I want to design an engaging environment – any tips?
Answer Belinda replies
My first approach to making a potentially mundane scene look interesting is generally to use the principle of harmony versus variety, to spark interest in an image and create a focal point.
People have a natural tendency to look for patterns, so providing repeated shapes throughout the image but in a variety of sizes will encourage the viewer to scan the image. Counterpointing these repetitive shapes with something different will cause the eye to settle, and these contrasting areas are perfect for the focal point for your image. This is where you can perhaps add a story element or character interaction to really draw the viewer in and keep them looking around.
This principle of harmony versus variety doesn’t just apply to shapes, but also works with contrasts in colour, value, line and other art fundamentals. The idea is to create a sense of overall unity within your image using any of these aspects or combinations of them, then interrupting it with a contrasting element where you want the viewer’s eyes to settle. An image that has no harmony in it at all will give the viewer a hard time scanning the picture, yet on the other hand a scene that’s too harmonious will become bland and have difficulty grabbing the viewer’s attention for long. I like to maintain a ratio of about 80:20, in which 80 per cent of the image is harmonious, with 20 per cent featuring contrasting elements.
For your focal point, try using either colour accents or areas of dramatic value contrast. Also consider depicting an area of quiet in a chaotic scene.
In this scene I use the repetitive curves of the rocks and path to create a sense of harmony in the shapes, which I contrast with sharp, angular buildings.
I create a silhouette to establish the overall contrast of round and angular shapes. The silhouette in the final image is pretty much the same.