In-Depth Discussion Thread

General art-related discussion.
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Wintermute
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:38 am

I’ve been wanting to make a thread like this for a while. There’s a lot of discussion on here about releases, news, drama, and prices, but I think the actual art discussion is a little fragmented, which makes it hard to sustain more in-depth discussions. There are lots of people (and opinions) on this forum, and I’d love to see that transition into some more discussion about the mechanics of artwork and how different people view art. So I thought it might be a good idea to start a thread to focus in-depth art discussion in a single place.

Opinions and emotion go hand in hand, and it’s the nature of critical discussion to be…critical. But if this thread could avoid needlessly inconsiderate pessimism, I think it’d be better off for it. There’s nothing better at bringing together people on the internet than shitting on stuff (popular stuff especially), but that’s generally not very constructive beyond possibly identifying flaws, and tends to encourage people to pick sides, which can turn things into an echo chamber real quick.

The point of this thread is not to tear things apart, but to disassemble them in order to get a better look at what the individual components do. In both cases, things wind up on the floor in pieces, but how they get there and the state they’re left in are quite different. Disassembly can provide insight into how something operates and how to put things together. Tearing something apart might be cathartic, but it leaves you with a pile of scraps.

So let’s try to keep it (relatively) clean and (relatively) on-topic. Mods / admins, if this doesn’t belong here, please let me know.

Let's get to it.
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Wintermute
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:39 am

Rory Kurtz and Composition: A Boring Personal Review

Preface: I don’t think anyone would ever mistake me for an artist, art critic, or writer; so this is pretty much just a whole lot of unsolicited opinion from someone completely unqualified who doesn’t really know what they’re doing. It’s far from comprehensive, and none of my opinions are definitive or have any sort of authority beyond simply being the way that I look at things. Apologies to grammar aficionados (this is going to get real ugly), and to those of you out there who are actually versed in this stuff: I have a feeling I’m way off the mark and using half of these words incorrectly, but hopefully it's good for a few laughs.

Rory Kurtz is pretty popular at the moment, but it seems like there are handful of similar comments repeated about his art whenever it pops up: nice likenesses, but boring / bland / static compositions, which made me curious. It seems like a lot of this stems from the fact that most of his posters feature just one main character amidst the movie’s setting. But I don’t think that guarantees a boring poster, and I don’t think that static compositions are automatically boring, either.

So in an effort to look into this a little deeper, I’m going to take a closer look at some of Kurtz’s posters and just kind of explain how I look at them for context, and see if I can come up with a better idea of what “boring” is and how it applies to different compositions. I’m going to start with these 3 posters, which are all “1 character + setting” posters that I find have about the same amount of dynamism in their compositions, but are differing degrees of boring / interesting to me.

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In my opinion, The Dark Knight is the least compelling of these 3 posters. The vertical lines of the skyscrapers guide my eyes up and down the poster, while the non-vertical lines of the roofs move my gaze somewhat horizontally. It does a good job of keeping my eye on the poster, but I find that the color and lack of organic shapes makes the density of the detail in the rendering seem monotonous and tedious rather than visually interesting. Batman and the coastline are just about the only organic shapes and the color scheme is almost monochromatic; so there isn’t really anything to provide a respite from the geometric details of the cityscape, and my eyes just sort of get lost somewhere around the middle of it. It’s not the most exciting pose or angle for Batman, but I like the idea that he is an extension of the building he’s standing on and the city itself. Unfortunately it seems like a secondary concern within the composition, and it's not really enough to break away from an otherwise fairly lifeless cityscape. (As far as I can tell, Batman is the only occupant of this city, and he's either trying to figure out where he left his keys, or whether his fortune will cover Gotham's power bill if he keeps leaving lights on.)

Moving on to Captain America. The dark shapes at the bottom draw my eye in, and then I’m pulled upward to our main character by the building remnants. The titular hero is right in the middle of the poster, standing tall amidst the destruction with the shield just above dead center. Color palette is a bit muted, but there’s plenty of variety in the lines, shapes, and forms to keep things from getting stale. My eyes tend to wander off the top of the poster, but overall this composition works for me - it’s just not very flashy and doesn’t quite retain my attention. (which probably says more about my personal tastes and attention span than the poster) There’s very little movement or anticipation thereof, and the neutral color palette makes it a little more emotionally subdued. While the hero’s pose isn’t particularly animated / expressive, I think it fits the composition. Our hero is calm, resolute, an immovable object still standing even after the buildings around him have been reduced to rubble. It’s maybe not as exciting as one might expect a poster for a blockbuster superhero movie to be, but its apt and well rendered.

