For many artists, the topic of composition is elusive. What makes a good composition? How do I know what changes to make to my image to improve it?
There are principles of visual perception that can guide this decision-making. Below are a few ways to better understand these. As you study and learn these mechanics of composition, I invite you to also keep following your curiosity. Try new things, be courageous, and let your marks surprise you. A picture works because you like it, not because it is following the rules.
Here are a few books on composition that are recommended most often:
Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition for Visual Storytellers
Picture This: How Pictures Work
The Power of the Center: A Study of Composition in the Visual Arts
Make Composition Studies/Sketches
Study compositions that stand out to you. You can do this in a number of contexts:
- The real world around you
Teach or Talk About It
A great way to learn something, is to teach it. If you have an interest in composition, you will quickly gain a deeper understanding than most people. Even if you don’t see yourself as “the expert”, you can probably be helpful to fellow artists. Teaching can happen informally, or you can simply chat about composition with anyone that is also fascinated by it.
Solve Problems Rationally
With any image you create, there will be certain elements that are not quite right in terms of composition. You can create a list of these and try to solve them one by one, either with the help of books, your own analysis, and/or the help of friends.