Focal Points

Posted by Jacob Philpott

Focusing In

A focal point is the object or person that is the subject of a piece of art. This term is used for both photography and digital art. A focal point should be clear and catch the viewer's eye. It should also determine the mood for the rest of the picture. There are four different types of focals; positve, negative, neutral, and composite or "mixed". If the focal point is a smiling child, a positive focal, you might see a sunny or warm background that is bright and correlates with a smiling child. Just try typing in "smiling child" into Google Images. I'm sure you will see plenty of children in sunny backgrounds. Well, if you don't want to try, here just some i saw on the first page of results.




On the other hand, if the focal is something like a skull, it is a negative focal, and will in most occasions have a dark background and dull colors. Examples of neutral focal points are things such as cell phones, a pencil, etc. Composite focal points can have a different meaning depending on A) What direction the photographer or artist puts it in, or B) Personal experiences of the viewer. Here are some examples of how the same subject, in this case war, can give different feelings:



As you can see, war can show either the feelings that come with death and sadness or liberty and new life. As an artist, you must learn how to portray those feelings to others though your work.
There are several ways you can get your focal to stand out. Most often, especially in digital art, color is what draws your eyes to a focal point. Sometimes it is subtle, such as a slightly brighter color compared to the surrounding areas or it can be more direct. Contrast is a word commonly used here, where if a picture has a high contrast, colors stand out more. Here is an example using color:


Another common way to make a focal stand out is through texture. If everything in the background and foreground is smooth, then a person will really stand out.


The final way to create a focal point is by having a blurred background. This automatically focuses the eyes onto the focal. When blurring the background yourself, do NOT accidently blur part of the focal point as the whole effect gets thrown off by this. Also, do not blur too much of the image. If your focal point is small compared to the rest of the picture, consider cutting off some of the extra space on the outside to make less blur. Also do not blur the background too much to where there is no detail, for the image will get boring. See how you can still see some detail in the image below?


When coming up with an idea for an image, don't involve too many focal points. One is definitely preferred, but two could work if you do it properly. Don't bother with anymore than that. The viewer should know what to look at as soon as they see the picture. Their eyes should be drawn to it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks ajit I like it.~~~ SonOfDeath

Ajit said...

no problem, glad you enjoyed :)

Mel Melhado said...

Thanks for explaining focal points. It made me aware of how photographers and artist capture images. Great job! grey oaks real estate

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