Drive is my favorite of these 3. I find it strikes a nice balance between geometric and organic; the lines of the city, car, and figure keep my eyes moving around the poster without wandering off; and the detail in it makes a closer look worthwhile. The blur of the cars on the highway also adds a sense of movement on a scale that the other two posters lack, and the colors are much more dramatic, which helps the lighting in the rendering "pop". The figure’s pose seems more expressive than the poses in the other 2 posters; partially because the contrast between the hot pinks and cool blues really emphasizes that the figure has turned away from the light, and partially thanks to the hammer. Without getting into the movie, the hammer seems out of place in its surroundings. So it’s somewhat intriguing, and it acts as a focal point for both the viewer and the figure within the composition, making the pose seem less like staring at the pavement and more like contemplation. I think this makes the pose seem slightly more active than it actually is and helps round out the composition. To me, it feels a little more like something is happening in this poster; with the other two I get the sense that it’s already happened (Captain America), or isn’t happening / hasn’t happened yet (The Dark Knight).

I think, for me, boringness is at the intersection of “nothing happening” and “not visually interesting”. “Nothing happening” I think of as a dearth of emotional, anticipated, or implied movement within the composition, while “not visually interesting” is just a sort of catchall meaning there isn’t enough to keep the viewer’s eyes amused. Whether that’s a lack of detail, variety, color, texture, contrast, balance, symmetry, or something else probably depends on the viewer. But I tend to look towards contrast (in color and shape) and expressiveness (mainly in colors and poses) for excitement in otherwise unexciting compositions. I’d say that among these 3 compositions, I find The Dark Knight boring, Captain America slightly boring, and Drive interesting. I think The Dark Knight is boring because, for me, there isn’t enough contrast in color and shape (visual interest) to offset the inanimate pose and cityscape (“nothing happening”). Captain America feels a little boring to me because I find the top third kind of empty (not as visually dense as the bottom two thirds and nothing that draws me back into the composition), which exacerbates my impression that there’s not much “happening” as the poster fails to retain my interest and my eyes move upward off the poster. And I find Drive interesting because I’m drawn to its dramatic colors, which in my opinion highlight the variety of visually interesting aspects of the composition while complementing the sense of movement (“happening”) in the expressiveness of the pose (emotional) and the motion blur / long exposure of the highway (implied).

So now that we have this working definition of boringness and an idea of how it applies to these 3 compositions, let’s take a look at some of Kurtz’s other posters to see how it might interact with compositions that are a little different.

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Casablanca reminds me a bit of Drive in its color palette. I think composition-wise it’s within sight of the other 3 (The Dark Knight et al.) on the dynamism scale, but the title sticks out as one big, glaringly diagonal, dynamic element; and there’s sort of a loose counterbalance around the opposite diagonal with the plant and the table. Figures’ faces are somewhat more visible in this composition, which seems to work alongside the dramatic colors in making it more expressive (again, compared to the previous 3). And there’s plenty of detail and variety in shape and texture. I think that, like Drive, the things going on here visually make it feel like there’s more “happening” than there actually is and prevent it from being boring. But I find it difficult to look past the massive title and find all the visually interesting bits. My eyes want to move along the vertical and horizontal lines in the composition, but they’re continually interrupted by that bright, diagonal title. Which, for me, is a distraction above all else. It gets a little tiresome trying to avoid the title, and when I get hung up on it, the poster starts to feel a little flat.

To me, The Graduate seems like its toeing the line a bit more between static and dynamic composition. Squinting at it, things generally appear to be laid out vertically / horizontally, but when I look closer, very few things actually register as straight up-and-down or side-to-side with me (pretty much just the counter, the seat of the chair, and the figure’s body). I think this small bit of dynamism helps keep it from feeling overly still despite the fact that nothing depicted seems to be in motion and the figure’s face isn’t very expressive. Out of context, the figure’s face seems neutral which feels vacant or blank. In context, there’s a bit of tension to be found between the figure’s apparent apathy and the large predator sitting beside him, but that tension may not completely translate to movement or anticipation of it. So there’s not much immediately “happening” here, but there’s an abundance of visually interesting stuff in this composition and it never feels entirely inert. I particularly like the circled section: the texture of the foliage wrapping over and behind the counter and the leopard’s spots peeking through it; the tilt of the glass, his hand through its reflections and the leopard’s paw behind it; and the wrinkles in the dark blue suit against the smoothness of the cream cuff, chair, and counter. It’s packed with details, textures, and colors but balanced by the contrast between them, and to me it’s pure eye candy. The poster is so visually rich that I don’t notice it’s just a guy sitting in a fashionable chair. (admittedly an overly reductive description). Probably my favorite of Kurtz’s movie posters.

A Clockwork Orange is a fun one. It’s pretty much a single figure and a gradient background, but despite the relative simplicity, it’s more dynamic. And to me it feels more active than any of the other 5 posters. Everything apart from the front leg and the chest / shoulders is diagonal, which helps create a sense of movement throughout the composition that’s further enhanced by the implied motion of the milk dripping off the figure and pooling around its knees. The censorship is provocative; it gives an incomplete picture and invites the viewer to extrapolate - to both fill in the blanks, and consider what the context of the omission suggests about censorship. This extension of the composition beyond what’s strictly visible paired with the more dynamic composition makes it feel like things are “happening” in this poster on a level that none of the other 5 compositions reach. There are a good amount of visually interesting details, but I don’t find a whole lot of contrast in the colors. For me, visual interest is secondary to the dynamism and provocativeness of the composition in keeping this poster interesting.

Of the 6 compositions that I’ve taken a little closer look at, I’d say that 1 of them is dynamic and 5 of them are static. Among the static compositions, color stands out as the common thread in the ones that I consider “non-boring”. Drive, Casablanca, and The Graduate all seem to have a greater amount of color contrast throughout their compositions than The Dark Knight and Captain America, where the most contrasting colors seem to be relegated to fewer, smaller, and more contained areas. Thanks largely (but not entirely) to their richness in color, I find these 3 static compositions “non-boring” based mainly on visual interest rather than a sense of things “happening” in them. A Clockwork Orange is the odd one out as the lone composition of these 6 that I’d consider dynamic, and the only one that I find “non-boring” based more on things “happening” than on visual interest. Like Drive, Casablanca, and The Graduate, I find that A Clockwork Orange has a stronger overall color contrast than The Dark Knight and Captain America, but color contrast doesn’t seem as important in keeping A Clockwork Orange interesting as it does for the 3 “non-boring” static compositions. So let’s revisit some ideas about what makes a poster boring and consider how things like color might apply differently to static and dynamic compositions.

After looking at a few more posters, I think that my working definition of boringness (‘for me, boringness is at the intersection of “nothing happening” and “not visually interesting”’) is a bit vaguely worded, and as a result is too strict to be of much use unless opinions about “visual interest” and things “happening” are reduced to binary values. So I’m going to revise it to line up a bit better with how I’ve actually been using it: for me, boringness is at the intersection of “not enough happening” and “not visually interesting enough”. But that raises the question “how much is enough?”. Let’s introduce an obnoxious visual aid:

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So here’s a graphic approximation of my working definition of boring. On the vertical axis is the viewer’s perceived amount of visual interest in the composition, and on the horizontal axis is the viewer’s perceived amount of activity “happening” within the composition. The size and shape of the red “boring” zone probably depend on the viewer. I’m usually pretty forgiving of something that doesn’t seem to have a whole lot actively “happening” as long as it’s visually interesting, so the “boring” zone intersection is relatively low on the visual interest axis compared to the “happening” axis. But for other people, this might curve differently based on how highly they value a mix of both visual interest and things “happening”, whether they value one of those qualities more than the other, or how little of each they tolerate before considering something boring. So the answer to “how much is enough?” will vary based on who the viewer is (the shape of that red zone) and what they’re looking at (since the amount of visual interest needed to land in that green area depends on the amount “happening” and vice versa). Not a very definitive or satisfying answer, but boringness is highly subjective.

