Illustrating Some of the Principles of Composition in Examples of Various Character.

Figure 26. Illustrating Some of the Principles of Composition in Examples of Various Character.

These principles of unity and balance which we have described all too briefly are most important as they apply to all forms of drawing and design, but we must leave them to offer a few suggestions which relate especially to architectural work.

First of all, in making drawings of architecture strive for an effect of restfulness and repose. A painter of birds and animals or of marine views often desires an appearance of motion, but care must be taken not to suggest much movement when drawing architecture, for each building should look permanent and solid and should appear to rest firmly on the ground. Avoid, therefore, any effect of violent wind or of speeding automobiles or hurrying people. If persons are indicated it is well to have them walking quietly into the picture or approaching the center of interest, for if they are shown walking away from the center towards the margin line the eye follows them and the balance is thus disturbed. There are, of course, exceptions to this. If many people are shown, as in a street scene, they may be represented as going in all directions, for the sense of motion in one direction will be offset by that in the other. Figures of any sort greatly injure a drawing, however, unless they are well drawn and naturally arranged into effective groups, and so should either be omitted entirely or represented well.

Figure 26 is designed to show certain displeasing effects often found in architectural drawings, which it is best to try to avoid. A reference to Diagram 1 will disclose that the foremost corner of the house is equi-distant from the two end margin lines. It is seldom advisable to place a building in this position, a possible exception being a tower which is absolutely symmetrical. Diagram 3 illustrates the same point, while Diagram 5 applies the idea to an interior, and in both of these the effect is somewhat unpleasant. Do not, then, divide the picture space into two equal parts by having some important line directly in the center. Look again at Diagrams 1, 3 and 5 and you will find that the horizon line or eye level towards which all the receding horizontal lines seem to vanish is just one-half way from top to bottom of the picture space, and this division is unsatisfactory, too, and better results are obtained when the horizon or eye level is either above or below the center of the sheet. In the same way the sketch of the bridge at 3, Figure 25, would be better if the top line of the bridge was not so near the center, for here the picture space is also divided into two nearly equal parts by this line. Again, it is usually well to avoid many opposing lines of the same slant or angle, for variety is always desirable. In Diagram 1 the lines at A, B, C and D are all of equal pitch. This leads to monotony. The same fault is found in 3 and 5. It is better to so place the building on the sheet as to avoid these difficulties and Diagrams 2, 4 and 6 are better in placing than 1, 3 and 5. Diagram 3 has other faults. First the perspective is so violent that the building has the unstable effect of resting on its lower corner, and the crossed lines of the streets form too conspicuous a pattern with a tendency to draw the eye away from the building towards points A and B. Diagram 4 has a more pleasing variety of masses and the interest plainly centers in the main building. Diagram 5 shows a fault in that the two visible wall surfaces are equal in size and shape, as are also the ceiling and floor, and here, too, there is no real center of focus, for the eye jumps back and forth between A and B. Diagram 6 is better, for the interest undoubtedly centers at A, and even though there is an important mass at B it is toned down so as to seem unimportant. The floor, too, has been made larger in mass than the ceiling, but the advantage thus gained is largely lost, for the rug is unfortunately of the same size on the drawing as the visible portion of the ceiling, so that this sketch could be still further improved by adding either more rug or more ceiling. Diagram 7 shows that when a room is so turned that we are looking directly at one of its walls or is placed in "parallel perspective" as this is called, similar faults may develop. Here the main surfaces are all monotonous, the interest is divided and the drawing made still more unpleasant because the receding lines exactly meet the margin lines at the corners. At 8 an attempt has been made to avoid some of the difficulties of Diagram 7.

The little sketch of the dormer is shown to illustrate an important matter of composition. When drawing small details care must always be taken that they do not seem to be merely suspended in the air. They should appear instead to be attached to a solid background or support, and one of the best means of giving this impression is by allowing each sketch to fade out gradually into the sheet, showing enough of the adjacent surroundings to give the whole a sense of stability and strength.

If at all essential, we might go on with many suggestions on composition similar to these which we have given, but if the student is interested and really serious he will take the time to obtain additional ideas from such books as we have recommended. The student is urged to make drawings of his own to illustrate and make clear in his mind any of the principles he acquires, for unless he does so it is probable that many of them will be soon forgotten.

Illustrating Uses of Graded Tones on Details of Architecture.

Figure 27. Illustrating Uses of Graded Tones on Details of Architecture.