Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday Thirteen - Pick a Pic

I've been working on trailers for my books recently, and have learned about color, balance, light, dark, mood, and so much more. One thing was to look for the "rule of threes" which is to divide the picture into thirds diagonally, vertically, or horizontally. Certain things lend themselves to this. For example, a photo of a beach. 1/3 is sand, 1/3 is water, and 1/3 is sky. Place a few sailboats in the picture and you create a pleasing landscape. Today, I'm sharing 13 ways to pick a good picture. In order to make it fun, I'm using pix of hunks. (Ah... now you're paying attention!) You'll notice how evident this "rule of threes" is after you begin to look for it.

Quick note: clicking on the pictures will open them in a new window in a larger size so you can see more detail.

1. The rule of threes shows in the vertical axis of this picture. The white shirt on the left is balanced by the wider area of ripped abs and tan skin in the center, and only a bit of white on the far right side. Also, it has a second set of threes - horizontally. The body, the narrow belt, and the jeans. Not only is the model easy to look at, but the picture itself is well composed.

(Khyff Antonello from For Women Only)

2. Balance of light and shadow. This photo is lit from the side, casting portions of the model's body and face in shadow. The effect is an air of mystery. The expression of the face lends itself to mystery; what is he thinking? The lighting adds to that mysterious aura. His curly hair is darkly shaded and we are unable to make out much detail. Likewise, what we can see of his half-revealed body suggests physical beauty. We want to know more. Thirds: dark hair, light skin, greenish blue shirt.

(Senth Antonello from At the Mercy of Her Pleasure)

3. They say clothes make the man, but this is one case where they aren't needed. This gentleman has managed to give us a distinct impression about his personality while wearing only a wristwatch. Contrast is the key here. The white background makes his dark skin show up all the more plainly, visually putting him in conflict with his surroundings. His hands on his hips suggests argument, and the tilt of his head says he is ready to fight for ... something. Again, the vertical threes are the white on either side and the dark skin in the center, and horizontally, his face, shoulders/chest area, and lower abs.

4. Mystery as well as seductive pose and the rule of threes. The dark area covering his face, the fair skin, and dark pants make one set of threes. Another is the background burgundy, skin tones, and black. The pose shows off the body but not the face, allowing us to decide for ourselves what he might look like. Is he a raven-haired and bearded man with an earring? A blond beach boy with shaggy hair? A goth wearing guyliner and black lipstick? Or just the boy next door? We want to help him pull off that shirt so we can see.

5. Threes are obvious here. The dark background, highlighted areas, and shadowed skin. Vertically and horizontally, the picture is divided. And in this case (lesser so above) some of the division is diagonal.

6. Another good example of threes, this one also diagonal (in the other direction). Skin, background, highlights. Horizontally, there is the upper chest, abs, and jeans. Though the line of his body is evenly divided in half, the shadows make it seem like three areas, especially on the left side (facing him). Can you see how the raised leg also adds to the horizontal effect?

7. Vertical lighting, threes, and good use of lighting. The pose suggests several things, and sets a mood. The threes here are easily seen vertically, with the lighter wall, body, and shadow. Also, note the dark hair, skin tones, and dark shorts. Because he has dark leg hair, it ties in the tones from one part to the other. This was a much larger picture and included a lot of unneeded background, which I cut. When looking for a dramatic effect, move in as closely as possible.

8. This picture uses mystery (we can't see all of the model, or see what he's seeing), highlights and overall lighting on the water, plus several types of divisions of three. Take the tiles in front of him, and contrast them to the moving water behind him. Put the model in the center, and you have a set of threes. This works vertically as well. Try to find more. They may be indistinct at first, but they are there.

9. This photo is intentionally dark, to set the mood. The model is Asian, and has darker skin. His eyes are shadowed, as are his abdominal muscles. The background is dark. The pose suggests he is waiting and watching, perhaps for an opportunity to spring. There is an air of danger. Yet this is offset by the white belt. It's new, crisp, and tucked in. With that one detail, the artist has completely changed the tone of this picture. Seeing the white belt one begins to interpret the expression and pose as more playful. Perhaps he's about to "pounce" on a lover and shower them with kisses. Imagine this picture with a black leather, metal studded belt. What would the message imply then?

10. This picture makes a strong statement in two ways: with color, and with pose. The clothing implies both a cowboy influence as well as Eastern. The first impression is "belly-dancing cowboy" which is incongruous at first, but the pose itself, as well as the vibrant color make us believe it works. The sheen on the model's chest suggests he is dancing with energy, and indeed the red veil-like material flows around him as if in movement. Note the three sections here as well. Right to left, white, body, red. Strong statements. What impression does it make on you?

11. Here is another obvious use of the rule of threes, as well as color. Note the top layer of white, the body, and bottom layer of white. There are also thirds in the tie and jacket, abs, and dark pants. The position of the foot implies power, and the hand implies acceptance. The pose says that he has been subjected to the woman's authority, and although he is not flat on his back, we assume he is eager to please. Why? If he were angry at being treated in this way, he would be clenching his fist. Instead, the hand is open and accepting. This pic was in the trailer for Alitus, Tales of the Chosen.

12. Several aspects make this a good picture. You'll notice, he has cat ears -- this is Jawk from the Tales of the Chosen series. His hair is pulled back and secured with a beaded clasp. This reveals details about the culture of the character that go along with the book. We get the impression he's a student (he is) and that he cares about his appearance, but prefers to dress casually. The backpack figures prominently in the book. This a good picture due to contrast between sky and body, sky and buildings, plus body and buildings. The dark hair and backpack draw the eye downward, but the lighter colored arms complete the concept of threes. The sky, buildings, and general lower background also provide three divisions. Can you see more?

13. Here's a highly sensual pic that is quite obviously following the rule of threes. upper body, the cheeks and part of the chair, and the dark area beneath the chair. There are also vertical divisions. The cheeks are separated by a dark color which is echoed in the upper body's shadows, and the shadows beneath the chair. Contrast is important; shine on the body is vital to the picture. Color likewise takes a front-row seat. Would this be as powerful if it were presented in natural soft colors with a faded antique look?

Picking a good picture can be easy if you recall the rule of threes, contrast, use of color, and pix that invite the eye to discover more of a mystery. Below is a trailer about my various characters. You can see how pictures like these can be used to good advantage.

 Pictures courtesy of iStockPhoto, PhotoXpress, and Nimajination Studios.


Vivien Jackson said...

Blah blah art blah art blah composition OMG THAT IS PRETTY... etc. :D Thank you so much for this post. I know that it inspired me. Artistically, you know.

Savanna Kougar said...

Kayelle, wow, you broke that down beautifully and concisely. I've never thought of it in that kind of detail. Good questions, too. If I had time I'd comment.
I always go by what works for my artistic eye, and the mood I'm looking for. That's it.
And, I wish I had something other than dial-up so I could see more of the book trailer-vids.
Plus, I've always wanted to create vids since I took a media arts class way back when.

Kayelle Allen said...

Vivien - LOL! I'm so glad it inspired you. One does what one can for the sake of art. ;)

Savanna - creating vids is a lot of fun. The hardest part is finding models to suit the characters and scenes you want to portray. When I'm looking thru pix, if something jumps out at me, I stop and give it another look. After that, I think about how I'd use it, whether I'd have to do a lot of detail work in Photoshop, and if it is worth the work. Once I've decided I like a pic, then I analyze it as above. It has to grab my attention first, and fit the mood I'm trying to convey. I hope you are able to get a better connection so you can enjoy more features online. Watching author vids are entertaining, and tell you about the book in a way you don't get from a blurb or tag.