Anyway, this graph is pretty much just for illustrative purposes while considering some potential trends. Let’s ignore the visual interest component for now and consider the differences between static and dynamic compositions in terms of perceived activity. Static compositions are built on horizontal and vertical lines, which are generally associated with balance, order, and things at rest. As a result, static compositions don’t really have any inherent motion in them. Dynamic compositions on the other hand, are laid out around diagonal lines, which imply movement, and as a result they have a natural sense of motion based on the fundamentals of their composition. So without taking anything else into account, dynamic compositions are going to feel like they have more “happening” (‘emotional, anticipated, or implied movement’) in them than static compositions because they have an inherent sense of movement that static compositions lack.

There are other factors that influence the perceived amount of activity “happening” in a composition (such as the dramatic colors / lighting in Drive and Casablanca), but all things considered, I think dynamic compositions are generally going to have a greater amount of perceived activity “happening” in them (putting them further to the right on the graph) than most static compositions thanks to the foundation this inherent sense of movement gives them. Looking at the obnoxious visual aid, the more perceived activity something has, the less visual interest it needs to avoid landing in that red “boring” zone. Since static compositions are more likely to be lower in perceived activity, they’ll generally need more visual interest to avoid boringness than dynamic compositions, which is probably why I find color more important for Drive, Casablanca, and The Graduate (static) than for A Clockwork Orange (dynamic). In Drive and Casablanca, the dramatic warm / cool contrast slightly enhances my perception of things “happening”, but for me, the color variety in all 3 of these static compositions functions predominantly as a standout part of the visual interest that keeps them from being boring. As mentioned previously, I tend to look specifically for color contrast to find excitement in static compositions, so part of this is definitely personal preference. But I think that visual interest and its components are generally going to be more necessary and impactful (in terms of making things non-boring) in static compositions because they need relatively more visual interest to avoid boringness.

Let’s consider visual interest. The movement implied by the diagonal lines of dynamic compositions will probably make them more active in directing viewers’ eyes around the composition. This may translate to dynamic compositions being more active than static compositions in getting and retaining viewers’ attention, resulting in more opportunity for viewers to find dynamic compositions visually interesting. (Viewers may spend more time moving between points of interest on the composition...) Along similar lines, dynamic compositions are more likely to have a greater amount of perceived activity “happening” in them, and more things “happening” in a composition may also provide more opportunity for visual interest. (...and they may perceive more points of visual interest overall.) So dynamic compositions seem to offer a bit of an advantage in visual interest as well as perceived activity, but I think that because visual interest is a somewhat more personal metric than perceived activity, dynamism doesn’t affect visual interest quite as much. Both dynamism and perceived activity (things “happening) seem to be rooted in a sense of movement, so there’s a more direct relationship between the two whereas visual interest seems a bit isolated from dynamism because it depends mainly on the viewer to find interest in the composition. As a result, visual interest is generally going to depend on individual viewers and their preferences more than anything else, which puts static and dynamic compositions on more even footing (compared to perceived activity) even though dynamic compositions have a bit of a leg up.

Because visual interest is more dependent on the viewer than perceived activity is, compositional elements that appeal to a viewers’ personal preferences are probably going to increase visual interest more than perceived activity. For example, I’m drawn to contrasting colors, and my visual interest in Drive, Casablanca, and The Graduate is amplified by those compositions’ rich variety of colors. The dramatic contrast in Drive and Casablanca also increases the amount of activity I perceive in those compositions, but it does so primarily in conjunction with other elements of the compositions (not as heavily based on viewer preference) and to a lesser degree. So I find these 3 composition non-boring based less on perceived activity and more on visual interest (and my personal preference for contrasting colors). Since visual interest is so dependent on the viewer, the more visual interest a composition needs to avoid boringness, the more important personal preference becomes in determining whether that composition is ultimately considered boring or not. So compositions with less perceived activity that depend more on visual interest to avoid boringness (most likely static compositions) are going to be deemed boring or not based more heavily on individual viewers’ personal preferences.

