I've been playing with an idea of breaking these out as thumbnails around the periphery of a single page, with the wholistic version of the finished composition in the center, like this:
Each peripheral panel is assigned a particular role, and all feed into the central panel. If I want to fiddle with the play of light, I can do that in its own panel, and if I like it, carry the consequent changes over to the values map or whatever other elements are affected, and finally integrate it into the central panel. If I decide I don't like what I tried, I've only messed up one panel, instead of hacking away at the whole thing.
Different people will probably have different ways of breaking a composition out. For me, they are:
- Grid, which covers general layout and proportional divisions of the picture plane, and provides a coordinate system to help keep the other panels lined up with each other.
Shapes - the "jigsaw puzzle" of flat shapes carving up the picture plane, which should have their own interesting qualities.
Tones - areas of light and dark values, seen as an abstract pattern, as well as contributing to the play of light, modeling, and overall mood.
Light - the play of light in the scene, including the location and direction of light sources, angle and length of shadows, and intensity of contrast.
Story - what the picture is about - people, buildings, trees, etc
Lines - Gesture, line of action, eye control - the dynamic forces that lead the viewer into and through the picture
Design - Balance, priority of elements, underlying structure.
Space - Linear and atmospheric perspective, relative size, occlusion of back ground by forground objects - all the things that define the 3d space.
I'm calling it "Dumlat," because it reminds me of the Talmud, but in reverse. Instead of starting with a central text and adding surrounding commentary, you start with peripheral components and build a central image.
I used this method to design a small drawing for a condolence card to a friend who recently lost her husband:
Ironically, after all that work in the 5:7 format, when I looked at the card stock I realized it would work better as 3:5. However, having done the prep work, I was able to adapt it to the new format fairly easily.