Composition in Painting

Posted by | June 18, 2012 | 0 Comments
  • Rule of Thumb
    Harmony and Asymmetry Balance. Colors should look harmoniously. Use no more than 3-4 shades in colour.
  • The Rule of Thirds
    The idea is that an off-centre composition is more pleasing to the eye and looks more natural than one where the subject is placed right in the middle of the frame.
  • Focus Point
    The focal point should draw the viewer’s eye to it. Place the focal point on one of the ‘intersection spots’ from the Rule of Thirds. Other elements in the painting should lead they eye towards this point.
  • Dynamic Lines
    There are many different types of line – straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial etc – and each can be used to enhance our painting’s composition.
  • Alternation of Forms/Shape/Size of Elements
  • Value Composition
    For a strong composition, you want values to be in quite different amounts, not similar. Try this rule to start: “two thirds, one third, and a little bit.” For example, two thirds dark in tone, one third light in tone, and a small area or object that’s mid-tone.
  • Light and Shadow
    Play of light creates all around, both mood and contrast, and also appoints significant.
  • Cropping
    By cropping tight around the subject you eliminate the background “noise”, ensuring the subject gets the viewer’s undivided attention.
  • Rule of Odds
    Having an odd number of elements in a composition means your eye and brain can’t pair them up or group them easily. There’s some how always one thing left over, which keeps your eyes moving across the composition.
  • Element Placement
    Avoid neat and orderly arrangements of elements. Varying the space between the elements in your composition, the angles they lie at, and their sizes makes a painting more interesting.
  • Avoid Kissing Elements
    Kissing means just touching. Elements must either be definitely apart or definitely overlapped. Kissing creates a weak, connected shape which will distract the viewer’s eye, causing a momentary pause as they puzzle it out.
  • Have a Dominant Color Tone
    Either cool or warm, but not both.
  • Unity or Harmony
    Do the elements in the painting’s composition feel they belong together, or are they separate bits that just happen to be in the same painting? Help create unity by glazing over the whole painting with a single color; or by casting shadow; or by a bit of repeated color; etc.
  • Rule of Depth
    Tone of background is always colder than forward to show the depth or distance.
  • Composition Variety
    Don’t get stuck in a rut and use the same composition all the time, no matter how successful it is. Vary where you put the horizon line, where you put the focal point, swap between portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) shaped canvases.

Our eyes search asymmetric decisions and not only under the form, but under color, contrast and rhythm.

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Filed Under: Painting Basics

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