Dynamism and visual interest may not be as strongly correlated as dynamism and perceived activity, but if more things “happening” in a composition generally translates to more visual interest, then I’d expect boring compositions with more perceived activity and relatively little visual interest to be fairly rare. Meaning there’ll likely be a higher concentration of boring compositions towards the left in that red “boring” zone on the graph, and most boring compositions will probably have less perceived activity, which usually means they're more static. The positive correlation between dynamism and visual interest would also lead me to expect that dynamic compositions are likely to have more visual interest than static compositions as well as more perceived activity. Looking at the graph, this would put dynamic compositions further up (more visual interest) and further right (more perceived activity) than static compositions, which is pretty much the opposite direction of that red “boring” zone. So I think that, overall, dynamic compositions are less likely to be boring (land in that red zone), and more likely to be less boring (further away from the red zone) than static compositions. 

This is a lot of hazy generalization based mostly on my point of view and observations, preferences, and definitions that I've tried to make sense of using this vaguely obnoxious visual aid. (There are a lot of qualifiers, probably plenty of outliers and exceptions, and maybe even a few straight up errors in logic.) But I think it offers some (very) personal insight into how viewer preference and fundamental differences between static and dynamic compositions influence boringness. And it might help explain some advantages dynamic compositions have in avoiding boringness and why “static” may sometimes be conflated with “boring”. The obnoxious visual aid is just sort of a simple model for discussing some potential trends, but perhaps a better way to look at boringness and personal preference would be to use a radar chart. Something with more specific axes would probably result in a more unique “boring” zone based on individual users’ preferences, and comparing compositions to the shape of that “boring” zone could give a better picture of not just whether a composition is boring or not, but how boring or non-boring it is and in what specific ways. Maybe something like this:

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Like the previous obnoxious visual aid, I just sort of threw this together for illustrative purposes, so it may not be very accurate. The shapes on the chart will change depending on the viewer, but the general idea here is that the shape of this red “boring” zone gives a better view of an individual viewer’s personal preferences in relation to boringness, which provides a more complete picture since boringness is highly subjective. We can see how similar a composition’s shape is to that red zone, where it exceeds it, where it falls short and by how much - stuff like that.

But this is boring, let’s get back to looking at art. Here are a few “1 character + setting” posters by different artists:

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Kilian Eng’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is my favorite of these 3. Symmetry can often feel static, but this composition’s layout is much more radial than horizontal / vertical and everything moves back to that center point, which continually draws my eyes into the composition and helps it avoid the static side of symmetry. It seems to take a very direct approach to movement: color bursts across the poster like animation stretches, motion blur, or the superimposed frames of a time-lapse. It’s as if those dots and bands of color have been removed from time - all the places they’ve been, are, and will be shown at once, made simultaneous - eons and moments all blurred into a single instant of being pulled into and exploding out of that gravitational center point. And the figure stands upright; static in comparison to the movement around him, but still aligned with that perpetual center. For me, this is a strongly dynamic image in the way the small, still figure emphasizes the movement in the rest of the composition. That central vanishing point also gives it a nice bit of depth, and the symmetry lends balance to the variety of colors and shapes. It's a little more abstract, so it may not provide as much detail in a traditional, realistic sense, but there's plenty to discover and appreciate in the spacesuit and the way the colors layer, twist, merge, and circle each other.

Upfront, Martin Ansin’s Taxi Driver seems the most static of these 3, but there’s a lot going on with it. The composition seems to mirror the rainy scene it depicts like a reflection in a puddle: ripples emanate from the figure on the left, distorting his surroundings before fading into the reflection of a rain-soaked street; the soft textures of steam and fog punctuate the composition like patches of pavement peaking through; and the marquees and neon signs on the right mirror the warped ones on the left, but are set against deeper shades of red, undisturbed by ripples yet to reach them. On the surface, this composition seems somewhat static to me because the shapes that I find the most prominent (especially the title block & marquees) register as vertical / horizontal. But there are hints of dynamism and motion throughout the composition, and I’m constantly being pulled into discovering new details. There are lots of small things “happening” here and it never feels tediously still. There may not be a whole lot of individually distinct hues in the composition, but there’s plenty of balanced contrast and mistily dithered gradation between its two primary colors, and it seems to focus mainly on the diffusion and reflection of light (such as buildings in the background being simply implied by lights and signage). This focus unifies objects within the composition, and in my opinion, really lets the details shine. A closer look reveals new intricacies in a really rewarding, compelling way, and I think this poster is an incredibly well executed concept.

