|BASIC RULES OF COMPOSITION
Written by Shadi Ejtemaee
In my opinion, composition is one of the most important and often
overlooked elements in a painting. It can mean the difference between
a strong alluring piece or a weak, confusing, or even tasteless
piece. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but one should
generally know the basics before attempting to break them.
can be defined as the arranging of elements in relation to each
other and to the whole to communicate an idea or feeling effectively
to the viewer.
is the space within the borders of where your elements will lie.
It is often intimidating to stare at a blank canvas and think
about how you will lay down your composition. A good way of getting
started with your composition is to paint the entire canvas with
a solid or light wash colour that you like. It's ok if you have
to paint this over as you progress further in your work, it's
just a little trick to get you started.
is optional depending on the style of painting. When depth is
created, it gives the art a sense of three dimensional space.
Depth can be useful in bringing out the focal point by making
subjects in the foreground larger and more detailed.
can be used to create movement, integration and texture. Line
can be used strategically to move the viewers' eye to the focal
refers to lightness and darkness. In a painting, it can be used
to create a mood or place emphasis on more important subjects.
As a general rule, people tend to look at the lighter areas in a
and subjects should be used in a unified manner with no subject
being left unaccounted for. In other words, all elements and subjects
should fit together in harmony instead of fighting each other
for the viewers' attention.
thinking of elements like this:
Primary Element or Focal Point
is where you want the viewers spending a majority of their time.
Use the other elements in your painting to keep leading the viewer's
eye back to this point. It is usually good to use only one main
point of interest.
are elements that are less important than Primary elements, but
ones that hold importance in creating harmony and balance, and
can also be used to lead the viewers eye to the Primary Element.
are the least important of the elements, however, they are important
in unifying the painting as a whole and really bringing everything
together. Tertiary elements might be the background, clouds, sky
basic ways of balancing a painting are, symmetrical and asymmetrical.
While symmetrically balanced paintings can create a calming and
visually stable effect, asymmetrical paintings can create a more
dynamic, interesting and sometimes more pleasing visual.
Golden Section" or "Rule of Thirds"
may have heard of the golden section, very popular in photography.
It's a mathematical construction used extensively by architects,
photographers, musicians, and artists over many centuries. This
is how it works: envision two horizontal, and two vertical lines
dividing your painting into thirds. The place where the lines
meet is where you should place your most important elements.
it's possible to create an interesting painting by placing your
focal point dead centre, it is generally found to be weak and
uninteresting. Using the rule of thirds can help you create a more balanced
and visually intriguing piece with added character, movement,
it comes to composition, I believe a common mistake that artists
make is not setting a focal point. This usually results in confusion
for the viewer as they have nowhere to focus which in turn results
in the viewer losing interest.
artist will view any given subject in a different manner which
means they will commonly have a different focal point. It is important
to know how to effectively communicate your focal point to the
viewer. Your focal point should be the strongest element in your
painting. It should draw the viewers' eye repeatedly but allow
the rest of the piece to be seen as well.
course every artist is different in the way they create. These
are very basic guidelines that I have found helpful in my
own paintings. I share them with you in hopes that they
will also be helpful to you.