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Old 01-10-2013, 12:18 PM
mortap mortap is offline
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"eye moves around the image"

Can someone explain (or post a link that explains) what exactly is meant by the oft-heard statement of composition to think about how the eyes move around the picture.

When I look at a picture, as far as I can tell, my eyes move to the part I want to look at. Sometimes I just systematically look at the different parts of the picture. I actively step back to look at the whole, sometimes squint, and actively look at various details. What is happening passively that I don't know about?

Can anyone post clear examples of bad composition that if I try to look at it my eyes keep somehow looking away?

And examples of good composition where I can't look away?

And is that the goal to have images people don't look away from? What is the goal?
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:47 AM
Keith2 Keith2 is offline
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Re: "eye moves around the image"

There's various theories about how the viewer's eyes scan a painting. In books on the composition of pictures, I've occasionally seen arrow lines suggesting how the eyes move. But how do the authors, usually artists, know that the arrow lines represent the true movement of our eyes. What tests have they done to support their theories?

There's scientific papers available on the subject, this one is interesting:

http://andrewd.ces.clemson.edu/cours...rts/group3.pdf

Here's an extract from section 5:


" It is nice to see that people fixated on
different things than what they remembered
more specifically. It goes to show that
sometimes cognitively people are thinking more
about what they are seeing in their peripheral
vision than what they are really fixating on. "

To find examples of good and bad composition, try "The Simple Secret of Better Painting" by Greg Albert.

In answer to your last question, the goal is to produce a picture that the viewer likes to look at.

Last edited by Keith2 : 01-11-2013 at 02:22 AM.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:08 AM
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maryinasia maryinasia is offline
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Re: "eye moves around the image"

I tried to "draw the viewer into the painting" in this example , literally, I succeeded, but compositionally, I didn't.

It was, however, more successful then my pencil sketch of someone pulling a wagon-ful of eyes through a painting.

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Old 01-11-2013, 12:06 PM
mortap mortap is offline
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Re: "eye moves around the image"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith2
To find examples of good and bad composition, try "The Simple Secret of Better Painting" by Greg Albert.

Great, I'll look at that one. My library has a copy and I'm headed there today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith2
In answer to your last question, the goal is to produce a picture that the viewer likes to look at.

And for this discussion, "the viewer likes to look at" is equivalent to "draws and keeps the viewer's eyes into it"

I think that is why it is important to get the opinions of an audience/market/friends, they can tell you if they like to look at an image or not.

I notice that for myself I sometimes like to look at compositions that make me a bit uneasy or confuse my eyes. If I evaluate them technically they may be considered bad composition, but subjectively I kind of like them. So I'm trying to explore where my sense deviates from standard compositional goals. I like the challenge of forcing myself to look at something that may be drawing my eyes away.

Does anybody else like certain images that somehow break compositional "rules"?

Last edited by mortap : 01-11-2013 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:27 PM
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llawrence llawrence is offline
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Re: "eye moves around the image"

Check out James Gurney on eye tracking and composition. A three-page article:

Gurney Journey: Eye Tracking and Composition
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Old 01-12-2013, 03:51 AM
Keith2 Keith2 is offline
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Re: "eye moves around the image"

I wouldn't say "The Parade" by Degas breaks the rules of composition but it's unorthodox, with the horse and rider on the right moving out of the picture frame.


http://www.musee-orsay.fr/typo3temp/...7c2b5890f1.gif
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:49 AM
Keith2 Keith2 is offline
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Re: "eye moves around the image"

Quote:
Originally Posted by llawrence
Check out James Gurney on eye tracking and composition. A three-page article:

Gurney Journey: Eye Tracking and Composition

Thank you for the link to the article on eye tracking. It's the best account I've ever read about how a viewer's eyes scans a picture - and it's based on experimental evidence, not conjecture
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:40 AM
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bobc100 bobc100 is offline
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Re: "eye moves around the image"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith2
Thank you for the link to the article on eye tracking. It's the best account I've ever read about how a viewer's eyes scans a picture - and it's based on experimental evidence, not conjecture
There is still some conjecture, however, of the notion that the movement of our attention directly follows the movement of the eyes. This is briefly touched upon in the conclusion where the author states "Curving lines or other devices may be "felt" in some way peripherally, but the eye doesn't move along them." Our eyes are constantly moving in jumps from one place to another regardless of what we're doing, but this is rarely how we perceive it .

With regards to composition, it does seem reasonable to assume that the amount of time the eye spends in one place is in proportional to the amount of attention we give to that place. There is, however, nothing in the conclusions of that article which contradicts or is incompatible with compositional theories based on the journey our focus of attention takes when moving around an image.
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:48 PM
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llawrence llawrence is offline
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Re: "eye moves around the image"

I agree, bobc. The older compositional techniques are still very useful or even vital for structuring an image - just not for quite the reason we used to think (the direct traveling of the eye).
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