Ken Taylor’s Halloween seems a little more prominently dynamic than Taxi Driver. The street stabs into the poster from the lower left corner, bright red leaves trail across it like drops of blood leading up to the top right corner, and the rest of the composition is sort of laid out around that diagonal. Apart from the leaves floating in the wind, everything in this poster seems to be at rest, but this dynamism gives it a sense of movement and instead of feeling still, it feels ominous. For me, the sense of movement in this poster is less focused on what's "happening" and more on what's about to "happen". Trees in the foreground loom crookedly, the bases of their trunks strangled by overgrown ivy, and the figure is placed in the middle of the road as if cutting off the viewer’s escape. The body blends into the grayness of the color scheme, but the brightness of the mask and knife stick out, like monsters' eyes / teeth in the darkness. There are lots of great details in this poster (I especially like the telephone lines slicing through the moonlit sky and the way the right-most leaf seems to transition out of the ivy), but I think the textures really set it apart. In addition to enhancing the unsettling atmosphere with thin, sharp lines and ragged edges like rips and tears, they help break up the composition and distinguish different objects from one another, which I think is really important in avoiding visual monotony considering the mainly black and white color palette.

I find all 3 of these posters interesting. I'm most immediately drawn to 2001 by the way its bold primary colors flow around the figure and center point creating a strong sense of movement and all sorts of interesting textures and shapes. The closer I look at Taxi Driver, the more I see in it, and the more encouraged I am to continue exploring its composition by the way its creative use of limited color and contrast reveal detail and bring together all the different things happening in it. And I find Halloween interesting because its textures and contrast create visual variety while complementing the violent imagery and subtle movement in the composition’s dynamism and the bright red leaves splattered across it. All 3 of these carry different amounts of visual interest and perceived activity for me, but I find that none of them lack both, or even one of those qualities.

Something that sticks out about these 3, and that may affect boringness, is that they all seem fairly stylized. I think stylization may offer an advantage over realism by providing a little more flexibility to play with things for effect, like tweaking proportions to exaggerate movement. But realism probably has its own advantages for creating images that are true to life, such as likenesses. Viewers’ preferences toward an art style are likely to influence their perceptions of boringness as well; most likely, they’ll influence the viewer’s visual interest since visual interest seems to be based more on personal preference than perceived activity. I think highly stylized things are probably more likely to be polarizing to an audience, but also more likely to generate a stronger response in terms of amplifying visual interest for people that prefer that style. And realistic things might be more palatable to a general audience, but may not generate as strong a response. This could probably be explored further, but I just wanted to throw out a few closing thoughts about how art style might fit into these ideas about boringness before wrapping this up.

I think that’s pretty much it. If you got this far, thanks for reading. If you skipped to the end, I don’t blame you one bit. This ended up being a bit of a monstrosity.

TLDR:
- for me, boringness is at the intersection of “not enough happening” and “not visually interesting enough
- boringness is subjective, enough depends on the viewer’s tolerances
- perceived activity (things “happening”) is primarily based on active sense of movement
- visual interest is created by the viewer’s enjoyment of things like detail, variety, color, texture, contrast, balance, symmetry, etc. and is more personal than perceived activity because it depends on the viewer to find interest in the composition
- appealing to personal preference is likely to amplify visual interest more than perceived activity because visual interest is more personal
- perceived activity and visual interest are not entirely independent of one another
- the amount of visual interest needed to avoid boringness depends on the amount of perceived activity and vice versa in conjunction with viewer’s tolerances because boringness is a perceived lack of both qualities at once. ("intersection" - this is where the graph starts being useful)
- dynamic compositions’ layout around diagonal lines gives them a natural sense of movement that static compositions lack
- as a result, dynamic compositions are more likely: higher in perceived activity, active in opportunity for visual interest, less boring, and less likely to be boring
- static compositions are comparatively more likely: lower in perceived activity, comparatively less active in opportunity for visual interest, more boring, and more likely to be boring
- compositions with less perceived activity depend more on visual interest to avoid boringness, and by extension are ultimately deemed "boring" or not depending more heavily on the viewer than compositions with less perceived activity that depend less on visual interest (compositions with less perceived activity are usually static, compositions with more perceived activity are usually dynamic, and visual interest depends on the viewer)
- there’s probably a higher concentrations of "boring" compositions with less perceived activity, which may further conflate static with "boring"
- but things “happening” and visual interest aren’t very specific, break things down further to get a more complete picture based on user preference (radar chart)
- stylization and realism have their own advantages; again, personal preferences regarding one or the other likely amplify visual interest
- highly stylized things might generate stronger responses at the tradeoff of being more polarizing to a general audience
- 9 posters and 2 charts for context and illustration (charts aren’t really accurate to anything, just help explain things)
- this is all based on opinion and personal observations - there are a lot of qualifiers, probably plenty of outliers and exceptions, and maybe even a few straight up errors in logic - so take it with a grain of salt
- even this TLDR is messy and overly long, but I hope this was at least somewhat amusing, and maybe even encourages other people to dive into more in-depth art discussion; it can’t possibly be worse than this, right?

