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Part 2: Creating Compositions

Now we’ll take the reference drawings we made in the first stage, Initial Drawings, and begin to make compositions from them.

What you need:

  • Your reference drawings from stage 1
  • Soft pencil (e.g. 4B, not too sharp)
  • Tracing paper
  • Chinese or Japanese Rice paper
  • Card – not too thick, about 250 gsm. Better if it’s a mid-tone
  • Sharp knife
  • Ruler
  • Circle cutter (something like this)
  • A good pen – medium sharpies work well (optional)

How to do it:

Before we do anything, we’ll need to make some basic tools to help us take crops of our drawings. Watch this video first:

Once you’ve got your tools and materials together, the next job is to make your square cropping frame. Here’s how:

All done? Next, make your circular cropping frame:

Now we can use these cropping tools to make new compositions from our reference drawings. First, watch this video about the general approach to take for this stage of the exercise:

Next, choose one of your reference drawings and find some nice square crops of them:

Next, move on to taking some circular crops of your reference drawings:

At this point, you should have a selection of new compositions taken from your reference drawings. You’ve started to make design decisions, and, if you’ve repeated this exercise and done it slowly and with focus and attention, you will have stretched and developed your sensitivity to spacing and proportion.

In the next stage of this exercise we’ll take these drawings on a journey. Working through a series of carefully designed steps, you’ll make variations of the designs you’ve just made, to improve the compositions and further develop your sensitivity to and appreciation of design.

Move on to Part 3: Refining Your Compositions