For easy understanding by beginners, artistic composition is simply ‘putting together’ elements of art. Other terms include design, form, visual ordering, formal structure, and page layout. It is the artist’s goal to draw the attention of the viewer to the focal point of his work.
Some of the popular composition techniques followed by artists are the Rule of Thirds and Golden Ratio. The Rule of Thirds “… arranges the important features of an image on or near the horizontal and vertical lines that would divide the image into thirds horizontally and vertically …. The objective is to stop the subject(s) and areas of interest (such as the horizon) from bisecting the image, by placing them near one of the lines that would divide the image into three equal columns and rows, ideally near the intersection of those lines” (Wikipedia). The Golden Ratio, according to Lauren Palmer,” in mathematical principle is an expression of the ratio of two sums whereby their ratio is equal to the larger of the two quantities.”
The 7 essential steps to improve artistic composition (due courtesy to Creative Blog and Artists network for some ideas; other revisions are ours):
- Always work with a simplified value sketch when painting
The secret to a dynamic composition is having a value plan, showing the light and dark masses for contrast. This will create a visual impact on the imagery. Contrasting colors evoke interest in the viewer on the subject.
- Create a disparity between shapes, sizes and color to capture interest
A variation of the shape, size and color of the images would more likely steer the interest of the viewer and direct his eye movement to make a comparison of the images. He would then imagine the relationship and direction that the image conveys.
- Go for an imbalance in the imagery rather than equal balance
This concept of imbalance would create harmony rather than boring symmetry in an area in the composition as the viewer’s eyes would be directed from large to small, vertical to horizontal, and dark to light movement. He would then stay and explore more the significance of the image in its entirety.
- Draw a viewer’s imagination to lines
Lines keep the attention of the viewer and create a path to follow. Lines attract naturally so the viewer would have fun tracing and retracing those lines. The viewer would then be hooked for a virtual journey of interest on the painting.
- Lead the viewer to the focal point of the imagery
Use color, value, directional lines and shapes to emphasize the focal point of the work to the viewer.
- Use cropping method to focus on main thing
Cropping usually creates more variety in the negative spaces or spaces between the objects. This brings to focus the main subject of the painting.
- Overlapping works wonders
Where there is monotony in symmetrical arrangement, overlapping images gets the desired attention.
Overall, these tips should, hopefully, aid in the mastery of artistic composition.