I think I’ve probably spent way too long trying to break down intuitively understood things in a way that may be too opinion-based and personal to be interesting or applicable to other people. (And it’s probably pretty boring because of it!) But some of this may resonate with others, and I think it’s been worthwhile to me at least. While writing this hasn’t really changed whether I like or dislike any of these posters (not really the focus of this critique), it has made me appreciate parts of them, and it has made me more consciously aware of the types of things I look for in posters.

For a lot of people, this is probably nothing new, but I hope it provides some food for thought (or at least a little entertainment). I probably won’t be around to reply to things for a while - I know it’s a terrible way to start a thread, but I feel like this might need room to breathe for a bit. So I figured with SDCC being this week(end), now’s as good a time as ever to post it for whenever people get a chance.
Last edited by Wintermute on Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RambosRemodeler
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:10 am

I'd like to know how you view these. Take a closer look and please give me a write up similar to the one above.


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and just for funsies this one too!

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choke wrote:I won't give up a flip that I can get myself to someone who is convinced they need it. None of us need any of this fudge. It's art. It's not medicine.
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Codeblue
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:51 am

Luls.

P.S. Nice new alt theo.
RupertPupkin wrote:I live by this rule and this rule alone: people are drymounting idiots.
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bubbie
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:56 am

:lol:
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hax0n
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:23 am

tl;dr
Image
electrachrome wrote:None of us who are responsible for this website really have any idea how it works
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ccsmd598
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:33 am

Wintermute wrote:takes adderall
Ya'll see the leprechaun say yaaaaaa!
barneycantankerous
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:16 am

This isn't an in-depth discussion thread. It's an in-defence of Theo thread.

Let's be clear, he has been found twice now to be rehashing the same concepts and compositions of smaller artists. I don't care if his work is "better in person", he's a master penciller or whatever other series of adjectives and "in-depth discussions" you want to throw around. It's fundamentally wrong. I'm still flawed people are defending this purely based on "yes, but Theo drew it better" or say it is taken from the source material.

Not to mention how he is chipping away at his own credibility.
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PLUSH
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:23 am

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Kramerica
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:28 am

RambosRemodeler wrote:I'd like to know how you view these. Take a closer look and please give me a write up similar to the one above.


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and just for funsies this one too!

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I was wondering why this fudge was on the "hot today".
When I'm done ranting about elite power that rules the planet under a totalitarian government that uses the media to keep people stupid, my throat gets parched. That's why I drink Orange Drink. - BH
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Wintermute
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:32 am

