principles for pushing elements into the background to further accentuate our main focal points.
“Framing”, for us, will refer to how the camera is positioned relative to the environment and the subjects. We’ll cover things like upshots, downshots, Dutch angles, and focal length. Additionally, we’ll have a look at how to create leading lines within the image to help further guide eyes from the first read to the second, and so on. Lastly, we’ll have a quick rundown of compositional staples, such as the rule of thirds, the golden rectangle/ratio, and some others.
“Value” is how dark or light something is, to define it at its simplest. This is starting to creep into colour theory, so that’s why we’re placing it last on the compositional list. The guide series will split value and its applications between the two main sections, as value can be used to guide composition in gray-scale or monotone pieces. We’ll learn how to use value to pull things forward or push things back. This portion of the guide will also serve as the introduction to the next section: colour theory.
The second set of fundamentals covered in this guide series will be colour theory. Once you have your image composed, you’ll have to light it and colour grade it to convey the mood and meaning that you want to send to your audience. This is where a good grasp of the interactions between colours will help you turn a good image into a great one. On the more technical side, we’ll be covering HSV (Hue, Saturation, and Value) and its cousin components Tints, Tones, and Shades; additionally, we’ll examine the colour wheel as it relates to constructing colour palettes. On the more abstract side, we’ll talk about using colour to convey meaning within the image.
HSV, T/T/S, and the Colour Wheel
“HSV” (Hue, Saturation, Value) is a method of defining colours. It’s a different system from the RGB system (which you might recognise from the /gpose light colouring system), and they both have their places and uses. “T/T/S” (Tint/Tone/Shade) refers to the application of Saturation and Value to a raw colour, or Hue; namely, it refers to adding white, adding grey, or adding black (respectively) to colours to control their appearance and behaviour. Finally, the colour wheel serves as a visual guide to selecting and pairing groups of colours. We’ll be going all these concepts at once in order to see the bigger picture of how colours interact with each other, and therefore how they’ll interact with your image and its composition.
Colour as meaning
This will be the most abstract portion of the guide series by far. While there will be some ideas that are generally agreed upon (such as how cool and warm colour groups behave), much of this will be extremely subject to each artist’s opinion. We’ll do our best to cover the important bases, such as colour grading the entire piece to set atmosphere and mood, and colouring individual reads to convey meaning (in other words, lighting with colour). Do bear in mind that this section is also the most likely to touch on post-processing tech not native to /gpose or FFXIV, namely Photoshop, Lightroom, GIMP, and so on.
Demonstration of Principles
As a final farewell and a parting gift to send you all on your way down the /gpose path, I’ll be taking you through the construction of a typical /gpose shot from start to finish. We’ll tie this back into every one of the fundamentals we covered before, and I’ll also explain my choices and thoughts as I go. Once that’s done, all that’s left is for you to go out into the wonderful world of FFXIV, hopefully now better armed to take even greater photos of your favourite characters, friends, and locales.
The End of the Beginning
Well, feeling ready to set out? One last thing: just in case you ever lose your way within the guides, I’ll include a table of contents with links to all the articles at the end of each piece. Please look forward to the next article as we dive into the fundamentals of composition!
Focal Points and Their Hierarchies: A Guide to Guiding the Eye (click here!)
Framing the Shot: Concepts and Solutions for Camera Placement (click here!)
Light and Dark: An Introduction to Contrast and Value (click here!)
HSV and the Colour Wheel: How to Define and Arrange Colours (click here!)
Warm and Cold: Injecting Meaning into Colours (work in progress)
Demonstration of Principles (work in progress)