Put simply, composition in art is the way you organize elements such as people, shapes, objects, and color in your artwork.
You do it by applying the elements of design and composition. Composition plays a big role in creating a masterpiece that people will remember.
This article teaches you how to create your own artwork with great composition, answering questions such as ‘What is the importance of composition in art’, ‘Tips for planning composition’, ‘Positive and Negative Space’, and the ‘Elements of composition’, so keep reading if you want your artwork to stand out from the pack.
What is the importance of composition in art?
The application of design elements like line, shape, texture, and color make up the composition. When these elements are applied correctly, they can create a balanced and effective layout that will help guide viewers’ eyes around the artwork.
Composition plays an important role in creating a masterpiece that people will remember.
Tips for planning composition
Here are a few tips for planning composition in art. To create effective composition in your artwork, you should follow these important steps:
1. Analyze the main elements of your artwork and determine what theme or mood you want to portray in the piece. Remember that every element in the painting serves to support this goal. This means being able to move objects around so that they are being used effectively to tell the story.
2. Make several thumbnail sketches before creating a final work so that you have an idea of what the final work may look like. This helps minimize time wasted at the tail end of your work if things don’t look like you had envisaged.
3. Use a grid to map out your work. This helps you keep the composition balanced and symmetrical, which is pleasing for viewers.
4. Check the depth of your painting to make sure it isn’t flat or two-dimensional. You can do this by looking at whether or not there are layers in the painting that give the impression of depth and use linear, color, and atmospheric perspective to help achieve this.
5. Finally, use a focal point to draw the viewer’s attention to a certain area of the painting. This can be done by using bright colors, strong lines or shapes, or contrast in values. With careful composition, your artwork can be transformed from good to great!
In composition, what is Positive and Negative Space?
The positive space is the part of the artwork that’s filled in. The negative space is what isn’t filled in.
For example, if you’re drawing a face with dark hair, the dark areas are all positive space and the white spaces are negative space.
You can use negative space to be just as important as positive space. Sometimes this can be just as powerful when telling a story with your art. Negative space can be used to convey isolation and emptiness.
Positive space can be used to fill voids and provide detail but they can also convey abundance, feelings of being overwhelmed and the like.
You can compose an artwork with all the design in one half using positive space and yet still find balance in the other half with the use of negative space.
How do you go about Planning your composition?
In composition, there are about four types of composition you can implement. The first type is symmetrical. In this case, the artwork looks the same left and right from a vantage point in front of your eyes.
The opposite to symmetrical is asymmetrical where one side looks different from the other. For example, a butterfly has symmetry, when folded in half one half is the mirror of the other.
In asymmetry such as a still life where one half of the painting is a shot glass and the other is a tall bottle, one half does not equal the other.
You can create balance using other objects, color, or positive/negative space. I have a whole article that covers this topic here.
When planning your composition, lay the objects out and move them around if you are working from physical objects. Otherwise, it would be best to make simple thumbnail sketches and see what works.
I also like to plan my composition using my iPad, iPencil, and a few sketching apps such as Procreate. If something doesn’t work, I tap the undo and try something different.
What are the Elements of Composition?
The elements of composition are:
You don’t have to use all of them, but using some will make your artwork more interesting. You can also use different combinations of them to create different effects.
For example, if you have a lot of shapes in your composition then it can get a little too cluttered so try using other elements such as using different colors to break things up or make the shapes stand out from each other.
What is The Rule of Thirds in art?
In art, the Rule of Thirds is a guideline that artists often use to create more interesting compositions. The basic idea of the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking your composition into thirds, both horizontally and vertically.
If you were to draw grid lines you would see 9 squares breaking up your design.
Personally, I do not follow the rule of thirds when creating art. It just does not work well with my brain.
So do not feel left out if you try The Rule of Thirds out and think “huh?”.
I do find that the rule of thirds does work best when working with asymmetrical designs where things are not equally balanced.
In a symmetrical design, having too much of everything balanced looks a little amateurish and simple.
This is when you can use the rule of thirds, it helps asymmetrical designs achieve balance.
Then, try to place the important elements of your artwork along these lines or intersections. This will make your composition more balanced and pleasing to the eye.
While it’s not a hard and fast rule, following the rule of thirds can often lead to more successful compositions.
Below is probably one of the best explanations of not only the Rule of Thirds but composition in art in general. So good I subscribed.
How do artists use the elements and principles of design to create interesting compositions?
Simply, artists use the elements and principles of design to plan an artwork instead of just working ‘alla prima’ with no planning.
They plan their artworks by using various tools such as thumbnail sketches, perspective, using contrast, line, shape, space, and value. This helps artists create a variety of interesting compositions.
You can actually use all the above to re-arrange the same subject matter in different ways to create additional and unique works of art over and over.
Joseph Colella (Joe Colella) is an Editor and Writer at WastedTalentInc. As a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech).
While Joseph holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent fashion he spent years applying for various Art degrees; from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), to failing to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney.
While he jokes about his failures at gaining formal art qualifications, as a self-taught artist he has had a fruitful career in business, technology and the arts making Art his full time source of income from the age of 18 until 25.
His goal is to attend the Julian Ashton School of Art at The Rocks Sydney when he retires from full time work. Joseph’s art has been sold to private collectors all over the world from the USA, Europe and Australasia.
He is a trusted source for reliable art advice and tutorials to copyright/fair use advice and is committed to helping his readers make informed decisions about making them a better artist.