Areas Of Visual Detail, Areas Of Visual Rest
By Neil Blevins
Created On: Sept 3rd 2012

Before reading this tutorial, you may want to check out these other three tutorials that discuss similar compositional issues: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Shapes, Contrasts In Composition, and Clumping or Grouping.

Areas Of Visual Detail, Areas Of Visual Rest is an important principal in composition. It's something I use a lot, like in my starship hull images, notice you have areas with very little detail, and areas of tons of detail. This helps move the eye around the image.

If the whole image was equally detailed, the eye would get overloaded and would move away quickly. But instead, you only add details to specific areas, the details draw the eye to that area (because they contrast with the open areas), then as the eye moves away, it's presented with a less populated area where it can rest before hitting another detailed area.

Basically you're trying to create large uninterupted shapes with small condensed areas of detail. The District 9 Art Book had a great phrase on the subject, they refered to this principal and how it guided the design of a number of elements in the film. "Simple overall shapes with moments of hyper-detailing punctuating the cleaner surface".

Lets look at another example of the same thing. The first image is a little dull, it has contrast in value, but all the squares are the same size...

So lets vary the size....

It's better, but still not as interesting as it could be, since the size variation is too random and evenly painted across the surface. So lets play with areas of visual rest and visual detail...

Far more interesting. Areas of lots of detail, areas with less detail. Contrast in value and size. The eye is drawn in and stays for a little while.

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