Artistic Composition – Eyetracking and Training

Eyetracking trace over the same image, one is more expansive, the other focuses on the centre of the image

One of these days I’ll get my hands onto some eye tracking tools!

Cognitive Daily: Artists look different discusses research into the differences between the way trained artists and ordinary folks view images.


As someone who works daily with architects, structural engineers, graphic designers and architectural photographers, I’d love to see how their eye movements differ from the above.

Vogt and Magnussen argue that it comes down to training: artists have learned to identify the real details of a picture, not just the ones that are immediately most salient to the perceptual system, which is naturally disposed to focusing on objects and faces.

Vaughan at Mind Hacks puts it more succinctly:

The study concluded that artists spend more time looking at areas of the visual scene that the rest of us pass over as less important.

That’s what I’d call composition. Working with talented visual people, I wonder if eyetracking could reveal their perceptions of good and bad composition, and how they differ by profession.

It’s also interesting to see the effect being ascribed to training rather than artistic talent.

I’m inclined to think that notions of composition come from some kind of imposed training, even if it is implicit training. My question is, does my brain think it’s good composition because it appreciates the arrangement, or because it’s been trained to?

Leave a Reply


Discover more from thompsonsimon / Simon Thompson

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading