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A comparative study of oil paintings and Chinese ink paintings on composition

Abstract

In this study, we compare Western oil paintings and Chinese ink paintings on their composition, by extracting and computing 28 composition features of the paintings, including visual balance and relationships between different regions (segments). Among the extracted segments, we compute average distance and rule-based features based on three layout rules, rule of thirds, golden mean and golden triangle. A total of 2253 paintings including 1138 oil paintings and 1115 Chinese ink paintings are collected. By comparing the results of the features on these paintings, our study investigates the difference and similarity between the two types of paintings on composition. Their composition designs are similar in visual balance and their tendency of composing along two diagonal lines, but are fairly different on many other aspects. For example, oil paintings are inclined to place objects on the bottom horizontal dividing lines of rule of thirds and golden mean. Having discovered the most important features that can differentiate the two types of paintings, we analyze the differences in the features and discuss their possible relationships to the culture and artists’ backgrounds.

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Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the first author, Zhen-Bao Fan, upon reasonable request.

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Fan, ZB., Zhu, YX., Marković, S. et al. A comparative study of oil paintings and Chinese ink paintings on composition. Vis Comput (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00371-022-02408-2

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Keywords

  • Paintings
  • Composition
  • Visual Balance
  • Layout Rules