hax0n wrote:tl;dr
Here you go, it's still pretty long, but there is one in there at the end of that massive post.
TLDR:
- for me, boringness is at the intersection of “not enough happening” and “not visually interesting enough”
- boringness is subjective, enough depends on the viewer’s tolerances
- perceived activity (things “happening”) is primarily based on active sense of movement
- visual interest is created by the viewer’s enjoyment of things like detail, variety, color, texture, contrast, balance, symmetry, etc. and is more personal than perceived activity because it depends on the viewer to find interest in the composition
- appealing to personal preference is likely to amplify visual interest more than perceived activity because visual interest is more personal
- perceived activity and visual interest are not entirely independent of one another
- the amount of visual interest needed to avoid boringness depends on the amount of perceived activity and vice versa in conjunction with viewer’s tolerances because boringness is a perceived lack of both qualities at once. ("intersection" - this is where the graph starts being useful)
- dynamic compositions’ layout around diagonal lines gives them a natural sense of movement that static compositions lack
- as a result, dynamic compositions are more likely: higher in perceived activity, active in opportunity for visual interest, less boring, and less likely to be boring
- static compositions are comparatively more likely: lower in perceived activity, comparatively less active in opportunity for visual interest, more boring, and more likely to be boring
- compositions with less perceived activity depend more on visual interest to avoid boringness, and by extension are ultimately deemed "boring" or not depending more heavily on the viewer than compositions with less perceived activity that depend less on visual interest (compositions with less perceived activity are usually static, compositions with more perceived activity are usually dynamic, and visual interest depends on the viewer)
- there’s probably a higher concentrations of "boring" compositions with less perceived activity, which may further conflate static with "boring"
- but things “happening” and visual interest aren’t very specific, break things down further to get a more complete picture based on user preference (radar chart)
- stylization and realism have their own advantages; again, personal preferences regarding one or the other likely amplify visual interest
- highly stylized things might generate stronger responses at the tradeoff of being more polarizing to a general audience
- 9 posters and 2 charts for context and illustration (charts aren’t really accurate to anything, just help explain things)
- this is all based on opinion and personal observations - there are a lot of qualifiers, probably plenty of outliers and exceptions, and maybe even a few straight up logical errors - so take it with a grain of salt
- even this TLDR is messy and overly long, but I hope this was at least somewhat amusing, and maybe even encourages other people to dive into more in-depth art discussion; it can’t possibly be worse than this, right?
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Wintermute
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:36 am

barneycantankerous wrote:This isn't an in-depth discussion thread. It's an in-defence of Theo thread.

Let's be clear, he has been found twice now to be rehashing the same concepts and compositions of smaller artists. I don't care if his work is "better in person", he's a master penciller or whatever other series of adjectives and "in-depth discussions" you want to throw around. It's fundamentally wrong. I'm still flawed people are defending this purely based on "yes, but Theo drew it better" or say it is taken from the source material.

Not to mention how he is chipping away at his own credibility.
Hey barneycantankerous, not sure exactly where you're coming from, but that's not at all what my post is about. In fact, it's only so much about Kurtz's posters in that I needed examples of things to provide context and develop ideas about what makes a composition boring, or not boring to me. It really doesn't discuss the merit of any ideas or how good / bad compositions are, just whether they're boring or interesting to me and why that is. And it definitely doesn't get into originality.
Last edited by Wintermute on Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:44 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Wintermute
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:38 am

RambosRemodeler wrote:I'd like to know how you view these. Take a closer look and please give me a write up similar to the one above.
and just for funsies this one too!
LOL

You’re coming on a little strong there Rambo, but nice taste in those choices for discussion, plenty of meat on those bones. I was worried it’d be hard to get this thread up off the ground, but you really took it upon yourself to get those balls rolling, kudos.

(I’m game to have a little fun with this, but I think I’ll stick to bullet points.)

#1 David Choe - Face drymounting a Fat Chick
- Looseness matches the crudity of the subject matter
- I’m actually a little let down by the lack of thrusting here.
- But I’m wet for that watercolor (is it watercolor? It was too hard to make out.)
- Textures are a little flush for my tastes
- $6953? seems like the artist had a little fun with this one, may be a bit of a gag
- Boring? - small subject doesn’t quite fill the hole left by all that blank space, and I’m left unsatisfied by the lack of motion in that ocean as well

#2 David Choe - Pizza Print
- skipping floury words
- a slice is not the whole pie
- this piece is boxed in

#3 Gil Wadsworth - Sniffer, Venice CA 03
- What did the elephant say to the naked man?
- Not much contrast in the 3-legged color scheme, wouldn’t want to risk it not looking like a penis anymore
- no firm sense of anything happening here, it’s just a rooster-a-doodled-doodle (ugh, a lot of this is bad, but that one hurt to write)
- Boring? - Nothing here sticks out. The dick is probably the most interesting part, but there are plenty of those around, and some of ‘em even know how to type.

Clearly I’m going after low-hanging fruit at this point, but I’m just dicking around. Things are getting kinda stale, and I think I may have overreached around those last 2 bullet points, so I’m gonna wrap it up before this gets any sloppier.

:wink:
Last edited by Wintermute on Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ToonKiller
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:08 am

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Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:26 am

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