Takeover Tuesday: Composition - A work of art

Our Interior Designer, Nicole, explains the importance of composition whilst demonstrating how specific techniques can help achieve the perfect piece of art.

From a rich history of fine art and photography comes the understanding of the importance of composition and the techniques that help achieve the perfect piece of art, whether this is a painting, a piece of photography, or even a computer-generated render.

What is composition?

Best described as an arrangement into specific proportion or relation. Simply, composition is the relationship between the subject you are capturing and the frame in which you place it.

Whether your frame is the edge of a canvas, the sides of a camera’s view finder, or even a specified aspect ratio, it’s best not to think of the edge as a limiting factor of what you’re trying to capture, but as one of your main tools for creating a truly great piece of art.

Types of composition

Beginners guide to composition diagram

There are several composition techniques, as shown in the image above. In this article we will focus on the following three to help you get started:

  • Rule of Thirds
  • Diagonal
  • Golden Triangles

Rule of Thirds

The most predominant composition method is the Rule of Thirds, which uses a 3x3 grid to create nine equal sections with four points of interest.  

3x3 grid

One technique for mastering the Rule of Thirds includes placing your main subject in one third of the grid, leaving two thirds open as demonstrated below.

Composition grid image

It is also good practice to use the lines of the grid to place a subject, this technique is very useful when you have a subject and background which are perpendicular to one another, i.e., a person standing against a landscape. Note how in the above image the mid-ground landscape is aligned to the horizontal line of the grid, and the subject is centered in the middle third, creating a picture in perfect proportions.

It is important to remember that cropping an image to perfect the composition is allowed! Practice with a grid first to see how much it enhances your art.  

 

Another technique is to place your subject in two thirds of the grid, leaving one third open.

Composition grid image

In both scenarios the technique can be used with any set of thirds, whether it is vertical or horizontal; they also don’t need to be thirds that are bordering each other.

The four points of interest come in especially useful for portraiture or still life. The red circles on the grid indicate where these points are. The idea is to place the key subject in this area,e.g., a particularly prominent leaf on the ground, or an eye of a person or animal.

Composition grid image cat

Diagonal

As suggested by the name of this composition technique, the emphasis on the diagonal line is the key. This could be from side to side or top to bottom; as long as there is a clear diagonal form within your frame, you are using the Diagonal technique.

Whether it is a line in the landscape or an architectural structure, capturing the strong diagonal lines are key for this method.

Diagonal composition image

The red line in the above image highlights the diagonal of the farmed landscape. There is no set grid for the Diagonal composition, the technique puts more importance on the frame itself. The best way to capture your art using the Diagonal is to encase it in the frame;meaning to have the diagonal subject from edge to edge.  

“Silence” painting by Olga Krimon
“Silence”, Olga Krimon

When used in fine art pieces, the Diagonal technique creates an interesting overall composition.

“Silence” by Olga Krimon, uses the bench as the strong diagonal form to provide a much-needed contrast to the abstract characteristics of the background and soft curves of the woman in the foreground.  

The Diagonal enhances a closeup detailed view of your subject allowing you to create intrigue by not revealing the full story.

Golden Triangles

The Golden Triangles technique creates very interesting compositions.

The grid is split into four triangles within the frame which creates two points of interest to utilise.

Golden triangles composition

Perfect for creating visual interest with ease, it is a popular method found predominantly in fine art and now product photography.

Golden triangles horse composition image

Grids can be rotated or reversed to enhance your chosen composition as shown above. The diagonal lines of the grid highlight the strongest forms in the painting and the conformation of the horse, following the motion of the legs moving forward and the mane flowing backwards creating depth.

Lorenza Centi image
Lorenza Centi

When used in digital art, particularly for flat lay and still life images, the Golden Triangles allow you to create something very important - space! Permitting clear areas between the subjects is essential for a well composed image, and to help promote your products. The key is to use the grid lines to capture the strongest subjects within your composition and allow the rest to lightly fill the triangles, making sure you stick to the diagonal direction of the closest grid line to each object.

 

Composition techniques are there to be explored in a variety of mediums, so go try them out!

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