I just had a wonderful collage workshop last weekend and I am still thinking about the process of editing your design once you are well into the process. This is, after all, where most of the time is spent. Its usually easy to get started, just start pasting. But then, soon enough, your design gets off track. How do you pull it back into balance? Its very tricky and, of course, unique to each artist but I thought an illustration of how I might go about “debugging” a composition might be instructive.
I was working in a Three Column structure on the piece below. The last element I put in was in the upper left, the circles over some “Mrs. Homemaker…” text. I was liking everything but felt like I needed something at the top of the composition. I chose a pretty different and busy piece.
After looking at it for awhile, I decided two things were bothering me:
- The circles piece seemed to be leading us over into an empty corner.
- the middle column lacked strength. Two very similar rectangles of similar value… The line between them was weak and disturbing.
So I scanned this piece and brought it into photoshop to play around with possible solutions.
I was sort of in love with the “Mrs Homemaker, The Car, and Travel”, but It turned out this was the biggest problem. Covering it over (in photoshop) suddenly got me back to my original intentions.
Now the color in the three columns modulates in a pattern that I like: The middle column is the tallest, then the left column, then the right. I like this mountain or skyline shape. I also like the variety in the sizes and shapes of the rectangles, the bits of type that act as texture from this distance, and of course the drama of the stripes!
It feels balanced, but I still want to add some emphasis to the yellow rectangle.
A simple outline around the yellow gives the middle column much more strength. Now it is on even par with its neighbors.
In the final version I have added more blacks to ground the piece at the bottom, and pull all the light rectangles into a frame.
I think of this as a loose guide to where I want this piece to go. Its easiest in photoshop to make straight lines but I may choose more organic, uneven, shapes when I get this back to the collage table. I will also play with the thickness of these lines but the basic weight of the blacks, and their distribution, is working. For now.
It could easily be that I look at it for a few days and find something else I want to change. But my advice is don’t belabor it too long. Better to make more work than just a few perfect pieces.
I am curious if any of you readers use photoshop in this way, or what your methods of editing your compositions are. Please share with us in the comments below!
Thank You and Happy creating,