In a previous post, I mentioned a hierarchy of effectiveness:
2. Subject matter/content (I might include shape language here)
3. Lighting scheme
4. Value/color composition
6. Color scheme
|See how easily a change of style makes "terrifying" become "spooky lite"? Style fundamentally changes the equation so that compensating for it with the other factors becomes difficult.|
In this way, each item in this list can set the context for the thing after it. If I used a gritty style, but then the subject was a happy puppy, then every choice I made with lighting, value composition, and even surfaces or color would be seen through the lens of that subject matter. The subject matter also dictates what range of surfaces can be used---I can't change the fur of a puppy to something else or it won't be a puppy anymore. And because it's a happy puppy, covering the fur with slime merely makes the puppy look a little naughty.
I use the word "can" because sometimes design decisions themselves are neutral or weak, like with lighting, which can be easily used in a way that doesn't modify the rest of the list. Sometimes keeping one element neutral so another element can show through more strongly is the way to go. Likewise, some subjects are just neutral by nature and we have to push on other factors to say something about them.
|Shifting every element (including style) to communicate a clear message|
|Mixed messages---appropriate for a more nuanced character|