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Composition Basics


Here are some basic guidelines that photographers often use to help them compose a good shot. You can see these methods used in photos and paintings throughout history, and many modern real life photographers and game photographers implement these rules in their shots. You should always remember, however, that these are just guidelines. Composing a shot according to one or more of the rules listed here will not guarantee a good shot. The best thing you can do to improve the quality of your shots is just to practice and grow your sense of intuition.

Rule of Thirds

You’ve probably heard of this one before, or at least seen it in your camera app. The general idea of the Rule of Thirds is that you can help the viewer better understand what they are seeing and create more visual tension in a shot if you break it up into nine equal sections. In the image below, you can see that I’ve aligned the character (Geralt, Witcher 3) directly in the middle of the left vertical line. Positioning something in this way makes it more prominent. You can also see that I have roughly aligned the stone wall with the bottom of the image.
the witcher 3 rule of thirds gamevogue

Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio is often used in photography and also occurs naturally out in the world. It is believed to be aesthetically pleasing and was employed by the the Ancient Greeks – and even earlier civilizations – in architecture. It features prominently in the work of many artists, from Leonardo da Vinci to Salvador Dali. Nobody really understands what makes The Golden Ratio so visually appealing, but it is thought to demonstrate good proportion, perhaps allowing the eye to consume it faster.
golden ratio gta gamevogue

Leading Lines

In photography and art, creators often use “lines” that seem to lead the eye and control how a viewer observes the image. These “lines” can lead towards the subject of the photo or in some other engaging direction, such as towards the center or toward a vanishing point. This can add dimension, order, and space to a photo, while providing the eye with an easy path to follow.
dishonored leading lines gamevogue

Symmetry

This is a simple one. You can make an interesting photo by creating a symmetrical (or nearly symmetrical) image like the one below.
symmetry gamevogue game photography

Rule of Odds

This is an odd one (I’m so sorry), but in contrast to symmetry, apparently humans find images with an odd number of subjects in them to be more pleasant. Use this in a situation where symmetry is either impossible or boring.
rule of odds gamevogue mass effect andromeda

Practice

Finally, the only way to get really good at something is to learn and practice for many hours. Get out there and take some shots! Don’t be afraid to take a bunch of different photos of the same object. I usually end up using one in every 20-30 shots I take. Another great way to improve your skills is to look at other photographers work. Take a look at the “Notable Game Photographers” section of my About page. Lastly, if you haven’t already, take a look at “In-Game Photography 101: Getting Started Taking Screenshots” which goes over the tools and technical methods used to take screenshots.

Thanks to Berdu and Midhras for their feedback and input on this article. They provided valuable insight and additions. Note that this article may not fully represent their views on game photography.

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