Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Art Terms

I'm a big fan of art terms and quick slogans. As I work, I try to cycle through the rolodex of things I've learned and terms shortens that cycle significantly. Thought maybe I should write down some of that list plus add a new one.
contrapposto-"human figure standing with most of its weight on one foot so that its shoulders and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs." I don't think of this one nearly enough. I showed my wife a piece that was under NDA yesterday and she pointed out that I make people stiff when in conversation. It's totally true and I realized today that utilizing some contrapposto would really help.

silhouette-I think of this one a lot but apparently I still suck at it if you ask my friend Richard. It's great to have things read from the silhouettes alone. At the same time, you don't necessarily want to define the entire silhouette of a figure. I think Andrew Loomis said, "edges cannot be defined all around and a sense of space be achieved." I have a feeling I'm botching that quote.

tangents- when lines or shapes meet in such a way that it attracts unwanted attention or confuses the space and depth of an image.

lost and found edges - losing the edge of the shadow side of an object on a dark background or edge on the lit side of an object on a light background. Trying to bounce back and forth between highlighting edges with contrasting background and losing them.

windmill - this is just the way I came up with for shortening this neat technique Gurney posted once where the four arms of a windmill by Rembrandt alternated patterns. light on dark, dark on light, light on light and dark on dark.This could also be called counterchange but I like to think "windmill" in my head because it brings up a specific example.

shapewelding- much like lost and found edges. "compositional device of linking up related tones to make larger units."

flyswatted- term from Prometheus' art tutorial. Means a figures pose is shooting off in too many directions. Looks stiff.

petted line- means that you have scratchy linework from doing a back and forth motion as you draw instead of making one confident line and then returning to adjust.

circulation- term I've started to try to run through my head since the CA portfolio review. It's a reminder to not have colors isolated to one spot. Try to give hints of those colors in other parts of the image too.

"when in doubt black it out"

antiHDR- okay so this is one of mine and some may not even agree with me here. HDR is "1) bright things can be really bright, 2) dark things can be really dark, and 3) details can be seen in both." Well that seems ridiculous to me and it seems like most artists agree. Our eyes adjust for the light or dark. If our eyes are adjusted to the light, then the shadows lack details and vice versa. Plus not rendering details everywhere is going to save you time.

be Aziz- Aziz Ansari is a stand up comedian who does this joke about buying some sheets labeled with an inaccurate thread count. It shouldn't be funny but it is. Somebody else could try to relay that joke and it would fail. I like to remember that joke as a reminder of what can be accomplished when every part has been given attention and supports the central idea. For instance the pacing, expression, tone and wording has all been focused to support the joke. In the same way, I think I should be thinking about how everything in an image supports the center of interest or central idea.

Here's a new one for me to keep in mind when creating my thumbnails or sketches for clients.
C.A.P.S. -clients always pick snoozers . Got a new client recently and I was unsure of their taste so for one of the images I made six sketches covering a variety of things I wanted to test as far as their taste. It was meant to be a litmus test. So there were really edgy designs, really conservative designs, dynamic poses and very posed figures,etc. The client unexpectedly went with a very stiff pose with very conservative design. Now I find myself working on a piece that is doomed not to be in the portfolio simply because it's not the sort of work I really want to do. I don't get paid enough for every piece not to have a chance to be in the portfolio. Anyways, thought I better come up with a term to try to keep myself from assuming that client will pick the sketch that I love. I hate the name of this term so if you've got a better abbreviated way to remember this concept, let me hear it.

What are some terms that you run through your head?


Anna Christenson said...

I always try to keep in mind repetition, and also variety. Two pretty basic terms right from art school, but I think they're good to pay attention to.

Repetition helps to bring the eye around the piece and also unify a design/image/concept.
Variety helps make the repetition interesting. A lone element can give the eye focus, and if too many shapes are the same size the image can get boring and static.

I totally understand the "clients always pick snoozers". I seem to find that more though from smaller private clients than from the art directors of slightly "larger" companies.

Joe Slucher said...

I think the most recent client picked a less interesting sketch because I think they let their writers give feedback on the art. In any case, it's probably just good sense to prepare for worst case scenario by not allowing the worst case scenario do be something unenjoyable.

Cacodaemonia said...

These are great! I recently read Imaginative Realism by James Gurney, and immediately recognized the windmill and shapewelding terms. :)

For some reason I'm having trouble thinking of more terms along these lines, though I'm sure I know of quite a few! You might add the "warm light/cool shadows; cool light/warm shadows" idea...

fantasio said...

While I can agree to most of them, and find it great that you share these tips, the C.A.P.S. one is a bummer, I know there are these situations where you have to make different thumbs, sketches or whatsoever, but I wouldn´t really give the option to a sketch that isn´t good enough to get into the portfolio, which lead to my most important term: work on every piece as it would get into the portfolio.

Also I once get a great tip from Greg Spalenka: "Every kind of promotion is important" that was and is a quote to hang on every artists desk;-)

Joe Slucher said...

In the post I probably ragged on the chosen sketch too much as I'm sure there are redeeming qualities as that is what somebody preferred.

fantasio- Maybe I should explain my thinking more. It's more about assuming things. I thought some of the thumbnails were Mona Lisa nice and assumed one of them would be picked so I felt no harm in including the other sketches. I mean who would pick to watch Kingdom of Heaven over Return of the King? Next time, I think if I feel really strongly about a thumbnail or sketch, it will be the only one I show.

Joe Slucher said...

Added a couple of new terms and edited some of the others.