The Rule of Thirds
When most people take a picture or draw a picture, the natural thing to do is to photograph or draw the subject in the center of the frame.
But one of the big tenets of visual composition is the RULE of THIRDS.
So pretty much, the frame is divided into…well, thirds. And the subject will sit in one side or the other.
This has the effect (so I've read) of pulling the viewer in to the image to take it in more fully, rather than having them just glance at the centrally-framed subject.
When a movie cuts between, say, two people having a conversation, the two will appear on opposite sides of the screen when the flick cuts to each one.
We see this effect in comics, too, with characters in conversation appearing on opposite sides of panels; if the comic “camera” was cutting between the characters but showing them on the same side of the panel, things would look awkward and confusing.
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (and some of his other movies like A Clockwork Orange) are well known by people who are interested in such things, to break this rule and use a lot of centrally-framed images.
This has the effect, over a bit of time, of looking “wrong” to the viewer. This effect would be very bad if used unintentionally and out of context, in most standard films. But in these unsettling movies, used by a director with a mastery of visual language, the impact is powerful indeed! The director Wes Anderson seems to frame things in center pretty often, too, which works alongside other elements of his characters, writing and directing to give his movies their odd, quirky feel.
A lot of us do this pretty naturally in comics; we generally have the character off to the side to make room for the text bubbles! But even when there is no dialogue balloon, or if it's a landscape or whatever, thinking of composition is a good idea. And the first rule is the Rule of Thirds!
A quick Google Image search will show the huge variety of images that have their focal points in the thirds. It's very instructive!
By the way, even though it's called a “Rule” - rules are made to be broken, especially in art. This isn't something to be followed slavishly. All things in their context. But this “Rule” and other rules along these lines, is something handy to know about at least, even if it's something you end up ignoring.
Do you observe this “rule” in your comics? Do you observe the feeling of “wrongness” or discomfort when things are framed wrongly?
have a good one!
-Banes the Third
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Banes at 12:00AM, Nov. 30, 2023
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