When you see a beautiful work of art it is easy to focus on the image itself, not realizing just how much work goes into creating that beauty. One of the most effective tools an artist can use to create pleasing imagery is composition, or the way in which the components of the image are arranged. Keep reading to learn more about composition and how you can use it to your advantage in your own artwork.
The Rule of Thirds
Whether you are taking a photograph or painting a picture, one of the simplest methods for using composition is to follow the rule of thirds.
The first thing you need to do is to identify your subject – which part of the image do you want your viewer to focus on? Once you’ve chosen your subject, you can use the rule of thirds to display to the best advantage. To use the rule of thirds you will need to imagine your image divided into nine equal parts – much like a tic-tac-toe board. In your image, the horizon should line up with the horizontal line along the bottom third of the image and the subject of your image should sit at one of the intersection points
Positioning Animals and People
If your subject is an animal or a person, it is a good idea to compose your image in such a way that they are looking into the frame. To give you an example, imagine an image of a bird perched on a branch hanging over a stream.
To effectively draw your viewer’s eye to the subject and to give your viewer an idea of where the subject is headed, frame your image so that the bird is facing toward the open space. Place the subject so that there is more space in the area the subject is facing, and less space behind it. You can also use the rule of thirds to decide exactly where to position the subject of your image.
Using Leading Lines to Draw the Viewer’s Attention
Photographing or painting buildings and other liner subject matter, you may need to use a different compositional technique. Basically, you want to arrange your image in such a way that the elements of the photo or painting lead the viewer’s eye through the image. For example, if you are photographing a wall of windows, it would be more effective to shoot the image from an angle so that the viewer’s eye is first drawn to the larger windows in the foreground and then led along the line of windows into the background of the image. You can also experiment with curved lines, composing your image in such a way that the viewer’s eye follows the curves of the image.
As an artist, you have total freedom regarding the ways in which you frame your images. If you want your image to be effective, however, you need to consider the composition of the image. Practice using the three composition techniques described above in your own works of art to see how different techniques affect the image and your viewer’s perception of the subject.