Advanced Focal Points and Prospective


Focal Points and Prospective
A quick tutorial to the two Ps of art other than Photoshop

NB: This is more of an artistic guide than a 'here's how to make this awesome sig' guide. It deals with the general concepts of using focal points and prospective in your images and how you can apply that to signature making.

Let's take a peek at this image here...

Now, most cinematographers and professional photographers are aware of a concept called the Rule of Thirds. In a single focal-point system, your point should be somewhere in the middle area. In a two-point system (mainly noted when dealing with faces), the points should be on the left and right but in the middle of the area.

However, we all know rules are made to be broken... even if they give you serious tunnel vision when you look at a picture (try looking at the boxes 'framing' the scene... don't they feel empty when you really look at them?). On the other hand, this gives a nice and centered image, with the surroundings acting as 'framing'.

You can see quite nicely the two focal areas... the stable and the soldier. When you first looked at the image, you saw either the stable or the soldier hopefully. Perhaps you noticed the marble head or the wooden spikes... notice how both are found 'connecting' the two points?

Let me add a few lines on here to show the 'flow' of the image...

The most important line in this is the horizon, but that is supported by several other lines. Most noticeable are the trunks of the trees. Although crooked, they offer contrast to the linear skyline behind them, both by being perpendicular and by being crooked. In addition to this, we can see very clearly the geometry of this render. Notice well how the two focal points break the horizon line while most of the rest of the scene stays below it. In addition, the palisade wall segments make a very interesting geometric form; by connecting the two crooked ones with lines and drawing a line up from that vertex, we create a line along the edge of the other and...

... our line of thirds. See how the characters remain well in it, and how the beach frame sticks nicely within the line?

You're probably wondering at this point... what the heck is this guy thinking? He's just jabbering and making up a bunch of lines... and you're right... I didn't plan any of this, but it is true that it worked out this way. For all the unorthodox qualities of the image, it shows an interesting catch with the angles and lines within it.

So how does this apply to signature making? Well, it applies in the same way a beat applies to writing a song... your background image and the composition of your signature matter a lot more than you think.

Since I don't make any signatures, I'll show you an example using a picture from Grepolis (artist: Andrei Pervukhin)

"Woah!", right? Well, let's outline our thirds to start...

Look at the statue of Zeus. Notice how it PERFECTLY fits vertically within the center region at the base. As he is the key focus point in the image, that's expected. There's some activity at the floor, but the two flanking sides (dark bluish-green columns, blue being the opposite of yellow/gold/red) act mainly as framing. Yet when we draw on our focus lines, the main characteristic of traditional art appears...

... the center of the image. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this image has ONE major intended focal point, the origin of the image, and it's right there at the base of the statue. Notice how the lines following the base of the columns cross over every single person in the scene? Also, note that the columns bend TOWARDS Zeus, another element of framing at work. I could literally spend an entire day drawing lines to point out the focal point... Try this on any traditional art piece with a clear origin. To find the origin, follow any important straight element in the piece. Eventually, enough of these elements will reach one point in the image... most likely within the middle third. Then, draw a line out from this and it will run parallel to most other edges that are supposively along the 'z' axis.

This is the general foundation of the concept of Prospective... that all elements come from an origin. Most of the greatest works of art, especially Renaissance works, have an origin... it's something that is appealing to the eye in a world of irregularity (although many avant-garde artists would argue against that).

Anyway, about those focus points? Well, let's throw those on... and bring back those thirds.

Kinda looks like an upside-down Y, right? The focal points clearly lead you down from the top (the thinnest part) to the bottom (wider). That's why it looks pleasing; the focal points literally make a pathway (like in the first image) between each other.

So, let's say you're making a signature- make sure your character(s) agree with the prospective. If they don't, it'll offer a 'contrasting motion' sort of feel that will make them stand out a lot... which may be nice... or weird... or both. Never forget that art is a VERY subjective thing, and don't be afraid to break the rules a bit. You can define and draw lines all over everything, but you will not become a better artist unless you apply that information and take it, as the Romans would say, cum grano salis (with a grain of salt).

Best of luck!

P.S. feel free to suggest changes or make clarifications... I'm no art major, so REALLY take my word with a grain of salt. I will gladly try to find some more examples if that would be of any help to folks, perhaps even a few signatures.


I hope it was helpful... I don't know how applicable this information is with sig makers and such, but hopefully it has a few good tips that can help.


I like the way you explain how all the elements made the composition and how did you point the perspective of the images.


The rule of thirds is applicable to all forms of art. Thanks for sharing.